Jake Nathanael Witherow turns 14 years old today!
This man-child, for that is what he is, a man-child, has grown to six feet tall in stature yet remains a blissfully sweet, young boy. Jake continues to be innocent and naïve in how he lives out his life and interacts with others – whether in Portland, Oregon or Johannesburg, South Africa. He remains loyal, true and faithful to those he loves with all of his heart. Jake has grown tall, and yet his love and loyalty of his family and friends and the expectation that this love and loyalty is offered in return is just as deep and wide.
If you have Jake as a friend, you have his friendship for life.
If you have been blessed by Jake’s love, you have his love for life.
If you have been sheltered by Jake’s protection, you have his guardianship for life.
Jake’s strongest attributes are his love of others and his loyalty to them. Honestly, can you think of anything more essential and gratifying in life than to be able to offer love and acceptance to others? Jake does that time and time again.
Whether you meet Jake for the first time or many times, he is consistent in his greeting. He will offer you a hug as a way of saying ‘hello’ and then a hug as a way of saying, ‘I’m glad you were here.’ How many 14 year old kids do you know that are generous with their hugs? Jake is. And that’s pretty special.
Now, don’t think that Jake’s life is perfect or that he doesn’t have any challenges. Of course, he does. He is no different in that regard from you or me. For example, Jake struggles with anxiety. His anxiety manifests itself in situations when his life doesn’t go as expected and his normal day-to-day routines are disrupted. Since he has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, some of his challenges can be linked to social situations as well. Even so, Jake is working, with lots of coaching, lots of encouragement and lots of love to develop strategies when Jake’s journey in life takes a turn he hadn’t anticipated and learning how to interact socially with others in a variety of contexts.
As I reflect upon Jake’s life of 14 years, I believe that one of the greatest gifts our God has given him is the opportunity to grow up in a different land and experience an entirely different culture! Being a missionary kid in southern Africa – a third-culture kid – has broadened Jake’s experience base and helped him learn to thrive in a variety of life situations – where the unexpected occurs on a daily basis! Sudden electricity outages, last minute house guests, house alarms, loss of water use for an entire day, and all-things-out-of-the-ordinary have the potential to cause Jake’s anxiety levels to rise. Yet, it is through such things that Jake is learning to manage the unmanageable and learning that life never goes as we think it should. That’s a good thing.
Yes, Jake Nathanael Witherow is 14 years old today!
What a great time to celebrate and reflect upon the special, loving and steadfast, young man he is today! How grateful we are to know Jake and to love him too!
Happy Birthday Jake! There is no one like you!