Dear Matt and Chris, This week you both had birthdays ... dates on the calendar that probably mean more to me than they do to you.
January 29, 1981.
January 27, 1983.
You were born 2 years and 2 days apart. And so, every year as I mark the months of January and early February, my heart goes back to those days of being 9 months pregnant and waiting with such anticipation.
I recall counting your tiny fingers and toes and breathing in your new-born breath ... so fresh from heaven. I would delight in the night time feedings and rejoice in the miracle that each of you were to me.
My heart remembers the joy of little boy birthday parties, the neighborhood friends who loved our home and celebrating all of the ways that I loved being your mom. I remember hearing the constant pounding of the basketball on the cement of the driveway and the World Series grand slam home runs that were hit in our front yard at 803 East Academy Street.
Now you are men ... passionate in your callings. You are husbands and fathers ... truly men of excellence who are making profound and lasting marks in your chosen professions.
So is my job done? Am I finished with each of you? I think not ... I think that there is still some wisdom inside of your mom that each of your lives might just ache for. You might know that you are aching for what is in me ... and that is o.k.
You might believe that you are on your own with no need of maternal care or input but I know better.
I know that there will always be a part of you that grows when it comes in contact with me ... the one who nestled your life before you could live without my presence.
I know that although you have wives and children of your own there is a part of you that comes home when you look into my eyes.
And so ... on this the celebration of your 30th and 32nd birthdays, let me give you a few gifts. Let me tell you why I believe you are here.
You are here to add to the grand legacy that is family. You are here to carry on for your grandfathers. You are here to live up to the McLeod and Burton names. They are honorable names. Wear them well.
You are here to work hard and to make a difference with the gifts that are intrinsically “you”.
You are here to fall and get up again. And again and again and again. There is no shame in failure as long as you get up. Again and again and again.
You are here to love unabashedly and passionately the lives whom you have been given.
Emily and Liz. The wives for whom your Dad and I have prayed since the day you were each born.
Bring your wife flowers for no reason at all. Do the dishes and let her relax. Rub her feet when she is tired and tell her she is beautiful every day. Read the Bible with her and pray for her. Take her on dates and listen when she talks.
And then there are the little ones. The next generation which you are producing.
Olivia, Wesley, Boyce and Amelia Grace.
Give to them the gift of your whole heart ... holding nothing back. Laugh with them and play endless games together. Read books to them when they should be in bed. Hold them when they cry and kiss them when they are lonely. Give them something to laugh about every day. Make sure that the highlight of their day is when Daddy comes home.
You are the only husband and daddy that they will ever have. Don’t settle for good ... be great at this! If you are great at nothing else at all ... be a great husband and father.
You are here to be role models and heroes to your J’s ... those younger siblings who have always had each of you on a pedestal. Jordan, Joy and Joni, although now young adults, still crave your attention. You are here to nurture those relationships with your younger brother and sisters as if they were your best friends. Because they are.
You are here to serve God at this time in history. You are here to be a Daniel and a Joseph. A David and a Moses. In every generation, God needs men like you. He needs men who have excellent spirits and men who refuse to cave into the call of their culture. God needs men who will face giants and still sing in the night. God needs men who will lead in the wilderness and hear His voice.
I loved being your mom then and I love being your mom now. You are always in my heart -
All my love ...