What can I say about a young man who has explored astronomy and conquered the Rubik’s cube? Who is a proficient drummer and an avid reader? Who loves being at home with his family but is not afraid to travel the world? Who can code a computer and is half way to earning a black belt in karate? What can I say to my son who has accomplished all this, and so much more, before he finished the eighth grade?

I say, “Son, you excel at anything you put your mind to.” I am amazed at your wide variety of interests. You have earned gold medals for soccer, karate, and robotics. You have learned to ski, code a computer, and point out constellations in the night sky. I pray you will continue to explore new areas, consider new ideas, and reach for new heights.

I say, “Son, your courage inspires me.” You were barely ten years old when you began coming on mission trips with me. I will never forget the way you prayed with a child to receive Christ in Lima, Peru and helped organize a Salvation Army in Tyler, Texas. There are ski trails and roller coasters I would never have explored if it weren’t for you. I pray your courage continues to grow and enables you to empower many others.

I say, “Son, your character amazes me.” You have a fiery passion for God and a tender compassion for your sisters. You are guided by a strong desire to do what’s right even when it isn’t easy. You only say what you mean, and you mean every word you say. I pray you will never allow the world to squeeze you into its mold, but that you will instead allow the integrity of your character to shape the world around you.

I say, “Son, you are enough.” Your passion for excellence means you earn high grades and can produce great results. It causes you to do your best and go the extra mile. It also means you frequently underestimate the quality of your own work. There comes a time when you need to put down the pencil, step away from the computer, and say, “It’s enough.” I pray you will always remember that your best is enough, regardless of the results.

Most of all, I say, “Son, you are loved.” While there have been moments of frustration and minutes of anger, I have loved you from the moment we began to expect you, and regardless of what the future holds, I always will. I am grateful that God awakened your heart at a very young age to know the love he has for you in Christ. I pray your knowledge and experience of God’s amazing love for you will continually increase.

Son, I love you and I am so proud of you. I am amazed at how much you have grown in so many ways over these few years. I am in awe of what the future holds for you. Congratulations on successfully completing the eighth grade.