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.  

 

 

 

32 Ways To Keep Your Marriage Healthy

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This June 1st Jon and I will have been married 29 years and been together for 32 years. While we have experienced our share of ups and downs, I’ve come to realize that by investing in our marriage we have fewer breakdowns.

We landed ourselves in counseling back in September 2008 because we were not practicing some of the advice we recommend to others. It had been more than 5 years since we had a marriage tune-up. We were three years past due.

Consider how often we take our cars in for tune-ups and adjustments especially when they start to show signs of breaking down. By doing the scheduled maintenance, vehicles tend to function well.  The same principle goes for marriages.

Jon and I unknowingly began to drift apart as he was extremely busy with starting a company; as a new love is always exciting.  I threw myself into mothering, home schooling, and ministry.  Even though we did not argue and outwardly our marriage seemed ok, inwardly I was lonely and we were distant.

I had been suggesting we seek professional help as our marriage has been through numerous trials.  However, it wasn’t until our eldest daughter approached her dad that he saw the severity of neglect.  She shared with him how she did not see us loving each other and feared we were on the road to divorce. Rarely did she notice us holding hands, kissing, laughing, and going on dates, etc. In short, the older girls did not see joy so our marriage was not bringing glory to God.

Working through personal hurts and acknowledging the pain we had caused to each other allowed us to experience more love and peace.  We are more relaxed and gracious to one another because we sought help. This ongoing investment we are making, God willingly, will bear fruit to a legacy our girls can be proud of.

These days we share with couples via home groups, pre-marital counseling, and one-on-ones the truths we have learned as it’s best to learn from others mistakes.  The following are helpful tidbits we have gleaned over the years:

  1. Be 100% committed to your marriage.  Adopt the attitude that there’s no way out but the grave.
  2. Never use the D word = divorce.  When divorce is not an option you tend to seek help.
  3. Be intentional.  The more you are willing to invest in learning the more you will get back.  Make your marriage a priority.
  4. Protect and prioritize time together.
  5. Be committed to your personal growth (emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually).
  6. Invest in your marriage.  We all need a good tune-up from time to time. We purposed to participate every other year in one of the following:
    1. A marriage conference or seminar.
    2. Read a book on marriage together.
    3. Read aloud a daily marriage devotion.
    4. Participate in a group or class study related to marriage.
    5. Find an older/wiser couple to mentor us.
  7. Preventative maintenance is less costly than legal fees.  Don’t let pride or your ego get in the way of asking for help.  Godly counsel with accountability is invaluable.
  8. Money issues cause more problems in a marriage than anything else.
  9. Maintain short-term memory when it comes to offenses. Be willing to forgive as God has forgiven you.
  10. Be slow to become angry.
  11. Assume the best in each other.
  12. Remember your spouse is not the enemy. You are on the same team.
  13. Realize that your marriage goes through various seasons.  When you come through hard times you have a greater appreciation for the good times.
  14. Date your spouse.  It’s important to have weekly dates and occasional weekend get-a-ways without children!
  15. Have fun together. Remember, laughter truly is the best medicine._MG_8195
  16. Learn and don’t assume you know your spouse’s intimacy or emotional needs.  This is key in communicating love to each other.
  17. Learn how to express love to each other by knowing their love language.
  18. Listen, listen, and listen some more when talking with your spouse.  Men, don’t try to fix things right away when your wife comes to you with a problem as they often just want to be heard. Women, when men come to you with a problem they usually are looking for a solution.
  19. Look at the heart not just the delivery of information being conveyed.
  20. Reflect or mirror back what you hear being said to be sure you heard it correct.  “So I heard you say ________________.”
  21. In regards to sex, men tend to be like a microwave oven and women tend to be more like a crock-pot.
  22. Romance comes and goes.  Friendship is forever and you married your best friend.IMG_1756
  23. Treat your spouse as you would your best friend, only better!!
  24. Find some hobbies to do together.  We personally enjoy walking and talking.  Also, let each other explore individual interests.
  25. Pray together.
  26. Greet each other with a kiss as each day begins and ends.
  27. Lavish your partner with love and grace.
  28. Accept and don’t try and change the other. If they need to change, God will take care of that.
  29. Be each others loudest and proudest fans.
  30. Don’t use the words “you always” and “you never”
  31. Express gratitude daily.
  32. We really need Jesus.

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Well there you have it, everything you need to know, less a million other tidbits.

Now it’s your turn. What would you add?  Please do share.

Advice To My Youngest On Turning 13

Dearest Cayley,

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I can never say I Love You enough nor will I stop 😉 It’s crazy you are now thirteen. What would I be doing once your sisters left home if you had not come along? How blessed I am to be given a second chance at mothering. In some ways I have grown and often times I feel green.  You are very unique and so different from your sisters.  A decade later I have found that technology has changed the parenting dilemma.  Regardless, I know God choose to bless us with you for such a time as this.  Together we sharpen one another. So I complied 10 thoughts I desire for you to remember as you continue your life journey.

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1) Never forget you are fearfully and wonderfully made, yes made in the imagine of Christ who delights over you as He is a masterful creator.   (Psalm 139:13-16Ephesians 2:10 ) Comparison is the joy killer of being content with your many beautiful features. Never allow the media or others to dictate what true beauty should look like.

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2) Love the Lord with all your heart and get into the habit of beginning your days by putting Him first. You will often feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. Time is something we all treasure, something we wish we had more of, but it just seems to slip so quickly through our fingers. We think if only I had more time I would spend it praying or reading the Bible, helping people, or making a difference.  (Proverbs 16:3; Luke 4:42, Matthew 14:13)  The poem The Difference is a good reminder of keeping God first.

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3) Remember to love and listen to your sisters as they are two of the wisest women I know.  Support one another. Talk to one another regularly by being the initiator as you have more free time. Be there when they need you and they’ll be there for you. They really do love you that is why they both flew in to surprise you for your 13th birthday. Sisters are forever friends.P1050675

4) Be bold, take chances as those who don’t take chances don’t make advances. Dream big because you serve a BIG God. Strive to reach the full potential of your calling in life. (Jeremiah 29:11).   Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to everyone through your speech,  by the way you live your life, in your authentic love, your faith, and your purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

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5) Continue to travel while you are young. We hope that through our various family excursions we have given you a love for adventure, exposed you to various cultures, taken you out of your comfort zone, and shown you how big and yet small the world is. May you bring the good news to those wherever you go in the future. Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15

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6) Enjoy life! Gather often with your friends, have fun, laugh a lot and enjoy the relationships God has given you. Also your best friends will be those who bring out the best in you. Never substitute face-to-face interaction with that of the internet or social media. According to a study, people are happier and laugh 50% more when talking face-to-face with friends or via webcam than when they use social networking sites.

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Cari, Cayley, & Laurena

7) Cherish your human connections with friends and mentors who invest deeply into your life and you will grow wiser and richer.  Appreciate and remember those who have poured richly into your life (your sisters, grandparents, teachers, Sarah T. Danielle A., Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Teresa, Ritz, Mrs. Cheryl D., Grandma Coleen). Allow them to speak truth into your life so you can learn something new. Proverbs 13:20

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8) We love you unconditionally, always, and forever. No one will ever love you like your dad and I love you.

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9) Be humble, teachable, and enjoy the learning process. Be a lover of learning as you gain the education needed to carry out the tasks for which God has designed you.  (Proverbs 9:9; 12:15; 11:14; 19:20-21; 15:22; Psalm 1:1-5).

Some of my greatest lessons have been learned through the pages of books. I have gained incredible insight, knowledge, and experience of various authors.  Reading exposes you to a world of imagination, showing you nothing is impossible.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” Charles William Eliot

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10) Smile a lot and keep singing God’s praises. A smile draws others to you. The joy and love of the Lord are yours – so smile! Aim for joy found when putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last which creates true JOY. Being happy and enthusiastic is always a good choice and the joy of the Lord is your strength.   (Psalm 28:7; Nehemiah 8:10)

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In conclusion, do all things with Love. Love is so important to God that is is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. Love is referred to as the greatest commandment of all. Christ is love. John 13: 34-35 As we learn to love God’s way we provide the world with a tangible picture of Christ to the world.

I look forward to finishing the book Love As A Way of Life by Dr. Gary Chapman who writes, “Love is an attitude, that says, “I choose to focus my life on helping others.”  I appreciate those who use the following seven characteristics to define a loving person providing so much room to grow:

  • Kindness: Discovering the Joy of Helping Others
  • Patience: Accepting the Imperfections of Others
  • Forgiveness: Finding Freedom from the Grip of Anger. Life’s way too short to constantly be mad at someone.
  • Courtesy: Treating Others as Friends
  • Humility: Stepping Down So Someone Else Can Step Up
  • Generosity: Giving Yourself to Others
  • Honesty: Revealing Who You Really Are

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