What Advice Would You Share With Today’s Sixteen Year Old?

Advice to my 16-year-old daughter

Today, our third daughter, the “baby” of the family, turned sweet sixteen.  Birthdays are a BIG deal in our home and sixteen is no exception.  However, the reality is that every day should be celebrated as it is a unique gift given to us to be performed on the “stage” of life as we choose.

In my musing of late, I have decided that the next few years of my supporting role should be more intentional and loving.  My heart aches for today’s youth as they seem to be growing up much faster than those who came before them.  Maybe it’s my unique perspective of having a decade between Cayley and her older sisters but I feel today’s teens face choices, stress, and problems that are unique to their generation.  

Cayley enjoys singing and acting.  She is part of the musical theatre program at her high school allowing me to observe and learn a few lessons that I feel might benefit others.  Life is an ongoing drama we all get to participate in. The life stage that we perform on is not a one-person show.  We all have parts to play and every role is essential for the overall performance.  The more we support each other, the better life will be for everyone.  

As your mom, Cayley, I will always be here to support and cheer you on.   Below are sixteen things I hope you always remember.

  1. Savor this moment in time.  You are only sixteen once. One day you will wish you were sixteen again as life is so much easier looking backwards. Ask your sisters as adulting is hard stuff.  
  2. Play your given role and have fun.  Always be yourself.  There are so many wonderful things about your life. You are unique. One of a kind! Discover and lean into your strengths and embrace your differences.  Also, appreciate your height. It is a good thing.
  3. Perform for an audience of One.  Spend more time cultivating your relationship with God; the more time you spend in that relationship, the better your relationships will be with others and you will have more peace.
  4. Support others. Look for ways to make others shine.  When you give 110% you make not only yourself look good but the entire cast. Don’t waste your time on people who make you feel worse after you spend time with them. Just don’t!!!
  5. Eliminate comparisons. Nothing good comes from comparing ourselves to others. We either feel better or worse than the person we are comparing ourselves to, thus leading to pride or low self-esteem. Thereby regretting what you aren’t, rather than allowing you to appreciate who God made you to be.    
    1. Social Media is comparison on steroids. Don’t be fooled by what you see on Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, or Instagram as I guarantee you that those people aren’t always happy. It’s human nature to share mostly the good things. Rarely will you find people posting about family drama, being rejected, insecurities, or the hard stuff ?  Limit social media and increase your joy while eliminating a lot of stress.  
  6. It’s OK to say NO!!!  Every yes is a no to something else. If you try to do everything you will wear yourself out.  Choose wisely. Go deep rather than wide.  
  7. Set achievable goals. When your goals are specific and reachable you are more likely to meet them and feel good about yourself.  Write out your goals and share them with someone to hold you accountable.  Keep them visible to you can remind yourself daily of what truly is important to you.  
  8. Eliminate chaos, establish routines.  Eliminate things that stress you out and slow you down (screen time). Try to be one step ahead instead of one step behind.  Being prepared will help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed. Create routines for yourself that promote success. Seek the guidance of parents, teachers, counselors, organizers, list, and family members.
  9. Stop procrastinating. Get your work done ahead of time before any deadlines.  Guess what?  You will eliminate anxiety and feel good about yourself.   
  10. Give second chances.  Forgive people’s mistakes or oversights.  Forgive yourself when you mess us because we do 😉 We all blow it…almost every day.  Each day is a new beginning. We get to start over and make better choices. Every. Single. Day.  Cherish the fresh start, the blank page and the new chapter.
  11. Be a lifelong learner. Read. Write. Listen to the wisdom of others.  Listen to podcasts. Talk to people wherever you go. Ask lots of questions. Just don’t stop learning. Ever.
  12. Take care of yourself.  The number on the scale is not you.  What is important is that you tend to your health and wellness and be the best version of you.  Take your vitamins, understand your differences, exercise daily, meditate (be still) and get 8+ hours of sleep. Heed the wisdom of those older than yourself.
  13. Learn patience and persistence.  Be ambitious and never give up.  Rejection is inevitable but remain resilient. Persistence is the key to success. There are many innovative and successful individuals such as your dad, who faces great obstacles, including unemployment, before they achieved their success.  This is why having a clear goal in mind is important. When you fail, it’s not the end of the world. When you succeed, it’s not the pinnacle of life either.
  14. Nobody is perfect. Society often glamorizes perfection via magazine covers that sell, spotlighted celebrities, and models. However, one really doesn’t know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. They too have insecurities and failures.
  15. Use your voice, project. What you have to say is important. Don’t hold it in because you are afraid of what other people will think of you. Be the outgoing person you want to be. The only thing your shyness is doing is holding you back.
  16. Show up. On time. Listen more than you talk. And work hard. Remember: all that separates successful people from those who are not is that successful people do what unsuccessful people won’t do.

What advice would you offer to today’s sixteen year old?  Please take time to share words of encouragement or wisdom with Cayley.  Many thanks.  

 

 

 



Balloons Up the Nose and a Pain in the Neck

nose balloon

Today, Caryn had the same nasal surgery that Jon had back in December.  It’s called balloon sinuplasty and it’s an incredible medical advance.  According to the CDC, 33 millions adults are diagnosed with sinusitis yearly.  After years of reoccurring sinus infections, Jon went to see Dr. Daniel Slaughter who did an MRI which showed complete blockage. Thankfully, we have health insurance but they required the procedure be done in a surgical facility for coverage.  Can I just say how ridiculous insurance can be?  Our insurance considered this easy procedure experimental when done in the doctor’s office but ok and fully covered at a surgical center.  Hello! someone is making lots of money.  Caryn’s being self-paid was able to do her balloon sinuplasty in the doctors office for 88% less, CRAZY right? Seriously, it took all of 10 minutes and she was done. Her surgery was at 2:30pm and we were home by 3pm.  The doctor said she had lots of infection and was the ideal candidate for this procedure. For two years she has had reoccurring sinus infections that flared up almost every time she traveled. Doctors would simply prescribe antibiotics but never once did anyone suggest an x-ray or MRI. Only because of Jon’s similar experiences and success did we encourage her to see Dr. Slaughter.  If you have reoccurring sinus infections I’d encourage you to see an ENT as many have been trained to do this procedure.  Better yet, see the doctor who invented it, Daniel Slaughter.

This morning I had a medical procedure totally not planned for until yesterday.  Oh how medicine has changed for the better.  When I had a similar  procedure done 5 years ago on my back it had to be done in a surgical center. Now it can be done in the Doctor’s office under a local vs. complete sedation. It was great to walk out not feeling hung over and able to go about my day to help Caryn.

Two weeks ago I began having neck and shoulder pain on the left side.  Last week I had three massages which sort of helped – but not really.  On Monday I was having horrible pain so I went to my acupuncturist and he did electrical muscle stimulation and I left still in pain. I realized that more was going on than muscular alone, so I called my chiropractor over at Texas Spine & Pain Center.  When I got there he first looked over an X-ray he took back in March when I had a small flare up. He told me that I should never have neck adjustments.  I remember him telling me how bad my neck looked and he was surprised that I was not in severe pain but I wasn’t and I didn’t see a need to do anything at the time (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.)  

I considered myself extremely blessed as I enjoyed our April cruise and then the amazing trip to Europe without any pain.  Dr. Bart ordered an MRI to compare to one I had done 5.5 years ago.  Basically, I have degenerative issues affecting the spine and discs. The good news is that the MRI done six years ago showed the same things below but I rarely had any pain because of it. 

neck xray

  • my neck curve is going the wrong way “cervical kyphosis” caused by poor posture (check), possible whiplash from car accident several years ago, maybe falling on my head when I was younger. 
  • C3 mild narrowing and arthritis
  • C4 the nerve is being compromised
  • C 4-6 “marked” narrowing and disc instability with 3mm shift 
  • C5 80% disc loss, bone spur
  • C7 is normal yea!!!

neck cervical c1 to c7

The new findings were seen at C2-C3 which explains where my current pain is.  I love how in-tune with my body I am, just wish I could fix it.  This unfortunately was an unusual finding and often occurs with those who have had surgery to stabilize C4- C6.  I had mild disc narrowing plus a disc hernia at the top of C2 causing the pain.  I have no idea how this happened as I have done anything traumatic to cause it.  This aspect of aging sucks!  On the bright side, my back is not hurting and I am able to do whatever my body allows except no roller coasters LOL!!! Yes, I am temporally moving at a slower pace as I have a pain in my neck.

My Chiropractor, Bart Atencio, fast tracked me to see the pain doctor that comes to Austin from Houston,Dr. Mikhail Fukshansky  Today he did a steroid injection which has provided great pain relief as this morning the pain had been the worse I’ve experienced so far. I will have another steroid injection next Friday and the third one the following week.  This is typical protocol. 

Next week they will conduct nerve testing to see which, if any, nerves are being compromised because of the narrowing and collapsed disc.

They will then follow up with stem cell therapy, which is experimental but well documented with much success. Obviously, surgery is the last thing I want to do so I will exhaust other methods while praying for a miracle.  

I share this because I read about a sweet friend who was going to have the stem cell injection done on the same day it was recommended to me and, while experimental, it gave me hope. Maybe someone will read this and have positive experiences to share.



Halloween: Hung Up on What to Do?

Halloween what to do?

Much like politics, Halloween causes passionate responses. There are those who feel complete freedom to partake in Halloween festivities along with the pagan symbolism of witches, ghosts, goblins, and black cats.   Then there are those who regard the day as evil and want nothing to do with it.  While others boycott and ignore it completely. Some folks find a happy medium by choosing to take advantage of the evangelistic opportunities in sharing about Jesus to those who come to their door seeking candy. Personally, my family has flipped flopped over the past 25 years concerning our observation of Halloween for various reasons. This year we plan to enjoy a funny movie and family meal to find a happy medium 🙂 for our daughters who are 25 and 13.

My goal in writing this post is to share information helping those who may be hung up on what to do.

1Peter 3:15 “Worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” So why do you choose to celebrate or not celebrate Halloween? The very next verse 1Peter 3:16 tell us to explain our reasons with gentleness and respect.

Below are some of my frustrations regarding Halloween these days.

  1. According to Forbes, the total for Halloween expenditures is expected to be around $11.3 billion this year. That’s insane!
  2. Seriously, do children need a bag of miscellaneous candy, AKA sugar?  There is no perceived value in giving children sugar, just saying.  Americans will spend $2.2 billion on candy this year according the NRF (National Retail Federation). Considering how much sugar the average American eats daily, is it fair to describe candy as a treat anymore?  Did you know that the average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar daily which is 75 pounds of sugar yearly, three times more than we need, this according to MSNBC? Unbelievable, right?
    1. According to the CDC, in 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Sugar activates our brains like cocaine according to Fed Up.  Have you seen the documentary Fed Up? Oh my gosh, you must watch this eye opening documentary.
  3. According to Tsh Oxenreider at the Art of Simple, the majority of the chocolate candy that will end up in your kid’s Halloween goodie bag will be because of child labor, and often child slavery. To learn more, watch the documentary, The Dark Side of Chocolate.

However, the common disagreement regarding the observation of Halloween for many Christians revolves around whether it is a celebration of evil thereby having no place in the life of a believer. Again my goal is not to advocate how your family should observe Halloween, however DO educate yourself and participate accordingly.

Let’s begin with the origins of Halloween and below are several helpful articles when

There is a lot of fear surrounding Halloween, but consider 1 John 4:18, “perfect love casts out all fear.”  On the other hand, perfect fear cast out all love.

Christ followers have nothing to fear as we are living in complete victory since Jesus is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven while ruling His kingdom on earth.  Jesus took away the sting of death when He defeated death on the cross, so we have no reason to fear death as His followers. Look at 1 John 4:4  We belong to God. The Spirit, who lives in you, is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.  Nothing can separate us from God’s love and presence!!! This is the good news of God’s love.

However, the bible is very clear in regards to believers having NOTHING to do with the occult, that which is hidden.  Christians should avoid any practice used in an attempt to gain supernatural power or knowledge apart for God’s word.

Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry defines occult as, “that which covers practices that are not approved by God such as:

Occult practices that should be avoided:  Ouija boards, tarot cards, Wicca, astrology charts, contacting the dead, séances, etc.,

Therefore, is dressing up like beloved characters, animals, or icons and going door to door collecting candy partaking in evil?  Of course not. Those walking in freedom have the power of the Holy Spirit to guide them like King David, who prayed, “Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe your commandments.” (Psalm 119:66) We will not be tempted beyond what you can bear. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Could our antagonism toward Halloween alienate those we desire to reach? Is it possible to be in the world, but nor of the world? Christ followers have a unique opportunity if they choose to use Halloween as an outreach.  What other single event brings kids and families to your front door?  Be neighborly, Love your neighbor; turn on the front porch light, to be a light  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I understand and respect the viewpoint of believers choosing to avoid Halloween. They feel they as Christians are different from the world and are obeying God’s Word. See Ephesians 5:11, “Have nothing to do with the evil deeds of darkness, but rather expose them;” and 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

My daughter’s believing English teacher was a former witch, so I sought her perspective. She was very adamant that she no longer has anything to do with Halloween and suggested that it would be best for believers to meet and pray together on Halloween. Perhaps refraining from Halloween and its activities is the safest and most appropriate response for her and those who have past associations with the occult, witchcraft, and sorcery.  1 Corinthians 8:9-11, Romans 14:1-3

Let’s not get hung up judging one another.  Isn’t that what we are doing? How can we accurately judge the motives or intentions of another person’s’ heart? Bottom line, God’s word tells us, do not judge.

With no direct references to Halloween in the Bible, resolving this debate can be a challenge. Romans 14 address what to do when the Bible lacks clear and specific direction. Romans 14:1 in The Message says, “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions, but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their history. Treat them gently.”

ephesians 5,8

Let’s use Halloween along with all it’s imagery—death, darkness, superstition, expressions of debauched revelry to understand truth for ourselves and equip those we love. Ephesians 5:8 “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, I pray you will walk in love having a safe and family fun filled evening.