Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Birthday to (and from) Ben

It's Ben's birthday today. You all know I love him. As part of his own birthday celebration, he sent this email to his parents this morning. I think it's beautiful and I hope he doesn't mind that I'm going to share it. The reason I'm sharing it is because I, too, have benefitted every day from the choices his parents have made in having and raising him. Just the fact that they moved to America in the 1970s, before Ben or I were born, changed both of our lives. That they raised him in a way that encouraged him to know and love many different kinds of people made our marriage possible. That Ben's mom saves money and plans ahead and Ben's dad does the dishes and prays always are qualities that I see in him every day. 

It's Ben's birthday today. There are three of us who probably celebrate that more than anyone else in the world. The ones who gave him life, and the one who shares his life. I love you, Mom & Dad Thomas!

Hi mom and dad,
As I remember my birthday today, and we celebrate with friends, I just wanted to say thanks.
Thanks for the ways you have raised me and loved me throughout the course of my life.  You encouraged me from a young age to be who God made me to be.  It first started with playing sports.  When no one else played sports you saw that I loved it and you found a way for me to play.  My first team was the Tornadoes.  From soccer to travel soccer to baseball to roller hockey and eventually you let me play the sport I loved the most, football.  Thank you.
From sports to being able to spend time with friends when no other Malayalee parents would. You trusted me and allowed me to be make friends with non Malayalees and spend time with them.
From spending time with friends to going away to college to play football.  To a college no one heard of, where no one we knew was.  You knew Hobart was the place for me after the first visit.
From Hobart to sending me to Urbana, to encouraging me to go to seminary when I sensed God calling me to ministry.  From there to meeting Susie and then marrying her.  From marrying her to be a missionary.  From being a missionary to living in ohio and then India.  From India to adopting Charlie. From adopting Charlie to being the global director.  From the global director to taking care of Susie, you helped me in every way.  From Susie's cancer to Annie being born. From Annie to my doctoral program.  From my doctoral program to Brasil and then to Rwanda.
Through all of this you have raised me to trust God, to be comfortable with who God made me, and to love others.  Without you raising me to trust God, I could not do all the lord has allowed us to do.
As I celebrate today in kigali, Rwanda, please know I can never thank you enough for how you raised me.  I am forever grateful.
I tell people in kigali all the time, I am the son of Indian immigrants who trusted God with everything.
I wish I could celebrate with you today.  I look forward to the day I can celebrate my birthday with you.
Please know that I think of you with great thanksgiving everyday, but especially today.   Every happy birthday wish to me is a reflection of both of you and how you raised me.
Happy birthday, mom and dad.  I love you.


  1. So beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Anna and Parayil have inspired me over the years. Beautiful, beautiful people. And, I sure hope I spelled Parayil correctly! :)

  2. This is so beautiful, Ben! Happy belated birthday!