I have often thought about someday writing a letter to
you, to share the thoughts and hopes we have carried
with us through the years since you were born.
Thoughts tumble over one another when thinking about
you and what a precious gift you have been!
My first thoughts are of advice. . .some of it you may
welcome, and some I am sure you will not. Your Poppa
had a hand in this too; he wants only the best for his
little girl and knows that it takes a lot of effort.
I have never forgotten the advice given to a group of
teens by our pastor many years ago: "If ever in doubt, don't". That probably isn't the advice most teens would
seek, but it was, and is, some of the best I've ever heard.
I also want to share things that we, your Poppa and I,
have learned over a lifetime of growing up, marrying,
and raising our own family and watching as they leave
home - one by one - to begin their own lives.
Here are some of those things:
No matter how hard you try, not everyone will like you
or be nice to you. So love your family and friends
even more and thank God for each of them.
Keeping up with the dictates of fashion (and many girls
do try) is useless, and overly expensive. Strive always
to look nice and be comfortable instead.
Try not to be unduly harsh when judging the actions of
family and friends. We can never know another's heart
or mind, and everyone has feelings that can be hurt.
Learn to talk things out with a trusted confidant. Not a
peer, but someone with insight and wisdom you can trust.
Then...weigh any advice carefully, and pray, pray, pray.
Try to include at least one kindness in every day. The
blessings are enormous! Many people will forget your name
but few will forget a kindness shown.
You are still young, but one day you will want to marry
and start your own family. Be absolutely certain you have
picked the right person; marriage is the most rewarding
relationship you will ever have, but it takes work, prayer
and compromise - day by day.
Never forget that you are here by the grace of God, and as
a much-loved child of His, you are an heir to the Kingdom.
Whatever you do, in school or at work, do the very best
you can. No matter how good our best is, when we give it,
we have given all.
Always do your homework; in school, at work, regarding
politics and even religion.
Always attend church, and pay your rightful tithe. It all
belongs to the Father anyway, so pay part of it back.
Whenever you return a favor, always try to pay back more
than you were given.
Don't jump into friendships, or relationships, blindly. Pray
about each new encounter, and ask the Lord's guidance. He
will lead you in the way you should go.
Remember that the secular worldview differs greatly from the
Christian worldview, and many will try to twist the truth in
order to convince you of the 'rightness' of their beliefs.
Take time frequently to just have fun; it needn't be costly.
Even a picnic can be a wonderful treat when in the company
of family or friends.
Always try to take responsibility for your actions. We will
all be accountable for our sins one day, and you are never too
young - or too old - to begin shouldering that responsibility.
Remember always that, no matter whether our parents
(or guardians) can afford it or not, we appreciate most
those things that we earn for ourselves.
Remember too, that as long as you have family and
friends plus a right relationship with the Lord, you are
rich beyond measure.
AND...the more time you spend in prayer, the less time you
will spend in the midst of difficulties.
With much love and prayer,
Grandma & Poppa
And - finally - the list of "rules" to live by. And
no...these aren't merely suggestions...each of them is
a command found in the Word of God: commandments designed
to protect us, and not to cause us hardship.
"I am the Lord your God, who rescued
you from slavery in Egypt.
Do not worship any other gods besides me.
Do not make idols of any kind, whether in
the shape of birds or animals or fish.
You must never worship or bow down
to them, for I, the Lord your God, am a
jealous God who will not share your
affection with any other god! I do not
leave unpunished the sins of those who
hate me, but I punish the children for
the sins of their parents to the
third and fourth generations.
But I lavish my love on those
who love me and obey my commands,
even for a thousand generations.
Do not misuse the name of the Lord
your God. The Lord will not let you
go unpunished if you misuse his name.
Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,
as the Lord your God has commanded you.
Six days a week are set apart for
your daily duties and regular work, but
the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated
to the Lord your God. On that day no one
in your household may do any kind of work.
This includes you, your sons and daughters,
your male and female servants, your oxen
and donkeys and other livestock, and any
foreigners living among you. All your
male and female servants must rest as you do.
Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt
and that the Lord your God brought you
out with amazing power and mighty deeds.
That is why the Lord your God has commanded
you to observe the Sabbath day.
Honor your father and mother, as the
Lord your God commanded you. Then you
will live a long, full life in the
land the Lord your God will give you.
Do not murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
Do not covet your neighbor's wife. Do
not covet your neighbor's house or land,
male or female servant, ox or donkey,
or anything else your neighbor owns."