Happy 21st to our eldest son Sam today!!  Sam was born 21 years ago in Los Angeles; he was 11 weeks early and weighed 3.5 pounds. I could hold him in the palm of my hand. You would never know any of this today as he prepares to enter his senior year at the University of Maryland.

During Sam's weeks in the NICU, my wife Bethany was ill due to complications, and I spent a lot of time bouncing between floors at the hospital.  And while life was stressful and frightening, we were also in a community of other parents in the NICU whose kids were sick.  Sam was just early.  This put things in check.

Remember that when things are tough, there are people out there in more challenging situations. Of course, this doesn’t make your problem easy or OK, but it keeps things in perspective. Sam's time in the NICU taught me that no matter how difficult things might be, there are people who would prefer to be in your shoes.

Over the past 21 years, there have been points along the journey where life has felt tough again. And when I reflect on our NICU experience and look at Sam today, it gives me strength.