four more summers

Yes, my firstborn. That is really all we have together, Lord willing. Four more summers.

With this reality staring me in the face, I can’t help but slow down and think of all the things I want you to know. All the things I need for you to understand. And, yes, all the ways I want to show you how much I love you before then.

Yes, you were my firstborn. The one who first uttered the word, mama, and set my whole world in motion. You kept me up at night. Challenged my creativity over potty training. And, even sent me to my knees way more than I had ever been before (and still do).

I thought this mommy business was really me molding you, but in all honesty, every day you have been molding me. He has used you to help me grow and me to help you grow. I just want you to know that I think we make a great team and I am so grateful He chose you to be mine and me to be yours. This journey has just been one more confirmation of His faithfulness in my life.

With all of that said, here we are winding down yet another summer and heading into another school year. Eighth grade. The last year of middle school. The end of my thirteenth summer with you. There is so little time left. And, so much yet to do.

Yes, I may seem a little overwhelmed at times and rightly so. As your mom, I have big plans for these next four summers. And, all the school years left in between. No amount of time would seem like enough, but with His help, I know it will be life-changing for both of us.

Since this revelation, one word keeps coming back to me. Intentional.

I want to be very intentional. With our plans and our time. I am going to be praying for just that as we embark on this journey.

So here it goes. Just a few things He has already placed on my heart for you and me. For our last four summers and all the short months in between…

Let’s plan to love bigger. I want you to know what real love looks like. Through God’s eyes. I want us to love Him first, and our neighbors as ourselves. I want you to know how much I love you, but that God loves you even more. And, I want that love to flow out of our lives into the lives of others. Yes, let’s make love the center of our lives. It really is the greatest of these.

I plan to remind you over and over again who you are in Christ, and whose you are. See, you aren’t really mine or dad’s, you are His. The enemy would like for you to believe that you aren’t good enough, or smart enough, or righteous enough. But, none of that is true. You are the child of the King. You were adopted and chosen, and because of the gift of Jesus on the cross, you are blameless in His sight. I pray you can live in that freedom and grace every day. And, yes, that your value won’t come from your worth in the eyes of others, but instead will be a direct reflection of the high value placed on you through Christ Jesus.

Please join me in the Word. I want you to be empowered with God’s words. Not mine. Especially when you have a decision to make or a problem to face. I want you to understand the goodness of God and His promises. I want you to really know Him, and honestly, the only way to really know someone is to spend time with them. Yes, I want to be in His word with you as much as possible. Writing it on our hearts together. Binding us for all eternity.

Over these next few (yes, they are few to me) months, I plan to pray with you and for you. Boldly. I want you to hear me pray the promises of God over you and know my heart for Him and for you. I want you to know how to pray when I’m not around and to trust that the Spirit intercedes for you when the words just won’t come. I want you to see for yourself the power in prayer. That, my son, is life-changing. To see God answer so quickly that nothing short of a miracle can explain it. That is faith-building and that is just what you need for the journey.

I have a confession. Sometimes my anxiety over the changes in life and the new opportunities you face is suffocating. I really want to be able to let go and let God take over the next several years. I want to not only know, but to live as if I know, that our Father in heaven is far better equipped to care for you than I am. I want to focus on that truth and forget the fear the enemy would want me to believe. Yes, if I trust God more, I pray you will see it. And, that maybe, you would come to trust Him more, too. Wouldn’t it be great if you could leave home with a greater trust for God than I have after my forty-something years?

I really want to get in the trenches with you. To serve the way Jesus would. I want you to understand that you were created to serve. Not be served. I want you to know that putting other’s needs above your own has a beautiful way of making you feel way more fulfilled than anything else. I want you to see less of me and more of Him as I look for ways to be His vessel. I want to join you in service as we love bigger together – hopefully laughing together and learning more about one another & Jesus along the way.

Can I also apologize? I am sorry for all the times I have jumped to conclusions. For all the times I didn’t slow down long enough to listen. I want to listen to you better. I want to really hear your heart. And, to cherish every story you tell and every, “I love you, too,” you say.

Let’s take time for us. I know how much we all love to be together. Just the four of us. Let’s do just that as much as possible and not feel guilty about it. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make time for others when needed, I am just saying that all of these things we need and want to do take time. It takes time to be intentional. Someone once reminded me that you and your little brother are my most important ministry. And, yes, every good ministry takes much time. Time just to be together.

I plan to try to interfere less with the unimportant things. I know. This is hard for me. I enjoy picking out your shirt or organizing your things, but really, now is the time for you to learn. As hard as it is to say, you are going to need to fail with some little things before you are off on your own for some big things. Yes, I want to step back and watch you step up to the challenges God has prepared for you. I know you can do it and I will always be your biggest fan.

Along with this, you really just need to master some life basics. Laundry. Which, yes, really does mean washing, folding, putting away and even ironing. Cooking. Not just frozen pizza, but some really stick to your ribs food for a growing boy. Being responsible. With your time. Your things. Your money. This could be a hard one. But, yes, it will take being intentional to teach you all the life lessons you need before we send you off to college or even into adulthood. Maintaining a home, balancing your budget and being like Jesus can be a tall order when added to all the other things you need to know. That is why we have to work together on all this.

But, thank goodness, not everything we do will be serious. I want us to have one adventure after the other. And, to laugh often. Yes, I want to remember your laugh long after you are gone. Let’s plan a few real family adventures and laugh over the least little things. Some of our most memorable trips with the most love and laughter have been within driving distance with the four of us crammed between luggage in one of our old Suburbans. Let’s just get out there together. Let’s embark on places we have never been and learn some great lessons along the way. Wouldn’t it be great to send you off into the world with a little piece of it under your belt already? Yes, I believe our adventure can be wherever we choose to create it!

And, yes, all of this will be quite an adventure in and of itself!

How I wish some of these had been my focus always. If only I had understood how quickly time passes.

“But, time can’t be bought. It can only be spent.” ~ Liz Curtis Higgs, It’s Good to be Queen

Trust me, sweet boy, there will never be enough summers. So, let’s not wait. Start now making the most of every summer. Every day. And, yes, every moment. I am sure you will be blessed and so will I.

I am praying that He provides whatever else might need to be added to our plan. I want Him, your Creator and Abba Father to be our guide. I am just a typical mama hoping to live an atypical life according to our culture.

That all of my intentions, especially for you and your brother, will be centered on Him. His plans. His purposes. His promises.

For the next four summers and always.

With all my heart,

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  • Reply Kristin August 16, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Oh, Jen. Stop! This is so beautiful and yet so heart breaking. It means I just have five more summer’s with Elijah, even though we aren’t exactly sure what will be next for him after high school. (He says he’s going to AUM and plans to live with his grandparents.) ❤️ Thank you for this reminder to be intentional with whatever time we have, which only God can truly number.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward August 20, 2015 at 9:22 am

      I know…it is heartbreaking in so many ways. Praying for all of us as we let go a little more each year. Love you, sweet friend.

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