By now you well know that I can’t let big events pass without pouring out my heart through words on a page. I’m pretty sure I just sat down yesterday to write to you on your 16th birthday. And just a few days before that, it was your first. But now, here we are on your 21st, and just like back then, I have some things I want you to know. For these past 21 years since you first gave me the title of Mom, I have taken this job seriously and (wow!) it’s been a roller coaster at times. You have pushed me to lengths I had never imagined myself going, and while not all of those moments have been pretty (Heaven knows some of them are blocked out of my memory!), all of my motives have been for one goal– that I help you become the person God made you to be. This will be my mission forever, so don’t worry–you can be assured you will have my advice to guide you for all of my life. This I solemnly swear, and you’re welcome! And so I have gathered some thoughts for this milestone for you to refer to as you head into your next year of life and all of those after that.
1. Get experience as cheaply as you can. This is what Papa would often say. And of course, what he meant was to learn from other people’s mistakes so that you don’t have to make your own. This is priceless advice. Remember it always.
2. You will never go wrong by choosing right. No matter what it costs you or what you may have to give up in the present, doing the right thing is always the right choice.
3. Make your bed every day. Not only will this do your mom’s heart good, but it sets things in order which will cause you to develop discipline which will help you in many other areas of your life.
4. Be the first to say “I’m sorry”. I promise you this: if you will get into the habit of humbling yourself, even when you may not feel you were wrong, you will be amazed by the results.
5. Forgive. It could save you from wasting a perfectly good life.
6. Be punctual. It speaks volumes.
7. Do what you say you will do. Don’t cancel plans with someone unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Otherwise, you are sending the message that the other person’s plans are not as important as yours.
8. Be a servant. You should never feel comfortable sitting if someone else is up working. Offer to help, and if they refuse, be sure to be overtly grateful.
9. Protect your family name. Your actions will affect how your family is viewed, whether you think it’s fair or not. So don’t be the one to tarnish a good name. (Proverbs 22:1)
10. Don’t ever get a tattoo. Just because your mother said so. Just don’t.
11. Never get caught up in the feeling of entitlement. The person beside you has the same God-given rights you do. It’s only by His grace that we enjoy every blessing we have. Never forget that.
12. Strive for humility. From having humility and the fear of the Lord, come riches and honor and life. (Proverbs 22:4)
13. Speak life. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and words, both positive and negative, can stay with a person for a lifetime.
14. Regard your relationships as treasures and don’t do anything to damage them. As someone we love has said, relationships and the word of God are the two most important things in this world.
15. Live every single day with integrity. This one thing is the key if you want your own children to be blessed. My life is living proof of this principle, as I hope yours will be. The just man walks in integrity, and his children are blessed because of it. (Proverbs 20:7)
16. Be the one to smile first. You have no idea what it could mean to the other person.
17. Don’t whine. There are few things more disgraceful than a grown man who is whining.
18. Look past a person’s offenses toward you in an effort to understand the reason behind their actions instead. Then ask God to help you know how to help them.
19. Never take for granted the immeasurable blessings of the many wonderful influences that have been poured into your life. And then thank God for them by choosing to influence others in the same way.
20. Restore the faith of our country toward Millennials. Keep your respect for America, its flag, its freedoms, and every valuable person who has sacrificed to give us these things.
21. Live like Jesus and make it your life goal to help others know Him.
I’ll be working on my my list for when you’re 42. And maybe even 84.
And be assured that I’ve taken note of the many things you’ve taught me as well throughout your 21 years. Thank you for helping me become a better person through the lessons I’ve learned from you. Dad and I are so proud of you and very honored that God chose us to be your parents. When we chose your name, we knew that it meant “Great”, and we told you we knew God had something great in store for your life. Now, here we are watching it unfold, and it truly is something great to behold.
I Love you–