September 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Max!!!

Twenty years ago this week, I was one stressed-out woman. We were living in Groton, Connecticut where Keith was stationed with the US Navy. He had just made the rank of Chief and apparently making Chief is a huge rite of passage for a career sailor. The preparations began weeks earlier and would culminate in a horrid hazing weekend which would be followed with the traditional pinning ceremony. It was a huge deal. Unless one has been in the Navy, I’m sure any descriptions I would attempt to give of the week of Chief’s initiation- the ridiculous preparations, the dreaded hazing, and the tremendous amount of stress put on the new Chiefs AND their families- would be lost on you. So suffice it to say, it was BAD. Really, really bad. Made worse by the fact that I had a house full of company, a busy three year-old and was uncomfortably overdue to give birth with our second child at any given moment. Keith’s older brother David had come from Louisiana for the ceremony and was hoping to also be around for the birth if it happened by the end of the following week. Also, my sister was with us. She had scheduled her departure date to rejoin her Navy husband in Spain a week and a half after my due date thinking, SURELY the baby would have arrived by then. Well the ceremony came, still… no baby. We put my sister on a plane to Spain, still… no baby. We waved goodbye to David as he headed back to Louisiana and still…no baby.
       By the end of that week, I was 42 weeks pregnant. Yes, you heard me right- 42 weeks pregnant! I know right? Aren’t babies supposed to be born at 40 weeks? Doesn’t the doctor typically induce labor or schedule a C section if the baby hasn’t come at the prescribed 40 weeks? One would think so, wouldn’t one? But apparently my doctor was atypical or perhaps just curious to see how long I could go. Whether he was a sadist or just a thrill seeker I still don’t know, but I do know that by that weekend, I was unnaturally and enormously still pregnant. And as it had been three years earlier in Hawaii with Haley’s birth, despite all our efforts this time, there would be no waiting room full of excited family members. It would again be just me and Keith at our child’s birth.
       Well, at approximately 10 pm on Saturday, September 22nd, at 42 weeks pregnant, after having put Haley to bed, watched a little TV and thumbed through a magazine, I energetically headed towards the stairs when……it hit! Have you ever watched a movie or sitcom where the woman goes into labor? One minute she’s fine and dandy, then the next- she stops, grabs her belly and frantically yells- HONEY, THIS IS IT!!! Chaos then erupts, the husband can’t find the keys and it makes for good television. After my previous, seemingly-endless, 24-hour labor with Haley, Keith and I (the experts of course) now would ridicule Hollywood-style childbirth. “Labor doesn’t happen like that!" we'd scoff. "Those stupid script writers probably never even had a baby!" Well, my first contraction threw me immediately into hard labor. Pride goes before the fall and we ‘experts’ were to eat humble pie as we made a mad dash to the hospital only to welcome our precious son less than 45 minutes after we arrived!
     So at 12:03 am, September 23, 1990, Max Lane Johnson abruptly and gloriously entered our lives. We waited long for him, becoming comfortable in the waiting, and then SUDDENLY- he caught us off gaurd, surprising us by quickly bursting into this world with a vengeance.
       As I wrote that last sentence I couldn’t help but sense that there is a deeper spiritual parallel there to be explored.
       But to continue, Max entered our lives with a bang and for these twenty years, he has been a delight. God’s hand of favor has been on Max since he was very young and our realization of that has grown as he has. Once when Max was little, Keith was bathing him. As he was praying for him, the Lord clearly spoke to Keith’s heart that, unlike other generations before us, Max would fulfill all that the Lord had called him to do.
      So today, I want to honor my sweet beautiful boy on his 20th birthday. He’s truly a joy and a delight to his daddy and me. He's always been tenderhearted, correctable and sensitive which has transferred to his spiritual walk with God. He's been musical since he could talk and he has always been very much a Momma's boy :). He was all-boy from day one. We didn't have to teach him that, it just came natural. If he couldn't find a toy gun to play with he made his own... from a bread crust (he'd chew it into the shape of a gun :) , my favorite candlestick, or my cross necklace, which he would grab while sitting in my lap to shoot at imaginary 'voffs' (wolves).
      As Max has grown up in favor with God and man he's grown in his giftings and character. I can say about Max that he is respectful as well as a good brother and friend. But as pleased as we are at how Max honors us, we are so thankful at how Max honors God with his talents and with his passionate devotion. That's one thing I can say about Max- he is passionate. Anyone who has seen him lead worship can attest to this. He doesn't do anything half way. As laid back as he normally is, when he leads, he holds NOTHING back and cares not one bit what anyone thinks. As he came up in our church's worship team from being a background singer to eventually leading worship, it blessed me to be able to take off my "momma" hat and to be just another saint following his leadership as he followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. Even as his mom, I respect the authority on his life. And when the anointing rests on him as he ministers, it's easy to momentarily lose sight of the fact that I changed the diapers of that anointed man of God...
       Of course he’s not perfect, nor will he ever be (and I won't now list examples of imperfections since it IS his birthday and all :). But when I look at him now, I truly am thankful and blessed with the choices he's made and the young man he has become. I have no doubt the type of husband and father he will be because of these choices. It thrills me that he still calls me and wants to talk to me and to tell me about his day and the exciting things the Lord is doing in his life. I treasure these moments. I miss him but I know that today, he's exactly where God wants him.
       Well, Max is an adult now. No longer a teenager. No longer a child. But forever and ever, he will be my little boy and his daddy and I couldn’t be prouder of him.
God has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams with four beautiful children and we are equally proud of the other three. I intend to write about my other treasures too...but today is Max's day.
       So Max, we dearly love you. You are our beloved son; and we are WELL pleased! Happy 20th birthday!!!!
Love, Your Mom

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