I TURNED 33 TODAY.
A part of me is in disbelief that I am that old. A part of me is in disbelief that I have stuffed so much life into 33 short years. Thank you, God, for every blessing. I kept thinking of what I would say to myself a decade ago and two decades ago. Maybe I will be able to share this with my daughter when she turns 13.
Dear 13 Year Old Self,
The crooked teeth, glasses, chicken legs, and acne will not last forever. You will survive. People will forget. Hang in there. Braces are still coming. Sorry. Your dad is right about how beautiful you are. You are wrong.
That commitment you made last year to read your Bible every day? Don’t give up. Even when life gets full and busy. In a couple of years, Becky Greenlaw will tell you to write in your Bible and date it as you read. You will be so glad you did. Thanks, Becky.
I know it often feels like you care more about people than they care about you. Hang in there and don’t give up. That’s not a weakness or a flaw. Don’t get tired; don’t get hard. Love with your whole heart, let it hurt, and the Giver and Source of all love will make sure you stay full.
Keep your heart open to your parents all through your teen years. They do understand and they will help you stay the course. You will thank God for every way you listened, learned, and honored them. You will regret any instance of disrespecting them, even in attitude or tone. They have given so much for you.
You will spend the next years serving with a ministry that will cause some to thrive and some to choke on legalism. Take the good, leave the bad, God is going to do great things in your life through what you learn, the experience you gain, and through the people you meet. There is a ton of truth at the heart of what you’re learning.
I know you’re a nerd, but keep holing up in your room with those books. They will shape many of your ideals and values. But learn how to play volleyball. Pro tip: It works best if you open your eyes when the ball comes toward you.
Keep up all the writing you do – the letters, journals, stories, and keep at the hardcore English work. It will serve you well. You will never lose your love for that outlet.
You know those best friends you have? Jennifer, Rebekah, Casey, and very soon many more like Camile? Love them hard. They will stay important to you forever. And you will come to realize that it is not common to have girls like that in your life from the beginning. They will set the bar high for your friendships and keep you steady through the next years.
You’re going to get another sister! And those two girls are going to always be a massive piece of your heart. Spend lots of time with them. Your years together at home are short. But there are many more years of sweet relationship afterwards. Listen to those precious brothers. They know you better than you know yourself.
Everyone thinks you’re crazy because you say you want lots of kids. Ignore them. I’m not sure we ever experience the best things without some crazy thrown in. Don’t settle for a guy who doesn’t have your heart for a family.
You’re not going to believe this one. Cutest guy you know…not only is he going to pay attention to you eventually, he’s going to love you. I just blew your mind. Keep focusing on Jesus and just save all that lovin’ for later. You will have a first love with the man of your dreams and you will spend every day thanking God that you married him. It will get better every year with everything that you share.
You have a lot of ministry to pack into your teen years because you will marry early and grow up with your husband as a team. Pack it all in. The traveling, teaching, learning, etc. These are great years. And they shape a lot of the ministry you will have for the rest of your life. Don’t stress over doing it perfect. Don’t try to make everyone happy. Enjoy it. I know you feel lonely at church, but listen to your parents and invest there as well. Out of that will grow the most tremendous relationships with godly women and incredible families, and the job you will love with all of your heart. Jenni New is going to play a huge part in this. God will use her to shape you and prepare you. Jill Coan is going to ask you to teach homeschooling families who will mean the world to you. Watch those moms closely. They will teach you a lot.
Another crazy thought. That room that you read, cry, pray, think, and yes, still play in – your beautiful daughter lives there now. But she sleeps in the other room with her brothers a lot. Like you did when the mouse was in the house. That happens again too. But you handle it better this time.
13 YEAR OLD SELF, YOU ARE SO LOVED. YOU ARE SO BLESSED. YOU TODDLE WITH GOD NOW, BUT MORE IS COMING.
Dear 23 Year Old Self,
You’re still figuring out this marriage thing, but you love it. You have no idea how much better it will get. You will never regret for a millisecond that you married him. And wait until it turns out he’s a genius! Just like you always knew he was
You feel distanced from your friends because you’re in different places, but you’ve made new married friends at church. You have no idea what just happened. Shelly, Chesley, and many more girls to come will be a huge part of your motherhood. God will intertwine your hearts and carry you through so much together. Celebrate this new beginning because it’s a big one
No birth control, two years, and still praying for a child. Your first pregnancy ended in miscarriage earlier this year and your heart broke. You don’t want to know this, but it will happen four more times. And every time God will gently carry you to a new place of sympathy for others, of gratitude for the miracle of life, of delight in the simplest moments of motherhood. Embrace the work in your heart of waiting. I know you’re scared that the thing you want most in the world will not happen for you. Hold on. Hold on.
But now the good news. Next month you will find out you’re expecting. You will fight through the fears that you will lose this baby too, but you won’t. He will be your gift from God, your beloved firstborn. Your heart will never be the same. And motherhood will be more than you ever dreamed. You will literally love it all. And over the next decade your home will be filled with FIVE babies. Can you even take it? Sleep and eat hot food now.
Continue to invest in your family. While it’s not on your radar, the next decade includes a move away. You will miss them. But God will teach you a lot and you’ll be back.
On that note, enjoy your first house. You get to move three times in the next decade. It’s fun but exhausting. Your tiny first home will always be special.
The next six months will be your last months to work outside of the home. Enjoy your relationships, the ministry, and all that you learn. You’ll quit before the baby comes because you’ve thrown up in every bathroom at the church where you work. So you just stay home to finish out the pregnancy.
You have no concept how many baby showers you will throw and/or attend in the next few years. It’s mind boggling. Get good at it. Hospitality will become a huge part of your family for a season. Let go of perfection and enjoy it. When you get that snickerdoodle recipe, write it down. You’re going to need it a few times.
Hold true to who you are, not to something you try to be. There is no pressure. God’s calling is not ever limited by you, only by your willingness or unwillingness to obey. He has big things. Don’t hold Him back because you don’t believe what HE says about you. You can do whatever He asks of you.
The next decade will be a whirlwind. Try to stay present at all times. Don’t miss anything because you were there but absent.
Clear your throat. God is going to give you a voice that will surprise you in ways you can’t even understand yet. Be an advocate for moms. Fight for their families’ health – spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Fight for their children. Fight against what is normal and accepted if that’s what it takes. Speak up, never stay quiet out of fear. If God gives you a story, tell it. If he gives you a life experience, share it. If He gives you hope and answers, love other women enough to pass it on.
Stay strong and battle through as God takes you through a health, eating, learning revolution through your own health struggles. You have no idea the doors that is going to open. He is giving you a gift of knowledge by showing you early that changes need to be made!
Continue to love people. If they completely and totally disagree with you in every way, love them. Everyone needs love. They need your love! Give it away freely.
23 YEAR OLD SELF, YOU ARE SO LOVED. YOU ARE SO BLESSED. YOU WALK WITH GOD NOW, BUT MORE IS COMING.
Dear 33 year old self, shall we throw off all restraints and just run with God through this next decade? I believe we will give it a try.