by Julie Walker

devin15.jpgMy first baby is going to be a teenager, very soon. How did that happen? I remember so vividly bringing him home from the hospital. We were both in pretty rough shape. Devin, still quite bruised from delivery and as yellow as a banana. Me, also ‘bruised’, yellow (and a few other colours) and in a considerable amount of pain, not to mention the roller coaster of emotions. devin16.jpgIt was a difficult start but we were so happy to be home.

They say that the first child paves the way for all the rest and I’ve generally found that to be true. Looking back I can see that I was certainly much more relaxed with the other boys than with my first. Devin’s first birthday was the first time he had ever had cake and ice cream or anything sweet for that matter. Jacob was probably eating ice cream regularly by 8 months and Noel was popping Smarties into the twins mouth as soon as they had teeth. Nobody died, and we still aren’t diabetic. Awesome!

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Recently I’ve been looking through some old photos of our family as it grew and I’ve come to the conclusion that Devin has taught us as much as we ever taught him. The standard ‘first-time’ parent lessons were, of course, part of our life. Things like: patience, putting someone else’s needs first, learning how to change a diaper quickly enough to avoid getting peed on, and the fact that we could survive with surprisingly little sleep.

The most significant lesson of all was how much we wanted Devin and his brothers to grow up to love and honour the Lord. This has become priority number one. We want to be constantly growing in the Lord so that our children see the practical value in it and want to share in it too. They see us studying, praying and talking about God and church life. We pray with them and talk with them about how God is working in their lives. My most fervent prayer for my boys is that they will grow up to be spiritual leaders for their own families and be mighty men of God ready to be used in anyway He sees fit. If God is central then it doesn’t matter how much money they make or whether or not they have gained any status in this world. I want them to ‘get’ what this life is about.

A close second to that is demonstrating to our kids the love we have for each other. I want to make sure that the boys hear us say, “I love you,” to each other and see us lovin’ on each other. They use to love this and we would all share big family hugs affectionately known as ‘family sandwiches’. Now they all cover their eyes and make gagging noises when Noel and I kiss each other. This is of course great fun for Noel. He tries to trick them into opening their eyes before he kisses me. We want the guys to be confident that mom and dad will always be together. Noel teaches these boys everyday what it is to be a loving husband. They couldn’t have a better example. These two things have become very central to our family life.

Devin has always been all about Daddy. From the time he could walk he was running after Noel. Noel is his measure of a man. How’s that for pressure? Fortunately Noel rose to the challenge in ways that continue to surprise me. Devin looked like a Walker right from the beginning. The resemblance to his dad was so strong he was like Noel 2.0. I thought that was pretty awesome. Noel said he was glad that if Devin had to look like him at least he acted like me. I think that means that Devin doesn’t have to deal with the temper issues that Noel did as a child. We saved that particular trait for another of the boys.

Devin was with us to welcome home each one of his brothers and he loves his big brother role. He surprised us with how loving and patient he was with each of his new brothers. When I see my boys play or see Noel doing something with them I understand a little clearer what it means to “store up moments” in my heart (Luke 2:19). I think every parent gets that passage about Mary.

I love the confident fun kid that Devin is. He makes it easy to be proud of him. I’m generally pretty excited to have a teenager in the house but I’m sure we will have some moments where it’s difficult. It’s all part of parenting right? God holds us all in his hands and as we have to start letting go, God will protect and provide for Devin like He has from the first moments of his life. It’s going to be exciting to see what God has planned for him and I can hardly wait to see the man he will become. Sometimes though I wish I could just freeze time to enjoy these moments a little longer. I’m thankful that we still have a long way to go before this kid is an adult but I also know that he will slowly start to need us less. He will start to make his own decisions and just need us to support and direct him. I pray that we have given him a good foundation and that he knows who he is – a son of the King of kings. This next stage is gonna be fun but I’m glad he still likes to hug his mom.

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