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Andrew's thirteen year old poem:

Andrew Is A Teenager

I look at my son - who long ago was "Little One"
And what I'm seeing is
perhaps a bit surprising.
For here sits one
In appearance nearly a man
Tall, handsome, with strong features
Dark curly hair, intelligent eyes
Yikes! He has surpassed me in shoe-size
And will soon, no doubt
Surpass me in height and strength

Andrew - my firstborn and the son of my youth
You are now a teenager, yes, it's the truth
And I can't express how proud I am
Of the quiet young man
That you have become
Your very name means "Strong and Manly"
And that's what you are

Strong In body, of course, you continue to grow
Built for football, you love it so
You are a true student of the game
An expert in all the Xs and Os
You hold deep affinity
To certain teams
Your revered trinity
Being Dallas, the Longhorns
And whatever team you happen to play for
In your football career you've made quite a name
Your first three years were all victories and fame
On those Steelers teams.
While the last two years, it seems
We've been learning the flipside lesson
Of playing on teams that struggle
But I'm so proud of you, as you lead in the huddle
Hustling and encouraging your teammates
Though these last two seasons have thus far
Been somewhat slim
In wins
You are always a winner to us
You are an "A" player and it's plain
That your coach thinks the same

On offense and defense you prowl the line
Blocking and pulling, and delivering a fine
hit to a hapless ballcarrier (who, if lucky, lives to tell the story
after carrying the ball in your territory)
Plus, lest I fail to mention
There are those amazing teams you've put together
With great concentration
on your Playstation
Dominating the cyber-leagues of Madden
Though at times you tend to run up the score
(Which isn't too hard when you've created players
Who are solid muscle at 7'2" and who run a 4.4)

In mind and skill
You are growing still
Continuing to rack up the "A"s in school
(And dealing with a dad who, as a rule,
looks down on Bs as not too cool.
What fun growing up around here must be!)
There are so many things you like to do and see
Together we explored the storied and sacred battlefields
Of Antietam, Manassas and Gettysburg,
Paying homage to the men who gave
Their last full measure our country to save
Yes, our spring break trip was a great quest
Drinking in the history with hardly a rest
Exploring Washington, Arlington, and the Rockville scene
And trying to find a restaurant that served
decent Mexican cuisine
It was a great time
Though I suspect you would have liked
To hit me with a gavel
As you put up with all the idiosyncrasies
Of the way I travel
My continuous requests for a bathroom break
And now and then the wrong turn I'd take
As I boldly set a course for the setting sun
Wait a minute… setting in the East? D'oh!
Oh well, it was fun
We saw a little more of Maryland than was in our plan
Yet it was a special time, spent with my amazing son
who is quickly growing from boy to man.

And you've continued to add to your talents
Playing the drums, with your small but growing set
There aren't nearly enough cymbals for you yet!
And you are getting so good on guitar
I look forward to the day when
You have surpassed far
Beyond me in your skill
It's such a great thrill to get to pass on to you
The bit that I know about chording and strumming
Look out Afro Records, Andrew is coming!

And you're growing in Spirit -
And that's the most important growth of all
And as last summer passed and fall
Arrived I could see changes, stirrings, new steps taken
In your willingness to submit to the Lord
Though I'm sure through it all sometimes your faith was shaken
And though not all faith-tests seem necessary
(For instance, climbing a pamper pole still seems a bit scary)
Still, there is much that God has ahead
For you to do and to be.
but I know you'll be fine
Your first full year of Junior High 249
Was a time of challenge
A time to be a quiet leader,
Someone for others to look up to
And though you may not realize it
That's the trait I've seen growing in you
I know that the questions and doubts can arise
They're natural for anyone who honestly tries
To lead the Christ-life, and it means so much to me
That you have always felt so free
To talk about the things of God with us
And let us share in your struggles and victories too
I'm reminded of how we used to wrestle
For fun on the floor in the days of yore
It's been some time, and perhaps I can confess
Now I'm not sure how well I would do in the test
These days I prefer to remember winning our last match
and leave it at that, lest my title you snatch!
But I consider how Jacob wrestled, long, long ago
With the Spirit of God, and how he wouldn't let go
Until he was blessed, and just like Jacob I know
That in your walk with the Lord you will never give up
But continue to hold on
And in doing so, grow strong
Because that's the spirit He has put in you
A spirit of strength and quiet honor for Him
And those traits, and that relationship
Will continue to grow
As you grow up into honorable manhood
This much I know
So enjoy this year, Andrew - your first year as a teen
Lots of cool things are coming - you'll see what I mean
Soon enough, but for now and always
Know that you are loved

Happy birthday!

October 25, 2002