Many times I have wondered to myself if your life would be different if we had gotten you sooner.
As a young boy, you had so much change in your little life. Not much seemed permanent until you went to live full time with your grandmother.
I know you were loved. It just seemed like a different love than I had ever seen. I wish I had been around to protect you.
Would you have been molested? Would you have felt secure?
Could we have done that for you?
Not necessarily, given that both your sisters were molested too.
But would you have believed in unconditional love?
That you were worthy of love? Just for being born? Just for living?
That you didn't need "to do anything" to be loved.
I would have loved to see you play baseball or football as a little boy. I would have loved to help you with homework and seen that you were having a hard time with school and pushed like crazy to get you the help you needed to succeed in school.
But none of this was part of the plan.
We were not to meet you until your sophmore year of high school.
I vividly remember the very first time you came into our home.
While the other guys played video games in the family room, you hung out with me in the kitchen. I could ask you questions and your would answer them. Immediately I sensed you needed attention and love, and because you are you, it was so easy to do.
We wondered why God had brought you into our lives at this time, in this moment and season in our lives. All we knew is that we were to love you.
It wasn't easy. Because you weren't used to being loved just for being you. It took years and years for you to finally believe that we loved you just for being you. You brought laugher and more craziness into our home.
And we went thru some of the hardest times of your life with you: the car accident that took your mom, the suicide of your friend, the bouts with alcohol and drugs. We so wanted you to know that we were in this with you for the long haul. But it was so hard for you to believe. Hard for you to accept love that you "didn't deserve", but that we were freely giving.
I remember praying for you in those years of silence . Asking God to just let me know you were alive, and then out of nowhere I might get an email or a text and even a phone call. And I would thank God that you were alive and that I heard your voice.
I don't even know how to describe what happened. I got a phone call from Stephanie, telling me you were in jail and with her help , she convinced you to let me visit you. And on behalf of our whole family, I offered you the olive branch. Telling you that we loved you no matter what, that we would be here for you, and wanted to help you in any way we could.
I think it was then that you began to understand unconditional love. That it was something we were trying to do, to follow how Jesus loved us-without any conditions or expectations and just love and support.
I am so thankful for Kristi and Adam and how they wanted to do whatever they could to help you-and Adam didn't even know you.
And then to watch you work hard on being drug free. What a tremendous task you undertook and succeeded in. I am so proud of you.
We have been blessed to have you as our son for over half of your life now, and I can't tell you how much you have taught me.
Perseverance is a strong characteristic you possess Ry-keep on keeping on!!
So now on your 34th birthday I want to ask a favor of you. And there's no pressure; just something to think about and then decide.
This is the time of year that I spend finding verses to pray for each family member. I am not even half finished, but yours was the first one that God gave me.
"You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."
or as the NLT says "If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find Me"
So my favor is to ask you to seek Jesus everyday for 6 months. I know you believe but also know its been a struggle and you have lots of questions. But I truly believe that if you seek God with all your heart, He will reveal Himself to you in ways that you won't expect and your life will be forever changed.
I can help you with this. Or Dad can or Kristi, Adam, Todd, Katie or Nate would all be willing.
I want you to know the faithfulness of Jesus that I do. That He alone is the ONE who will never ever leave you or forsake you and that He will be with you always. Those are the MOST comforting words of scripture for me.
Happy Birthday to my dear son Ryan Matthew.
I love you beyond what words could ever convey.