Eight years ago from this last weekend a mother woke up her only boy before the sun rose and dragged him off on what she called a “priesthood sunrise hike.”

It was his twelfth birthday.

And although I’m sure that boy rolled his eyes a little and dragged his feet, he followed that crazy mother of his up a mountain.  She wanted so much to make that birthday different.  To have the chance to explain why that birthday of his was extra important.  He would be getting the Priesthood.  And that was a big deal.

I’m sure in his newly 12-year-old brain he was a little fed up with that mother of his.  He complained of his shoes filling with rocks.  He was bugged that there was some steep climbing at the end.  But he trudged up there with that crazy lady, something inside him knowing that if it was important to her, then it was important to him, because that’s the kind of boy he is, and they both made it to the top.

And low and behold, that mother had even brought along a little book about the priesthood.  And they had a good little talk up there on top of the world.

On that beautifully hot birthday morning on June 3rd.

Fast forward eight years and that little 12-year-old turned into a 20-year-old on the other side of the planet in the pouring rain, talking with everyone he could on the streets of the tiny little Taiwanese town he lives in, no doubt with a giant smile on his face.  
An excerpt from the letter he wrote Lucy when she asked about his birthday:
I had the best bday ever! It was pouring rain all day and we were just talking to people on the streets the whole time but that made it all the more fun! I had mcdonalds for bday dinner haha.”
I was up at Girls’ Camp on the big day, and I couldn’t help but go around with a big smile on my face thinking of him over there, happy for him and the people he’s working with, but SO aching to give him a big, giant hug.

I thought of little Max, the boy with the big brown eyes who made me a mother for the first time.

The boy who put up with his crazy mother…

 ….and being surrounded by all girls for so long.

I remembered so many milestones.

 So many pictures he endured because he loves me:

 His goofiness:

 His determination on the volleyball court:

His giant stature:

Along with his smiles.
I thought about his willingness to work HARD:
And his ability to motivate:

And his humility when we told him how great his Chinese was on Mother’s Day and he smiled and told us he still had so much to work on.

And I thought about how all those things combine and make him the missionary he is in the mission field.

And OH!  How I longed to have him here to endure his traditional birthday cheek-kisses and give us that slow smile.

But I also thought about how much I love that he is there.  

With that smile and that big heart.

Putting to great use that priesthood power he and that mother of his celebrated on the top of that mountain all those years ago.

So grateful for that favorite son of mine and how he makes my heart want to burst.

Hope his birthday really was grand in the pouring rain over there in Taiwan, and that through it all he could feel the tsunami of love we were sending across the ocean in powerful force.
…a little symbol of it packed up in a box that happily reached him in time.
Love you forever Maxwell David.


  1. This was such a beautiful post to read in the middle of the night while up with a toddler who refuses to sleep. I was reminded of how fleeting these moments are in the big picture. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I was listening to this podcast today and I kept thinking about Lucy and your entire family. I felt like I should share this wonderful podcast with you. It's about a man who lost his sight as a teenager. and all of the wonderful accomplishments he has had and lessons he has learned since loosing his sight. I loved how hopeful it was for people who lose their sight. If you get a chance to listen to it, I hope you enjoy it! Here's the link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-art-of-manliness/id332516054?mt=2&i=1000386101759
    and don't worry, even though the podcast is titled "art of manliness" I really enjoy it even as a woman. 😉
    Just as a sidenote: I love your blog and I've been an avid reader since I was 12! I'm a year older than Max, and I loved reading about your mothering techniques for your kids that were close in age to me. I hope to one day implement many of your techniques when I'm a mother. Keep up the wonderful writing. 🙂

  3. What timing! My third son turned 12 on June 3rd! This made me cry this morning. Love the hike idea, we go to the temple grounds with our kids at 12 and talk about the priesthood and temple. Then we do baptisms a week or so later.

  4. My oldest child is also a wide-smiling boy named Maxwell…but mine is only 3 years old. Reading your reflections always reminds me that my little baby will be not-so-little if I blink too much. I can't imagined how you just have ached to hug your baby on his birthday!

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