Didn't we just meet? You 21...me 18....fresh and new on our journey as adults. That was yesterday. Today is almost 20 years later. Here we sit on the peak of that distant mountain that seemed forever away looking towards the new peaks and adventures of a maturing family and future milestones.....looking back at the path winding up to this time - fresh, youthful hopes and dreams - of marriage and careers. Of children and adventures.
Somehow, I stumbled into you, the enlisted sailor from a small town who wanted to be a fireman. The man I was never going to marry, at least said my all knowing teenage self. I was going to marry a college bound career oriented man, never a man wearing faded Wranglers and old cowboy boots with no plans for college.
Yet, then I met you - that intensely handsome face and gentle demeanor with a kindness that spoke somehow to that deeper part of my soul.....the part that knows beneath it all what really matters. I decided then that kindness was more important than careers and ambition. Little did I know.
What it took me a while to understand, as I peeled back layer after layer of my own foolish pride and youthful arrogance, is that I had discovered one of the wisest and most honorable men I would ever know......a rare and beautiful gem. Even back then, your gentleness, your patience, your dedication to what was right and honorable and true quickly became evident.
Slowly, I began to step aside from my own fiery path of personal ambition and watch you. I watched how people followed you, how they deferred to you. I watched your humility and your courage. I began to perceive your wisdom, strength and honor..... I began to see you for what you are: a humble, servant leader.
People follow you, Jason. Not because you are loud and insist on your way, but because your words are wise and your manner is gentle. Your way is encouragement. You come alongside....building up....deferring always the best to others...and stepping in as a father with a child at the moment you perceive it is needed, even in the manliest of men. Yet you take not an ounce of their dignity, rather you hold it up for them....allowing them to step on your shoulders.
You are generous, giving in secret - never letting your right hand know what your left is doing. There is no boasting or arrogance.
Life is large for you. A big adventure. You don't shrink back in fear but plow forth in courage. You work hard and play hard.
Somewhere in all of this, by God's grace to me despite my own foolish, youthful arrogance, I became your wife and the mother of your four beautiful children. And somehow, some way, we've passed nearly 19 years together already.
40. Some cringe at this number, this decade. Jason, for you, I perceive it to be a crown of glory....the entrance into another decade of God's faithful provision. You enter this middle stage of life with the strength, wisdom, and grace that many never achieve in all their years of living, and you are loved, honored and respected by all who know you. If this is 40, how magnificent will the future decades be for you?.....a true culmination of God's intention for humankind......a shining reflection of God's love and an illustration of Christ's example to us all.
Our children have a rare gift in having you as a father. And I am humbled beyond words to be your partner and best friend. Jason, you are amazing.
So, happy birthday, my love. May this day for you be as a fresh, new beginning into the next decade of adventure and living, of growing in wisdom, knowledge and strength as you run the race that God has set before you.
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."
I Corinthians 9:24-27
"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does he prospers.......For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous."
Psalm 1: 1-3, 6