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Blake's fourteen year old poem:

Blake is Fourteen

Now you are fourteen
And it's just you, and me, and mom
We're in this stage, the in-between
The journey from kidhood to when you'll be gone
To seek your young man's fortune
Leaving us an empty nest
That day is coming closer
No matter how much we protest

The privilege of being the fourth-born
You see, it paid off, this being born last
With your older sibs at college
and starting careers
and getting married
Things are moving very fast
But you get the full attention
of a mom who
Without other children at home in contention
Is head over heels devoted to you

Now, let's take a moment
to raise our hands in the air and give a shout
Junior high, that wonderful phase of life
Is nearly over! You're nearly out!
Without a doubt
Middle school has demanded
a healthy ration of perseverance
But finally now we're nearing
This milestone,
The leap over this hurdle's high clearance
You have fought through the challenges
And my prayer for you is that high school will be
An exciting time, a time of friends and great growth
Full of comraderie and esprit
A time that is both
less scary and more fun
than Arnold was
Let's thank God, you're nearly done!

I'm so proud of who you've become
You're a bundle of quick wit
and introspection
A nice mix of rakishness
And competitive intensity
Smart, funny, outgoing, charming
With a frequently practiced propensity
To compose a song
You've got a singular talent to enhance
Every lyric by making it, somehow,
about yourself
complete with song and dance

We've had our academic struggles on the way
Summed up in one word: "Algebra"
Which to you, for awhile there,
Became your personal anathema
Nights at the kitchen table
You staring into the abyss
Dealing with the "Who does this stuff, really?"
and, of course, "I'll never, ever use this!"
You began to make sense of the
numbers and letters, across the page drifting
The drudgery of problems to be solved
This mental weight-lifting
You did it, and now, well
It's no big deal
though Algebra you still no like
So let's take a deep breath, and enjoy the comprehension
at least until Geometry comes down the pike

And in between school, church, and soccer practice
Heading this way and there for
We have our hoops in the driveway
Which I now have to really prepare for
I need a good game plan and to warm up my shot, because
beating you is not as easy as it once was
I'm having lots of trouble blocking your
Left-handed hook
You're flashing past me to the basket
Before I have time to look
I can always rely on the foul, or a discrete elbow shot
But those don't do much good when your shot starts getting hot
You're basically running me all over the court these days
Your skills and size have increased
And though now and then
I eke out a lucky win
It is well established and certified
That you are now, most definitely, a beast

Athletically, you're so gifted
Well skilled and well-wheeled
And you've enhanced your gifts with a lot of hard work
What you can do on the soccer field
Is poetry in motion to us,
Watching your intelligent play and sure touch
Is so great, we love cheering for you
We enjoy your games so much
And we wouldn't trade all these years watching you
do that thing you do
for anything

This year soccer has taken us to far-flung realms
From the wind-swept fields of Oklahoma
To the artificial turf of Barcelona
We took in the wonders of Europe
From pitch to stadium, it was great fun
We saw some fine Premier league playing
And the Super Copa, and Messi, the great one
You guys played some excellent futbol too
You gave those English blokes
a right good thrashing
On the green fields of Reading
Though on the sun-drenched pitches of Spain
We had tougher sledding
The Sabadell boys in their Barca colors
Poured it on, and had us reeling
But we won redemption against Jupiter CE
A better result, far more appealing
To detail all we saw, and did, and experienced in Europe
Well, it's the stuff of lifelong memories
And would require a lengthy speech
Europe was even, at times, downright educational!
(I will make no mention of what we saw at the beach)

Amid all these great experiences
and accomplishments
I know at times it can be hard to find your place
Making your way in the daily race
And it's natural to desire a break,
away from the madness
Some time to have some breathing space
I pray for peace for you
And perfect love to cast out fear
You know, of course, that no matter what happens out there
You always have your family's deep love right here

You are growing spiritually
Demonstrating a heart for God
And a real desire to know Him
For that we can only applaud
For He has His hand on your life
Put your trust in Him and He will sustain you
Through good times and bad,
Comfort and danger
He can make you a young man who reflects His glory
He can make you a world changer

The goal, growing nearer every day
Is to grow up into honorable manhood
Wise, responsible, never passive
Always looking to the greater reward
For we were meant to be courageous
Skillfully wielding the word like a sword
This is already the time of preparation
For the day when you leave your father and mother
With, we pray, a solid grounding in the firm Foundation
To strike out on your own,
or together with another

You may find yourself in a season of trouble
When fears overwhelm and nothing seems right
That will be the time, your faith to redouble
step outside, and in the dark of night
Like Abraham, look up and count the stars
Solid and true
They burn in glory
Such are God's promises to you
He is so good, so wise, so just
And your peace and righteousness is all of Him
and starts with obedient trust
He is a very present help
When things seem darkest to you
He is a very present light
And He can make all things new

Your quest is to develop a heart
that follows strong after His
For lots of choices are ahead
And many others
will go one way
Or another
There are lots of idols clamoring
Lots of "Regions beyond the river"
Where one can choose to live
serving false gods, far from the real Life-Giver
There are lots of ways to be followed
And invitations sent
"Walk with us, stand with us, sit with us
Twisted and bent
We wicked, we sinners, we scoffers"
May you always, daily choose to serve the Lord
Daily sustained, daily restored

Sometimes life is an easy glide
But there will be times of
Trudging uphill, swimming upstream against the flow
And though we rejoice when things are easy
It's usually in the difficult and dry times that we grow
So when the burdens get heavy, or the way gets steep
Know that the win is bound up in the focus you keep
Amidst all the distractions, the enticing attractions,
Keep your eyes firmly on Jesus, remembering that
He too has walked a steep hill
Carrying a burden that would crush us flat
But He persevered, and completed His race
And because of that,
we get to run, for joy, in the light of His face
Walking in His way will lead you
To joys unknown to those who
fold their hands to sleep
as down the stream they float
and whose only adventure in life
is finding the remote

So may year fourteen be amazing
An adventure of the best kind
As you continue to grow up
into young manhood, body, soul and mind
May you drink in God's blessings deeply
May His grace and mercy be your feast
Always know how much we love and admire you
Blake-man, our fourteen year old [boom, bam] beast!

Happy Birthday!
I love you Blake,

Dad
April 4, 2012