sam-dog-costumeTo sweet Sam, my gas mask wearing dalmatian baby, now a 6 foot 4 inch boy-man with the same mischievous grin, happy birthday!
Eighteen years ago today you came into our world, fists clenched, red faced and hollering. The nurses took one look at all 9 pounds, 15 ounces of you and said, “Whoa!” and we’ve been saying the same thing ever since.

It’s funny, a year before that chilly October day, we told ourselves we had exactly the family we’d been hoping for, a girl and a boy, who held our hearts in their hands. But something was missing. The minute we looked into your face, the second we looked at those big fingers that we’d watched for months pressing up against my belly, as if trying your best to hail a cab out of there, we knew what it was. That something we were missing was you!

And now you’re eighteen. A young man, getting ready to go into the world and make your own way.

I know it’s YOUR birthday, YOUR day to close your eyes and make wishes and blow out the candles. But I have wishes too. Here’s what  I wish for you…

As you grow and learn more and meet people, stay the person that you are in the deepest part of you.

Stay the person you are, big hearted and big feeling-ed. It’s one of the things I love about you, the way you love fiercely and defend others. That even when you were tiny (well, you were never tiny) – even when you were four years old, you’d scold full grown adults if they made fun of animals or were unjust to a child. It made life harder for you at times, and it made your sister and brother and parents bite off our fingernails, but you were being you. And that was beautiful. It still is. Keep at it.

Stay the person you are, who loves your crazy family. Keep making us do things together, even when we get all in our own heads and don’t want to take a break from what we’re doing. We may groan (some of us more than others) but the trip to see the lights at Roper Mountain on Christmas Eve is family tradition, and sometimes you’re the only one who makes it happen. Even that 6th grade year when you chose that celebratory outing to tell us you weren’t sure if you really believed in God. (Ha ha. I’m glad you decided you do.) If it weren’t for you, we’d never get in the car to go get dip cones the night before school starts. Keep at it. (Sarah and Ben and Todd, we may have to show up the night before his first day of college next year.)

Stay the person you are, the person who has to do it BY HIMSELF. Even though it sometimes drives me crazy, I love your independence. I love that you call up the bank, rather than trust my knowledge. Well, kind of. I love that you’ve been the order-er of pizzas for our family since you were seven. I love that you keep asking questions until you figure things out.  Keep at it.

Stay the person you are, who notices funny, beautiful things around you and shares them with others. You keep us laughing and looking and watching, so that we can reciprocate. It makes life rich and hilarious. Keep at it.

My last wish for you is that you keep living into the love that made you- and the love that made us all… Love that is patient and kind. Love that doesn’t envy others and doesn’t boast and isn’t proud. Love that doesn’t dishonor others or thinks only of yourself, or is easily angered. Love that doesn’t keep notes on the wrong things that people do, but rejoices in truth. Sam, I hope you keep loving protectively, trustingly, hopefully. That you keep living into the love that God has for you!

We love you, Sammy, and we’re so glad you’re in our world!