Birthdays are a great time for self-reflection. The last year has been a little hard for me dealing with severe Postpartum Depression, losing my Dad and dealing with all the Mom (and wife!) guilt that came with just not being myself. I recently turned 36 and I am determined to live the rest of my years striving to always being the best version of me that I can be as a Mom, as a Wife, as a Daughter, as a Friend. While I think about how to achieve this, I realize there are things that I want to instill in my children. Some things I’ve learned over the last 36 years that I hope will give them a little head start in life.
1. First and foremost, Trust in the Lord. There will be times in your life that may leave you questioning your faith. Know that God will not allow a trial to come into your life unless He has a purpose. He doesn’t send the storms, but He uses them. One of my absolute favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” Memorize this verse and keep it on your heart. Our greatest strengths can be found while trusting God through our greatest obstacles.
2. Your father and I love you unconditionally. There are no qualifications, no “step” titles. You are my children and I love you. It’s unwavering and never-ending. I will laugh with you. I will cry with you. I will fight for you. Always & Forever.
3. Be unapologetically you. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. Never compare yourself to others, unless it inspires you. I read a quote by Sean Covey that says, “Be happy with you. Love your flaws. Own your quirks.” Remember this.
4. You are enough. Always. It doesn’t change when you get a bad grade or make a bad decision.
5. The only thing holding you back from making a difference in the world will be you. You are going to achieve so many great things in your life, but remember this… don’t aspire to make a living or have fancy things, aspire to make a difference. Don’t listen to the people that think you won’t achieve your dreams, believe in yourself and prove them wrong! At 35, I’m just now learning this. Don’t wait until your 30’s, you can make a difference now!
6. You’ll never be too old for snuggles. As I watch you grow up it makes me smile as memories of the last few years flood my heart. At the same time it makes me a tad bit sad to think you are growing out of the stage of wanting to snuggle or needing me to rock you to sleep. You’re learning to become independent but always remember that it doesn’t matter how old you are, 2 or 99, there is always room for your snuggles.
7. Know the power of prayer and pray BIG. Prayer will be the most powerful tool you ever own. No prayer request is ever too small, silly or embarrassing to share. Sometimes we forget how big our God is and limit our prayers. Pray BIG and give Him the opportunity to help you.
8. I am so incredibly proud of you. I will be your biggest fan and support you in anything your heart desires.
9. Say I Love You often and don’t take it lightly or for granted when someone says it to you. I don’t say I Love You out of habit. I say it because every ounce of my Mom being truly loves you and if something were to happen – I want you to remember that there was never a question of my love for you.
10. Be Compassionate. You never know how or when you’ll have an impact or how important your example can be to others. Always offer compassion and be a light for others. The world is hurting enough. Offering kindness to others is a blessing to both the other person and yourself.
11. Find your passion and cultivate your gifts. I love how passionate you are about soccer and makeup. When you put your efforts into your gift, you are giving God something to bless. Strive to keep learning about the things you are passionate about and use your gifts to help others. Remember the phrase “Reach one, teach one”. When you reach a new level, teach someone to get where you are. Keeping your talent and passion to yourself is a waste of the beautiful gifts you have been blessed with.
12. You are your own destiny. No one can write your story for you and you won’t know how the story reads until the end, but write every day.
13. I am always here for you. I don’t care what kind of trouble you’ve gotten into… call me! I will get you and your friends home safely. No questions asked.
14. When it comes to relationships, don’t settle. Wait for the one that takes your breath away. The one whose kiss after 8 years together still gives you butterflies. Like I did.
15. True love doesn’t look like its portrayed in fairytales. Sorry. I know you love Princess Ariel, Princess Tiana, Princess Sophia and the rest of the princess crew, but love is work. It’s a compilation of commitment, faithfulness, trust, patience, forgiveness and communication. You can also find it a little easier when you aren’t looking for it. This was true for your father and I. Look for friendship, not a spouse, and true love will bloom from there.
16. If you are thinking of someone, call or text them immediately. Don’t wait until later when you think you’ll have more time. Life always takes over and leaves you less time to do this later.
17. Be courageous and stand up for what you believe in, even if you are the only one standing.
18. Words are powerful. Words you speak to others can have a huge impact and leave a lasting impression, either good or bad, in someone else’s life. With a single word, you have the power to encourage someone, help someone, heal someone or tear them down completely. Choose your words carefully and always use them to speak good into others.
19. Choose good Friends. You matter, your heart matters, your dreams matter. You don’t need a crowd of friends. 2-3 friends that make you want to be a better person and want the best for you.. these friends matter. When you find them, cherish and cultivate those friendships – they will last the rest of your life.
20. Life will bring disappointments. There will be struggles, there will people who say hurtful things, there will be lies that try to consume you. There will be teachers that just don’t get it, there will be friends who go behind your back, there will be people who are unkind. That’s not your fault. You didn’t do something wrong to deserve it. When that happens remember you are loved, you are wonderful, you are enough. It will still hurt, but it won’t hurt forever. You can’t control how people treat you, but you can control how you respond to it (I’m still learning this one).
21. God’s not done with you. When life does bring you those disappointments or just seems overwhelmingly hard, don’t give up. There’s a beautiful song on the radio right now called “God’s Not Done with You” by Tauren Wells. When life gets hard, listen to this song and know that God always leads us thru the valley before he brings us up the mountain. You will be okay, I promise.
22. Turn off the phone and be in the moment. Trust me, I know right now your whole life is in that phone, but don’t let life pass by as you have your head down. Let your life be as great as you portray on Facebook by being in the moment with the ones you love.
23. Take lots of photos. Get printed copies. You’ll love looking thru the memories and being able to pass them on your children later.
24. Smile. Smiling has so many benefits. It’s the quickest way to spread love and kindness. As Mother Teresa once said, “Every time you smile at someone it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” It also makes you instantly look beautiful and confident and is really good for your health. Smiling produces the same endorphins for your body that exercise does. Endorphins are responsible for making us happy and lowering stress.
25. Laugh and don’t lose your silliness. Life is too short not to enjoy every moment, so have random dance parties in the living room and laugh at corny jokes.
26. Be honest and have integrity. Never give anyone a reason to question your integrity. Trust is one of the easiest things to lose and hardest to get back.
27. Protect your body. Your body is a gift to be shared with your spouse. Don’t ever feel pressured to do anything to compromise that early. I promise its worth waiting to unwrap together.
28. Trust your instinct. You know that prickly sensation or uneasy feeling you get when something doesn’t feel right? Trust it!
29. The world needs your point of view.
30. Have a grateful heart. Reflect each day on all you have to be thankful for and you will receive more to be grateful for. Be content and thankful with what God has already given you. He will not give you more if you are not thankful for what He has already provided.
31. Be involved. I love that you are fearless in who you are and I pray that you never lose that. Just remember that no one will care how you look in the bathing suit, so jump in and enjoy the time with your family. Enjoying life from the sideline isn’t living.
32. Experience life. Try something new like swimming with dolphins, camping on top of Max Patch or travel the world. These are adventures you will always treasure. “Life is a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn but most of all, experiences to enjoy. – Author Unknown”
33. Pamper yourself. Another one I am still learning. It’s important to take care of yourself. We all need “me time” and it is not selfish to take time for yourself. So enjoy the massage, curl up and read a good book, try yoga or meditation.