Happy 13th, Steven!

And then there were three...

...teenagers, that is. Wow. I've never been able to pick a favorite season with my children. All of them have times that are really, really hard. And all of them have times that are just so indescribably, amazingly delightful! And, having had five years of "teen" experience at this point has let me know that teenagers are really fun. This one is going to be no exception, considering how much fun he's already been over the last thirteen years!

Steven is one of the most kind-hearted young men I know. He is so aware of other people, and that awareness has only grown the older he's gotten. 

The past year has seen a lot of change in this kid. He's grown. A lot. His voice has also deepened. A lot. When he first started with Arkansas Youth Chorale last fall, he was still on that border between boy soprano and starting to become a tenor. Now he's not entirely sure he's going to stay a tenor much longer! That baritone range feels a whole lot more comfortable.

He's also grown a bit more comfortable in his own goofiness. Oh can that kid make us laugh! He's learned a love for drama, especially improv. I'm excited to see what doors God opens up to help him fine tune those skills in the coming years. 

Steven's musical talents have always been very evident, but over the past year he's grown much more serious about them. In the past, he's just kind of played around. But now he's working harder. I already mentioned the youth chorale. It was such a blessing for him to be a part of an official choir even while his voice was changing, giving him confidence to keep trying and keep singing. It also prepared him for this summer when he moved up from the JoyWorks children's camp to the youth side of PraiseWorks. He thrived that week, without a doubt!

He has a great ear for music, too, so he can hear something and pick it out on the piano pretty quickly. But, since we've taught him the written language of music for years, he can easily merge both the ear talent and the reading skill. That combination makes his sisters more than a little envious of his sight-reading abilities!

 But his favorite instrument seems to be guitar. He's been picking around on his PopPop's guitar for a couple of years now, but he'd kind of hit a wall in his progress. Over the past few months, though, he's gotten over that wall. He's not quite ready to jump in and join the church instrumentalists yet, but he does take his guitar to worship team practice every week so he can try the songs. And, when he remembers, he takes his guitar on Sunday mornings and sits on the front row to join in "unplugged." But, he also received a hand-me-down electric guitar this summer. Oh. My. Word. That kids loves that guitar!

This kid loves his animals, loves helping kids younger than himself, passionately loves his sisters, still enjoys good snuggles, and is not ashamed to give hugs to any of his family members in public. So much of who he is has stayed the same, yet I can look back at a year ago and see what has changed as well. The core of this kid will always remain the tenderhearted, observant, creative, fun, helpful soul he's always been. Yet as he presses through his teen years, he'll discover new interests and passions, fine-tune the ones that are already there, and learn more about himself. I'm thankful to get to be a part of that journey.

Happy birthday, precious son of mine! We love you so much!


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