The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10
As you can see, we have a lot of August birthdays in our family. Max’s is today. I cannot believe he’s 15, but he can! He has been studying for the driving permit test for months and is so disappointed that the license bureau will be closed on Saturday. I’ve promised him we’d go first thing Monday. I hope I don’t forget, because he won’t!
The moment Max and I set eyes on each other, we were attached to each other. I could never have imagined a child not born of my womb being so bonded to me from the very first moment! His big brown eyes said I love you, and just six weeks post hysterectomy, he was my healing balm. (He makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD! Psalm 113:9) The girls fell in love with “their” new baby and everyone wanted to take turns feeding and cuddling him. This put my boys as book ends, 20 years apart. Not the family span I’d planned when first married. Who’d ever have thought I’d be a mother-of-the-groom needing to find a babysitter, and a few years later pushing my son and granddaughter in the double stroller! But being an older mom has its advantages too. I am much too tired to worry about what others think of my parenting!
Connor Max is a delight to his older parents and quite loved by anyone who meets him. He loves life; plays hard, sleeps hard; he can never get enough apple pie or macaroni & Cheese pizza, and Max is always ready for f.u.n.! He is funny even when he doesn’t mean to be. Max is always ready to give a full report on his sisters or share his expert opinion on any subject, giving Cliff Clavin a run for his money. His pockets have always been filled and ready for “MacGyver”esk rescues at a moments notice. Years ago, while walking along an outdoor shopping center I noticed something had splashed on my white slacks; Max proudly presents a Tide-To-Go stick. Why a four-year-old felt the need to put one in his pocket that day, I’ll never know, but I was glad he had. It’s not uncommon for him to have a roll of duct tape and at least three pocketknives, along with a variety of hiking hooks, writing utensils and a couple of sets of ear-bud headphones and a vast array of other possible gadgets. Max is always prepared.
Max can be like a dog-with-a-bone too! If a suggestion is made or a mere thought is shared out loud, he runs with it. Clint has learned to never suggest we think about going camping the following month unless it is a sure thing. With just the idea mentioned, Max has inventoried our supplies, checked the weather, unloaded the cots from the top shelf in the garage and is asking if he should load them in the truck. “Max! We haven’t decided if we are even going and if we do it’s 4 weeks away!” He loves to be ready. When a vacation is written on the calendar; Max has nothing to wear because he’s already got his suitcases packed. He’s invited to a friend’s house for a sleepover next week; I find his sleeping bag sitting by the front door. The night before we were going to Disney, I went into his bedroom at our rented house and his clothes were laid out in a chalk-outlined-crime-scene sort of way; from his shoes to his hat, complete with the wristwatch at the side. Yes, Max is always prepared.
I want to make sure I am raising a warrior and not a wimpy momma’s boy and I have to be careful not to let his status as the “baby of the family” let him get by with stuff. It can be hard to remember he’s a growing young man, but then I watch him take on new responsibilities and I realize its happening. He’s grown tall and muscular and his voice is so deep I sometimes think a strange man has broken into our house. I remind his sisters daily, “don’t forget to extend him respect as he becomes a man”. They tend to fill their roll as “assistant moms” and the poor kid gets critiqued on everything! From what he’s wearing, how he smells, what his haircut looks like to if he is remembering his chores; his sisters are ready with a comment, a suggestion, and an opinion! On the other hand, I am trying to get him to treat his sisters with tenderness, as precious princesses who need taken care of. He likes the idea of being their protector but he’s not a fan of the tenderness. I pray that some day his wife is the recipient of a boy who really “gets” women because of his experience…but right now, I’m just hoping they survive sharing a bathroom.
Max is extremely gifted with hands-on tactical things. He can figure out how anything is made and probably drove our electrician batty with all his questions during our guesthouse build. Once Clint mentioned the power washer leaking gas, he figured out the problem. While looking for my new box of pencils, I noticed a very strange contraption made out of bright yellow sticks. “My Pencils!” Turns out, you can make a working miniature compound bow out of a few pencils, rubber bands, paperclips and duct tape.
This precious son of mine is also a huge problem solver. One mention of an issue and he has 5 or 6 suggestions ready; with full explanation and reasoning. I could share one story after another but our favorite happened just last year. Max was listening to Blake and Clint on the phone. Blake was in quite a predicament on a job sight where he was building a deck 12-15 feet off the ground. It was after dark, the homeowners had locked the door and his ladder had fallen. He was stranded and waiting on someone to come home. (I guess calling his dad 3 hours away was just to kill time) Upon hearing what was going on, Max immediately suggests, “Blake needs to order a pizza and tell the man to bring it around back. Win, win! He gets dinner and someone to pick the ladder up!” His cleverness and quick thinking will help keep me from over-worrying on the remote chance that he ever gets stranded on a deserted island!
Max’s constant banter, everlasting list of questions and his determination to never have silent dead air can become wearisome. However, when he’s quiet, it’s a sign he’s really not feeling well, so I’ve learned to embrace his many, many words. Without trying to discourage him, I just keep praying that God will use his gift of gab and he will become like Judas and Silas in Acts 15:31-33, “who encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words.”
Sometimes, I become preoccupied by the things the world tells me Max needs to be successful. Especially as we begin his high school homeschooling years. I am always second guessing if I am best equipped to help mold Max into a successful man. Max will most likely not go to college, but a technical school, and I’m really O.K. with that. Proverbs 22:6 says to “Train up a child in the way he should go” But “train” has such a loaded definition and the way “he” should go not only speaks of his spiritual walk but of the way God created and gifted him! I worry about his reading and handwriting and overlook his curiosity about creation and science. I focus in on a grade level and fail to notice his inquisitive pursuit of a current or historical event. I become extremely focused on his academic endeavors and fail to recognize how well he took care of cleaning the pool and checking the chemical levels. I quickly see an unfinished assignment and miss how tender he is being with his aunt or how he took extra care to get his chores completed well. I am excited to see where this freshman year will direct us. When I read Proverbs 22:6, I need to read it as an exhortation and be encourage and not as a rebuke the enemy uses to keep me in fear I may really mess up. “As a parent, you either accelerate or stifle your child’s giftedness. They will spend much of their life benefiting from, or recovering from your influence.” God prewired Max long before I had any influence on him. Now I get the privilege to know the specialness of this child because I am his mom. I get to watch and pray and provide and point and train! This proverb has brought me encouragement and hope. The anxiety and guilt is replaced with open hands that plead for extra wisdom and grace to be one of the greatest influences in Max, to be a man of God first. A man with a vocation second.
Max was and is a perfect gift to our family, to my heart and to this world, which desperately needs men equipped for good works. (2 Tim. 3:17) I love watching Max as he begins to follow hard after God and I love watching his faith increase. I pray that as he continues to grow, he will be prepared to withstand the onslaught of our cultures secular values and be the man prepared to give an answer for his hope!
Happy Birthday Max!