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 ūüėČ 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 139:13-16; Ephesians 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.

‚ÄúBooks are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.‚ÄĚ 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,¬†‚ÄúLove is an attitude, that says, ‚ÄúI choose to focus my life on helping others.‚ÄĚ ¬†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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Is it really better to go to a funeral than a party?

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OK, let’s be honest, attending a funeral is usually not high on our list of things to do as no one enjoys saying goodbye especially when death is unexpected. ¬†However, we are told in the Bible that it’s better to go to a funeral than a party. Why?

Attending a funeral has a way of refocusing our attention on what is really important in life. A funeral allows one to contemplate their own death and whether they are prepared to meet God (Romans 2:6-11;¬†14:10). Also, when we hear the testimony of a life well lived we tend to reexamine our own life as we each have a dash between our birth date and death date. ¬†This dash symbolizes our entire lives—the time we have to create meaning¬†for God, our families, our communities, and ourselves.

At funerals I tend to examine my life as I’m responsible for what I’m doing with it.¬† We’re told our days are fleeting, life is temporary, and our length of time is not promised. Death is certain for each of us and only God knows the number of our days.

Job 14:5 You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.

This year I’ve attended four funerals or, more accurately, “life celebrations.” ¬†Honestly, I can say that these four men all profoundly touched the lives of so many and each left behind a beautiful legacy.

Back in March we received the incredibly sad news that our friend’s son was killed in an auto accident.¬†¬†On December 13th he would have been 25, the same age as our eldest daughter which made his death harder.¬†¬†Josh had recently graduated from Wheaton, had a promising career, and was newly married. The death of someone so young is so perplexing. ¬† When I think of Josh I will always remember his smile and zest for life. ¬†I left the memorial service realizing that death can happen at any moment to anyone of us and at any age. ¬† A recording of Josh singing¬†I Can Only Imagine¬†that was played at the service providing peace, hope, and encouragement for those of us left behind, as Josh was in awe by the presence of Jesus.

In July, my friend Stacy lost her in-laws in a tragic car accident.  Jon and I felt lead to attend her father in-laws funeral to show our support and love for her.  While we had never met Ron Buck we both left the service saying we wish we had known him as others shared about this wonderful Godly man.

On December 5th, Ronnie Smith was gunned down during his morning jog near the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He and his wife moved overseas about two years ago to teach high school chemistry and to be a blessing to the Libyan people.

I first met Ronnie about five years ago as he was a teaching leader at our church. He was passionate about teaching and equipping those who took his classes. ¬†What I will remember him for is the passion for which he had for memorizing God’s word. ¬†The most impactful sermon I ever heard was given by Ronnie incorporating scripture from Genesis to Revelation reminding me of God’s¬†History of Redemption. ¬†A beautiful table¬†book¬†was complied and completed in 2010 to accompany the second time Ronnie preached¬†The History of Redemption, before heading overseas to teach and love others. ¬†This book is a beautiful keepsake and the perfect gift to give to others plus a tangible way to support Ronnie’s family. ¬†I am thankful that our lives intersected and for the wonderful legacy that Ronnie leaves behind. ¬†My prayers are with Ronnie’s wife Anita and his son. ¬†A¬†special fund¬†has been set up to support his family in the untimely death of their husband and father.

On December 10th, Michael Adams succumbed to his two year battle with cancer.  He lived in our neighborhood and lived life fully with more optimism and hope than many people I know.   Michael always made time to talk and was interested in what you had to say as well as interesting to listen to.  I, like most people, will miss seeing him ride his bike in the neighborhood with his huge grin.  It broke my heart when I saw his wife and four children (15, 12, 7, 7) at the funeral as they will greatly miss him.  He requested that family and friends ride their bikes to the church plus wear his favorite color green or a bike jersey.

Last month I read¬†When Will the Heaven Begin?: This Is Ben Breedlove’s Story.¬†This is an¬†incredibly¬†inspirational and heartrending memoir about the life of Ben Breedlove who died on Christmas day of a heart attack at the young age of 18. ¬†I’ve known Ben and his family for years and his story is amazing. The week before his death he posted a remarkable video,¬†This is my Story¬†describing the peace and bright lights he’d found the other times his heart stopped. Ben makes it clear that death is not something to be feared. This book¬†offers peace and hope in knowing that someday we will see those who have preceded us in death.

Psalm 39:4 “O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah

So indeed more wisdom and insight is gleaned when attending a funeral verses a party. Since we all must die, one is usually faced with their own mortally when attending the funeral for family or friends.  Are you living with no regrets? Will you be proud to stand before your Maker? Christmas is only a week away so remember Jesus Christ came to earth so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. He also came to die and shed His blood as a substitute in our place.

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