Hey John Paul: You’re a Teenager!

Make that TWO teenagers in the house. That was fast.

John Paul is officially 13 today and y’all know what that means. Cue the birthday letter. And this time, to my teenage son. For fun, I looked back at Will’s 13th letter and I had to smile. God love the internet.

Now I know where Gianna gets her curls. All the heart-eyed emjois on this one.


Dear John Paul,

As I stood in our kitchen last night, watching you play poker and hoop it up with your friends for your birthday celebration, it gave me pause. You see, 13 years ago I held a second son in my arms and never dreamed life as a boy mom would be this good.

You gave me hell as a baby. We suffered with secondary infertility for a year and when you finally arrived, you gave us quite a scare with a funny heartbeat. It’s gone now, but you have made my heart stop on many occasions as my official spokesperson for the local ER. You’re tough, though, and your life lessons to me have been many.

Without a doubt, you are the most determined kid in the house. We jokingly call you Mr. Competitive. You want to win at it all – poker, basketball, arm wrestling, putting up the dishes first, finding my phone when I lose it – and you sometimes lose your mind when you don’t. That’s okay. We’re working on channeling that, right?

I think it might be a stretch to say you enjoy reading. You do, however, love figuring out card tricks on YouTube, watching DudePerfect and schooling your older brother in basketball.

You have such a funny disposition about you. Gianna cracks up just looking your direction and you are the official movie line quoter in the house. Every house needs one and you are fantastically hilarious. “Bye, Buddy. Hope you find your dad.” {name that movie}

It’s a joy to watch you follow in Will’s footsteps, literally, as you altar serve. You’re building this demeanor of reverence that often brings me to tears. Hey, I’m your mom. Those are things I do.

If you commit your mind to something, LOOK OUT, because John Paul is on the loose. That drive will serve you well. Always channel it for good. Pinky promise, okay?

As you enter into the teenage years, I hope you’ll remember these things.

I love you, fiercely. Even when your room reeks of “boy” or when you roll your eyes, slam your door or say “whatever Mom,” I love you. That will never change. It’s not my first rodeo as a parent of a teenager so I’m hoping that works in both our favors.

Keep talking to me. Keep showing me card tricks (you are crazy good at those), telling me about the Jets offense and trying to explain the pitching lineup for the Mets. I won’t ever figure any of those out, but keep trying anyway.

Do what you love. You have been gifted with so many things from God. I look forward to seeing how you foster and grow them these next few years under our roof. You’ll always have my unconditional support. Dream big, just don’t forget to turn in your social studies homework.

Form your tribe. You have a beautifully diverse group of friends. I love them all and I think they love you, too. Stay close with those that are your biggest cheerleaders for they will help you navigate life in a way that I can’t. They are gold. Always treat them with respect and kindness.

In the big and little moments, seek God. He will be there to shout for joy when you reach your goals and He will be there in your darkest moments to walk with you even when you don’t understand the pain and suffering. When you hear Him calling, don’t dismiss Him. He loves you more than I do.

Don’t ever conform to someone else’s agenda of who you should be. Be confident in who God made you to be. I love that you love being a lefty. You’re artistic and funny, wicked smart and sly, athletic and determined. Some of those traits may bring me heartburn these next few years, but embrace who John Paul was made to be. We didn’t name you after a saint for nothing.

Be joyful. There is so much in this life that works to break our spirits. Choose to see the good. It’s always there. And remember who created you and for what purpose. 

Go, be a saint, John Paul. Won’t it be so much fun to see where life will lead you these next few years? I’m particularly excited about the next 365 days. For us, you’ll always be the original John Paul the Great.

And for good reason.

I love you big, buddy. Let’s go take 13!





  1. Penny Churchill on January 22, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Happy Birthday to your John Paul!! 🎈🎂🎉. Hope he has a wonderful first year of ”teendom’!! I have a John Paul of my own….he is grown with a son of his own.

    Am wondering if you could write some words of hope and wisdom about our future with the new POTUS. You have such a flair for writing and a heart full of hope and courage. How are you feeling these days? What do you think of the Women’s March that was held the day after the inauguration?

    • Kathryn on January 22, 2017 at 11:08 pm

      Penny, you’re so kind! I tend to steer clear of political blog posts. Writing them just doesn’t bring me joy. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, I just would rather share them in person, over a glass of sweet tea, than for all the interwebs to read. I do think we have to focus on many things as a country moving forward, namely? Leading with love!

  2. Maureen Davis on January 22, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Bejoyful, study and pray, do good to everyone great advice for youth from St. John Bosco

    God bless all and Happy Birthday

    Ms. Maureen

  3. Nicole on January 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Happy birthday! I love that you write these birthday letters. Such a gift for your family.

    And I am looking forward to the party details! The sneak peeks on instagram were a lot of fun!

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