Today, my youngest turns sixteen.
It is a tradition in the Caston home to take the birthday guy or girl out for a special family dinner. Although two days early, Sarah Wynn’s celebratory meal was on Friday night at the place of her choosing, Tam’s Tupelo, a semi-local restaurant in Cumming, GA, which features cuisine from the Mississippi Delta such as shrimp and cheese grits (with chicken and andouille sausage!), crawfish gumbo, and the best burgers and chicken strips this side of the Mississippi – a taste of home about thirty minutes south of Dahlonega that is worth every mile of the drive.
A highlight of the evening is the moment when each member of the family begins to describe what they appreciate the most about the birthday honoree. In this case, the Caston caboose.
Words used included smart, beautiful, thoughtful, selfless, an encourager, disciplined, talented, and helpful. All true. With striking blue eyes and the warmest, most sincere smile, beauty also resides on the inside with her instinctive desire to bless those around her. She gets up early and lets the dogs out in the mornings and does the dishes without being asked. In fact, I never once have had to remind her to do her homework. Not once. She dreams of singing and acting on Broadway one day. I wouldn’t bet against her.
While Sarah Wynn is a gift to our family, the best words of affirmation came from her mother, who reminded us that the most profound words have nothing to do with what she does but with who she is.
Three simple words: “You are loved.”
Kristy nailed it. Because Sarah Wynn is not the sum of her virtuous characteristics or her accomplishments, she is the object of her parents’ affection, her siblings’ affection, and most of all the Father’s affection. She knows that her flesh is as alive and well, and that the only ground upon which she stands (or her Daddy stands) is the finished, redemptive work of Jesus – a work that was the overflow of love.
Chris Tomlin sings an almost too well-known worship song, Good, Good Father. But there is a reason churches sing it so often. Like my wife’s comments, the refrain nails it.
You are a good, good Father. It’s who you are. And I am loved by you. It’s who I am.
Sarah Wynn, if there is any single thing I would want you to embrace as a defining truth for your life, it is that as an adopted daughter of God, you are the beloved of the Father. How do you know? Not because of your gifts (and you have many) but because of God’s gift. All you have to do is remember the cross of Jesus, where his love was demonstrated most perfectly, saying, “You are mine. Forgiven, loved – even treasured. No matter what you do or do not do, I will never let you go!”
You are smart, beautiful, thoughtful, selfless, an encourager, disciplined, talented, helpful and so much more. But more than all these qualities combined, you are loved.
That is who you are.
Big hugs from your daddy… and Happy 16th Birthday!