Our Grown Man

“I have to buy a minivan!” were the first words out of my mouth, said without delight and in response to Brenda’s heart pounding news that she was going to have a baby.

You can fit three kids in all kinds of vehicles. They can ride in the back seat of a Mustang or the second row of a crew cab pickup. Both vehicles were fine choices for a cool youth pastor with flowing hair back in the day. But when you pass the three-kid-threshold and move to four or beyond, a minivan becomes the only realistic option. We’ve owned vans of a variety of makes and models for nearly 20 years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our youngest graduated from high school last week. When God gave him to us in November, 1998, Jeffery balanced the family as boys became the bookends and girls filled in the middle. Neither Brenda nor I ever thought it would be that way.

God gave us a first born son, and with the exception of zero interest in potty training, Michael was the ideal infant and toddler. Then God gave us a daughter, and with the exception of zero interest in sitting still or refraining from climbing to the top of everything, Jennifer completed our perfect, little family. A few years later, God gave us the child I didn’t want (search past Lunchtime Musings for that transparent post) when Emily made us the Jackson 5, as our pastor’s wife liked to call us.

But Emily was to be the last. No more kids. More kids equal a minivan. I didn’t want a minivan or any more kids. Then God gave us Jeffery, and I can’t imagine life without him or the minivan.

Jeffery’s older siblings will tell you that he is the stereotypical baby of the family. From his big brother you’ll hear, “If I ever did that when I was a kid, dad would have…” and his sisters say over and again, “Mom gives you everything!” There is some truth to his siblings’ observations.

Jeffery has this tough, outer shell that matches his physical prowess. I tell people Jeffery is the buddy you call when you are moving from your apartment to your first house. He seems to have this endless surge of strength met with an equal amount of stamina. I stopped messing with him a long time ago.

Underneath that shell is the tenderness of gentle giant. When Jeffery fishes with me, he is a pure catch and release guy. None of his fish meet the filet knife. Before Lauren became his sister-in-law, she stayed with us in Jeffery’s room for a full month. Unknown to Lauren, the spider who made a daily appearance was a welcome guest in Jeffery’s room. It didn’t make for good family relationships when Jeffery discovered Lauren had prematurely ended the spider’s life.

On the court or the field, you want Jeffery on your team. He doesn’t require the glory, just get the job done. His one personal foul in football came during a critical point in a game his senior year when protecting his quarterback who had taken multiple cheap shots from a psycho in shoulder pads on the other team. If he’s your teammate or friend, he’ll stick with you. Better offers after making a commitment to you will not dissuade him. He’ll throw his lot in with you.

The last two years Jeffery has had us all to himself, and we him. The last time our little house was like this Michael wasn’t quite three-years-old and the conversations didn’t have complete sentences. I can see how the baby of the family sometimes comes to care for mom and dad.

Jeffery will leave home soon as is God’s plan for sons and daughters as they grow into maturity (Gen. 2:24). Jeffery made our family complete. We thank the Lord for what he has done in Jeffery’s life, and we look forward to what God will do in his life in the years to come.

Time to go for a ride in the Mustang.

As always I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.