Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Today I’m celebrating the birthday of one of the finest people I know . . . my son, Nathan. I don’t always blog about my children’s birthdays, but Nathan is turning 15 today, and it seems right to honor him.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Nathan is one of the finest people I know. Now I’ll admit my bias . . . no question about it. If Nathan were in prison, I’d probably think of him as the finest inmate of all. But, even though I’m a hopelessly biased dad, I’d still like to tell you why I hold Nathan in such high regard. (Photo: Nathan and I enjoy a good laugh.)
First of all, he is a kind person. Oh, yes, he can be mean to his sister at times. But, all in all, Nathan cares for others and treats them with sweet gentleness. He is kind to folks who are five times his age and he is equally kind to those who are one-fifth his age. In fact, Nathan has a way of charming children, I think because they sense his respect and love.
Second, Nathan is fun. Sometimes he’s crazy fun. He wears silly hats, funny shirts, and says hilarious things. There are times he goes over the line a bit. But Nathan isn’t boring, that’s for sure.
Third, Nathan is creative. He’s an outstanding artist in several genres, including: singing, acting, drawing, writing, and film. If you’ll pardon a bit of bragging, last year Nathan was recognized as one of two students of the year in his class at a special arts school in Orange County, California. (Photo: Nathan and I begin our first backpacking trip together.)
Fourth, Nathan loves nature . . . just like his dad. He takes delight in the wonders of the natural world. He loves to hike, and has been known to do twenty miles in a day. Sometime last year Nathan crossed a hiking milestone, finding it easy to hike more rapidly than his dad. These days, as we’re driving along in Texas, it’s not uncommon for Nathan to shout out: “Dad, wait, stop. Look at that sunset!” He sees and delights in God’s good creation.
Fifth, Nathan is willing to accept change. In truth, change doesn’t come easily for him. Yet when change happens, Nathan doesn’t stew in his unhappiness. Rather, he looks for what is best and makes the necessary adjustments. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that 2007 brought huge changes to the Roberts family, mainly associated with our move from Southern California to Texas. In this move Nathan said “goodbye” to his lifelong friends, to his extended family, to the only town, church, and home he had ever known. He left his arts high school where he had done so well to attend a Texas school where football is king. In all of this, Nathan has been honest about his unhappiness at times. But he hasn’t gotten stuck there. He’s looked for and found good things.
Sixth, Nathan has a strong faith in Jesus Christ. Now you might expect that of a pastor’s kid, but not if you’ve known many pastor’s kids. I hope I’ve had something to do with Nathan’s growth in Christ. But, in truth, his faith is his own. I am thankful for those who have had such a positive influence on Nathan’s discipleship, including: Bethy, Mrs. Guest, Mr. Raitt, Mr. Wolensky, “Wolf” (Josh Sullivan), and Ryan Nielsen. (Photo: Nathan and I hiking along the Frio River near Laity Lodge in the Texas Hill Country)
Seventh, Nathan is one of my best friends. Truly. Now there are times when I need to be the whip-cracking father, though these times are few and far between. Most of the time I enjoy being with Nathan as a friend, whether we’re goofing around, or going on long bike rides, or exploring the Hill Country, or talking about movies, or enjoying a sunset together.
Fifteen years ago today my life was forever changed by the entrance of a little red-haired boy into this world. During these last fifteen years, he has enriched my life more than I ever imagined. I can’t begin to express my pride in my son, or my gratitude to God for him. So on the occasion of his fifteenth birthday, I honor him and offer deep thanks to God for him. Happy birthday, Nathan, my son, my brother in Christ, my friend!

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