I decided I wanted to write to you about when timing and things in life just don't make sense because undoubtedly, there will be times in your life just like that. You may experience discouragement and hardship. Don't give up. Hold on. One verse we included on your name board is a "name" verse. Your name means "crown" or "crowned one" (and Matthew, means "gift of God.") The verse is from James, one of Daddy's favorite books. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12)
I have often been thinking lately about the twists and turns our little family life has taken, before your dad and I met, and now as a family. There certainly have been unexpected times, some welcomed, and some difficult to endure. I just want you to know there is so much more to life than the moment. Whether the moment holds pure happiness or deep sorrow, there is more to life than those feelings, those experiences. God certainly cares about our feelings, but He has a plan through it all, and you know? He's right there with us. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)
There are greater things happening than what we can often see. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) The Bible is full of stories where God is working out good while us humans are experiencing difficult times. Check it out! Think of Christ's suffering on the cross to save us...and He considers it "joy" to endure the cross.
I was just reflecting on the story of how we came to sponsor our boy, Iradukunda, from Compassion. Your dad and I had been hoping and praying for a child of our own. It did not happen in the timing we so desired, and then your dad was sent on deployment. I struggled through that time. I wanted a child, and I wanted your dad to stay home, not have to leave. Neither of those things were to be at that time. We decided we wanted to help a child in some way, even if, especially if we could not have a child of our own at yet. So, we sponsored Iradukunda, a child who was in need. I believe God wanted us to reach outside of our family to bless another child. Had things happened the way we wanted them to, in the time frame we wanted them to, we may not have blessed another child and we probably would not have blessed Iradukunda. There are so many times in our lives where we just don't understand why His answer is "no" or "yes" or "wait." "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD." (Isaiah 55:8). Sometimes, we'll catch glimpses as the years go by of why...and we realize God has a far greater plan than we can see. Sometimes you may even be able to chuckle at how things have turned out. Even your old mom and dad are continuing to learn this as we come across decisions to be made and enter into different seasons for our family life. God really is weaving together an amazing patchwork. Oh, if we just live for Him to be a part of it! What an amazing opportunity to be a part of God's plan, through the rough times and good times. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17) Remember that crown?
Your dad and I hope and pray that you will grow to be a strong, faithful man of God. We pray you will endure and receive the crown that lasts forever, the crown of life through Jesus Christ. We love you so much. We will share in your joys and endure with you in the hard times. You are such a gift to us. This is why I say God has great plans for you! He created you! He chose just the right time for you to live in this world and be a light to those around you. What an incredible journey He has in store for you. I'm thankful God has chosen us as your parents to be a part of it, what a blessing and responsibility. "Lord, lead and guide us, as we lead and guide Stephen. May he from an early age be certain of Your love and promises, as a Son of the King, and may he desire to pour his own love back to You. May his faith grow so strong and rooted in You, (like those oak trees) that he will not be shaken from the plans You have for his life. As he lives out Your plans, may others see Your work in him and be drawn nearer to You. In Your holy name, Amen."