Happy birthday Matthew! Twenty-nine years ago today, early in the morning, I said hello to you, my first son, after a very long and difficult labor. People wondered if I would ever have more children – let them wonder no more – seven sons and one daughter later, I could not be more blessed!! While you were in the womb, we prayed for you, sung to you often, talked to you about your future, and treasured you from the beginning. We gave you to the Lord before we even knew your name. And when you arrived on planet earth March 27, 1981, we had several names picked out. You were a tiny six pound, thirteen ounce baby – long and skinny – black hair and wide open eyes looking all around like, “Get me out of here; I have important things to do.” And you did! When we rehearsed the names we had carefully picked out, the only ones that matched you were “Matthew Aaron.” Those two words expressed the desires of our hearts for you – Matthew – “Gift of God” – Aaron – “Bringer of Light.” We prayed and have believed that in choosing those names for you, that God would allow you to be that gift from the Lord who would bring light to a very dark world. Yes!
With those big dark eyes and legs and arms on the move, we sensed there really was work for you to do. Those eyes, arms, and legs have never stopped moving. You talked early causing people to wonder what expensive preschool I had enrolled you in. You stood at the front windows of our little seminary house, inviting students to come in for breakfast, causing me to scramble for my robe. If they couldn’t come then, you would tell them it was okay, they could just come later for supper. I never knew who would show up. You took to a microphone early, singing worship songs from age 2, on. From seven years old, you spoke publicly every opportunity you had, and still do. Yes!
Your few piano lessons led you to discover that you could hear music, then play it without notes on paper – any kind – all kinds of music. You were a creative writer – composing poetry that would later become lyrics to songs you would write. Drawing, artistic tendencies, creativity – you were not the child who did “time outs” well, because while you were there, a whole new world would open up to you and you would forget why you were there and have way too much fun. You never met a stranger – and did not understand the don’t talk to strangers rule – and if there were none around to befriend, you would make up your own imaginary crew. Having seven siblings helped with that later. The opportunity to speak, debate, and act uncovered more of your talents; where would God take this young man, we wondered. Would he write, act, speak, sing, play music? Would he teach, preach, admonish, encourage, exhort, challenge? Would he create, start something new, lead others? To all those questions, yes!
While sitting in a room with a sick child and watching the church service on closed circuit television, I felt or heard or experienced an impression from the Lord that there would be an invitation given and that you would respond by giving your life to missions, in the main sanctuary. Yes! You did that day, as a young child. The television showed this little boy kneeling at the altar of a church in Tennessee, saying “yes,” to God and missions.
As pioneer homeschooling parents, you survived the challenge with us. There was not too much out there in those early days, but YES, we did it! I didn’t do an amazing job but my prayer for God to complete the work I was attempting, has been answered in all my children. You graduated and married a sweet childhood friend, one who also had sensed the call to missions on her life. Yes to marriage!
Children began to come even though you had warned me that you would not be having children for several years. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” (Robert Burns). Yes to Tobin, Josiah, Jude, and most recently twins Ean and Eden. Not popular, not easy, not predicable – no formulas – but amazing and wonderful – having children! I know you did not mean to follow in our footsteps of large family, but God seems to have taken you down that path, to which you have bravely said, “yes!” What an adventure you are on!!
Now a new calling – finally all the gifts begin to come together in the founding of “SafewaterNexus” http://safewaternexus.org/ under “Go International” http://gointernational.org/. Uganda – now Haiti – bringing wells of clean, fresh water – tents, food, medical supplies, mosquito nets, shoes – school supplies – heart – tears – love – compassion, and most of all, LIGHT – IN THE FORM OF THE LIVING WATER, JESUS CHRIST. Yes!
I am so proud of you as you continue to walk in an imperfect world, an often disappointing world – I apologize for the church and the lack of true compassion and ministry you have often seen – where people care more about themselves and their needs than the needs of others. I do know that there are many challenges before you with Jude’s special needs – with raising support to provide – with loving Jordana and children – with meeting the needs of many who have captured your heart. I do know that life is hard – what your eyes have seen make you wonder about things you have always believed. But you are on the path – keep going –God will show you how to do His work, with the family He has given you. Keep close to Him – love His Word – keep bringing water to so many who are thirsty – light to a dark world.
The words “happy birthday” seem so inferior, when I want to say “I celebrate you – your entrance into this world – I celebrate what Christ is doing and wants to do in and through your life – I celebrate the lives you are touching even today in Haiti.” What a place to celebrate your birthday! I love you and do not have to think hard to remember my first tears and joy at the announcement of your birth – of my love for you the moment I saw your face. Giving children away to the Lord is important – watching them grow up, make decisions, make mistakes – are all parts that I have had to learn. You were and are the Lord’s – I just got to get in on part of the action.
Please hug someone for me in Haiti today – say, “this is from my mom!” I love you and as always – am praying for you! Happy Birthday!
“Affliction frequently opens truths to us and opens us to the truth. Experience unlocks truths that were closed. Many passages of Scripture will never be made clear by the commentator, for those must be expounded by experience. Many a verse is written in a secret ink that must be held to the fire of adversity to make it visible. Affliction plows and opens our hearts, so that into our innermost nature the truth penetrates and soaks like rain into the plowed land. Affliction, when sanctified by the Holy Spirit, brings much glory to God through the believer’s experience with the Lord’s faithfulness.” –C.H. Spurgeon.