September, 22, 2013
How is it your birthday again already?!  You just turned 7, like, a week ago! 
 I’ve just been reading over my birthday letters to you over the last several years, and there are some significant patterns.   Your personality began to take shape early in life, bursting onto the scene with attitude and energy to fuel it, and your life’s trajectory of filling every room you are in continues on course.
These are some of the ways I could describe you that are consistent with past years:

      *You are funny and smart   I recently found a bunch of old quotes from you that I’ve written down.  One was from December of ’09, when you were 4 years old.  You were sitting next to me drinking pretend coffee while I was drinking real coffee and you sipped, sighed and said “Aaaah.  This is a good cup of joe.” ?!?!  What 4 year old knows to say that?  It makes me laugh just thinking about it.
       Your mind seeks and collects information at an alarming rate for a second grader.  You are not very willing to read fiction for long periods of time right now, but you are completely enthralled with non-fiction books about animals, especially National Geographic almanacs.  You also get a huge kick out of the Guinness Book of World Records.  The other night you were giving me attitude about having to read your 20 minutes out loud, and you kept trying to read r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y in dramatic protest.  But after a few sentences, you would speed up and then get interested and make a comment about the many types of bears—then you’d remember you were pouting and slow down again.  You didn’t fool me.  You may not like to be forced to read out loud, but you are a natural learner and a great reader.

        A friend recently pointed out how many random (and unnecessary) details you can recall with no effort.  For instance, directions to just about anywhere we go, the dates of certain events, multiplication tables,  movie and TV quotes from things we saw months ago, and the usual Sonic happy hour order for all five members of our family.   My favorite thing about your awesome memory is hearing you sing worship songs word for word.  Right now your current favorite (and Asher’s) is Nothing But the Blood.  You guys request it every day in the car and sing it at the top of your lungs!  We even had a talk about what it meant when it says “Nothing can for sin atone—nothing but the blood of Jesus.”  I LOVE having deep talks with you, because you listen and consider and ponder and ask some more.

      *You are strong willed.    Oh, mister.  I had no idea what those words meant until I met you!  You who would never stay in time out without trying to break down the bedroom door.  The one time I thought you had decided to be submissive to my discipline, you had actually pushed out your screen and jumped 6 feet out your bedroom window just to walk in the back door and down the hall to where I was standing so you could taunt me.  You who made me LITERALLY DRAG you through the linoleum floors of your school last year because you did not want to be there that day. 

        From the beginning, I prayed this over you:  that your iron will would bring honor to God.  That when God is done using it to refine me as a person and a mother that he would use it and use you to CHANGE THE WORLD, baby!  And I’m starting to see glimpses of that.  When you had a friend over a few weeks ago, he was using words we don’t allow.  Nothing illicit, just not permitted.  You firmly said, “We don’t say that word in our house.  Please stop it.”  I can tell you right now that even as a teenager I would have never had the guts to say that to a friend.  You are confident in who you are, you know right from wrong, and the Holy Spirit is working in your heart—I can see it!

       *You have changed me for the better.  You were my game changer, kid.  From the day you were born exactly 8 years ago, you’ve done things your own way.  You’ve challenged what I expected from life and from parenting.   There is no option of taking the easy way out with you, bud.  You keep me on my toes and always learning and growing—as a person and as a mom.  At night, your favorite song for me to sing is from a musical, and the repetitive lyrics say: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”  And almost every stinking night I get choked up at that part, and I change the words to “because I know you.”  Because I KNOW YOU.  And you in your 8 years of life have spurred me on to be such a better version of myself than I was before you were my son.  Each day you challenge me to raise my game—in every way.   I love that about you.

Those are things that are similar to past years.  But there are a few things in your life that have been unique to this last year.  Some changes in our life and your life.  Here’s some fun facts about Carson Michael at 8 years old:

                *You decided to play flag football this fall instead of soccer.  It’s different and fun and we LOVE to watch you play.  Each game is different, the opponents change, the weather changes, but one thing remains: you play HARD each time.  You’ve scored some touchdowns and I’ve screamed my lungs out for you!  But you know what’s interesting about you?  You love playing defense.  You’d rather haul your buns across the field and snag someone’s flag then be the one to score.  You are a great teammate. 

              * We saved our pennies to let you attend several different camps this summer, and you THRIVE when you are active and stimulated.  You did swim camp three times, geo cache camp, lego robotics, golf camp and VBS.  It was a great summer for all of us, and it was especially fun to watch you trying new things.
                *You have lots of friends who are boys and girls.  You have figured out how to play well with both genders, and consider anyone a possible friend.  When I asked you to name your closest friends at school, you listed 2 girls and one boy.  J  It’s not necessarily that I desire for you to have female influences in your life, but your choice of friends is a HUGE deal to me.  I pray so often that you would have wisdom and discernment as you choose whom to spend your time with, and I’m grateful for the boys and girls that are in your life right now. 

                *There are 2 people in your life for whom you reserve you most sensitive, tender and loving side.  Those two lucky people are your mom and your little brother!  (Also your cousin, Baby Ellie, but we don’t see her on a daily basis.)  Something changed in our relationship this year, and I could not be more blessed!  There was a season in 2012 when we were at odds 90% of the time.  We still have plenty of very heated arguments (I’m still me and you’re still you!), but overall our interactions are so much more peaceful and affectionate.  You ask me at least once or twice a day if we can snuggle on the couch, and you usually like to have your arm around me when we talk.  You like to play with my hair. You still want me to walk you to class each day, and give me a big bear hug in front of all your friends when I say goodbye.  I know this will not last forever, and I cherish every gentle word, every quiet conversation, every loving touch.  I mean CHERISH.

                You also are AMAZINGLY patient and kind with Asher.  What makes it amazing is that he’s not known for being gentle.  J  He’s a bit of a happy wrecking ball, and you forgive him immediately and consistently.  You stayed the night away from the house once this summer, and it made Ash very sad.  He often cries for you when he goes to sleep, and if you are home, you go into his room and put your hand through the slats in his crib and rub his arm and say sweet and tender words to him.  It always calms him.  You guys wrestle HARD and give each other bruises and wet willies and hurt one another often, but very rarely are there unkind intentions or exchanges between the two of you.  Your brother and you are exactly five years and one day apart in age, and you like to say you are twins.  Seeing your unconditional love for your brother fills my heart with overwhelming gratitude and pride.  I hope you never lose this special spot in your heart for him.  Now, if you could find a spot in there for your little sister…

Every year I remind you about the life verse I’ve chosen to pray over you—even though I know you don’t really understand all the words yet.  It’s Philippians 1:9-11. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
I want you to hear something loud and clear:  neither you nor I will ever be completely pure and blameless.  We’re human, and we’re going to mess up.  A lot.  Sometimes we do and we will make horrible mistakes and decisions.   THANK GOD FOR HIS GRACE!  But what I love about this verse is that  we are to learn and GROW more in knowledge and depth of insight.  My prayer is that you will learn from your mistakes and that you will be able to DISCERN what is best.  That word?  That’s the reason I knew this was your verse.  It’s a word that I’ve prayed over you since you were an infant.  To be able to discern what is best is not always the choice between what is right and what is wrong.  It is often a choice between what is good and what is best.  What is acceptable and what is Christ-like.   I’m SO PROUD OF YOU, my precious first born.  And I see the fruits of righteousness in you all the time.  I see you growing in love and knowledge.  I see my prayers being answered in your life.  And that?  On your birthday, is MY gift.

Happy birthday, sweetness.  Go change the world.
Love, love, love,