Happy 12th birthday Jacob. A year in review through pictures.

Fries at MN State Fair. September 2014.
Flag football, tight end. September 2014.
5th grade trip to ELC in Lanesboro, MN. October 2014.
First pheasant hunting trip, Mitchell, SD. November 2014.
Sorting some football card from Christmas. December 2014.
3rd place, New Prague basketball tournament. January 2015.
Superbowl pre-game. February 2015.
Annual trip to MN Boy's State hockey tournament. March 2015. Mickey's Diner. 
Easter pics at Canvas Church, April 2015.
Richfield baseball tournament. May 2015.
Bloomington baseball tournament. June 2015.
Eating wings with Dad while Mom and siblings gone for the week. June 2015.
At Omaha Zoo on the sky ride. October 2015.
Headed for birthday lunch at BW3's. September 2015.
Today we are celebrating Jacob turning twelve. Hard to believe we are a year away from having a teenager! Seems like just yesterday that we were in the delivery room eagerly anticipating the little bundle of joy that had put my wife on bedrest and made us wait 8 extra days before he was born.

We always knew he was going to be Jacob. From the day we were told he was a boy. Jacob Thomas. A strong Biblical name representing both testaments. Plus he would share my middle name. I couldn't wait to hold him in my arms. I've always loved kids and couldn't wait to be a daddy. A dad with a son. The future possibilities of what we'd do together were limitless.

A lot has happened since Jacob was born. In just twelve years we added a sister and a brother and a dog to the mix. We moved to Northfield. I have worked in four different jobs, from ministry to retail to trucking. Stephanie has taught in multiple schools and coached high school basketball. We have loved and served in four different churches. There has been a whole lot of craziness and a whole lot of fun. And Jacob has been at the center of it all.

What words best describe this boy I have been given by the Lord? Funny, kind, empathetic, tender, emotional, athletic, clever, a little short-tempered, a little stubborn, warm, caring, fun-loving, welcoming, friendly, cautious, anxious, careful, wonderful. What a kid. 

Being a dad hasn't always been easy. I'm a broken man and I don't live up to all of my own ordeals but Jacob has shown me love and grace and forgiveness in a way I don't think I'd learn anywhere else. He's the oldest and the expectations are highest for him. He is different from me in many ways and sometimes we get after each other. We are learning how to do it, how I can teach and lead him in a way that honors his uniqueness and the different stages of lives he is growing in. He is such a great kid and I am blessed.

Jacob Thomas you bless my life and you warm my heart. You make me smile and I am so thankful to be your daddy. I believe that God has great plans for you and he has created you with unique strengths and weakness, passions and abilities, and that as you tap into Jesus you will experience amazing things. Thanks buddy for the way you love me. I pray that you never doubt the depth of my love for you too!

Memories from your 11th year...
- boys hockey tournament (Lakeville won)
- Gophers v. Hawkeyes wrestling match
- Twins game vs. Oakland A's
- Trip to Colorado and you got altitude sickness
- Gopher hockey game vs. Michigan State
- baseball tournaments in Richfield, Bloomington, Rochester
- basketbal tournaments in Woodbury, New Prague, Prior Lake, Rochester, Northfield, Lakeville
- pheasant hunting in SD
- Omaha Zoo
- Man v Food eating challenge at Jethro's in Des Moines
- lunch at Mickey's Diner
- ELC trip with 5th grade class
- first end of school party
- trips to watch Dad preach in Waseca and Blaine
- summer trip to the cabin