Dave and I celebrate the milestones in each of our children’s lives.  Small and big victories, the passing of another year as each of them continues to grow and change right before our eyes.

Our summer is filled with these milestones as five of them joined our family over the years in the summer.  First we celebrated Hannah turning 9 in July, next Taliah turned sweet 16, Moriah will be 1 on the 24th of this month, and then squeaking in just a bit before Fall is Joshua, starting his journey into the teen years turning 13 on the 10th of September.

Today, however, we celebrate Joel, eleven years old.

2016 has and will see my children turn 18, 16, 13, 11, 9, 5, and 1.  As Birthdays go some of those are more momentous than others; 18 marks adulthood, 16 for a girl is her sweet 16 (not to mention you can get your learners driver’s licence), 9 your last year before double digits, 5 you are now a big guy no one will mistake you for a toddler when you are a whole hand old, and 1 you have made it through your 1st year and you now have a number for your age that labels your years not your months.

Eleven, in the grand scheme of birthdays, is not a biggie.  Oh sure, it is a great day because it is your day but eleven is not anticipated the same way that 13, 16, or 18 is.

Yet today eleven seems just as remarkable.  I don’t love Joel MORE than my other children.  Joel has just had a very different journey than my other children.  When his birthday hits I can not help but remember wondering if we would see him blow out 5 candles.  So eleven is a gift just as 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 were.  Joel’s birthday helps me to reflect in a way that the other children’s birthdays don’t seem to.  As I see what an incredible gift of eleven is I am reminded that I have also been blessed with 18, 16, (almost) 13, 9, 5 and (almost) 1 wonderful years with my children.

Joel stands as a Standing Stone in my life that each day is precious and each day is a gift…don’t waste it.

Oh my sweet Joel, eleven already, you are growing up and I am so proud of how hard you fight to make gains in your life.  I won’t paint it all roses you have been given the gift of a strong will which makes you a challenge to parent some days, but you also have a tender and soft heart which melts our hearts.  Both are gifts, but some days I see these gifts wrestle inside you, each trying to come out on top; your strong will or your soft heart.  My prayer for you son, is that these gifts will grow and that they will compliment each other, so that you will always be able to stand strong with a soft and compassionate heart.Joel Castle

Joel often shows that softness when he is with Moriah, he loves to be with her. Here he is with a castle that he built for her.

Moments after that picture there was destruction and this wee conqueror sampled the spoils of her victory, only to have her big brother rebuild so she could yet again topple the kingdom.Moriah blocks

This year the 3 younger boys participated in the Junior Heavyweights at the Glengarry Highland Games.  Highland Boys

(Crazy lighting on this picture but I love it.)

This is a challenge for any child competing, but Joel carries with him physical scars that make participating that much more of a challenge.  His strong will prevailed and he gave each event his best effort!Joel caber toss

Eleven, a milestone for sure.  I am excited to see what things you accomplish in this coming year Joel.  Twelve may not be one of the most anticipated numbers either but I have a feeling that this time next year we will be celebrating some new major accomplishments achieved in the past year.

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