Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Yesterday was a watershed day in the Roberts family. My son, Nathan, turned sixteen! Yes, sixteen! Wow! It’s hard to believe.
On December 21, 1992, Nathan was born at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, California. That was one of the most amazing and wonderful days of my life, matched only by the day a couple years later when my daughter was born.
Of course at the time I had no idea how much Nathan would change my life. He made my life harder, with many, many more responsibilities (and I wasn’t even his mom!). He added plenty of worry to my life, especially when, as a baby, he regularly ran temperatures over 105 degrees. But Nathan also helped me to laugh more than I ever imagined possible, to cherish life in a new way, and to discover the incredible joy of parenthood.
Nathan is one of my very best friends. Yes, of course there are times when I need to be “the Dad.” But those times are few and far between. For the most part we share life together, often with an eerie sense of mutual understanding. We both love nature. We love ideas and discussing them. These days we talk about politics and religion and, well, you name it.
Some of the best times of my life are when Nathan and I take off hiking together, whether in the High Sierra of California or the Hill Country of Texas. Until a year ago, I had to slow down a bit so he could keep up with me. Now his natural pace is faster than mine, so he’s learning to be patient with me!
It’s been wonderful to see Nathan grow to be the person God has made him to be. He’s always been artistic. In recent years his artistic energies have focused on movie making and musical theatre. Check out his blistering parody of Zac Efron’s “Bet on It” from High School Musical 2. (Look at the original first, then Nathan’s version.) Or you might enjoy his rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man” at a school choir fundraiser. The video quality isn’t great, but you’ll get the idea.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPRJSROzEsY]

Part of what I admire about Nathan is how hard he works to use his talents well. Yes, he has a fine singing voice. But he put in tons of hours getting “If I Were a Rich Man” just right, so that he could sing it effortlessly. He treats all of his challenges this way. So he isn’t coasting on his abilities, but rather striving to steward them well.
I’m proud of Nathan’s accomplishments, but mostly I’m proud of who he is. He is a young man of compassion, integrity, and faith. He’s thoughtful and kind (at least most of the time). He cares about people and ideas. He’s disciplined in his studies, but always has time to goof around with his dad. Or just to be a goof off, period. Check out his most recent Halloween costume. Yes, he did go as an outhouse. Enough to make any dad proud, don’t you think? (You just have to love this photo, with Nathan as an outhouse posing in front of a cross wall.)
The only bad thing about Nathan growing up is that my time with him feels so limited. But I am thrilled to have such a great son and friend. So, happy sixteenth birthday, Nathan! I love you!

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