1. We live in a world that is consumed with a desire for things that don't matter. So much of the things our culture says are valuable are worthless. So much of what our society says we have to chase after are things that simply won't last. This doesn't mean that everything in our culture is evil, just that so much is eternal meaningless. We are called to live for the things that matter eternally, not the things that will fade away as quickly as morning fog. Learn to look beyond these things that don't matter. I know it's so hard! And not because you're a kid--it's hard for adults to do this to! Ask Jesus to help you learn to see things as he does.
2. We are called to love this crazy culture like Jesus does. It's easy for people who follow Jesus to look down their noses at people who don't. Don't do that. Ever. Jesus never approves of you and I thinking we're better than others. Because we're not. The blood that can wash away their sins is the same blood that washed away ours. In other words, apart from the blood of Jesus we are no different from the worst sinner imaginable. So love those around you. Especially the ones who don't love back. Why? That's exactly what Jesus did. Remember Romans 5:8? God demonstrates his love in that while we were yet sinners--rebels, haters of God, living in disobedience to him--Christ died for us.
3. You are good enough. There are many times in our lives when we don't feel like we belong, that we aren't good enough for this person, or this group of people, or this activity, or this job, or whatever. Never let someone make you doubt your worth. You are good enough. Now that doesn't mean you can do whatever you set your mind to. That's stupid. When I was about 6 I set my mind on flying. I got a handful of feathers and jumped off the couch, flapping my arms as hard as I could. Know what happened next? I soared through the air like Peter Pan.
Just kidding. I hit the floor, split my chin wide open and cried for my mama. Just because you can't do what others can do doesn't mean you aren't worth as much. Your worth isn't determined by what you can do--it's determined by the fact that Jesus died on the cross to save you. Your worth is found in him.
4. You are not good enough. This one is not a typo. I want you to understand that you're good enough in the eyes of others--you're not less than anyone. But all of us--you, I, your mom, everyone you know--none of us are good enough for God. I don't mean that he doesn't love us, I mean that he's so holy and so perfect that none of us can measure up to his standard. The amazing, life changing, incredible, almost too good to be believed news of the bible is that since I'm not good enough, Jesus came to make me good enough. He lived the life we can't live & died the death we deserve. And he did this so that we can be remade into his image. Everything you want to be--as a man, as a woman--every desirable trait finds it fulfillment in Jesus. And he wants us to be like him. Don't let others look down on you, but stay humble before God. We can call on him, but only because we've been saved by his grace & mercy. Never rely on your own abilities but rest fully and joyfully in the finished work of Jesus.
5. I don't think I'm a very good parent but I really, really want to be. Here's the thing-parenting is hard. There are times when it's easier than others but some days are tough. Some days I lose my cool with you guys. Some days I'm selfish. Some days I'm just lazy. I'm sorry for those days. When I'm a crummy dad, it's not because you've done something wrong. It's because, even though I love Jesus and want to be like him, I still sometimes choose sin. I want to be an incredible dad to you, because God is an incredible father to me. I screw up a lot--but never let that cause you to think unwell of God. Simply recognize that this is one more way that God is better than anything in this world, including your sinful dad.
6. You are an amazing child. Did we cover that already? Too bad. Read it again. And believe it. You are incredibly and wonderful and are, apart from being forgiven by God, the greatest thing to ever happen to me.
Lily-you are artistic and kind and caring and imaginative. You are creative and more courageous than I ever was.
Emma-you are strong and fierce and fearless. There are times that you are a literal tornado of emotions that threatens to overwhelm me. But the fact that you love to hug more than anyone I know helps all that even out.
Owen-you are brave and sensitive and compassionate with a strong sense of right and wrong. Your heart for others is so big! And you're a pretty good hunting buddy too.
7. You are loved beyond your capacity to understand. Seriously, you have no clue. One day you will. Right now you just can't get it. But always tuck that away; no matter what happens in your life, no matter how things go on the playground or the lunchroom or in the office--know that there's a ruggedly handsome man (maybe exaggerating a bit there) who loves you more than you'll ever know. It is literally impossible to put into words how much you mean to your old dad. Never forget that.