Twenty years ago we lived on 100 acres of fertile ground. Eighty miles removed from New York City, along the Delaware River a log cabin rose out of the evergreens.
A mirror lake reflecting tall timbers, herons waiting patiently for fish, fawns with mamas drinking from deep waters, stood guard at the cabin's entrance.
The Homestead, a magical Montessori school our 4 year old daughter attended, a few curvy miles away.
A storybook setting, every parent wanted to linger as they dropped off their child, beside the tall barn with sliding doors welcoming the children in.
They would gather to sing, dance, hold hands as best friends. Mamas would circle, share stories instead of Starbucks... plan play dates, walks in carriages with the littlest ones.
The sound of chickens, goats and kittens always a soft backdrop.
At home we read Little House In Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder... not quite realizing the similarities of our surroundings.
Life was sweet.
In July 1993 a baby boy was born.
Life became sweeter.
Life soon called us away. Away from family and our Little House in Big Woods.
Champaign became home. The boy and girl grew strong, the gifts and blessings immeasurable.
The boy learned to play baseball, ride a bike, grow friendships, love Jesus.
Life changed again.
Today Nashville claims a part of his heart (and the sweet daughter) where friendships grow deep, running and competition become passion.
Many things change in twenty years.
Homes, locations, relationships.
Some things remain the same.
As I write this I hear him playing Xbox.
That familiar noise of years ago, the laughter of buddies from his upstairs bedroom, tumbling down the stairs into my kitchen.
This morning the sound is just a few moments to relax after a 6 am, four mile run, to be followed by a nine mile run tonight.
Last night I followed him on my bike, as he ran his seven miles, just back from five weeks in Australia. His body had not slept but he pushed forward.
I pushed forward, arriving in town to celebrate his return and birthday.
This morning I wanted a few minutes to reflect on the day of the boy's birth, two decades ago and yet... to me, my eyes see him new and beautiful as if... yesterday.
Hmm. You understand this.
As I write he enters the living room, telling me about the Italian he is learning, something downloaded on his phone. In between I hear repeated vines and his deep laughter. The same vines we watched last night.
The little boy in him, still shining through.
I tell him the life of a writer demands quiet. Shh..
I go into the bedroom to continue. He follows within ten minutes, giggling. He says he won't say a word. He is like a puppy, a little boy, my buddy. He fibs... like a five year old. He is talking again.
I realize one day he will have a wife and I will be glad. I will rejoice and celebrate... and life will change.
We will no longer have the moments we share now, so I will hold these close to my heart.
He is a sweet boy/man.
Now he is talking to me about what we will do today, his birthday. He needs a few things... an Italian suit (this may have something to do with his half desire to learn Italian).
I'm suggesting a suit whose maker ends in a vowel, like JC PenneyO.... cause this boy isn't done growing.
I figure he's part Italian and slim, so that's half the battle.
He is now making up funny ways to say my name, in between explaining why his Droid is so much more awesome than my iPhone. He is doing this in his best Aussie talk while cuddling with Jack on his sister's bed.
This is not shaping up to be a brilliant post, however it is from my heart.
Many things change in twenty years.
And beautiful things remain the same...
I love this boy. I love his sister.
I love that I still love his dad.... and that he still loves me.
I really love this.
I love that we are a family that nurtures, enjoys and protects one another.
I love that we can laugh at each other.. and more importantly, at ourselves.
I know this is a gift and not taken for granted. I thank God each morning for this family I call mine.
I am aware of how fragile it is.
How fragile life is.
We are family far from perfect. But we try to practice grace.
There is nothing outstanding or amazing about our family.
We love each other and try our best.
We are a family who puts God first... when we don't fail Him.
This boy knows he is loved. By us. By his heavenly Father.
He knows he can accomplish all that is set before him.
His dad and I are pleased.
There is much we could be proud of, pleased with. Most if it is temporary though, crumbling like dust.
We are pleased by this.... that He follows Christ. That he chooses Him. That he trusts Him.
For his whole life.
Life will be hard for him some days.
He knows Whom he follows and he knows where the sweetest moments will be found.
Not in following the world and it's many dried up, barren paths, but in following the One who gave him life and has a plan for his life.
Happy Birthday Dan The Man.
You will always be my heart.