happy 16th birthday joey


i love you bubby.

16 years ago today i became a mother.  they placed you safely in my arms and i fell in love with that sweet little blonde haired boy.  i want you to know that being your mother is the single greatest privilege in the world.  you have made every single day a complete joy.

i cannot believe that today you are turning 16.  it seems like only yesterday that i rocked you, while singing you are my sunshine, until you fell asleep.  only seems a short time ago that i was watching you take your first steps and not long after watching you stretch your legs to ride your first bike.  how many times i watched you throw on your barn boots and big flannel jacket and head to the ditch to play cars.  and now you'll be driving a car.  turning 16 means you've taken another step towards manhood.  to the world, you are ready for a new set of responsibilities.  how lucky am i to get a front row seat to watch your growth.

you are already pondering hard questions and thinking about your future.  but then again, you've always been a planner.  i think we've been talking about your future since you were just a wee one.  you've always had such a great head on your shoulders, measuring out thoughts and actions carefully.  i can remember at 10 years old you asking me "if i would be ______ when i grow up, how much money would i make and how long would i have to go to college for".  your brain always seemed to be churning.

you have such a tender heart filled with compassion and mercy.  i will never forget how concerned you were when you were just a little boy about the elderly lady out the road.  you insisted we not only go check on her daily, but take her meals as well.  you developed an instinct and desire to reach out to those that have less than you at such a young age.  and it has just continued since then. whether it is a fatherless friend or the kid that just does not fit in and needs help getting his football pads on.  you've never once been afraid to step in and give a helping hand or defend someone when it was called for.  you are aware of how great and wide God’s love for you is and you share that with others.

your sense of humor is truly amazing and that coupled with your personality is magnetic, drawing people to you.  you are the type of person people want to be around because you make them happy, make them laugh and make them feel good.  that is a gift joey, a gift obviously given to you by God.  i've always thought your sense of humor and personality would be such a great platform to use to tell people about the Lord.

 if there is only one thing i want you to remember and lock in your heart, it's this:  love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbors as yourself.  these truths, combined with the strength of your wonderful character, have the power to change the world.

i am so very proud of the young Christian man you've grown into.  with so much sin and worldly ways around you, you aren't afraid to take a stand for what you believe in.  whether it is wearing a verse necklace to school, posting a faith-filled status on facebook or taking a stand in school against evolution.

God has a purpose and plan for your life joey.  always follow His lead and He will take you amazing places.  you are God’s handiwork, crafted by Him and for His good pleasure.  He uniquely designed you to be you alone, comfortable in your own skin.  be ready to create your own path in life.  you can choose the wide path or the narrow path, it is your choice.  never will there be another joey cutler.  never will someone else impact the lives you have and will in the future as only you can.  imperfect though you will be, learn to appreciate your weaknesses, as it’s in them that you will experience God’s greatest strengths.

leave your mark by loving each and every person your life touches, those who love you and those who don’t.  love has no conditions.  it expects nothing in return.  it gives freely, multiplies and grows.  do this and everything else will work itself out.

one of the biggest gifts God has blessed you with is your sense of humor.  seriously, cannot even count how many times i've laughed to the point of my stomach hurting and nearly peeing my pants.  you love to be funny, watch funny things and just laugh.  it's such an amazing gift.  we've had soooo many great times laughing in this household.  thank you for making me laugh.

my job as a mother is to create a home of love, laughter, security and nourishment, where you can cry without fear, grow without judgment, and discover without prejudice.  even though i'm not perfect and have failed at times {many, many times}, you need to know we are here for you always.

the hardest thing i'm ever going to have to do is allow you to spread your wings and fly.  but you're a child of God, only loaned to me for a while.  i cannot wait to see what your future holds, the joys and challenges that await you, the legacy your life will create.  

love you,