What a fun weekend this has been and will continue to be. Yesterday was Brad’s first homecoming, and it sounds like he and all his friends had a great time. Of course being our oldest this is another first for our family, and it was very bittersweet as I realize how old I am getting. No really, I am cherishing my kids and every moment I get to share with them. Time really does fly by the older you get and not a minute goes by I don’t try to remember to cherish even the most mundane, routine things while celebrating the big events too. There had to be at least forty people at Brad’s friends house where everyone met before Homecoming. It was fun to see all the girls dressed up in their fancy dresses, high heels and bling (I can’t wait to go shopping with Sidney in two years!), and let me just say, Brad has quite a few very beautiful girl friends! His date, Jordyn, is a gorgeous, sweet girl and they looked very happy together last night.
This morning Brad somehow pulled himself out of bed to leave the house at 6:50 am for football practice. It was a very quiet ride to school as he and Matt tried to get ready for a two-hour practice in 38 degree weather after a late night of dancing and not enough sleep. Sidney had her last intramural volleyball game and now can concentrate on her last fall tournament tomorrow before lots of practices for club tryouts next month. Trevor did his typical Saturday stuff making his way from one friend’s house to another all afternoon. His last football game for the season is tomorrow but at least it’s in the afternoon so it won’t be so cold.
And of course October 7th is a big birthday day at our house. Tomorrow Sidney will be 13, finally a teenager, and Ryan is going to be nine years old. I can’t believe how quickly they have grown up and have a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that my baby is nine although he still acts like, and will always be, the baby of our family. October 7th has always been a very emotional day for me, ever since the day Ryan was born. I will never forget how upset I was going into the hospital on October 6, 2003, because my blood pressure was too high. I couldn’t stop pleading with God to make this a quick delivery so Sidney wouldn’t have to share her special day with her new brother. But in the back of my mind I just knew this little fellow wasn’t going to say hello in the five hours we had before the clock struck midnight. My body simply wasn’t ready to deliver a baby and it was another 22 hours before Ryan came screaming into the world. And even right up to the minute she laid eyes on her baby brother, Sidney still told everyone she was having a sister named Shayla. It took a while to convince her we couldn’t name her brother Shayla and that Ryan would have to do. Little did we know that our sweet baby who came into the world on the day we thought should be set aside for our only princess would actually become a baby who brought a new meaning to the word blessing. Because that’s exactly what both of them are – complete blessings to our family.
Sidney is the epitome of beauty in our house. Not only physically stunning, she has one of the most sensitive, thoughtful hearts of anyone I know. Her love of people, especially her sweet Ryan, shines through with a beauty that can not be described in words. The love she has for her special brother is one that most people will never have the chance to taste, see, live out every day. She, like her brothers Brad and Trevor, has learned a love for Ryan that defies the meaning of simple, envelopes the essence of beauty, shares the strength of adversity, accepts the idea of broken and emulates the meaning of devotion. I couldn’t be more proud of the endurance she and her brothers have developed as they’ve had to live a life of hospitals, stress, unknowns, stares and snickers from others and worry for their brother’s health. God has blessed Ryan with an overabundance of love from his siblings. Every year on October 7th as we celebrate the lives of two amazing kids, we all are reminded that God takes us down a path that may be unknown and sometimes painful, but always filled with blessings and joy despite circumstances. I’m thankful my kids are learning now to celebrate the good times and stick together when things get tough. Because of Ryan and all his special needs, Brad, Sidney and Trevor have learned to accept people as they are and for that I am so grateful. We celebrate the lives of two amazing people because each day is a gift, each moment a choice to give up or push forward, each turn in our journey a chance to celebrate all that we have and cherish the love and friendship of those around us. It’s not been an easy life for Ryan but he has brought a joy to our family that we can not imagine living without. He is a very broken, dysfunctional, strange boy to so many people who do not take the time to look into his beautiful eyes and see the amazing creation God gave us. He might be broken in the world’s eyes but to us, his family, he is amazing and the picture perfect gift of love in its truest form.
So happy birthday to two amazing, beautiful, loved kids. Sidney, my prayer for you as you enter your fourteenth year of life, is for God to grant you an amazing year of health, growing in the knowledge of Christ as you continue to live by your mantra that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength, for friends to surround you who love and accept you exactly as you are, for wonderful experiences and opportunities to come your way, for the blessing of peace no matter what your journey brings, for your story to be filled with joy and beauty. You are amazing and I could not be more proud to be your mom. I love you sweetheart! And my precious Ryan, there are no words to describe the emotion that fills my heart when I think of you and look into your innocent, sweet face. You have changed my life in ways I never knew needed to be changed, you’ve taught me the real meaning of acceptance and how to patiently ignore the ignorance and judgement of others who don’t know your story of strength and overcoming adversity. You fill our home with a melody of joy with your shreaks, laughter and screaming each and every day. When I hear your sweet squeals in the morning as you wake, I am reminded that each day is a gift and that only the Lord knows what that day will bring. I’ve come to relish the beauty of forgiveness as we, your family, learn to walk hand in hand through some very stressful, scary moments, wondering what tomorrow will look like and remembering to cherish those we love. Each day with you is an amazing gift of God’s goodness and even though you don’t understand what a birthday is, I hope you feel the love of those around you as we celebrate your life.