At Seventeen

He turns 17 today.

That little strawberry blond boy who once refused to nap.

Now, he’d sleep til noon each day if he could. A growth spurt perhaps?

Years ago he spent his days busy at play. Play is a child’s work.

He’d “tinker” and “figure” and invent new things. He could imagine for hours with tools and wood, building something from nothing, my bright, inquisitive son.

Mitch pitching for the Grand Rapids Flames

Anything even remotely round turned into a “ball” which he’d throw with amazing accuracy with his then-chubby left arm.

From the age of three, he’s had a love affair with baseball.

Playing it. Watching it. Talking about it.

But he never did like books.

A few years into our schooling, we discovered why.


A scary word, especially to a homeschool mom.

Many tears. And tutors. And patience. And prayers.

Yet, in the midst of the dis-ability, we discovered his ability.

And most importantly His ability.

“God is not worried.” My friend’s words to me repeatedly rang in my head.

So why should I waste my time fretting?

Because I am a mom. And I do not enjoy seeing my child struggle.

I want to shield him from pain. And heartache. And discouragement.

Yet, in the struggle we’ve seen determination. And progress. And peace.

Pain often gives birth to beautiful things.

It has proved true with other tinkering men who too had this disorder and gift. They have gone on to do great things in this world—Edison and Einstein and Alexander Graham Bell.

Patton and Churchill and Henry Ford.

A Christmas kiss from his cousin

And my son’s favorite: quarterback and fellow homeschooled athlete Tim Tebow.

Over a decade after discovering the gift, God is still not worried.

And my son— my still figuring and tinkering and batting and throwing son—is a delight to my heart.

Perfect he is not. But our perfect God uses his weaknesses and mistakes in life to teach me many things.

To love, but not to smother.

To guide, but not to push.

To model, but not to manipulate.

To not use his successes as a chance to pat myself on the back.

Nor his failures as a cue to beat myself up.

And to always allow for lots of grace. Grace which he must in turn also grant me for this is the first time I’ve been the mom of a teenage man-child.

A novice I am, still standing in the on-deck circle, not quite ready to send this one sailing just yet.

Yes, he turns 17 today.

And I turn another page in this heart-wrenching, hand-wringing, knee-bending, holy calling known as motherhood.

Father may we mothers place our children always in Your hands. You are God. We are not. Help us be humble about their strengths and grateful for their weaknesses. Take them where they need to go in order to live a life fully surrendered to You. Amen.


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  2. We have been homeschooling for 6+ years. My daughter is 14 and has dyslexia. It took me quite a few years to overcome my protectiveness of her due to the learning challenge. She makes me proud every day. She has achieved more than I thought she would.

    I am happy for your son!

    Jackie who stays busy homeschooling a high-spirited 14 year old dyslexic sweetie.
    My Attempt at Blogging

  3. From email: Happy Birthday, Mitch!

    God is working in your life… He is using you to do great things in His Kingdom! Be ready to share your story of how He is working in your life.

    Have an AWESOME day!!


  4. “God is not worried.” Oh goodness, how I and most moms need to hear this almost every day. Thank you for this reminder wrapped in such a sweet birthday post. Happy Birthday to your son!

  5. As the mom of 2 young men now both beyond 17, how I wish I had possessed our wisdom while raising them. Don’t get me wrong, they are both awesome young men (at 23 and 20). But just because I was raised with a brother didn’t mean I had a real clue on the facets of being a mother to them. Fortunately, I got into a relationship with God while they were very young, and I know that made all the difference. They really aren’t mine, but rather they are on loan to me. Sure, thanks to hind-sight being what it is, there are things that I would have done differently. But fortunately all things work for good, so it has turned out alright in the long run. There is still much to go, and grow, through, and I look forward to each step still to come. And my 10 year old daughter really appreciates all of that prior experience. :)

  6. Even as our children grow and leave the nest we need to continue to remind ourselves – “To love…. ,To Guide… ,To model…, To not………..”
    Being a Mom is a real calling even when they are married and on their own.

    Thank you for the reminder

  7. Happy Birthday to your very handsome son!

    Thank you!

    I recently had another visit with my son’s resource teacher. I always leave those meetings, as well as IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings so angry at God. I pull myself out of it pretty quickly by getting into my Word and reading the Scriptures I already know about my son; But as a mom, it is so hard to see your son struggle to do something so basic as read.

    I recently told my friend, who has dished out such godly love as you received, that it is the struggle inside me to want my kid to be “normal”. She told me that every mom wants that, but that he is exactly how God made him to be, with his own gifts and talents. And this is my son’s walk, and his testimony in the making. The path God has chosen for my son to reveal Himself. How can I argue with that?

    I am so thankful for basketball and football. It is my chance to relax and see him enjoy himself. What is it about sports that speaks so deeply to our boys? Thanks for reminding me that we are not alone in having a different kind of normal, and that I am not alone in my heart struggle.

  8. Karen – Having had two boys who “grew up”, I know it is hard letting those apron strings loose. I believe God prepares us all along the way of our childrens lives to be gradually “snipping” those strings to prepare US for when they are adults. As I look back on the years when Brian and Brook were small, I can see God’s hand helping me with each step. We are our childrens’ “social coordinators” for so many years and then the time comes to let them take their steps on their own. When they go off to school for the first time, first time away from home at camp, first time driving the car by themselves, going off to college, and finally getting married and “leaving and cleaving”. At first I thought, now I am not needed anymore, but then God gently showed me I was still needed, but just in another capacity. I was now their friend who was there to listen and pray. My Mom was so wise. She told me she never gave advice to her grown children unless they asked for it. I am trying to live by that example. I am so glad that God allows me to pray interceding prayers for our children and grandchildren everyday.
    Happy 17th birthday, Mitchell!

  9. Happy birthday, Mitch!

    Oh sweet sister; how I needed this post today (you’ll know why when you read my gmg email). It is so difficult not to beat yourself up when you don’t respond graciously or patiently to your child when they are struggling especially when they are 2 and can’t express what is wrong. And you said it: it’s so heartbreaking to see your child struggling but He is in control and He does love our children so much more than we could ever fathom so we need to trust Him with them-struggles and all.

    Love you; thank you for being a godly example and mentor to me.

  10. Dear Karen, A very happy birthday to your son. My boys are 6 and 8 (almost 7 and 9) and each month become more aware that each day is a gift with those we love. I am confident that God gave me my boys to mold me. I am learning so much for being their mom and taking joy in the journey of the successes and trials. Thank you for such a beautiful post today…one of my favorites that you have posted. Love to you always!

  11. I absolutely love this post Karen! As a mom I can so relate to wanting to shield our kids from any pain, whether they have a special need or just a need! A wise friend once told me that meeting their every need prevents them from having to rely on God. (not unlike your friend’s advise about God).

    So we moms do the best we can, loving them greatly, and believing in the God who is in control.

    Happy Birthday to your son.

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