To Cor, on the Occasion of His 11th Birthday

Dear Cor,

You are a marvelous human being. I’ve marveled at you since the day you were born: eleven years ago, in the wee hours of the morning, in the hospital across the street from the Oosterpark in Amsterdam. And I marvel still at the ways God has created you, full of passion, power, and creativity. I pray this is a marvelous birthday — and a marvelous twelfth year of life — for you.

One of the things I most admire about you, Cor, is the level of passion you demonstrate in so many different areas of your life. Whether it’s ice cream, or friendships, or sports, or homework, or whatever — you let your passion be known. Cheers or tears are always coiled just below the surface, ready to spring.

You lead with your heart, and I often wish I could be more like you. I’m too measured, too even-keeled, a lot of the time. Our culture has done us a disservice in this area. You, though, give me hope for a more balanced masculinity. As you lead with your heart, Cor, you inspire others to do the same. And I pray that you’ll continually grow in trusting and loving the Lord with all your heart, like the Bible talks about in Proverbs 3:5-6 and Luke 10:27. As you do this, I believe your passion, inspiration, and influence will ripple out to affect nations and generations.

Another thing that I really love about you, Cor, is your power. Your pure physicality is impressive. I love it when you’re willing to go all-in with a hug or high-five, or when you get that look in your eye that shows you’re ready for a fight. Physical touch is a way that I experience and express love, and I think it’s similar for you. As you continue in your physical development, approaching manhood, your power is truly going to be a force with which to be reckoned.

Take care to use your power wisely in regards to property, projects, and (especially) people. We’ve discovered that your soccer kicks are so strong now that you simply cannot whale on the ball, kicking it up against our garage door (I’m simultaneously perturbed and proud of the way the broken windows are adding up). You’re physically capable of tackling significant projects, like our family’s summit of Flattop, Hallett, and Otis this summer — and I think that’s amazing!

But be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. You’re strong, but you’re not invincible — and I suspect that you’ll need to be reminded of that more than your older brother and sister, when it comes to things like diving off cliffs, and driving cars, and dating girls.

More than anything, I pray that you’ll use your power to help people, not hurt people. I love the way that your physicality is balanced by your emotional intelligence. I’m praying that this emotional acuity will grow with you, as you learn to handle increasing elements of physical power. I pray that you’ll be like the ancient King David who “became more and more powerful, because the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies was with him” (2 Samuel 5:10). That’s the kind of power that will serve you — and others — most meaningfully in the year (and years) to come.

In addition to celebrating your heart and your strength, I also want to celebrate your mind. Your creativity, in particular. Your imagination fascinates me: Vincenzo Guatemalé calling the play-by-play for one of your solitary sporting events… riffing on beats about a laundromat in the back seat of the car, accompanied by your siblings and me… designing jerseys with white T-shirts and fabric markers… I think you have a beautiful mind, Cor!

It seems to me like you’re really getting to a level of mastery in the art of imitation. So, do you know what comes next, after imitation? Innovation. You get to blaze new trails into new elements of language, music, and design. I’m very excited to see where your creativity takes you. As with everything, it’s good to remember that your creativity is an echo of your Creator, and that “we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). I pray that the next few years of adolescence, in particular, will be a time of discovering God’s plans for each of us, together.

I love you very much, Cor William Asp. I’m proud of you and the way you’re growing up. Happy Birthday, sweet son of mine. I look forward to many joyous returns of the day.

Yours truly,






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