Even though we didn’t technically “grow up” together, I feel as though we have. We may not have shared all those experiences of Bible songs, Christian school speech competitions, Veggie Tale classics, and hymn sings, but I am so thankful our experiences overlapped. It makes it feel like we’ve known each other since we were kids. (I think our moms and dads get two thumbs up for raising us in such similar environments.) Yesterday, when we sang Veggie Tales songs on the whole way home from Rochester, my heart was gleefully happy. I love how much fun we have together.
And really, we have grown up together. We’ve learned how to be adults–responsible, God-fearing, independent, financially stable, loving grown ups. We know how it feels to buy our own toilet paper month after month, to be in charge of our own health and have to say “no” to certain foods (or getting to say “yes” just because we can!). We have moved to Downtown Detroit together and spent our first five months learning marriage there, making memories of bike rides, fireworks from the balcony, and cookouts where we are very literally the minority. We moved to Monroe where we found a new church family and discovered our passion and call for youth ministry. We moved three states east and made a new home together, built my piano business together (I couldn’t have done it without you), started a new ministry to new teenagers together, and encouraged each other to be a part of this community (rather than hiding out at home as is our natural tendency.)
I love going on walks to Tim Hortons with you, eating dinner in the living room with our favorite new Netflix obsession, reading our Bibles at the dining room table each morning. I love that you come to bed with me even when you’re not tired, when you call me out on selfish or sinful behavior (really, I value your accountability), when we share crazy, hopeful dreams in long couch conversations. I love that you’re always wanting to learn a new instrument, develop a new hobby, or try a new video game. I know I tease you about it, but I think it’s great that you’re a lifelong learner. (SAU shout out.)
I have loved watching you grow up from that 17 year old boy-out-of-high-school with his untucked striped shirts and loosely-laced Nike tennis shoes, to a 21 year old college-grad and newly-married-man with newly-broadened shoulders and a chemistry brilliance, to a now 26 year old full-time-pastor-and-seminarian who looks darn good in his suit and teaches teenagers what it means to follow Jesus. What a beautiful gift I’ve been given.
Happy birthday, Kevin Michael. I will love you forever.