“For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Liam, you have always been our man-child, a student mimicking and questioning the nuances of the adult world from a young age, and insulted when at times we send you away so that we can have an “adult conversation.” In those moments, we might find you lurking in a nearby hallway or pretending to read on the couch eavesdropping. You always laugh, trying to convince us otherwise, basking in our loving referral to you as Radar. You know it’s true. However, I have noticed a shift in you this year in the ways you lead and help younger children, think through your actions, and exhibit self-control. You are maturing. Growing up. Although, you still ask thought-provoking questions, attempting so desperately to piece the world around you together, but almost everyday your eyes illumine as one idea or thought or spiritual truth pieces together with another. And this, Liam, makes my heart laugh with delight.

In the late Spring, you asked me to read The Lord of the Rings to you, and I nearly jumped in the air squealing. I’ve been waiting a while to share one of my favorite epics with you all, but I truly hadn’t expected it so soon. I decided we should start with The Hobbit, which I began reading aloud to you and Burke, although a chapter a day wasn’t enough for you. You started reading it on your own at other parts of the day, finished it, and then turned and pulled the 1000 page epic off of the shelf. The Lord of the Rings took you all summer, and you loved every minute, shutting it when the scenes made you nervous, acting out your favorite parts for your siblings and friends, and mourning a tad bit when the whole adventure ended. Certainly, this won’t be the last time you read it. For now, the story lives on in your play and art. While practicing sketching the other day, you drew a Nazgul (below) from your imagination. I couldn’t believe the detail and maturity of your sketch! You used your birthday money from the grandparents and Tiffany today to buy the Mines of Moria Lego set, which meant, aside from football practice, I didn’t see you all afternoon. Since you had asked to read The Adventure of Tom Bombadil next– your favorite minor character —  and were disappointed to learn the book was out of date, Dad and I found an old copy for a your birthday gift; sadly, it wasn’t here in time for your birthday.










Although the series of your hobbies and conversational banter can make it difficult for me to believe you are only nine, watching you climb the rope swing early this morning reminded me you’re still only nine, with another full year before the double-digits. So I bless you, son, on this ninth birthday with vision to see the light and high beauty beyond the Shadow, to allow the Light to shape your heart and the work of your hands. I love you so, and celebrate you today. Happy birthday, Liam.

Today, Nina drove down to surprise you for your birthday, a terrific gift to you! This past weekend you had a few of your friends over to roast hotdogs and marshmallows around the fire pit, play baseball in the field next door, and then watch Tin Tin projected in the backyard. You had a blast, saying “thank you, thank you, thank you” to me and your friends all evening. You’re welcome. We all love you.