"Hey, Sender"

After we watched Run DMC videos, this happened.
Two months ago, my wife and kids walked into a high school, and she heard a group of teenagers called out, "Hey, Sender!"

A few weeks later, I walked into an elementary school with my kids, and some children called out, "Hey, Sender!"

As a family who is homeschooling, our kids do not attend either of these schools. And yet our youngest child is known by students at these schools, and many others. What in the world is going on here? 

The teenagers and children who spoke to him are his leaders and friends, respectively, from our church. Getting to know people like them is one of the main reasons he proudly proclaims that Sunday is his favorite day of the week. (The other reason is, "We get to learn about God.")

There is no doubt that Sender Philip, who turns 8 years old today, is our family's social butterfly.

A Pure Extrovert 

"Outgoing" doesn't begin to describe Sender. He thrives off of being around people. He gets energized by being with others, which is the complete opposite of his Dad and brother. He's happy to play with one friend, but the more people the better!

His best friends are the seven year old boy who lives across the street, and puppy that lives next door. He could play with either of them for hours each day. Yes, the puppy that has given him bruises and scratches all over his body. All over. Seriously.

We have been to three First Lego League robotics competitions. Sender has never been on a team officially, but he makes the most of it. He connects with children from other teams, and collects more buttons from other teams than anyone else I see, despite the fact that he has little (or nothing) to offer in return.

Sender doesn't just enjoy being in a crowd. His energy tank is filled by it. He could survive all day at one of those robotics events -- sustained by a few pieces of candy and 200 points of contact with children and adults. Man does not live on bread alone, . . . and Sender needs relationships. 

And he doesn't just seek to get things from others (although he struggles with selfishness, like any boy his age, or like his Dad, for that matter). He uses his innate relational skills to bless others, too.

Last month was my wife's birthday. One Sunday at church, he had some extra time and decided to make his mother a birthday card. Nothing special there, right?

Well, not only did Sender present Joanna with his handmade card on her birthday. . . . He also gave her a half-dozen others, made by his classmates at church. And as much as I know him, I'm sure he didn't beg them to make cards for some lady that most of them have never met.

I think they made cards for Joanna because they love and enjoy Sender. His relational influence extended beyond the circle of his own self.

Controlling the Energy

Besides his extroversion, we also know that Sender needs to exert physical energy regularly. If the weather has been bad, and he's stuck inside for a few days, he gets especially ornery. He loves to wrestle, run, and roll on the ground, inside or outside. (I prefer him to do the latter.)

Of course, playing outside with friends (or being on the baseball team in Allendale for the past three years) combines the best of both worlds -- exercise and friends. He is looking forward to playing on the baseball team in the Greater Sullivan Neighborhood next spring!

We love that he has lots of energy, and that he loves to be around people. Our challenge is to help channel his physical and social energy.

He needs to learn to calm down when needed, to not roughhouse so much, and to be aware of who is around him before he does something in play. (Like when he didn't notice his Mom was behind him when he swung a stick. Congrats, Sweetie -- your first black eye!)

And he needs to learn that the goal in his life isn't about getting people to like Him. So we regularly have to talk to him about not trying to be the "star of the show."

Of course, we are thankful for how he reflects the image of God. When he shows energy, he reflects God's nature of action. When he sings and draws and builds, he reflects God's creativity. And when he engages with others in love and friendship, he reflects God's desire to be in a relationship.

We are thankful for this boy today and everyday.

Happy Birthday, Sender!!

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."  Ephesians 2:10

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