A birthday letter

The Little Black Dress and I are trying our best to raise the SONs of Thunder to become MEN of Thunder.
It has nothing to do with chromosomes. It is more, as The Dress wrote in a recent blog, about forging Knights of the Old Code. 
As is my tradition, and in keeping with our goals, I write the SONs letters on various milestone birthdays. Over the years I’ve published those letters so that hopefully, when they are older, they can go back and better understand what I’m trying in my less than perfect human way to impart. 
The letters, their message, remains fairly constant. Some things should. So here goes:
Dear Middle SON:
Congratulations on your birthday. A couple of years ago we weren’t sure you would make it. But doctors and prayer, working together, have no limits. 
And so, since I’m your dad and I get to do stuff like this, a few words for you to consider: 
Your Name: It is yours and yours alone. How others remember you is up to you. Honor it. By that I mean keep your word, even if it hurts because of some unforeseen problem. So be careful in giving your word, but honor that commitment. Be the type that if you tell someone the world is flat, they are seriously going to pause and think about it. 
Friends: Choose wisely. You will be known by your friends. Find friends who will stand by you no matter what; who will guard your back; who will climb the mountaintop of success with you; but tumble down with you into the deepest valley. Find friends that are loyal, the ones you can call in the middle of the night and know they will show up. You will ask me how to find those friends - you must be one first.
Work: Be willing to sign your name to anything you do. By that, I mean take pride in everything you do. Be willing to stand up in front of anyone and say “this is my best” - and mean it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find mentors, the ones who have been there, and ask for their help. True mentors will be honored to help you. That doesn’t mean you always have to follow their advice, but seek as much advice as you can. In the end, the final decision is always up to you.
Remember that work is just that, work. So find something you are interested in and enjoy it. If you don’t, do something else. Work is a part of life, but don’t make your life your work. At the end of your life, no one is going to count how many hours you put into work. But they will remember the hours you put into your life and what you did with them.
Passion: Find something you love and do it. That goes for work and hobbies and anything else. God has given you special talents and abilities, discover them and use them. Tied to your passion is your purpose. God has put you on earth for a reason. Spend your life exploring His purpose for you and do it. 
Money: Learn to live by the 80-10-10 rule. Give away 10 percent of everything you make to your church and other worthwhile charities. Save 10 percent. Learn to live on the remaining 80 percent. One day I hope to finally follow my own advice. 
Learn the difference between a “want” and a “need.” You need to eat, have clothes and shelter. Of course your mom will probably say you need more shoes than you really do. But understand what you have to have and what you want to have. Take care of the have-tos first, then think about the want-tos. Except for major purchase, like a car or house, always be able to pay cash. Avoid credit at all cost.
Life: God, the master of the universe, does not care about a person’s color or their bank account. So neither should you. God cares about what you did while on earth with the talents He gave you. And one day you will give an accounting to that effect. Start preparing now. Respect everyone, but bow to no man save one, a Jewish carpenter.
A couple of other points.
Know your mom and I are human. (Okay, she’s perfect but you get my point). We will fail, but we are doing our best. Know we will always be there for you.
The most important decisions you will make in life are your educational path, your career, finding God’s purpose and whom you marry. We will work on the first three, but regarding the fourth, find your own Little Black Dress and you will have done well indeed.
(John A. Winters is a staff writer for The Newnan-Times Herald. His personal blog is at justflipthedog.com . You can reach him at john@newnan.com )

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