He often wakes up early, before anyone else in the house and sneaks outside to sit on the patio and oversee all the activity of nature in our backyard.
You can find him on the lawn mower most weeks, therapeutically mowing the grass. Taking care of his domain and making it beautiful for all of us who get to enjoy it.
If the lawn mower is vacant, you might find him in the woods or at his favorite stadium. Or, driving the boat early morning before the dew has settled while the boys twist and turn and wake-board into the day. His favorite place is wherever they are, but by far on the water.
Boats are his most favorite ‘thing’ and he loves to bring one back to life with a lot of love and elbow grease. (Reminds me a bit of our heavenly Father who can make beauty from ashes and restore us to our first love. Maybe that is why I love him so!)
Some of his greatest stories revolve around old Ski Nautiques and friends. If you know him, you have definitely heard the one about barefootin’ on an old cooler lid. You can still occasionally find him behind the boat on his famous trick ski, maybe not quite as full of tricks as once before, but definitely enjoying every moment.
As fun as life is with him, he also doesn’t mind sweeping or vacuuming or even cleaning the bathrooms. No, he loves for life within his walls to be above average on the neat and tidy scale. The motto that he often reminds our children of is ‘it doesn’t cost a dollar more to be clean!’ Not sure it has quite settled in them as completely as with him, but trust me, he isn’t giving up!
One thing I really love about him is the way he always seems to attract some of the most unlikely friends that pass through his work. Some days they are waiting on him at his office just to shoot the breeze or to share something heavy on their hearts. Either way, he seems to always find the time to listen or laugh with them along the way.
You could actually find him in the nursery at church with a pile of kids all around him or on the basketball court with a bunch of stinky seventh and eighth grade boys on Sunday night or better yet, behind the puppet’s voice in children’s church. I must confess, I often sign us up and he takes it all in stride, loving it all for the glory of God.
He loves the underdog, too, and I sometimes think it’s because maybe he can personally relate. His life has not always dealt him the easiest of hands, but despite the odds, he, through God’s grace has persevered. The lady at the McDonald’s drive-thru knows him by name and he would rather enjoy a big meal at Waffle House with the precious cook singing for all to hear than anything else.
His eyes light up when he sees a friend of the boys or one of the young men he coached in baseball. He never misses an opportunity to show them how much he cares, especially those who need that little extra dose of encouragement. And, they all have their own little nickname he seemed to coin for them along the way. Little Willie, Porter Rock, Super-fly Little Wat, and the like.
Yes, he loves to be a friend, but even more so relishes his role as dad to our two boys. After losing his own dad at such an early age, he definitely likes to keep everyone close. His greatest joys come from time spent watching them learn and grow and dream.
So today, I celebrate him. The one who loves big, works hard and plays fair.
Over the years his play time has gotten less as I have watched his commitment to people and Jesus get greater. His ability to show the love of Jesus in the simplest of ways amazes me.
Especially in his role as father. One who doesn’t always say yes and frequently demands much of our boys. He not only speaks to them about Jesus every day, but he leads them by example. Since they were tiny they have been praying together every morning on the way to school. At our house he can be known for the ‘long list and the short list’ lesson (just ask him about it or wait for it in another post!). Yes, he is a wonderful daddy. One who sticks it out and shows his beliefs by how he lives way more than he speaks of them.
And, of course, I have to recognize what a great husband he is. You see, today is his birthday and as I woke up this morning, I kept thinking of what a gift he is to me!
How God knew exactly who I would need in this crazy, roller-coaster ride called life. That I would need someone committed. Who would not leave, but would cleave. Someone who would understand that it can be hard for me to trust and that my past seems to creep up on me at times when it comes to understanding that someone really can put me first and care more about me than themselves.
And, yes, someone who would not only understand my passion for Jesus, but come to share it. Someone who would want to help others without a second thought or monetary calculation and who would love his children like our Heavenly Father loves us. And, mimic that for me to see after wondering for years how that was even possible.
Yes, today, I had to share and celebrate him. The one who comes second only to Jesus in my heart. The one who shares my love for our two boys. And, the one who loves me and sees me through life’s toughest struggles.
So, happy birthday! Thank you for sharing all the twists and turns of this life with me. Thank you for loving me even on days that I am not easy to love. Thank you for encouraging me to write and share and grow. Thank you for teaching my boys what a true man looks like – he loves Jesus, loves others and isn’t afraid to show it.
I pray that this will be your best year yet!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the precious husband you picked just for me and for the blessing of another year of his life. Protect his heart and guide his thoughts in all things. Empower him through your Spirit to be the man of faith you intend for him to be. Grant him good health, but more importantly grant him your favor as he serves you. Bless him, Lord, as he is such a blessing to me and so many others.
In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
You forgot Johnny Cakes!!! Happy Birthday Jonathan! I hope your day was as special as you are!!