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My Dearest Darling Daughter,
You’re growing up so fast. It seems like it was only a short time ago when I was carrying you on my back. That ship has sailed. You’re a young lady now and maturing by the day. It won’t be long before your time comes to leave our home and make uniquely your own life—the one the Lord is writing for you. Just thinking about that day makes me sad, but it also excites me. I’ve had a front-row seat to your story, and it has been a blast to watch. As I was thinking about you this week, I started writing a few thoughts that might help you as you think about your future. These things are not in a particular order, but they all have significance. Some of these things will come sooner than later, but I hope all of them will be appropriate and beneficial for you. Here you go.
1. Don’t just marry a Christian. Christians are a dime a dozen. Marry a person who acts like Jesus. When you line up the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), there should be a slight difference between your boyfriend and Jesus. That’s the guy of your dreams. Any other kind of man will be a nightmare.
2. Boys are not as strong and invincible as they want you to believe. If you don’t learn the “book” before you fall in love with the “cover,” you’ll be disappointed with the content.
3. Don’t spend your teenage years primarily playing sports or anything else you will not be doing when you’re fifty. Spend the best part of your days practicing what you will be doing (and should be doing) for the rest of your life. Whether in your teen or adult years, your hobbies should not be your primary focus. (Unless you can make a living doing your hobby.)
4. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, no matter what. See how long you can make it last. I paid a lot of money for your mouth.
5. The key to not being critical, angry, unkind, or self-righteously judgmental of others is never to forget that you put Jesus on the cross. If you spend your days near the cross while never forgetting why God put Jesus there, your heart will be humbled, and your attitude toward others will be gracious.
6. You know the question: Who is the biggest sinner in the room from your perspective (1 Timothy 1:15)? You also know the answer, and if you never forget it, you will have beautiful relationships.
7. You were not put on earth for folks to serve you. You’re here to serve others (Mark 10:45). The more you give yourself away to others, the fuller you will be.
8. Be sure to eat a Moon Pie and drink a Nehi at least twice a year. It will keep you a kid, and it will remind you of many good times we had together.
9. Don’t ever smoke. Anything.
10. Use the guy test when it comes your time to find one:
11. Find out how to fail well. Embrace failure. Don’t be afraid of it. Your greatest lessons and most profound pleasures will come out of your defeats.
12. Never stop reading books. Read all kinds of books.
13. Small talk leads to deep talk. Do both well. Be silly. Be serious. Be all things between.
14. When you do something dumb, don’t cover it up. Own and discuss your mistakes with your close friends.
15. Keep on laughing at yourself. Laugh a lot. You’ll be healthier if you laugh often. Be free to laugh real loud in restaurants. Don’t be obnoxious, but be willing to give yourself over to spontaneous and uninhibited laughter.
16. Never give anyone power over you. The quickest way for this to happen is if they have something you believe you must have. People crave some of these things: approval, acceptance, love, significance, or a fear of rejection. Don’t let this happen to you. Ever.
17. Your main family is not biological but spiritual. Your bio family (us) will go away, but your spiritual family (us) will never end. Build solid and deep Christian relationships. Value community.
18. Go to bed on time and get up on time. Be disciplined, but do not be rigid. Have cheat days. Be spontaneous too. If you want to stay up past midnight watching a movie, go for it.
19. Eat healthily. Don’t eat fast food.
20. Always brag on others. Never brag on yourself.
21. Always gossip about yourself. Never gossip about others.
22. Don’t just read your Bible, but study it in such a way that it begins to master you. You don’t have to read your Bible every day; nobody does, let’s be honest, but you should be practicing it every day.
23. Memorize Bible chapters because there are fewer (only 1189).
24. Your strengths will be your most significant weaknesses. While you should guard your weaknesses, you must doubly guard your strengths. They will get you in more trouble than your weaknesses. “An unguarded strength is a double weakness.” – Oswald Chambers
25. The main four words for your life will never change: Love God, Love Others (Matthew 22:26-40). Master and practice these four words more than anything else.
26. Making straight A’s in school is not essential. Nobody cares unless you’re a student in school or the parent of a student in school. You do your best according to how the Lord has gifted you. Life is not about straight A’s but glorifying God in all you do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Those who compare themselves with others are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).
27. Don’t wear “church clothes” to the church meeting. Be yourself. That is the person the Lord knows and the one He loves.
28. Buy things you want. You can steward the Lord’s money and still enjoy blessings beyond your need list. God gives us more than we deserve.
29. Nobody can touch you without your permission. If they try to, do one of the following: (1) hit them, (2) run from them, (3) tell me, (4) yell “fire” at the top of your lungs, (5) all of the above.
30. Practice these three things:
31. Don’t drink beer. It’s nasty. Don’t drink alcohol of any kind if it’s going to cause your friends to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:1-13), but don’t be controlled by the preferences of your friends. There are two ditches here. You’ll need the wisdom that God gives to figure this out.
32. Don’t be controlled by the bathroom scale, but don’t be afraid of it. Use it often, but make sure it is to glorify God, not because you are stuck on yourself.
33. Your best friends will be the ones who will tell you the whole truth about you (Proverbs 27:6). Find them. Pursue them. Cherish them. Do not build companions who will always agree with you (1 Corinthians 15:33).
34. You make all of your decisions by faith. If you do not believe you should move forward, do not move forward. When in doubt, don’t (Romans 14:23). It could be the Lord detaining your heart.
35. Don’t be controlled by what you see in the mirror. Humbly thank God for what you see. It’s okay to paint the barn, but don’t overpaint or underappreciate who you are.
36. It is better to be old and single than to be old and in a miserable marriage. It is not a sin to wait as long as you need to wait to be married.
37. People will disappoint you. Accept that now and learn how to respond with humility while focusing on one good trait of the individual who disappointed you.
38. All of your anger will come from your heart, not from the other person or the circumstances in your life (James 4:1-3). If you’re angry, the cause is inside of you. Look there first. That is your best move. The Lord will be on your side (James 4:6).
39. Learn how to cook.
40. Learn how to run a business.
41. It’s okay to order a Sprite when everyone is drinking alcohol.
42. You don’t have to go to college. Most of the people I counsel have been to college. Smart people sin. You need more than college to live well in God’s world.
43. Don’t apologize when you sin. “I’m sorry” does not require a response from the person you offended. If you have offended someone, ask them to forgive you. Forgiveness requires a reply from the offended person. You want to clean up your messes thoroughly.
44. Randomly buy people things that don’t cost a lot of money or randomly give them money. God speaks to each one of us personally and practically. You are Jesus to others.
45. When someone bothers you, assume you do not have all the facts. Then start problem-solving by asking questions. Always ask more questions than make statements.
46. Don’t let your desires turn into needs. You only have five needs: (1) water, (2) air, (3) food, (4) shelter, and (5) salvation. Everything else is a desire, meaning you don’t need it. You’ll know if your desires have morphed into needs when any of these things happen:
47. Don’t base your decisions on your feelings at the moment. Feelings are fleeting. If the Lord wants you to have it, you will have it. Be a real sovereigntist. God loves you, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
48. Learn how to change the oil in your car. For a bonus, learn how to change a tire.
49. Work hard and play hard—Chase life. Do not let life chase you.
50. And finally, I will always love you no matter what. There is nothing that you will ever do that will alter my affection for you or my desire to be on your side. I am for you (Romans 8:31). And I want you always to know that there is nothing you cannot tell me. No matter what.
Remember the mantra: “I have no greater joy than knowing that my children are walking in the truth.” That’s what I want for my birthday and Christmas; your walking in the truth is the greatest gift. And when you fail, you know how to clean up your mess; do that and get back on the path of truth.
I love you with all my heart.
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