This year will be a memorable one for Carolyn and me. We have two kids in High School. Matthew is a senior and Christopher is a freshman. Two bookends at Jourdanton High School. Both are amazing kids in their own ways. Uniquely different. Carolyn and I are blessed to have been called by God to raise them. I pray each day that he gives us the ability to press on to complete the task of raising these boys into Godly men.
I was too late to appreciate the time I had with Roger. I did not take the time to enjoy him growing up. We were so busy trying to help him get through life that we forgot to enjoy life. That is a chance I will never get back for him. I praise God that he got through it and turned out to be an exemplary Christ-centered man with a gift for teaching.
As a father, I will continue to watch and build into his adult life, but I choose to not pass up what I missed with Roger, with our two younger boys. This year I choose to not fast forward through life and soak in every moment. This begins with recognition:
Over the years Matthew has been involved with many extra-curricular activities. From athletics to FFA, every year he has always had something going on. Athletics was his primary choice. He loved playing football and running cross country. How anyone can choose to run a three-mile race is beyond me, but he loved it…and was good at it.
Last year was a breakout year for him. He was chosen to be on the Varsity team. Yet with an abundance of players in his position at Wide Receiver, the coaches asked him to play on the JV team to one, get more playing time; and two, to help mentor the players on that team. He exceeded at that, scoring 10 touchdowns that year, one being a 97-yard kickoff return.
This year was a bit difficult for him. Most of his friends and team members graduated last year, and the quarterback he had been playing with the last three years was ineligible to play this year. But as Matthew always does, he takes it in stride, trusting in the coach, and playing his heart out when he is used. An awesome example of him letting God use him where he is at.
This year he is a bit laid back, only taking on Football. His position remains Wide Receiver for the Varsity team. His years of track have helped elevate him in this position. His speed is amazing to me. I just pray the coaches will see that and use that gift to the team’s advantage.
Matts school years aren’t the only times he was busy. Each summer over the past three years Matt has gone on an overseas mission trip with a missions group called iGoGlobal. He has been to Spain and to Germany twice. His trip to Spain was as a one-weeker. Both of his trips he was a JSI leader. Which means he led a team of one-weekers. He feels a calling to missions work, as an interpreter. The language he feels called to is ASL (American Sign Language).
Love has not evaded him either. For the last year and a half, he has been getting close to a wonderful girl. Her name is Emma. To see their relationship grow and see what God could possibly have in store for them is exciting. Not to toot my own horn, but I always do my best to set an example to my boys about how women should be treated. I give them this example in how I treat their mom. It fills me with pride to see him doing some of the things I do, or have done, for Carolyn. I guess he is watching.
Matthew has grown into a great example of God working in the life of a teenager who is committed to him. He has the life management skills I wish I had. To balance all that he does is truly an inspiration. To know what he wants to do in life has pushed me on to accomplish the things I want to in life, even if I am 40+. He is one of the reasons you are reading this now, without that source of inspiration, I wouldn’t be pursuing my dreams of being a writer. So thank you, Matt, for being the man God called you to be.
Christopher’s road has not been quite as smooth. He has struggled to find who he is. But it is has been a positive experience for him; learning how to overcome adversity and setbacks that plagued his Jr. High years. After a near academic catastrophe last year something clicked inside of him, and he rose to the challenges that were placed before him. It is amazing what one can do when they have no other choice. He found what he needed to do, and he did it.
I will admit, it was frustrating for Carolyn and me. Trying to find ways to motivate him. We were always told that he would turn around. That something would click and he would finally understand. I think that having his back against the wall helped him pull from deep within himself to use strength he never knew he had. Once he tapped into that strength he realized that he could do it, and be successful in accomplishing the goals he has for his life.
Now he is a freshman. The boy who went to bed on August 20, woke up a full-fledged teen with new opportunities and a clean slate. With high aspirations for himself and a plan, he set his mind to not falter in either. A month into the school now and I am proud to announce that he is keeping his word to his parents, and to himself.
Chris is also in football. He plays on the Junior Varsity offensive line. He started off as an Offensive Left Tackle. It was kind of exciting after seeing the Blindside, Left Tackle was the position Michael Oher plays. The last few games he has been the sub for both guard positions and is learning the entire offensive line. He knows that the more he knows, the more the coaches will use him, so he is absorbing all he can to be useful to his team.
In other activities, Chris has always been a band geek (as us Drama folk would call them). It was always a pleasure to go to his concerts in the 7th and 8th grades. This year band would take on a whole new perspective. That adventure began early last summer; the high school marching band. Better known as The Mighty Indian Marching Band. They practiced for several hours each day and nearly 12 hours on Saturdays. Chris looked a mess at the end of a Super Saturday. But he seemed to enjoy it.
A week before school started there was preview concert, to show parents what they had been working on. I knew what marching bands do, and have seen a few performances, but it was a completely different experience to see Chris out there on the field. I was in awe. Not in just the fluidness of the performance, but that Chris was part of it. Chris was putting on a show for me in what he has inside of him. That he can take something seriously and put forth a 100 percent effort. I was proud.
As the year began, it seemed that with the number of players both JV and Varsity had that there was a possibility for Chris to make the Varsity team. While it would have been awesome to see both boys play on the same team, I was glad when he was placed on the JV squad. The marching band performs during the Varsity games and does the halftime show.
Yes, there are a couple of Varsity players on the band, they just perform in their uniform, minus jersey and pads. I wanted activities to be separate for Chris, luckily they are. He still has a lot on his plate juggling band and football practices, but I am confident he can handle it. He has proven that much, AND all while keeping up his grades. I am encouraged with what is store for this year, and in the remaining years of High School that are still ahead for him.
I have mentioned our three boys, but I haven’t mentioned our precious little angel, Audrey. Audrey is the pride of her older brothers. They all have that protective instinct over her. Not saying that dad isn’t doing enough, but I can’t be everywhere all the time. And believe you me, I now understand that father/daughter connection. I’m just glad she has older brothers who can fill that gap when dad isn’t around.
Audrey is now 9 and in the third grade. She is learning there is a difference between this year and last. She, like her brothers, is taking things in stride with the challenges she faces. Something I’m sure she learned from them.
She amazes me sometimes with how smart she is. And an outstanding artist. Most of you have seen her talent. I pray she realizes that talent and begins to feed it. I cannot wait to see the path God has for her, just not too quickly. After all, she’s my little girl.
We as parents take time for granted. We get so involved with the things that “need to get done” that we put off our children. We arrive home too tired to head back out for anything. There will always be a next time we reason: a next game, a next performance, a next concert. Those next times may not always come. A local family found this out the hard way last year. Two of their children were killed in a car accident on their way to school. I am sure those parents would give anything to attend another game, tired or not.
Every moment counts. Our children need us to get involved with their activities. Our children need us to be interested in them. This goes beyond extra-curricular attendance. The fifteen minutes plus you have in the car taking them to school, or bringing them home is an excellent opportunity to communicate. For years my fifteen minutes have been spent in silence. Now I try and strike up a conversation with my kids. Finding out about their day, asking questions, and listening. I am soaking in every moment I can, for those moments are fleeting, and the next one is not promised.
So learn from my experience, do what you need to do to be there for your kids. Make the most of every opportunity you get. Use those times of captivity to your advantage. Attend games, take pictures, wear school spirit shirts, and cheer for them. Not only on the field but in life.
Parents should be their kid’s greatest cheerleader. While it may seem like an inconvenience for you, you will not regret it in the end. When they are grown up, they will remember seeing mom and dad in the stands. They will remember the priority you made of them, and in turn, give that priority to their family. And isn’t instilling values in our children what it’s all about?