The past couple of years I have written a post commemorating Jake on his birthday. This year, I had the privilege of commemorating him in my speech class. Below is the speech I presented just a few days after his 15th birthday.
I remember the exact moment I fell in love. It was 9:11 a.m. on Thursday, November 12, 1998. Prior to that moment, I had no concept of what true love was. Yet, the moment my baby boy was placed in my arms, I was immediately overwhelmed by it.
When the nurse took him to check his vitals, he began to cry. My mama bear instincts kicked in and all I wanted to do was hurt that nurse. My baby boy is now 15 years old and as 3 John 1:4 states “I have no greater joy than to hear that my [son is] walking in the truth.
The road we have traveled has not been easy. He could have easily chosen the path paved with lies, fears, insecurities, and self-destruction, but he has chosen another path. Despite all my son has witnessed, on Monday, October 27, 2008, he chose to walk in the Truth of Jesus Christ. Since then, my son has not only grown physically, but emotionally, and spiritually, as well, in ways this mother could only dream of.
Now, just because he chose to follow the Lord at a young age, my child is far from perfect; after all he is a teenager. He has this gift of pushing my buttons, holding his finger on them until he sees I am about to burst. And everything I ask him to do is a huge inconvenience.
I remember him telling me for months that we did not have to spend an entire summer in Guatemala. He had never been there and had no desire to go. Even at the airport in Miami as we waited for our connecting flight, he would say “Mother, we can still turn around.” But no matter how strong his desire not to go was, something inside of him was telling him that he needed to go.
During one of the lowest points of our trip, while reading the Bible, he read the words of Habakkuk 2:3, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” It was like a light bulb went off. At that moment, my son, at the age of 13, believed and held on to those words, trusting the Lord did have something in store for us.
Without fail, just 2 weeks later, this same young man was telling me with absolute certainty that we were moving to Alabama. The child who kept telling me “Mother, we can still turn around” was saying we had to move to a town we only knew existed for 3 days, in a state we had never been to. How the tables had turned; my son was now challenging me to do something I did not want to do, but knew we had to. By the end of our 8 weeks in Guatemala, he had grown 3 inches, his signature long hair was gone and a young man emerged.
John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart, mentions that at the core of every man there are three desires; a battle to fight for, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. My son had officially begun his journey into manhood. I suddenly began to see his desire to be the hero in his own little world, slay dragons, and one day rescue his very own damsel in distress.
I had no idea what a good man was supposed to look like, let alone a hero. After all when I saw my son, all I saw was my baby. Then I heard a song by Shane and Shane that said “I wish that I could be your everything. Be the one to give you all the things you need, but sometimes I’m going to let you down. There’s someone if you just believe, who will be your hero like he’s always been for me. Darling, Jesus is the one you need.” I suddenly knew what I needed to do. I needed to continuously direct my son to the One who “knit him in my womb” and has “great plans for him” as the Bible describes.
I would like to leave you with the words of my son’s favorite verse, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). If the past few years are any indication of what is to come, this young man, my young man, Jake Anthony Tsakos, will continue to prove that God still speaks to and works through anyone who is available, no matter their age or circumstance.
Last night, Jake and I were talking about how much we both don’t like being in Alabama, but we agreed this is where the Lord has us for now. Jake continued by saying that it is great that I am able to go to school, but he knows we are here for him. He said he believed that he wouldn’t be “this strong” if we were still living in Florida. I knew he was referring to his spiritual strength and I was taken back to the moment I held him in my arms for the first time. Except now, I was overwhelmed with love and pride for the young man I was seeing before me. Happy Birthday, Baby! I love you!