Happy Birthday, Jon Alex!
Today our Chief Inspirational Officer turns 20 at the beach! All of us at Rising Above want to wish Jon Alex a happy 20th birthday. But as always, nobody can say it better that his dad. Over the years Jeff has written many birthday posts for Jon Alex, so today it seems fitting to share some of his words...
"That seven and a half pound, nineteen- inch baby boy that I gingerly held in my arms now stands close to six feet tall and grows facial hair faster than I do.
Nineteen years of never speaking a word or being able to do most things without our help. Nineteen years of being affected by cerebral palsy, autism, and seizures. Those years were accompanied by many nights of tears, despair, bitter lament, the search for answers, and lying awake pleading to God to heal him.
All of our friend’s kids are going to college, getting married, and having children of their own. None of that is in the plan for our lives it seems.
But I have come to realize through his life God is being glorified every day. He has set my son apart despite his challenges. And despite his disabilities, he is made in the very image of God."
- from Nineteen Years Old
"I spent your early years trying to draw you out and get you to engage in our world. I should have spent more time exploring your world. You didn’t need another therapist, you already had plenty of those. You needed a dad who was wholly involved and passionately engaged in being his son’s father first.
The more I tried to teach you about God, the more you taught me about God and his very character. I never understood unconditional love or grace until God used your life to demonstrate it to me.
You were never the one who needed healing. I was the one who needed it."
- from Superman Turns Eighteen
"Now on the eve of his seventeenth birthday I no longer use words like burdened, ruined, or punished. Now I use words like chosen called, and committed. Tonight, I listen to Superman breathing as he goes to sleep. I take in a deep breath of gratefulness.
And I realize now, these seventeen years later, that he is everything I am not, and he is everything I want to be.
I am humbled and blessed that God did not give me what I wanted, but rather chose to give me what I needed. I wanted a healthy typical little boy. God had something better for me. I used to think God had given me Jon Alex because he knew Jon Alex needed me. I now realize I had it backwards. God gave me Jon Alex because he knew I needed him. I prayed for years for God to heal my son, and instead he used him to heal me.
I didn’t know unconditional love, I didn’t understand mercy and compassion, and I didn’t realize my dependence upon God for everything in my life.
So God sent me Jon Alex."
- from Superman Turns 17