“I command you: Be strong and steadfast! Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Raising boys is both a privilege and an adventure. My youngest son, Zach, spent three straight years pestering me to purchase yet another “Lightning McQueen” or “Mater” toy car from the movie “Cars” which was an obsession of his from about ages 2 to 5. I often miss that little boy now. Seasons come and they quickly go. By the time he joined our family, I already knew that and so I was a much softer touch. As a result, we still probably have 75 matchbox size cars in our basement collection from this classic kids movie…and the young man has eaten more mac and cheese than should ever have been permitted!
Tom and I decided two boys was probably a big enough family after Nick joined us in 1997 and then Drew in 1999. Then, one ladies “Bunko Night” about 4 years later, I complained to friends that I had this little touch of the flu that I couldn’t shake. One of the gals looked at me and said, “Shelly, are you sure you aren’t pregnant?” That’s when I left the party and went straight to CVS. One would think I would have picked up the signals a little sooner the third time around, but I had not. Never has a little pink “+” sign appeared quicker on a pregnancy test. Tom and I decided “Oops” was a bad name choice, so we decided to go with Zachary Charles. Our good and gracious God knows what He is doing with the plan for our lives even when we don’t, because our family would most certainly be incomplete without the Z-man. He is a complete and utter blessing!
Z is a rules following, brother-adoring, sports maniac. He’s a kind friend who owns a sarcastic and very quick wit. He knows the lyrics to every country song on the radio, and the jersey number and stats for nearly every Boilermaker, Colts or Pacers or Chicago White Sox player. Actually, those are just for starters. He’s pretty good at everything he tries. However, he’s got an Eeyore-like melancholic temperament so he tends to underestimate his own skills and abilities. So, while I often have to remind him to choose to see the positive in his day, he’s also the owner of exceptional compassion and empathy toward those around him, as he sees the challenges facing others more clearly than most too. Often, I hear him say things like “I was so glad that (insert name here) got recognized for (insert honor here) because sometimes he/she gets overlooked.”
Zach has exceptionally quick hands, and they were hilariously on display a couple years ago during Spring Break when he had very little trouble taking down an overconfident former Chicago Bears football player who entered the Marriott Hotel’s ping pong tournament. This guy thought he was pretty talented at ping pong, until he ran into a little buzz saw from Carmel, Indiana. We all got a great chuckle watching that unfold down in Orlando! Also, he’s been able to hold his own in poker, euchre, wizard, and most any other card game since he was about five years old. As the youngest, he’s always been trying to keep pace with his heroes, Nick and Drew.
Zach can handle a basketball and has a good looking jump shot. He took up tennis a year ago and has made fast progress. He’s a solid infielder with a quick bat, and I hear his golf game is coming on strong. NONE of these are the reasons why he makes me incredibly proud though. It’s this. Very often, I hear from coaches, teachers, or other parents that Zach made a point to thank them for their time, or that he encouraged in a meaningful way a classmate or team member. He takes pride in his relationship with the Lord, often asking me meaningful questions about the faith or sharing about someone we need to remember in our prayers. Every single day when I picked him up from school, he would ask me, “How was your day, Mom? What did you do today?” In short, he is a young man of character and integrity who is the face of Christ to others. NOTHING could make me more proud than that!!
As he celebrates his 15th birthday today, I want to say a couple more things directly to Z. Zachy Chuck….I love you kiddo. Dad and I are crazy about you. Nick and Drew try to act cool, but they are big fans too who care about you more than you might know. Never forget, though, that you are a beloved son of the Most High God, and He controls the storms that will certainly come your way in life. If you stay close, He will never leave you to weather those dark clouds alone. So, WORK HARD, BE STRONG, SMILE and never forget that the Lord is always by your side. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ZACH!!