When he was little we called him Levi the Loud. He talked, laughed, played, ate, and cried so LOUDLY! As the third little boy to join our family in 2 1/2 years, he was the busiest, most active, in to everything little guy we’d had. He stretched us!
Being only 14 months apart, he and Elijah competed at almost everything for years, having some deep need to prove who was the biggest, fastest, smartest, most fearless….it was exhausting….and loud.
As he grew in to a teenager, sporting the Bieber hairstyle, working tirelessly to make those curly locks straight, wearing skinny jeans and just the right tennis shoes. Times got HARD! Often, he wouldn’t listen to reason or wisdom, wouldn’t do his homework, wouldn’t tell the truth, sometimes chose to just “follow his heart” or “live in the moment” instead of doing what he knew was right.
These were the years we started using the phrase, “You can either let wisdom be your teacher or consequence.” You will learn from both but one teaches so much more gently.
These were the years we learned to not be shocked at what our kids may tell us they thought or did, but to listen when they came to us and love them anyway, not condone, but LOVE. (When you have four teenagers at one time, you learn so much that you THOUGHT you already knew.) We made soooo many mistakes!
Another valuable lesson learned during those years was that other people’s kids were a work in progress too and that if we didn’t extend grace, we shouldn’t expect grace for ourselves or my kids, and we sure did need it!!!
No matter how many times we disciplined, how many privileges we took away, Levi was struggling and determined to go his own way. He chose consequence over wisdom and it was HARD and EXHAUSTING! These were challenging times and we were desperate! I can remember so many times asking the Lord to just capture His heart.
Let me add that at this point, I often blamed myself for every failure, every shortcoming, every missed assignment, every character flaw, not just for this child but X6! I was sure that if only I’d have (insert any number of things)…
Things would’ve turned out differently, and surely they’d have been better.
When the teachers and admistrators called us to the meeting and said, “Levi is such a great kid. He’s a joy to have in class, he’s so encouraging to other students. He is such a leader, but he’s on the borderline academically and ultimately the decision is yours as to whether or not he passes to the ninth grade.” We were given the option of letting him slide in to high school. We had seen this coming for months though. We, and his teachers had warned, and directed, and redirected. We told him for several months that he still had time to turn this ship around, but that he was the only one who could do it and we couldn’t and wouldn’t fix it for him.
That day, we made one of the hardest parenting decisions we’d been faced with. We wouldn’t rescue, we wouldn’t intervene, we would ALL deal with the consequences, and he wouldn’t move on to high school.
What would he have learned if we’d have let him slide? He’d have learned that there aren’t real consequences for our actions. He’d have learned that it’s ok for parents to bail kids out when they’ve done the wrong thing. He’d have learned that image is more important than integrity, just to name a few. These weren’t lessons we wanted to teach him or our other kids….(He has gone on to have successful High School years with no further academic issues.)
I can’t put my finger on exactly what happened over the next few months. He had a few pivotal experiences and the only thing I can contribute it to is that God was gracious and He answered our prayers. It’s as if Levi’s eyes were opened to who he really was, and he began to understand some of his purpose. He stopped pretending, stopped looking to peers to define him. It was if he had people at every turn speaking destiny and future in to his heart and thankfully, he began to believe it deeply.
He began living LOUD(ly) in a very different way. His love for drums and desire to play them made it naturally loud, but deep within, he changed so intensely. He has such a desire to impact the lives of others so that they run toward His Savior and he gets to spend the next 10 weeks at a summer camp doing that. We’ve watched him work hard and then sacrifice every dime in his savings to go on missions trips the past two summers, give up spring break to minister to the people in the Philippines where he was able to share many parts of his testimony that had great impact on hundreds of young people. Heard stories of him rescuing and standing up for classmates when others were making fun and hurting another kid.
He gives extravagantly, and loves intensely. He lives LOUD!
Edited to add: I wrote this post almost three weeks ago and just couldn’t publish it. It just seemed unfinished and it’s still pretty rough but this is a story that hasn’t ended.
When I asked Levi before he left what he thought would be the hardest thing about being gone for so long. “Besides missing Grace,” he said, “not getting to play drums.”
If you’ve ever seen him play, that statement makes perfect sense to you.
When he got hurt and had to get stitches in his knee a week ago, only a week after getting to the camp he’s at in Oklahoma, he was initially told he’d have to sit out of all sports and water activities for two weeks. For a guy like Levi, not being active almost all the time is difficult….so as I was praying for him, I remember saying something along the lines of, “Lord, if he could just get his hands on a drum, just a box drum or a djembe, that would really be great.”
He called me today for the first time since he left two weeks ago. I had run in to the Teeter to pick up a few things and was so excited to see his name pop up on my phone. He said he didn’t have long but he just wanted to tell me about this cool thing that happened. And this is the story….
As he was getting to know some of the other counselors (guys around his age) two of them asked him when he felt closest to God, and he told them when he was playing drums. A few days later they took him in their room and made him close his eyes and when he opened them….there was a cajon( box drum) that they had ordered and had sent there for him…..He said he was shocked and undone and it was just the coolest thing, that two people who barely knew him would do something that meant so much to him.
So here is me, on the other end of the phone, having another moment in the Teeter as I realized how faithful God is. What a sweet, precious way for the Lord to speak to me, ” I see him, I love him, he is living loud for Me and I’m continuing to capture his heart just like you’ve prayed for all these years!
Keep LIVING LOUD(LY), LEVI! It is what you were created for!!