Stephanie was born too early in Kokomo, Indiana 25 years ago and pre-mature infant lung disease made things touch and go for a time. We couldn't have fathomed at the time how safe her future was – tied to a red-headed toddler just a couple of hours away in Fort Wayne. This little guy would be integral to her life and ours. It wouldn't happen anywhere near Indiana, but Stephie's future was bright…
The first time I met Tristan after my girls had so gushingly and enthusiastically named him 'like' the best drummer they had ever heard (he was on the worship team at Vinelife Church in Boulder Valley), I believe he was wearing all black including a leather coat. He had bleached-blond spiked-up rock-star hair with a lip piercing and those really big plug-style-earrings. But he was not frightening at all. Not in the least. Rather there was sort of this gentle uprightness about him. He seemed true and comfortable in his skin – even if not totally so with our overwhelmingly large and loud family? He just seemed like this great young guy with a good head on his shoulders who was living his life responsibly and honestly before God. Pretty rare, actually.
A short time later my husband was in a Bible study with Tristan and heard him share his heart and insight into the Word. Dave came home and said to me, "I wish one of our girls would go for him." There was an immediate recognition of the character and spirit of the man.
When Stephanie needed tutoring for her college music theory class, she naturally turned to Tristan, the musical genius (he plays everything- well!). I noticed that she did look and smell fabulous when she went to those tutoring sessions and seemed pretty giddy about the hard schoolwork ahead. I was dull to realize that she wasn't just excited about the education she was getting and was instead totally falling for Tris. We all were, really, the whole family-becoming huge fans of Tristan Kelley.
Tristan was this amazing gift to our family from God. He showed up when we'd been pretty well depleted by the battle of ministry and church life and were just kind of shrinking back in some things. Tristan was a worshiper and worship had always been a big part of our family. His worshipful heart was a big draw to us all. He became a big-brother-figure to Rocky at a crucial time in Rocky's life and all of the kids were drawn into a deeper devotion to God just by hanging out with Tristan. Overall, for our whole family, Tristan was a restorer of worship in our home and life. He brought his guitar into the living room and sang and poured out and led us in praise. He brought a renewal in the gentlest of ways and we all just grew to love him, felt safe with him, trusted him.
When Tristan was in a car accident on I-25 in a spring snow and ice storm and Stephanie called me at work – I finally got it. I could finally see: this girl is in love, this girl is a goner. I heard the quiver of fear in her voice. He was OK, but she was shaken by the realization that it could've been worse and I could finally see that for Stephanie, losing Tristan would be unbearable above all.
The deal was sealed and Stephanie married this boy, this incredible young man, slightly less than a year after he came into our lives. I would generally say any 19-year-old is too young to marry (which was what Steph was), but we never doubted she was safe and deeply loved. We never doubted that Tristan was the man for the job.
You never know who your kids will marry and you hope they will choose well. Steph did. We have never, ever had any regrets about Steph's choice. She was born for him. He was born for her.
As lengthy as this is, in some ways, Tristan, of all our kids, is hardest for me to write about because I have such deep admiration for him as a person and my words seem deficient. But I want to wish him a happy birthday by telling him in my own feeble words, who I know him to be.
- Happy Birthday, Tristan. You are the man who completes our Stephanie and loves her and makes up for whatever ways her parents messed her up in childhood. Yet, somehow you allow us our dignity and grace us with respect whether or not we deserve it. You hold the preciousness of our family history and future safe and give honor. I pray this comes back to you many times your whole life through.
- Happy Birthday to you, Tristan – the father of 3 of our 4 grandchildren. You are a daddy. You are the kind of daddy that every child deserves, but few ever know. You are "in" all the way to those precious and beautiful babies: Gavin, Guinivere, and Gemma. They reach for you. They draw in close. Your discipline and love, mingled like the justice and mercy of God, is preparing them to know God and who He truly is – a God to whom they will always turn, they'll run to Him and stay close. Thank-you for your example to my grandbabies. I could not wish for more. And know that your hard work and sacrifcies for this family of yours do not go unnoticed…
- And Happy Birthday, Tris – one of the smartest people in the universe. Is there anything you cannot do? Is there a question we can ask you won't know how to answer? You're the baby of your family, but you're the first-born of ours. You're everybody's big brother. You're the son we can always call on. If all dad's computer questions were in billable hours, we'd be bankrupt, but you'd be able to retire from Dare2Share and live on easy street. Though I have seen you rolling on the stage floor playing this mad guitar riff in eye make-up at a club I was definitely not hip enough to be in, -in our family – you are the one on whom we can depend. Without exception, you are trusted above all.
And – you are 'like' the best drummer in the world.
I hope you can tell we really love and admire you. I hope you can comprehend how much…mom (Jeanie)
NOTE TO CHERI & LARRY: You raised a wonderful son. We thank-you and are grateful to God for all you poured in to him, all the opportunities you gave him to become who he is. It was great to see you both this week and Cheri, I really am sorry your baby boy lives so far away. I think I have the perfect solution: move west! Both your kids are out west now – c'mon, whaddya say!??? Ha! Blessings!
Pictures: Tristan in Misourri this summer; Tris with the fam on Easter (Steph was 8 months pregnant); Tristan with Baby Gemma on her day or arrival in May.
10 thoughts on “Tristan Kelley is 27 today!”
A couple of things…first, I think this is longer than my birthday blog which is unfair and I expect to be treated like a queen for awhile to make up for it. Second, Tris did not have his lip pierced when we met him, that was Stef's doing…:) Third, I believe Tara is the firstborn of our family?? Am I wrong? Are you going nuty in your falling-down old age?? hehe…just kidding…alright, I take back the treating me like a queen part. and lastly…HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Tris, who is the BEST big brother in the world…well, minus Rocky and Dave…because they are the best too. Okay, I'm just trying to make everyone feel loved here, but I love you all. But this isn't about Dave and Rocky….this is about Tristan. Who is the best big brother in the world! And we are back where we started:) Seriously though, Tris- you are amazing and you crack me up on a daily basis. I have come to love our drives to worship practice together making jokes about everyone..hehe..and talking about music and computers and the kids and everything(even though you always said I hated riding with you:)) I really do love it. I am so happy that you are in our family and you truly make it complete(well, minus the rest of the kids that will come and OF COURSE, mine and Tred's husbands)…I should stop now, I'm rambling. I love you Tris. Happy Birthday!!
I had to stop reading part way through because I am at work and didn't want the students alarmed if I burst into tears! I'll leave more of a comment later. I love you Tristan, thank you for who you are and all you do for all of us and thank you for three outstanding grandkids! Love dad
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY HUSBAND! As Mom said, I know that nothing that I (or anyone else) could write could do you justice. You are the most extraordinary man ever. You work so incredibly hard for our family and never complain. You work a full time job, give music lessons, take on contract design jobs, and still come home and help with the cooking, cleaning, diaper changing….whatever needs done. I don't think you realize how amazing, and rare that is. You've givin me the gift of being a stay-at-home mom, and I know that you know how hard it can be! Without you I would'nt have my babies, my best friend (you!), my LOVE. I love you so much more than I could ever tell you – but I will try. -Stephanie*
T-bones, I love you brother. I'm REALLY enjoying the relationship and brotherhood that God has given you and me, especially lately. Somewhere in the last few months it seems like we went from brother-in-laws to brothers… Thanks for that, Lord… Happy b-day man! dp
Okay, I'm back. If you know me well, you know that when it comes to my children and grandchildren, that I walk around with a perpetual lump in my throat. Mine will probably have to be a little light, lest I fry the keyboard of my laptop with the tears. So, Tristan my son, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 27! Wow, Three away from 30 as I am 2 away from 50! We won't even go there. I remember a video birthday greeting that we did a few years ago and what I said on the video still rings true. I love your consistency and stability, in all things. And now, a few years later, with three kids under your belt, it is even more true. There is something to be said for stability in a marriage and in a child's life… You know, I'm writing a series on my own blog for men and this just gave me an idea to continue these comments there… (a shameless commercial for my blogs) I will continue my thoughts on http://www.daverhoades.org/blog For those that follow the link, be sure and come back to Jeanie's after reading mine. Not trying to pull you away, just for a second…
Happy Birthday, Tris!!! I think mom accurately portrayed how we all feel about you. You've been such a blessing in this family and it's been my privilege to call you MY brother. Thank you for loving my sister so completely, thank you for giving me some of the best nieces and nephew in the world! Thank you for counseling our parents about computers. Thank you for being such a great brother to me and the rest of the siblings! You are the silent one, but when you speak everyone listens and most of the time everyone laughs at the perfectly timed wise-cracks! We couldn't have asked for a better man for Steph, especially with some of the jokers she used to bring home;) You have blessed us more than we can say and I'm so thankful for you and that we got to steal you into our family. I love you, big brother…Happy Birthday!
Sir Tristan- Gentle warrior … enthrawled father … loving husband … I was so pleased to finally meet you in the flesh. I knew within the first two minutes that I never had to worry about Steph again. I count it a priviledge to call you nephew and friend. Also a "shout out" to Steph for baggin' a good one!!! Joe
Tristan…sheesh I'm last again! I hope you actually read these all again so you can know that I did read mom's blog and I did leave a message. Okay, so I bawled through this blog. Sometimes it may seem that recognition of you goes unsaid but truly we all have such a respect and honor of you! I am so blessed to have you as a brother and so blessed that you love my sister. I love worshipping with you, joking with you, exchanging parent stories with you, the way you walk, your shaking up and down laugh, definitely your dancing, your creativity in your work, and the way that you have touched Stephanie, Gavin, Guini, and Gemma. I am honored, truly honored to have you in my life. I'm also a little proud that nobody else gets you in THEIR family! hehehhehe Happy Birthday dear brother!
This is the first chance I've had to read your blog. We just got home last night. It is so comforting to know that my precious baby boy has someone like you to keep an eye out for him and love him like a mother. Thanks for taking him into your family. I would love to be out west – but unfortunately Larrys' job is here. I need to be their so I can help my wonderful 'daughter' Stephanie learn more about sewing, etc. We had such a great time together. Blessings!