Grady Lee, you are S-E-V-E-N years old today! Seven years of 100% energy, enthusiasm, and effort that is 100% all boy. I am thrilled to call you mine. I am honored to hear you call me Mom. And I treasure the life we've traveled in seven short years.
I have high hopes for you because I believe in a God who uniquely creates people for high purposes. I see all the potential and promise and opportunity before you and I get lightheaded! You are the only Grady Lee on this planet created for the specific work God has purposed for you, and I pray that you will choose Him first. Choose Him always. And choose Him passionately.
As we say goodbye to six and hello to seven, I came up with a few goals that, together, we can work on this year. Goals that will help us love each other more because we're focused on loving other people more by loving God more. Are you willing to work hard with me? Are you willing to put forth effort for something outside of yourself? Here goes.
S - Servant Leadership
Being a leader by first being a servant? That's right. Not because I suggested it, but because God commands it and Jesus modeled it.
"In everything, [Grady should] set an example by doing what is good." Titus 2: 7a
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. [Grady] should look not only to [his] own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4
This year we're going to work on finding opportunities to love, serve, and to care for other people first. We're going to be a team that makes it a priority to see how many people we can make smile because we asked their opinion, let them go before us in line, enjoy the last piece of cake, or had the better seat.
And, I'm pretty sure that when we stop to think about the people we've blessed we'll realize that the real blessing is for us because of the joy we experienced by knowing Jesus has seen our efforts to love other people before ourselves.
Remember, Buddy, anyone can be a leader. But, very few people can be a leader for things that hold eternal value.
You've heard me say this numerous times already and you'll hear me say it numerous times again: we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control what happens in us. This means that our attitudes are our choice - no one make us be happy or sad, joyful or angry, forgiving or bitter, positive or negative.
With the power of Jesus we have the privilege of supernatural power to rise above any occasion or circumstance and choose to be thankful and choose to love others. It's not always easy. Actually, it's rarely easy, but it is possible.
"[Grady] encourage one another daily..." Hebrews 3:13
We're going to make an intentional effort this year to encourage other people. Handwritten notes. Phone calls. Smiles. Kind words. Even the simplest of things can make a difference. You never know if your handsome smile and hello to the cashier at the store is the only smile she gets all day. You never know if the note to a neighbor on our street is the only personal piece of mail he gets all month.
You may not know the impact of simple encouraging gestures, but you can be sure Jesus uses our simple efforts to love other people and turns them into big things.
Because we know Jesus, we know life. Because we know Jesus, we know hope. Because we know Jesus, we know power. There is no one and no thing that can stop us from loving Him and being eternally secure in Him. He bought us with a great price and he will uphold us with his righteous hand.
"[Grady] can do everything through him who gives strength." Philippians 4:13
"So [Grady] says with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" Hebrews 13:6
This year, we're going to work on our responses to other people. When you hear peers tease you, we'll come back to the Bible and remember that God loves and values you. When you are too nervous to read your Bible out loud or to answer a question at church because of what others may say, we'll come back to the Bible and remember that God gives you exactly what you need for exactly when you need it. When we have guests in our home or serve other people in a ministry setting, we're going to ask God for confidence to ask good questions, have proper conversation, and use appropriate manners. If our efforts go unnoticed or even taken the wrong way, we'll go back to the Bible and remember that God uses us in different parts of His process to help grow people in their faith.
We demonstrate our values by the choices we make. How do we use our time? How do we spend our money? What kind of friends do we have? Our choices are a reflection of what's in our heart - of who or what we value.
"[Grady will] trust in the Lord with all [his] heart and lean not on [his] own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
"Be very careful, then, how you live [Grady] - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. [Grady] do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." Ephesians 5:15-17
We've begun talking about this and I know we'll see it more in the days ahead: we don't have many family and friends who will share our same values. We'll have family members and friends with good intentions and good desires, but very few people will view today through the same lens of eternity that we have. And sometimes that's okay. Not always, but sometimes.
This year I hope that you begin to understand, in a personal way, why our family does some of the things we do. I pray for opportunities for you to see, in very real and very simple ways, why we live and spend and relate and communicate in the ways we do. This is a lifelong learning process - Mom still has a long way to go! - but I long to see you connect the dots in your own thinking and make independent decisions about what truly matters in life.
Sometimes it's hard to be different. To be the only guy on the team not doing a certain thing. To be the only guy in class not saying a certain thing. To be the only guy at the playground not laughing at a certain thing. To be the only guy not doing things that "everyone one else does" because you know that God demands better of you.
"Blessed is [Grady when he] does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." Psalm 1:1
"[Grady] do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2
Buddy, Mom never hopes for you to be popular or liked or chosen first. But, Mom always hopes that you will be that guy who others talk about for being consistent in how you act and in what you say. For being honest in your words and pure in your intentions. For being Jesus-focused even when it means you're not understood or agreed with.
And being the guy that's different can be hard, really hard. Trust me, I know. But you know what else? Anything and anyone that is worth something of significance will always require devotion and sacrifice. Let's look for opportunities this year to relish in the greatness and the goodness of God even when it means we're different, or misunderstood, or ignored.
Happy 7th Birthday, Grady Lee. Mom loves and treasures you.