And In This Corner, Our First Teenager

May 17, 2011 by

I remember standing in the middle of a river waving a stick, what others call fly fishing.

I had a very nice little Dolly Varden on the line when I was rudely interrupted by my cell phone. Normally, this is ignored, especially when fish are involved. This call was not.

Within a couple of hours, the first Son of Thunder entered the world. He arrived fast, the doctor and I didn’t even have time to put on those ugly scrubs. We just threw on some gloves and within minutes, I was holding him against my fly fishing vest.

I hate clichés; like how they grow up so fast, where did the time go.

He has grown up too fast and I have no idea where the time has gone.

Today, Eldest Son of Thunder becomes a teenager. And as in the past, it’s time for one of those letters. A lot of this may sound familiar, and that’s because some things just stand the test of time.

Here goes.  

Dear Caleb:

Congratulations on hitting a major milestone. You are now officially a teenager and it is an apparent rite of passage that you now get to talk back, sulk and just test our patience to the limit.

Don’t go there. Be you.

And I guess that’s my first bit of advice – be you. I say that because “you” are incredible. You are a gifted athlete who can play any sport with anyone. And you are way too smart. Please realize that at some point, you really are going to have to study more than you do now.

But be you. God made you exactly the way He wanted. Honor that and Him by being you.

Stand for what is true. Be honest and keep your commitments. Be known as the one whose word is their bond. It is becoming a dying art. If you make a promise, keep it.

Be willing to sign your name to anything you do. By that I mean do your best at everything – school, work, play or anything else. Be able to look anyone in the eye and say with complete honestly, “I did my best.”

Find your “Sams” and more importantly, be a “Sam” to others. Always be willing to help others; seek wisdom and guidance from Godly individuals. Never be afraid to ask for help, admit what you don’t know and then learn it. Also admit when you are wrong and then fix it. Never pass blame.

When everyone else has deserted, be the one still standing: standing by those who need you, standing by the Truth, standing by Honor.

Speaking of Honor, learn what it really is. It is unfortunate that it is a word sadly lacking today. Honor God and Honor yourself. Be respectful to women and your elders. Remember that when you break it all down, you only have two things in life – your name and your Honor. Honor both.

Be passionate. Anyone can learn a skill, but true passion is an art. It cannot be taught, it comes from your core. So be passionate in everything you do.

You know, as I write this I realize with a great deal of pride that I am simply describing you as you are now. I am incredibly thankful for that and I am proud of who you are. But it never hurts to reiterate.

Just a couple of other things:

Learn the 80-10-10 rule – save 10 percent of everything you make; give 10 percent away to charity; live on the remaining 80 percent. I have yet to meet anyone who lived by this rule and had financial problems. Remember that everything, even your money, is really God’s. Live wisely and within your means. Try to pay cash for everything; credit is a deadly game that few win.

Choose your friends wisely. Realize, especially as you get older, they will have the greatest impact on your life. And rightly or wrongly, people will judge you by your friends. Be loyal to your friends, but be willing to break any friendship that could lead you down the wrong path.

And speaking of people, never judge. Never judge by their title, their income or their stuff. Judge not. Realize that money, fame and fortune do not make the man. A man is one who keeps his word, who stands for what is right regardless of the cost, who protects his family and Honors God.

A man is one who does not try to be someone else or who follows the crowd. A true man is one whom, to those being honest with themselves, they wish they were. Be that man. Be the one others want to be.

One day you will stand before God. He will not look at your resume, your title, your stuff or anything else the world considers important. He will simply ask you what did you do with the talents He gave you. Be ready, and be proud of your answer.

Understand that regardless of how crazy your mom and I make you sometimes, that we always have your best interests at heart – even when we’re wrong.

And finally, realize there are only three major decisions in life: the career or job path you choose, your relationship with Jesus Christ, and whom you marry.

As to the first, choose a career in something you are passionate about, that your are good at. Regardless of what it is, be the very best at it you can.

Regarding the second, it is without doubt the most important decision you will make. And it is an ongoing one. By that I mean every day you must determine how you will live. You can follow the world, or you can follow Christ. Our time on earth is short, eternity is forever.

The third choice is easy. Marry someone like your mom, the Little Black Dress.

Caleb McPhee Winters, despite what I tell you, I am not perfect. But always remember that I love you with every ounce of my being and I am doing the best I can in raising you. So just hang with me.

Happy birthday Son.

Love, Dad.


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