You know from day one that this day will arrive. But, you never imagine how quickly it does. And, believe me moms of littles, time goes by as quickly as people tell you it will. It seems like yesterday that John Henry was a little 4 year old boy coming into my room every morning requesting “toast and syrup.” It seems like yesterday he was putting on his Bob the Builder tool belt ready to fix all the things. It seems like yesterday he was fighting Darth Vader down the hallway with his light saber. So many seasons have come and gone, and every single one feels like we were just living in it. And, as fun and wonderful as every season has been, nothing compares to the one we are in now. And, I have tears hitting my keyboard as I type this….because, I am so proud of the man John Henry is and how amazing the now moments are.
Dear John Henry,
There are no adequate words to tell of your kindness. You are the most aware human I know. You are aware of every person in a room, and you never fail to make sure the people around know they are noticed. You serve your school, your church, your friends, and your family. And, while we are all so proud and thankful for all you do, I am most proud and thankful for who you are. I would like to tell you not to focus on “doing” today, but I know that is pretty hard for you. But, like Pastor Will told you this summer, your word is “be.” You are all together enough and amazing simply by being you. You carry the presence of God everywhere you go, and we are always made better by it. And, because you carry it with such awareness, you have become it.
You get sixteen candles today. So, here are sixteen things I love about you:
1. I love how you say “Momma” when you just want to show me love. (And, when you want something.)
2. I love how you love your little sister and brother. I know there were times when they drove you crazy. But, you’ve become not only tolerant of the hard stuff siblings share, you’ve become an active participant in their lives, and you love spending time with them. John, you are the BEST big brother.
3. I love how you trust your Daddy Kris and will go to him first about anything going on in your life. I’ve become okay not knowing everything…..sort of….but, I’m so proud that you are so open to seek wise counsel. Walk with the wise and become wise. You get this.
4. I love how you love music and the energy and time you put into it. Your passion for playing music is so fun for me to watch and enjoy.
5. I love how sensitive you are to people and how carefully you walk in your relationships with them.
6. I love how you aren’t afraid to confront the hard stuff and have the hard conversations face to face. Real face to face conversations are a rarity these days, but you’ve taught yourself how important they are.
7. I love that you don’t feel the need to conform to other people’s expectations and are comfortable in your own lane. Stay in your lane. This is where you will always be happiest.
8. I love how you consider my friends your friends. Believe me, my friends consider you theirs.
9. I love your humor. I also love that you laugh at me. (You know this is very important. Ha.)
10. I love how you immediately step into the role of man of the house when dad is gone. You think to do things usually before even being asked. Sometimes, you over-parent, but that’s okay. Anna will remind you that you’re not her dad. But, seriously, I know your heart is to make sure everything and everyone is okay.
11. I love how you aren’t careless with your words. Because of this, when you speak, people listen.
12. I love how you constantly look for the good in others, and as a result, you always find it. Even when it may be hard for others to see, you know that everyone deserves to be defended. Thank you for teaching me that.
13. I love how you appreciate a good half-zip, pull-over sweater. It’s so fun to shop for you.
14. I love how you still love Marvel, and you don’t care who knows it.
15. I love how sensitive you are to the Spirit and honest you are with yourself and others. You are the most humble, real, honest person I know. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.….” (Psalm 139:23-24) John, THIS is the position you always take, and it blows us away.
16. I love that you are also my friend. My bud. I LOVE hanging out with you.
The best part of my life began September 24, 2002. Every day, every season gets better and better with you. Whoever said raising a teenager was hell doesn’t know John Henry Landreth. You make raising a teenager so much fun….so freaking amazing.
I love you, JH. Thank you for making me a mom. And, thank you for driving SO SAFELY AND CAUTIOUSLY AND FOR STILL LETTING ME DRIVE YOU PLACES SOMETIMES, BECAUSE, I’M GOING TO NEED TO SOMETIMES, AND BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS, YET I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU AND FOR ME AT THE SAME TIME. And thanks for getting it. And for getting me.
Text me when you arrive safely at every single place, but NOT WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING. K?
Happy 16th Birthday, bud. You make us all so very proud.