Well, kiddo, today is your 13th birthday.

I’m ready for it.

The truth is, you’ve pretty much been 13 since the day you were born, when you slipped into this world against my will and much to the chagrin of the doctor who rushed into the room a few seconds too late, throwing his arms in the air and proclaiming, “This is NOT how we do this!” But you were already out, so you gathered your very first breath and replied to that doctor with a wail that undoubtedly meant, “Screw you! I’ll do what I want.” You weren’t crying so much as yelling on that chilly February afternoon.

We knew right away that you had a chip on your shoulder, and we loved it. You were a really cool baby.

When you took your first steps in your 8th month and looked at me like, “WHAT?! Of course, I can walk.” I knew you were up for a challenge. And when you took off running just a few weeks later, I felt confident that you would be testing the laws of physics for the rest or your life. And you have been. I’m sure that’s what you were doing when you threw that karaoke machine off the upstairs landing… and when I found you, literally, swinging from the chandelier in the dining room… and when you put a D-cell in an electrical outlet and started a fire at school… and when you kicked your little brother out of a second story window….and when you shoved a watch-battery up your nose….

You’ve been testing the physical world around you, questioning authority, and pushing the envelope in every way since forever…And that, my beloved son, is what being 13 is all about. So, you’re practically an expert.

Oh, and you’ve already proven that you’re amazing, so you can check that off the list of “things to do when you’re 13”. I honestly couldn’t be more proud of another human being than I am of you. You’ve seen more, done more, taken on more and given up more, than almost any other 13 year old on the planet - and you’ve made it look easy. Because you're just awesome like that.

I want you to know that I’ll be praying for you every day this year. (Don’t roll your eyes!)

My prayer is that you’ll keep asking all those very good questions you’ve had about who exactly God is, and who you are in relation to Him. I hope you’ll keep wondering about what it really means to be a Christian. And I hope you’ll keep talking with us about why the answers you’re getting aren’t really that satisfactory. I pray you won’t put up a false pretense of fake Christianness because your parents are missionaries and you feel compelled, but that you’ll come to a place of peace in understanding that the God we followed here is real. And, most of all, I pray that you’ll be the recipient, this year, of Faith, Hope, and Love…. but mostly Love.

Happy Birthday, Dylan! You are so gonna rock 13!!