Monday, July 26, 2010

His Life was Meant to Shine - Celebrating a Son's 18th Birthday

For eighteen years I have held onto a promise from God given to me when he was a baby in the womb, that my first born son would be a 'light in his world.' His life was meant to shine! I knew I was expecting a boy before I ever saw an image on a scan and I had already chosen a name - the meaning of his name was 'light' - powerful confirmation for me that God can be taken at his word! As I was in the midst of preparations for a party to celebrate his 18Th birthday on the weekend, my son was compiling his play list, a song by Mercy Me stopped me in my tracks. 'This life was meant to shine'. God was reminding me that He is faithful and keeps His promises.
I have so many memories - these are just a few.

Of my little blond boy being mobbed at the airport in Japan by grandmothers who just wanted to stroke his hair! It was quite an experience! This photo was taken in Japan - we were on our way to England to attend my sister's wedding. His first overseas trip. He was two years old. He loved the plane trip and traveling on trains and buses and going on the 'ferry cross the Mersey' in Liverpool - my hometown. He did not enjoy visiting Harrods, his disdain for department stores and shopping in general was evident from an early age! This runs in the male side of his family unfortunately but he was appreciative that his mother visited ten different stores to find the leather jacket he wanted for his 18th birthday. And he loved it! And he read aloud each message in the cards given to him by his siblings and thanked them individually for their gifts.

He was always mechanically minded and loved to pick up spanners and try to take things apart - lawnmowers, radios - anything with nuts and bolts. We had to hide screw drivers from him. He wanted to know how things worked - we used to give him old radios and computers to open up to satisfy this curiosity.

He loved to be around me and was always a 'hands on' boy. You could not use videos to babysit this boy - he could not stand the Wiggles! Why sing about food when you can actually help make it! For a few years he was my main kitchen assistant but then two sisters came along - as much as he enjoyed baking he was more than happy to let them take over the kitchen and eat what they produced! He hasn't changed.

When he was five we moved to the South Island of New Zealand to take up dairy farming. When he was seven he preached his first sermon. He stood on a fence post and boldly proclaimed the gospel to the congregation which consisted of his grandfather, the farm worker and 360 dairy cows! I wish I could have witnessed this - I only know about this because his grandfather ( who is not a Christian) came and told me that my son was 'going to be an evangelist.' Apparently he used the story of the good Samaritan as his text. His grandfather started firing back questions ... 'so, if I pray to God will I win Lotto? 'No, no, no granddad, that's not how it works' he protested. His granddad replied 'Well, that's no good to me' to which my boy responded 'But Granddad, God did make Solomon rich!'

He has been homeschooled since the age of six and had pleaded with me to teach him at home. I reluctantly (at first) agreed and wondered how on earth I was going to teach him to read when he would much rather be outside climbing trees. That was 12 years ago - he graduated at 16 and is now about a third of the way through his Bachelor's degree in Computer Studies.

You can read about his homeschool journey by typing 'The homeschool graduate' into my search box on the sidebar. I'm no longer his teacher and in the eyes of the world he is officially an adult but I'm of the opinion that when your child turns 18 it doesn't mean you cast them out into the world and say 'goodbye and good luck'. We have laid down the foundation and trained him in the way he should go and I am privileged to be still sharing my son's educational journey because he is studying online from home. I get to read some of his uni assignments and think 'wow' and offer my opinion and then wait in anticipation for the results to come back. He is doing so well and receiving high marks and we are justifiably proud of all his academic achievements but what really causes me to rejoice is the fact that he loves the Lord and shares his faith. He is not shy about standing up for the truth and declares on his Facebook page that 'hell is for wimps'. I suppose this is his way of saying that it takes strength and conviction to stand up for what is right and walk the narrow path when all around you are taking the easy route.

I had to remind myself that there are not too many young people who would be prepared to celebrate their 18th with their family, invite their friends and their parents too. That this celebration would take place at home and we would not need to worry about out of control teenagers getting boozed out of their brains. So we threw him a party and our home was filled with people of all ages - friends from church, our neighbours, my son's boss - the dairy farmer who has employed him since the age of 12. A great time was had by all. His sister baked him several cakes and was the dessert chef for the party but this was her Donna Hay inspired creation - she used tiny meringues instead of coloured lollies to make it more age appropriate. People kept asking where we bought the cake from!

My daughter is on the left, this is her friend on the right not her twin sister! They both happened to be wearing the same jacket! It was a little chilly but the firepit warmed the outdoor area and was fantastic for toasting marshmallows on. Don't you just love it when what you are looking for comes on special at the store. This firepit is from Jamie Durie's Patio range at Big W. It is going to be a great addition to our backyard - we also 'wood fired' our mini pizzas on it!

I confess I did spend some time in the kitchen but was ably assisted by Sylvie the Ilve and I also must give credit to Jo Seager my favourite kiwi cook. Her onion marmalade from this book was beautiful and so easy to prepare - check out her website for her recipes

But as I was spooning it into pastry cases and trying to stir the Barefoot Contessa's Leek and Potato soup at the same time as people were arriving it did start to feel a bit like a pressure test on Masterchef. But it was worth it - what did I learn - roasting the vegetables first is the key to flavour (that soup is to die for!) and count 'probably' RSVPs as 'Probably not coming just didn't want to say no' for I over catered! We had so much food it was ridiculous but I don't have to cook dinner for the next few nights!

Good food, family, friends - just a few of the ingredients that made our son's 18th birthday a success. And I did get to leave the kitchen but this is where quite a few of us congregated and talked as we made pots of chocolate macadamia coffee to accompany the birthday cake.

Lots of people saw my children in action on Saturday. It reminded me that it was was not just a family celebration or a birthday party but an opportunity to serve others and to use the talents that God has gifted us with to bless others. To shine our lights before men that may see our good works and glorify God in Heaven. Dear friends - Our lives were meant to shine!

And if you are daunted by entertaining and opening up your home to others - don't be. I used to be but along the way I have learned so many lessons about hospitality and I'd love to share with you from my experiences in future posts. Well that is one 18Th party done and dusted - only another 5 to go over the next 17 years! Next birthday is next week - my 'delightful' daughter is turning 13 and I have a surprise planned for her.

Next post will be my giveaway for my Australian friends so do look out for it! I'm looking forward to blessing someone!

With Love and Joy,

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simplelife said...

And if you are daunted by entertaining and opening up your home to others - don't be. I used to be but along the way I have learned so many lessons about hospitality and I'd love to share with you from my experiences in future posts.
Looking forward to reading about your journey and the lessons you have learned.
The party sounds like a wonderful birthday celebration and I'm also looking forward to hearing about the surprise you have for your daughter too.

cheers Kate

Unknown said...

What a wonderful blessing to you Ann!
Happy Birthday to your son.
That cake looks divine- my 8 year old has requested it for his next birthday as soon as he spied it in the book!

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Ann your Son sounds like the kind of guy we all hope our Sons will growew to be!
I am so glad to hear his special celebration went well.
It sounds like a wonderful menu...Mabey ne we can here alittle more about??
Happy Birthday (belated) to your lad!

Joolz said...

What a joyful post. I'm glad the gathering was such a success and a belated Happy Birthday to him, too!
The college that my daughter goes to has the motto - 'Let your Light Shine' - and I am reminded of it each time she does well at school and each time she smiles at me.

Cheers - Joolz

Karen said...

Happy Birthday to your son. He seems to be a great and handsome man

Camille said...

Happy Birthday to your 18 year old!! What a fun post of rememberings...such great pictures along the way! It sounds like it all was such a wonderful day of celebrating together!

Blessings to you!
Have a wonderful week!

Renata said...

Happy Birthday to your son - you're absolutely correct 18 is a milestone, but it doesn't mean that you should throw them to the world.
Your sons birthday party sounded wonderful - exactly the kind of party we enjoy! I loved the pictures of him growing up - in some ways he reminded me of my boys! Did the Grandfather end up coming to the Lord? - I remember preaching to my Grandad also!
I would love to read your hospitality journey posts you've promised!

Sorry it took me so long to comment - I've read this post in 3 sections starting when it was just posted!
God bless - thanks for your inspiration

Chris said...

A very lovely story to read. It's nice to see young people engaged with life and love, with respect and enjoyment.

I just wanted to say happy birthday!

What a proud mum and family. :)


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