Friday, January 06, 2017

12 Things I Love about A.J.

When A.J. turned 12 yesterday, he asked me what I gave to his dad for his birthdays.

"Oh!" I suddenly remembered. "For his 24th birthday, I wrote your dad a list of 24 things I loved about him." So I decided to write 12 things I love about A.J. here:

1. A.J. is always thinking about other people, their needs, and how he can care for them. His grandparents actually call him when they need help with something. He'll rake and throw out the garbage for them, go with my mom to Costco and bring her groceries in. His servant-hearted tirelessness reminds me of his dad.

2. He loves to cook. And when we've made a bunch of food, he'll say, "Mom, we should ask Lola and Lolo (the Filipino terms for grandma and grandpa) if they want us to bring some over. Maybe they'll want some."

3. He holds the door for strangers and brightly says hello to them. They warm up to him in surprise, especially because I had just mumbled a tentative, eye-averting hello to them.

4. I love how rich his eyes are.

5. I love how passionate he is about soccer. He constantly has a soccer ball between his feet, or is reading a book about soccer, is studying videos on technique or watching professional soccer on T.V.

6. He's a really fast runner. And he is always moving. That kid's got energy.

7. He talks constantly and has always been that way. It tires me out, but I love that his heart and his thoughts are never hidden from me.

8. While he's very mature about caring for others, he acts very much like a kid. He loves to play with his friends. And if he starts to act up, it's usually because he needs a weekly date with his mama. He needs my undivided attention once in awhile. We'll usually do something simple like take a walk at the mall, buy a frozen yogurt, and walk around the bookstore. Then outside we'll kick the soccer ball around, while he attempts to teach me some soccer technique like a "rainbow." Or, he'll run errands with me, like at Trader Joe's. We'll walk beside the Hudson River and he chatters the whole time about past observations about animals, insects, books he's read about space, or some object he took apart (I hear that his dad was always taking things apart too when he was a kid figuring out how they worked). When I'm undistracted and able to enjoy him (and not worry about all the things we have to do and activities to drive to), in that moment I am struck: "I have the best kids on the planet! Jesus and my kids. I don't need anything else." And I sigh full with happiness.

9. He's quick to forgive. And he asks forgiveness easily.

10. He has always loved the Bible since his youngest years. He supplements our family Bible reading with his own Bible reading with very little prompting. When I asked what he liked most about youth group, which he just started this year, I thought he'd say playing with his friends. But he said, "The Bible teaching." He also started sitting through the main service this year, as Sunday School only goes up to 5th grade. When I missed the message to serve in the nursery, he later asked, "Mom, have you listened to the message yet? It was really good." I asked him what he liked about it. "Pastor Won explains the Bible in a way that I understand. And he's really funny too. He kept talking about sheep."

11. He fixes things for me. Ikea furniture? I hand it to him to figure out. The clasp on my purse that came loose? "Mom, can I fix that for you?" The moment I gave him permission, he disappeared for a plier. I walked away and later found it all fixed. I wear that purse every day now.

12. He is still obsessed with turtles. This obsession has been at least since first grade, maybe even  
      earlier than that. (In fact, his sister and I so associate A.J. with turtles, I almost think "A.J." is

Found this photo on my phone that A.J. recently saved
synonymous with "turtle.") Perhaps it's because every spring when they were little we would watch a family of turtles sunning on the logs in the pond a few steps away from our house in Minnesota. We'd tell stories about the grandparent turtles (the 2 big ones) and parent turtles (the medium ones) and the baby turtles, as the littlest ones plopped into the water. "The grandparents are too tired to swim in the water!" Perhaps because we would watch turtles shimmy a hole into the grass on our front lawn, hide their eggs in that hole, and then carefully return the grass so that it looked identical to its original state. And now, when A.J. gives a presentation on turtles for multiple weeks (without regard for what the actual assignment is), and he makes his classmates listen to him for 10 minutes instead of the 3 minutes, I tell myself, "Well, maybe he'll get his PhD in turtles one day."

I love that kid. Whether all the things above change, I love A.J. because God gave him to me, made him, and made him wonderful.


As the second entry ever of this entire blog inspired this post, I found myself looking back on old posts. While in recent years I have often struggled with deep discouragement and felt so weary as a single mom, I am reminded that wow God was so faithful to my kids when we were in the depths of cancer (according to one commenter back then, A.J. was an energetic runner even then).

God made Our Little Blessings a joy to us in the midst of the darkest days. And years later the Lord continues to be faithful to my children and I.

(If you've never read this blog before, or if you'd like to remember past posts, I've linked to three entries at the beginning and end of this blog entry about Andrew and then my kids when they were little and their parents were dealing with cancer.)


  1. Dear Grace: On my way out of WalMart your name came to me. I wondered how you and your kids were doing. I can hardly believe it has been 7 years since I first heard of your grief. I believe it was through Phil Johnson, but I am uncertain. I am thrilled and humbled by your families grace. You are loved and prayed over as I know you are aware. I look forward to meeting you in glory someday. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus".

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Patricia! I'm sorry I only just saw your comment now. But it was nice to hear from you =) --Grace