What is one fun thing you are really hoping you can do this year while you're eight?
"To see a Panthers game!"
No promises, Buddy, but we'll try to make that happen. Yes, tickets are available, but like Dad has talked with you before, it's all about supply and demand. Limited seats and lots of interest mean ticket prices are high. Your Dad has been exceptional at getting you to a lot of professional sporting events in your short eight years and I know he'd enjoy a Panther's game (or two!) as well.
What makes you excited about growing older?
"I'm closer to getting to be a professional football player."
You are definitely well on your way to being a lean, mean, athletic machine. Although football is one of my least favorite sports to watch, I'll be your biggest and loudest fan if you decide to play. And don't forget what you promised me tonight when I tucked you in: you'll always let me hug and kiss you!
What makes you nervous about growing older?
"I'm not really nervous about anything."
Really? Nothing? How about learning new things, making new friends, getting a job... moving away from home?
"None of those things make me nervous. Everyday I learn new things and most times when I go to the park or the pool I have to make new friends to play sports with."
Want to know something? I'm thankful for the carefree naivete you have. You're only eight - you shouldn't be nervous about growing older! I have an important job of making sure you delight in being what God created you to be: an eight year old kid. And eight year old kids play and learn and explore and laugh without worrying about life many years down the road.
Besides, I do a good job at being nervous for you and your future. Politically, economically, and morally it's pretty bleak. But I'm learning to do a better job at entrusting your future to the plans of an all-wise and all-loving God. You've been created for a specific purpose and it's my privilege to enjoy a front row seat and watch it unfold.
"That I am tall and strong and very active."
Tall - yes. Like the pediatrician has said at every well-visit since you were one: "Giraffes give birth to giraffes."
Strong - undoubtedly. You appear skin and bones, but anyone who feels your hugs or watches you lift and pull and work knows there's incredible strength hidden in your lean frame.
Active - always. Always.
Some days I'm weary with your energy, but always I'm thankful for your healthy body that takes pleasure in moving and working. You like physical work and you can accomplish more in less time than some grown men I know. The desire to work hard is in you - deep inside your heart and will. If you focus it right, this desire will set you apart from others and open opportunities.
What is the hardest thing about being eight years old?
"Being the oldest of my brothers and sister. Sometimes they get annoying and sometimes I have to do more jobs than they do."
Guess what? I'm the oldest of my brothers, too. It's not always easy being the one who has to test the waters first. And trust me, I know all about annoying younger brothers. But, rumor has it I was actually annoying a time or two as well, and Buddy, you are too. Sorry.
You know what else? Being the oldest means that your younger siblings watch you. They look at you to see how things are done. They wonder how you'll respond. They hope you approve of them. Being the oldest puts you in a place to lead and demonstrate respect and integrity.
What do you think you want to be or do when you grow up?
"If I can't be a professional sports player, then probably a park ranger."
You will be a fantastic park ranger. Being outside, working with your hands, exploring the outdoors, experiencing nature - I can see your name on a National Park badge already!
"More than I can imagine. And they keep on telling me every single day."
Way more than you can imagine. Way, way, way more. And we're going to do our best to keep telling you every single day, because every single day we love you and want you to hear it and know it and feel it. You're safe with us. Forever.
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6