Of all of the topics that I blog about, one of my most favorite is our children's birthdays. It's always difficult to capture in words and pictures how a mama feels about her babies, especially on the the anniversary of the day that she suffered out of love to bring them into the world. (But, who's counting those 11.5794 unmedicated hours, right?)
Really, God has a great purpose for every single baby that is born into this world. And, it is such a joy to see that purpose evolve in every single one of our children.
Sitting outside after the Chicago Marathon Expo, soaking in the sun. This is his famous smile, the one that says, "there is so much in this life to be happy about."
So, when I received the e-mail that my name had been selected from the lottery, I had to do a double take when I read the bold-type date: October 11. Because the race would fall on the same day as Andrew's birthday, I decided that I would defer and choose a different race to run.
But, when I announced my decision to the family, Andrew was the first person to speak up in disagreement, "Just do it, Mom! Go for it!" It was then that we decided to take him (and Benedict) with us to the race.
When the birthday/race day arrived, I had to be up at 5 a.m. to eat and get to the starting line, so our traditional celebratory birthday breakfast had to be postponed until next year. Thankfully, Dad came to the rescue and found a donut shop just up the street from the hotel. I received a text at the starting line with a photo of the boys stuffing their faces with bacon maple pecan caramel long johns. Hello!! I texted back, you may meet me at the finish with one of those, please!
To make the morning even more adventurous for Andrew, Steve rented bicycles for them to cruise around on through Chicago to get to the various points where they wanted to cheer for me. There was an estimated 1.2 million spectators cheering on 45,000 runners, so I consider it Providence that I was able to catch my crew along the route several times.
At mile eight I was able to shimmy through the pack of runners over to where Steve and the boys were standing and give Andrew a big sweaty birthday bear hug. I was just so overjoyed to see their beautiful faces that I couldn't help shouting over and over, "Happy Birthday, Andrew!"
I could hear the crowd around him congratulating him as well while patting his back and giving him high fives. The look of joy on his face was imprinted in my mind over the next 18 miles.
I literally could not wait to get to the finish line so that I could hug Andrew again, and join the rest of the crew in all of the birthday fun. The journey to the finish line, however was a little delayed (more on that tomorrow), and I felt terrible that they had to wait on me to finish.
Dylan's Candy Bar. Since we love not having dental insurance, why not buy some more cavities??!! Truly we had never seen any store like it. Three unbelievable stories of countless confections. The boys freaked out a little when I told them they could fill up a bag of whatever they wanted. People stared. It was fun. Even Steve and I had fun walking (limping) around looking at all of the lovely sweets.
Back at the hotel, we quickly threw our things together, I took my normal 3.2 minute shower so that could jet out the door to find a spot for lunch before cruising to the airport.
The rest of the day wasn't very birthday-ish. Returning the rental car, navigating through the mass of people at O'hare and flying home late wasn't exactly Andrew's idea of a birthday finale.
Yet, he never once complained. He was thankful for everything at all times, and was especially happy to have had the experience of seeing the beautiful city of Chicago. But, my heart wasn't satisfied. I knew that once we arrived home, the boys would help me plan something special for Andrew, and they did.
The next day, Andrew went to school and football practice. While he was away, we set a nice table, put on our aprons and made his favorite meal - fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and biscuits with honey butter. It's the "nothing green" meal, that all of the boys love, but I rarely make it, because it takes so much time and turns my kitchen into a grease pit.
For him, it was totally worth it.
Turn it up, fam! Sing that Happy Birthday song like ya mean it!
Concentrating on the wish. He let Charlie blow out all of the candles except for one.
Shopping for Andrew for any occasion is difficult, because he never wants for or asks for anything. He is a very content soul. One day I saw him looking at military style watches on Amazon, and I knew that would make a perfect gift for him. When he opened it, you would have thought we gave him the rarest treasure in the world.
Henry went through a phase were he was afraid to sleep downstairs, even though he shares a room with George. We would often find him sleeping bundled up in blankets on the floor next to Andrew's bed. He told us that he feels safe with Andrew. I will always remember that.
I have missed having him here as a part of our homeschool something fierce, but when I hear of the good that he is doing at school, that he is reaching out to the other students and caring for them, and that he is enjoying their friendship in return so very much, my heart cannot help but rejoice.
I have always said, and firmly believe, that our children are here to make us better. Of course, that can be explained by the mere fact that children require us to sacrifice and love in ways that test our faith and strength. But, it can also be explained by the witness of their purity, their goodness, and the beauty of their souls, shining out for us to see and embrace every day. They challenge us to be better people by the very example of their life - this is God in them.
God has a great purpose for Andrew, and it is with hope that we look forward to that purpose being revealed to us, one birthday at a time.