Love Letter: Gabe

gabe-tom_pettyMy great Gabriel,

You know what I love about you? You are completely different compared to your other siblings. You are nothing like your brothers and sisters. Heck, you are nothing like any person I have ever met.

First and foremost, you are marked with intense amount of passion. For art and singing, I could talk on end about that but that is not what I am talking about. What I do know, see and feel every single day is your passion to love and to give love. It is amazing to see you develop the myriad of ways to love your siblings, your mom and even me.

You continuously endlessly play chase with Emma.

You instantaneously comfort Grace when she is hurt.

I love how you are the first to run in from another part of the house just to hug Yusef when he gets home.

I am privy to the hundreds of really late night chats with your big brother Griff.

Then you lovingly, tenderly, sweetly hold Elijah with all the love that a person could possibly hold.

You snuggle and cuddle with your Mom as tightly as you can.

You engage, talk, go deep, hug, and receive kisses from me.

You love us. You love each and every one of us. And you do so passionately.

Every time I see you love, I cannot help and be reminded on how much Jesus Christ each and every one of us. You know all of that passion and all of that love that you have in your heart and you just gotta get out? That comes from Jesus. You love like Jesus. Guess what? If you love like Jesus, just think how much more Jesus loves you. Jesus loves you more than you can possibly imagine. He will always there to heal any of your hurts. He is there when you have a crappy day. He always there to talk with you and hear what you have to say.

His love is infinitely there for you. He will always love you. He will never love you less. He cannot turn away from you. He cannot withhold his love from you.

I also love the way you can express yourself and your emotions. Truth be told, this thing that you so easily do—tell someone on how you feel and what is going on in your heart—is something that I don’t do really well. It was because of you and the example that you set inspired me to work on and grow in sharing what’s going on in my heart. You are one of the greatest examples that I have in seeing the incredible strength in a person and in a relationship that comes with being truly vulnerable with one another. Every time I get scared about sharing my feelings, I think about how you do it, and then I get the courage to share how I feel. Every time I do share my feelings, I only get love in return. Thank you for showing me how to be honest with others.

Your passion, your love, your eloquence, your vulnerability, your eye for heart and your amazing singing voice—all that and so much more makes you second to no one on this earth. You are an amazing person.

That said, I can’t stop telling others on how awesome you are and how I get to know you, live life with you, help raise you, and getting to see you grow up into a wonderful passionate young man. I love getting to speak to your Mom about your life now and your life in the future. I am so thrilled that I get to see all of your life.

I am your number one fan, Gabe. I will always have your back. I will always be your friend. I will always be here for you. I will always pray over you for God to bless you, keep you, shower his grace upon you, give you peace and love you. You are always on my heart and mind.

I love you, Gabe. I love you so much. Thank you for loving me the way that only you can.

 

From your truly honored stepfather,

Joe

Love Letter: Emma

emma-skatingMy beautiful Emma,

You are far more than what people see. Or as the saying goes, you are more than the sum of your parts. When people see you, they may see only your incredible beauty. And as wonderful as your beauty may be, your mind, heart and soul runs so much deeper.

This much I know of you: You are a scholar of the highest rank. Honestly, you are every bit the academic that I wish was. To try to describe just how smart you really are fails in that attempt. To that end, whatever knowledge, intellect, and wisdom that God has given me; they are yours for the taking. I want to do whatever it takes to flame that gift of God inside of your heart—a gift of knowledge and intelligence. Whatever I can do so that you can love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, I will do so. Just because of your incredible mind, I am so honored and privileged to have known you.

Much more than that, from the moment I met you, the one thing you have given me were your warm affections and your desire to make me feel like I belong to you. Anything that we had in common, you were so quick to bring it to my attention.

“Guess what, Joe? You and I are the only ones with brown eyes!”

“You love books just as much as me.”

You always wanted to make me feel welcomed into your home. You wanted to make sure that I always felt wanted. You always made sure that I was loved.

You were the first to ask me for hugs.

You were the first to ask me for kisses.

You were the quickest to show just how much you love me.

You never knew this man from before. You didn’t know his incredible wealth of sin from a lifetime ago. You never knew the darkest and deepest pain that has injured his soul.

All you saw was me. You saw me and you accepted me. You accepted me and you wanted to know me. You wanted to know me and you loved me. I could thank you a million times over and I still would never thank you enough for your sweet love.

I never have known a prettier little girl. I have never met a smarter person. Yet, your charms and smarts are nothing compared to the bold and audacious love that you give to God and that you have given me.

I love you, Emma. I praise and thank God that he made you. I love you. Now and forever, I do.

 

From your brown-eyed, book lovin’stepdad,

Joooooeeeeeee

Love Letter: Grace

gracie-ballerinaMy strongest Grace,

Your love is tremendous. I love the way you adore others. I love that you are always thoughtful of me. Every time you say goodbye, you always give me a hug. For that love, thank you.

After you go off to sleep, your mom and I stay up and talk about our children—all of the hopes and dreams that we have for you kids. I love it when we get to talk about you because I love bragging on you. I love getting to witness how much you have grown physically as well as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In fact, your own growth has challenged my growth as well.

For all of that and so much more, I praise and thank God for you.

When I see you, I see incredible resilience. When I see you, I see strength and power. Seeing you filled with the love and strength of the Almighty God, I can fathom how the gates of hell shall not prevail against His beautiful Bride.

When I hear you, I sense that you are a leader. You are leader who able to pull her people through the thick and thin. You call for attention for those around you. You are asking that people keep their eyes on you so that they understand what you are saying. You will inspire people to do great and marvelous things.

When I am near you, I know that you would not hesitate to lay your life down for those whom you love. I see you are incredible mindful of loved ones, and continue to try to give to others so that they know what it means to be loved and to have joy. For all of your toughness, your love is super tender, sweet, kind and gentle.

These words may be too much for you to understand them now.  But the words I write right now are the things I see in your life and I write them down so that your joy may be full in Him.

Always remember, I am speaking what truths I see in your life. But never think for one moment that you always have to be strong. Even you cannot continuously bear that impossible weight of glory. However, God, who is the Almighty, can and will bear the heaviest of your burdens. When you are weak, he will be your strength. Trust in Him alone and you will never know strength like His strength. In other words, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his infinite might.

You are an amazing little girl. And I get a front row seat just to see you grow up to be an amazing, beautiful woman of God. It is my joy, honor, privilege, and blessing to know you, to love you, and to get to help grow you, all for the glory of His great name.

I love you, little girl. I love you, my strongest Grace. Forever and always.

 

From your giant step-daddy,

Jo-Jo

Love Letter: Elijah

elijah-smiling-in-stripes-times-4My sweet Elijah,

Before you were born, I would look at your beautiful, gorgeous mom and I would look  at myself and kept thinking, “What is Elijah going to look like?” Most of all, what is Elijah going to be like—as a baby, a toddler, a kid, a teenager, an adult and even an old man. I was so curious about your life and all the possibilities therein.

I know this much to be true: I loved you. I loved you so much. I had my mind made up. I had my heart turned to you. And everything that I did in my life was done so that I could have that wonderful chance of pouring out my love on you.

I love you, buddy. Do you know that? I love you and I will always love you. You can’t do anything to cause me to love you less. In fact, when I get to know you more, I love you more. And I know you more and more as the days go on. That can only mean I love you more as the days go on.

You were born in a very special time of my life. Before you were born, I didn’t know or love God. In fact, your brother, Yusef, was born when I was dead in my trespasses and at war with Him. I look back at my life as I didn’t love God, didn’t love others well, and I certainly did not love or raise your brother well.

But by God’s grace alone, He saved me. He took out my old stony, crap-filled heart and gave me his soft, tender heart. He pulled the darkness out of my mind and now, my mind truly knows Him. He called out to me in the midst of my dying and death and gave me His life.

In other words, you are the first child that God has given me since being saved by Him. Because of that, I not only see your life but your life in all of eternity. I see you clearly because God has given me eyes to see. I hear you because God has given me ears to hear. I love you because God has given me his soft, tender heart of love.

I look into your beautiful dark blue eyes and cry with joy for the good things God has done in us.

I love you, little boy. You are my baby boy. And all of God’s grace, goodness, wisdom, and strength alone, I will raise you up and see you to become a lover of God.

I love you. For now and always, I love you.

 

From your spoiling Daddy,

Joseph

A Pastor’s Promise

Having been made an overseer by the Lord Jesus Christ,
affirmed as such by His Church,
and enabled solely by His grace,

I commit to live in a manner worthy of His calling,
loving Him with all my heart, soul and mind,
always on guard for myself that I maintain a testimony that is above reproach;

I commit to preach His Word,
standing ready in season and out of season,
never shrinking to declare to you the whole counsel of God,
reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with great patience and instruction;

I commit to shepherd His flock,
whom Christ purchased with His own blood,
exercising oversight with humility, leading by example,
and equipping His saints for the work of the ministry;

I commit to be found faithful as His steward,
looking to Christ alone for both judgment and praise,
that in all things He might have the preeminence;

And by His grace,
I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls
because He, the Chief Shepherd, spent Himself for me.
To Christ alone be the glory.

AMEN

 – Tim White, A Pastor’s Promise

ht: 9 Marks