This letter should have been written over nine months ago, but with building the house the past couple of years I haven't been able to do much blogging. I'm hoping to do better this year. You have truly transitioned this past year, and 8 seems to have changed you from a "little boy" to just a "boy." You still have the same sweet spirit, beautiful empathy for others, and desire for achievement, yet you've struggled with perfectionism, competitiveness, and control. The very things that will make you a successful adult, are a burden at times when you're eight. I love your determination and your competitiveness (when you can keep it in check). I love your passion and your fire when you're on the court or the field. There isn't another kid out there that cares as much as you do. You pour your heart into athletics and you always seek justice. Daddy loves being your coach, and although it is a challenge to coach his own son, I know that he cherishes the time he gets to spend with you and the pride he feels when you're giving it your all.
Everything seems to come easier to you this year…not much has been a challenge, except for the dreaded piano lessons. School comes easy and you make excellent grades. You excel in every subject, but tend to favor math and science. Since putting you on teams with your own grade instead of playing up, you shine on the court and the field and are one of the best. You're an excelling "winner" and can be a good teammate, but losing is something we are currently working on. You don't cope well with failure, so I'm trying to give you the skills you'll need to deal with failure and disappointment in your life. It's hard for a type-A, first-born to deal with things not going their way. In these situations I want you to give it all to God and pray for his guidance as he helps you put things into perspective. Failure makes us better, and it is our trials that give us strength.
You do not like taking piano lessons, but I am keeping you in them for now. It's a fight to get your to practice, but I have never met anyone who regretted learning to play. You play very well, but dislike the challenge and concentration it takes to learn the piece. You are like you're mama in so many ways, and you tend to want to give up and not do the things that you are not naturally good at. I love that piano uses a part of your brain that no other activity uses, and I love how you have to sit still and concentrate on reading the notes. I don't except you to be a famous pianist, but my goal is that you will develop a love and appreciation for music.
LilliAnn and Rush adore you. You and LilliAnn fight like crazy, but you two also love like crazy. You are the best of friends and the worst of enemies. You would do anything for her, but won't hesitate to wrestle with her in the living room floor or take something that she was playing with first. Rush tries to do everything that "bubba" does, and he loves following you and Fisher around the house like a big boy. I want you to always remember that he watches you and looks up to you, so be a good role model and point him towards Christ. You are your daddy's sidekick and I have never seen him worry about someone as much as he worries about you. He is absolutely crazy about you and the two of you have a very special bond. He is so patient with you and does such a good job talking to you and teaching you things. You soak in every word that he says, and you frequently spout off information that "my dad told me…" You had a big hunting moment this year, when daddy took you out in the woods and you shot a bobcat. It was a big deal and your dad was super proud of you. You love the outdoors and any type of adventure, just like your daddy. If the weather permits, you stay outside until dusk every evening after school. You have loved living at our new house and having woods to explore and a pond to fish…and a good street to ride your bike and your Hoverboard.
Thins that remind me of Reid Jackson:
-baseball, basketball, soccer, football
-any game or challenge
-Thunder basketball games and professional sports teams
-bike riding, Hoverboards, and Rip sticks
-baseball and basketball cards
-plums and apples
-salmon, lobster, and crab legs
-potato and tomato soup
-intensity, determination, justice, and competition
-empathy, sincerity, and loyalty
-wolves and lions
-Under Armour, Nike, Hurley, and cozy jeans
-basketball shoes, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and CP3
-iPad and XBOX One
Reid Jackson, you were my first-born, my first love. It doesn't seem that long ago that you snuggled beside me, your entire body fitting on a pillow, waiting for your daddy to come home from the evening shift. You were such a serious baby, all business, never time for purposeless play or entertainment. Today, you are the same way, and I adore your personality. God has a divine and perfect plan for your life and I am excited for you to seek His will. As I tucked you into bed last week, you prayed that special prayer and asked Jesus to come into your heart and be your Lord and Savior. It was one of the best days of my entire life and I praise Jesus for allowing the Holy Spirit to convict your heart. I pray that you be bold in your faith and blaze new paths of courage. I pray that the light of Christ radiates from your soul and reach people with His love wherever you go. Reid, I am very proud of you and I love you so. You are a son of God and a warrior for Christ. Go out into the world and do big things.
I haven't posted in a really long time, but today is something worth writing about. My precious Reid decided to follow Jesus tonight and join the Kingdom of God. To say I am filled with joy is an understatement! February 1, 2017 will forever be one of my favorite days.
Tonight during dinner, while sitting at our kitchen island, eating pizza and watching the Thunder game, Reid says to me, "Mommy, I'm ready to be baptized." Then I ask, "Are you just ready to be baptized?" And he responds with, "No, I'm ready to become a Christian and follow Jesus too." My heart flutters and a sense of peace fills my soul. I was overcome with happiness, but that soon followed with doubt. "Was he ready?" "Should convince him to think about it and put it off a little longer?" "Did he really understand the big picture? What it means to truly follow Christ?" Jeb had gone to the Thunder game, so I wasn't able to discuss all of my thoughts and questions with him, and get his opinion on this wonderful statement that just came out of the mouth of our first born. I then told him that it wasn't just about being baptized, but that it was about admitting that you are a sinner, that you have a broken relationship with God, and believing that Jesus died on the cross and rose again to pay for our sins so that we could be made right with God and live forever with Him in heaven. He said, "I know and believe that." I said, "Well when you're ready to say that prayer to Jesus, I will pray with you." "Ok, I want to do it tonight," he says.
Reid has been talking about becoming a Christian and asking us questions about it for the past year, but tonight it was different. His words had a sense of confidence and urgency about them, as if he knew it was time. By looking into his eyes and hearing the tone of his voice, I knew that the Holy Spirit had been working on his heart. This was the day that he would join the Lord's army. I asked him a few questions to assess if he was, indeed, ready to proclaim his faith and become a Jesus follower. He was spot on with all of his answers, and then mentioned praying his prayer two more times throughout the evening. At bedtime, I told Reid to go upstairs and I would be up in a minute to tuck him in. "And pray my prayer?" He asks. This is when I knew for sure he was ready. This kid was not going to bed tonight without knowing and being for sure that Jesus Christ lives in his heart!
I went upstairs and laid down beside him and read him a few scriptures. I talked with him about how God loved him and had a plan for his life. I discussed with him how we were all sinners and deserved the penalty of death and separation of God because of our sins, but that God loved us so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins so that we could have an eternal life with Him in heaven. I asked him a few questions about the Gospel, and then told him the steps of Salvation. Admitting you are a sinner. Believing that Jesus is the Son of God and died on the cross and rose again for our sins. And committing your life to following Christ. He then prayed the sweetest prayer of child-life faith.
"Dear God. I am ready to be a Christian. I am a sinner and I believe in Jesus and that he died on the cross for my sins. Jesus, come into my heart. I'm ready to start learning how to be baptized and how to be a Christian. Amen."
As I lie there beside my 8 (almost 9) year-old son with my arms around his waist and pulling him in close to me, listening to him pray the prayer of Salvation to our Savior, I was completely humbled. I am in awe of Jesus and his never ending love, abounding grace, wonderful faithfulness, and perfect timing.
The past few weeks of parenting have been really tough with Reid. Most of the time, Reid is an angel. But when he has a bump in the road, it's usually a pretty big bump. He tends to be very dramatic, so it's kind of like a roller coaster…it's either really high or really low. Reid is intelligent, empathetic, a leader, competitive, driven, sensitive, and logical, but he is also strong-willed, impatient, anxious, rash at times, a perfectionist, and can be a bit manipulative. He's a lot like his mama. And because of this, I find myself throwing in the towel when parenting him, and letting Jeb deal with most of Reid's issues. Jeb spends more time with Reid, and is the one who helps him with sports, entertains him, and puts him to bed at night. Over the past year, I've caught myself feeling resentment towards Reid at times for controlling so much of Jeb's time, being able to sabotage our family to get his way, and quite frankly, for being so much like me. This has been hard for me to deal with, and to be honest, I haven't really dealt with these feelings because 1. I have been scared to deal with them. And 2. I don't know how to deal with them.
The past few days I have been praying about the way God wants me to parent, and particularly about my relationship with Reid. My women's Bible study started back up yesterday, and I have talked to God more in the past two days than I have in the past month. And you know what? He is hearing my prayers. "Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you shall find…"
I remember going to Walmart by myself on Sunday night after the kids were in bed. It was a long day, full of lots of chaos and a bad day of parenting. I drove home in silence and cried out to God. I told God that I refused to let Satan get a hold of my family because the victory already belonged to Jesus, and I prayed for God's protection and guidance as I raised three beautiful souls.
So tonight, I told Reid that I was sorry that things hadn't been so good between us the past few months, but that with God's help, I was going to do better. I told him that I was proud of him, that I loved him, and that there was no other first born child that I would ever pick besides Reid Rollins. He hugged me and said, "I love you mommy and I'm sorry. I'm going to start listening to you better." As I walked downstairs and towards my bedroom, tears streaming down my face, and for the first time in my life, I felt as if I could not control my own body. I fell on my knees in the middle of my closet and sobbed…and sobbed. I cried out loud to God giving him all the glory…singing praises of thanksgiving…all I could say was "thank you," while lifting up my hands to the heaven.
God is so good. And I am so overwhelmed by his perfect love.
For the lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5
When Jeb and I dedicated Reid to the Lord at First Baptist Church Seminole, the life verse that I picked for him was 3 John 1:4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Today, my heart is filled with joy. Glory to God in the highest and all praise and thanksgiving to Jesus my Savior, my Lord forever. Amen.
(As he wrote this in his Bible he said, "February 2nd?" And I said no, "It's still the 1st."
"Aw, man." He says, "I wanted to become a Christian on groundhog day!")