As you know I sent my oldest daughter off to high school yesterday. I am happy to report that she was actually excited to go back again this morning. The years are flying by and during the Summer I got the idea to write this (it was originally going to be a video) since Shelby will be 14 next month. And if you’ve been following my story then you know that 14 is really when my life got off track. I am in constant prayer for Shelby during this time and I believe I’ve made it perfectly clear what life looks like when you stray from God’s plan. I pray she learns from my mistakes and doesn’t venture out to make her own (yes, I know it’s good for her to make mistakes - just not the ones that I made - and we both know I’ve got most of the major ones covered for her).
So, without further ado…
Dear Shelby -
As I approach 40 (still have a few years, but’s it’s over there snickering at me) I have really realized some of the things that I have missed out on in life and I thought why not give you some of those tidbits. Now, this is only ten things because I don’t want to overwhelm you, but know that I will be giving you more. Like the ten things you need to know about boys, about getting married, about prom - girl I have at least ten opinions about everything! (that should be no shock to you)
1. God Comes First
Let me just use the lingo you cool kids are using right now and say God is BAE - Before Anyone (and anything) Else. That pretty much sums Him up. If something feels off or not right then you can be 90% sure that in someway God is not being first. And Shelby Elizabeth, please trust your mother when I say a life with God First is so much more amazing than anything this world can provide.
Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways follow him and he will keep your path straight.
2. Always Be Honest
You and I both know that honesty is the BEST POLICY. You’ve seen this in the past month, how being honest with yourself and others builds trust and relationships. Be honest in everything! If the woman at Target missed a shirt at checkout then say, “Hey, you missed that one.” She will appreciate it, you will feel better, and God will smile (your mom will, too).
3. Life is Short
Oh man, I pray that when you are my age you can only count on one hand how many people you grew up with who are no longer with us. I hope you are spared the heartache of funerals in your 20s of dear friends. Your mother, unfortunately, attended her first funeral for a friend at the age of 17 and I feel like they just haven’t stopped. I’ve lost acquaintances, old boy friends and my very best friend. God only guarantees one thing in life and that is death. And he doesn’t tell you when, so live your life full. Full of goodness and grace (to yourself and others). Be careful of your surroundings and please for the love of Kermit, DO NOT driving if you’ve been drinking and do not get in the car with a driver who has been drinking. I could go on and on…look both ways before you cross the street…know your limits (and don’t push them - that never really turns out great)…DO NOT smoke…and many many more! My grandmothers lived till their 90s and that wouldn’t have happened if they out bar hoping until 2 am (just saying!).
4. Don’t Grow Up Too Fast
Mortgages (buying a house) and car payments can wait - remain young as long as you can. Don’t drop out of college to work full-time - go to college, experience it all - live on campus, go to class, learn! Use your late teens and early twenties to live as unattached young person. Develop the skills to live independently, but do not get sucked into the need to have a nice car or become a home owner - those will come soon and then my next advice will be so hard to do.
Listen to your World Geography teacher who says that his class is more important than any others. (because you seriously do not use algebra again, but you sill need to learn it now - that’s life) Travel when you are young and don’t have the above mentioned mortgage, children, electricity bill, car payment, HOA Dues - the list in endless once you become “an adult.” Take every chance you can to travel. Do a semester abroad, eat the food, learn the language and breathe in every tidbit of that country. The furthest I have been out the county is Matamoros, Mexica. Go further than I did and really, don’t go there, please! You, you may want to avoid most of Mexico - just trust me.
|Jerusalem by Grandad|
6. Weird is Rad!
Now, this is very important! The things you do now that you think “are weird” will actually help you to be creative later and creative people make it further in life. So embrace your weird! Be passionate about it and wave that weird flag high! Many, many people struggle with being creative and that’s because they lost that weird spark early in life - don’t lose your weird!
7. Ask Yourself “Would I do this in front of Grandad?”
Now, this is a great exercise to keep you in line. Before you go anywhere new, that maybe a friends wants you to go to, think “Would Grandad want to come with me here?” Before you get dressed, “Would I be embarrassed wearing this around Grandad?” We both know that Grandad is awesome, but he is also a great meter to determine your actions with. He will always be proud of you, but really do you think you want to do that in front of Grandad?
8. Be Yourself Especially with Your Friends
Being yourself builds trust and trust forms bonds and as you grow up and navigate this world you are going to need those friends. Get real with them now - show them how amazing you are and they will show you how amazing true friendship can be. Trust that they love you just the way you are and if they don’t then they aren’t your friends. Dump the fake friends now - trust me.
9. Love Your Sisters
In the end they are all you have (that includes all your siblings). One day I will no longer be here and your sisters will be what you have left of our family. Take number eight (above) and apply it here as well. Work to develop strong relationships with them. I know that isn’t easy now since they are three and two, but still love them as you would want to be loved now. I haven’t succeed in this area with your aunt and I really really want you three to not face the struggles that we have. Remember to get together as much as possible, spend holidays together after I am gone, love their babies as your own and be a solid friend (a safe place for them to go). But do not gang up with your sisters against me, I will not stand for it. (giggles)
10. I am Here No Matter What
I hope this point is so clear to you. All the others are important, but Shelby Lou I want you to know that NO MATTER WHAT I am here. NO MATTER WHAT I will always love you! I get the amazing privilege to be your mother. I will be there when you are sad, when you are happy and when you feel lost. Please, please remember I am a safe place to rest your thoughts. My plan is to be a place of grace to you. Know that you are my first baby, I am learning how to love you just as you are learning how to live in this world. There will be hiccups, but I love you more than you will ever know! (take that back - have your first child (many many years from now) and then you will know) And trust in the fact that my love for you will never change, just like God’s love for you my sweet child.
Your Crazy (now crying) Mom