Not a day goes by that I do not thank the Lord for the parents He gave me. When I pause to consider where I might be without them… without their faith, their guidance, their prayers, their support, their love, their accountability, and their friendship, I realize that I have no idea. I do not know where I would be, or what I would be like without the influence of two such amazing people in my life… They are so much a part of who I am today, and who I am still becoming.
They have taught me, and continue to teach me, so much: through their words, and through their example. And I know that most everything they’ve taught me has been intentional. It did not happen by accident, or without effort. My parents devoted their lives to their family, and to their children. But first, they devoted their lives to Christ, and THAT is what made all the difference.
Looking back on the things I’ve learned from my mom and dad makes me so excited to meet Bonnie, and to begin training her in the way she should go. (Proverbs 22:6) That is my calling as a mother, because if Andrew and I do not teach her the things of God, the world will teach her otherwise. I pray every day that God would make His light shine in Bonnie’s heart at a young age. That is, far and away, my biggest prayer for her.
But there are also other lessons I want Bonnie to learn, lessons that our society and culture may not care to teach her. But I care, and I am 100% invested:
1) Do not let fear stop you from doing what you know in your heart to be right. Have faith that is bigger than any fear that might threaten to stop you. (Joshua 1:9, 1 John 4:18, Hebrews 13:6)
2) Comparisons will steal your joy. Worrying about what others think of you will poison your heart, your life, and your relationship with Christ. Look for strengths in others, and value those qualities in them, but value your own strengths as well. (Proverbs 14:30, 1 Peter 4:10,11)
3) Being beautiful on the outside means nothing if you are ugly on the inside. And Christ’s transforming power and grace are the only things that can truly change us on the inside. (2 Corinthians 5:16,17 and 1 Peter 3:3,4)
4) Make food your friend. Eating is a good thing. Choose good foods when you can, but do not be afraid of food. Don’t diet or count calories. Just eat good food. Eat it when you are hungry, don’t eat it when you aren’t, and don’t waste energy worrying about it beyond that.
5) Love unconditionally. Love does not mean being a doormat, or letting others control you. It means being Jesus to others, in any way you can… no matter how small. (Luke 6:27,28 and Galatians 5:14)
6) Never forget that you have the ability to touch and change the lives of the people around you. You can change the world in both small and large ways.
7) Your body is a miracle, and a temple of the Living God. Learn to love it, and to be comfortable in your own skin. When you look in the mirror every day, let it be a reminder of what a wonderful Creator we serve. Take care of your body, and cherish it, rather than picking out its flaws. Tell yourself you are a beautiful creation. And don’t worry. I will remind you of this too! (1 Corinthians 6:19,20 and Psalm 139:14)
8) Find friends who encourage you, and who help make you a better person. Let go of toxic relationships. Real friends will love you. They will value you, and make you feel good. They will be on your side, and never make you feel like you are “less than.” If a friend does not do those things, let them go. (Proverbs 13:20, 1 Corinthians 15:33)
9) Believe the impossible. We serve a God who specializes in the impossible. Challenges will come, but with God, nothing is impossible. (Matthew 19:26)
10) Be so familiar with The Truth, that when the world teaches you lies, you recognize them immediately. Guard your heart and your mind with the Word of God. Hide it in your heart so that you are so familiar with the truth that the lies cannot fool you. This world will try to pull you away from things you know to be true… from the One who is Truth. Do not let it. Never, ever let it. And I will do my part by dedicating my life to teaching and showing you what is right and true. (Psalm 119:105, John 14:6, Ephesians 6:9-19)
11) Let kindness be your default. Be kind to others, but also be kind to yourself. (Proverbs 11:16,17 and Ephesians 4:32)
12) Be honest always. Sometimes the truth is painful. Sometimes it is embarrassing. But ALL THE TIME, the truth is best. Speak honestly always, even when you may fear the repercussions. And remember, there is nothing you can say or do that would make me love you any less. And as much as I love you, your Heavenly Father loves you even more. (Proverbs 12:22, Luke 16:10)
13) Choose to be happy. Our JOY comes from the Lord. Our happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy, and then practice being happy. This does not mean you need to ignore other emotions; pay attention to every emotion, and do not be afraid to feel deeply. But don’t forget to make happy your home base. Because even when you are going through your most difficult trials, you are loved by a King, and you are blessed. (Matthew 5:3-12)
14) Remember that I am here for you, no matter what. That will not change. Ever. I am your biggest advocate, and your loudest cheerleader.
15) Pray constantly, about everything. Practice talking to God. Practice until it comes as naturally as breathing. And then practice listening to Him. Let prayer be your very way of life. When you are worried, pray. When you are scared, pray. When you are bored, pray. When you are thankful, pray. When you are lonely, pray. When you are angry, pray. Pray even when you don’t feel like it. Time talking and listening to God is never wasted. Pray, pray, pray. And always know that I am praying for you. I am coming before God on your behalf, as your biggest prayer warrior. Always. (Romans 8:26,27 and Philippians 4:6,7)
16) Do not be ashamed of abundance. Abundance comes in so many forms; not just financial. Do not be ashamed to pursue abundance, wealth, or success. Once you have obtained it, do good with it. And do not forget to be thankful along the way.
17) Spend time outside every day. Go for a stroll, or sit on the porch with a good book. Do something each day to get you outside. Nature helps us feel energized, and helps connect us with its Glorious Creator.
18) There are things you can control, and things you cannot. Learn to be okay with both. You can control YOU. You can control your actions, your reactions, and your attitude. Take responsibility for these things. You cannot control others, and you should not try. There will be many times when a situation’s outcome is out of your control. Instead of worrying and grasping at control over these people and situations, surrender them to the Lord. Surrender them over and over and over again, until you stop grasping at them, and leave them in the hands of the Almighty. When you are finally able to do this, you will bask in His perfect peace.
19) Forget makeup. Just take my word for it: you don’t need it. Wear it if and when you like, but know that you are beautiful without it. It may be a nice commodity, but it is not a necessity. (1 Samuel 16:7)
20) Don’t forget sunscreen. Wear it every day, winter included. You will thank me for this advice when you are my age. And you will thank me for it even more when you are your grandparents’ age. Enjoy the sun and its healing qualities, but do so wisely.
21) Do not worry about what you will be when you grow up. Dream, think, plan, and prepare. But know that you are not defined by what you do or do not do for a living. Seek God first in everything, and the rest of your life and future will fall into place. He already knows the plans He has for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
22) Make sleep a priority. Without it, your body cannot function to the best of its ability. Without proper amounts of sleep, your hormones can be thrown off balance, and you will not be the best version of yourself. So as silly as it sounds, getting enough sleep is incredibly important.
23) It is okay to be different. It is more than okay to be different. God calls us to be set apart, so that we may shine like stars in this world. So be different, and shine on! (Philippians 2:14-16) Live a life worthy of the calling you have received! (Ephesians 4:1-3)
24) Learn to love learning. Find things you are passionate about, and commit to learning more about them. Discover how you learn best, and let that motivate you. There are far better and more enjoyable ways to learn than sitting in a classroom. Let your curiosity, your gifts, your strengths, and your interests guide you.
25) Give thanks in ALL THINGS. Live a life of gratitude… for the good, the bad, and the ugly. One act of thanksgiving, when things are going wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are going right. When we live a life of gratitude, we are able to truly see and experience God. Thanksgiving creates abundance. And thanksgiving always precedes the miracle. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philippians 4:12)
26) Dress in a way that demonstrates your respect for your body, and honors the One who created it. Dress modestly, even when others around you do not. Dressing otherwise is not only a disservice to yourself, but it also does a disservice to those around you. (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)
27) Less is more. Less stuff, less stress, less social media, fewer electronics, fewer distractions. Let your focus be more on people, on quality time with the ones you love, and on Christ, and less on stuff. Just because society tells you you need something does not mean that you actually need it. Learn to be content with what you do have. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
28) Learn to say no to things and commitments that are not important or meaningful. Once you learn to say no, you have room in your life to say yes to the things that are most important to you. And when you do choose to say yes to a commitment, always follow through by doing what you say you are going to do. (Ecclesiastes 5:5)
29) Work hard and do your best, even when you don’t feel like it. This applies no matter what the task at hand is. Work as if unto the Lord, and not unto man. Your task may seem trivial. It may be something you do not enjoy, but this does not matter. Work at it with all your might. (Colossians 3:23,24 and Ephesians 6:7)
30) Learn to cook and meal plan. Learning to do both will save you incredible amounts of time and money. I will help you with this, because I’m still learning myself!
31) Be your husband’s biggest fan, and his most faithful prayer warrior. He will need you in his corner more than you may ever know. Support his dreams, visions, and goals, and cheer him on when he feels like giving up. This could make all the difference in his life, in your relationship, and in your futures. Bathe him in prayer every moment of every day. (Proverbs 31)
32) Learn to live within your means. Budget, save, and spend according to what you have and what you have not. This requires organization, discipline, and self-control. But it is essential to success in all aspects of life. (Romans 13:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:6)
33) Shop secondhand. It’s so fun, and much more cost-effective than shopping retail. Some things are necessary and worthy of being bought brand new. But for everything else, learn to shop secondhand stores first.
34) Remember that God is ALWAYS at work in your life. When you don’t see it, or when you do not sense Him, it does not mean He is not working. Learn to look for Him, and to recognize Him in all things.
35) Always remember that, in Christ, you are enough. His love and grace are sufficient for you. The world may tell you that you are not good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, or successful enough. That is simply not true. When you place your worth in Christ, the Author and Perfecter of your faith, you are enough. There will come a day when you will kneel before Him, and He will judge you. And on that day, it is His judgement alone that will matter; not the world’s. So let His be the judgement that matters now too. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)