Processed with Rookie

Processed with Rookie

Dear Braden,

It was so good to talk with you on FaceTime today. Just like every other time we get to talk to you or be with you, it really brightened up my day!

I’m writing this to you today in hopes that when your mom and dad decide to share this letter with you, you’ll be able to understand a little better what I mean in these few lines.

Be a joy spreader

I hope you never lose your bright-eyed joy that is so evident when you see people you love or things like the beach or a new Hot Wheels car or when you pedal real fast on your bicycle and skid your back tire when you slam on the brakes. This world can be mean at times and so can the people living in it, but I think God will use people like you to spread an infectious kind of joy that makes the world a better place.

Be inquisitive

You have such a keen mind. You always seem to be thinking and trying to figure things out.  It’s good to know a lot about a lot of different things because the world you’re growing up in is complex in a lot of ways. But always remember, life will always be about more than just knowledge. Find ways to use what you’ll learn to help people.

Be brave 

Sometimes it seems like a lot of bad things are happening, and sometimes they really are, but living afraid makes it really hard to live at all. Live life like you swim – you know that you can’t stay underwater for very long, but you also know how much fun it is to just run and jump in the pool and swim towards your dad. You conquered your fear of the water, in part, because you knew your dad or mom would be there to catch you. God created you to enjoy being his child in the awesomeness of his creation. Dive in and swim hard in God’s direction.

Be grateful

You do this so well at a young age that I can’t imagine it will be a problem for you as you get older. However, some people end up thinking that the world owes them something. Every new day is a gift. Each time you sit down to eat a good meal is a gift. Your mom and dad and sisters and all the rest of your family are a gift. The house you live in is a gift. The schools and teachers you have are a gift. The church you attend is a gift. Life itself is a gift. When your life is filled with gratitude you tend to take fewer things for granted and that attitude will be a gift to the world in which you live and work and grow.

Be strong

I don’t know how big you’ll get in terms of your physical body. Your genetic codes suggest that maybe you’ll be close to six feet tall and probably end up somewhere around 200 pounds or more before you’re done. But strength is about more than physical prowess. Strength of character is evident in one who chooses to do the right thing even when no one is watching. Strength shows up when you help a person that seems like they can’t help themself. Strength that lasts will come from knowing you need God’s help to live this kind of life.

Be kind

The world you’re growing up in has gotten really loud and mean. People who disagree with each other can say some really rotten things. There will never be a day when you don’t run into someone who’s having a tough time. So, as much and as often as you can, be kind to the people you encounter. Sit with the lonely kid at the school cafeteria. Tip well at the restaurant. Smile at the grocery clerk. Let somebody in front of you in traffic, even when they don’t deserve it. It’s possible that some of them may not say thank you. But you won’t be kind for what you can get out of it. You’ll be kind because it’s the right thing to do.

Be yourself

There may be a lot of people that will be similar to you in terms of the way you look, the kind of clothes you wear, the kind of house you live and the kind of car you drive, but there’s only one YOU! You have been given a unique set of gifts and abilities. It’s not a bad thing to follow the good example you’ll see in your mom and dad, because they’re awesome. But, at some point, you’ll have to make decisions for yourself. There will be friends who will tell you what they think you ought to do. You’ll see things on TV and in movies that will try to convince you that what they’re “selling” is better than anything you’ve ever experienced, but be true yourself and God who gave you life.

We love you so much! Happy birthday, buddy!!

Papa J.

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