Dear 16 year old Me….

I’ve wanted to do a blog circle for a long time and finally the stars have aligned with a few blogger friends of mine and we got together and wrote letters to our 16 year old selves….  So After you get done reading this… head over to THIS blog of my amazing friend of almost 20 years who now lives in Africa with her 5 kiddos!!!

UNDERSTAND YOUR GIFTINGS.   Girl, I know that downstairs laundry room looks overwhelming and even though you don’t like doing the dishes  you still wish it was your month for the kitchen because at least people are always gathering in there and things are happening upstairs. I want you to know that this isn’t because you aren’t good at laundry (although, you know that promise to yourself that you’ll NEVER have a sock basket… you’ll break it after your 4th kid)  No, you prefer kitchen duty because you LOVE people… you LOVE connecting with others. It’s one of your gifts. It’s why you feel like you’re the one always calling your friends, why you’re a part of 10 different groups of friends who are all so different from each other, it’s why even though you are home schooled you invite yourself to the high school improvathons and football games and swing choir concerts…. (okay, so the swing choir had a little more to do with the guy you adored for 3 years but never really knew you)  but you went… you connected… you loved….you belonged even when you didn’t.

LOVE THEM MORE. Sometimes it seems like you just can’t connect with those who are the same age as you…. you want to, you just don’t know why it’s not happening. So you somehow find friendship in the ones who you do connect with, even if they are still in jr. high or are just there in Alaska for the summer as college summer interns at the church. I wish you could look ahead 15-20 years and see that those are the ones who will STAY your friends and be the ones you cherish the very most. I would tell you to pour into them more and trust them more and to not be so worried about having friends who are in your same grade…. I mean, when you grow up you aren’t going to have friends all the same age, so why start now?

KEEP AT IT. You know that sewing project you just got mad at and threw in the trash….. yes, the one your mom will spend hours fixing tonight. well, don’t be so rambunctious and think you have to master something in a matter of days. Keep at it because you will LOVE to sew and quilt and you’ll even use these talents to help raise money to bring home some babies from Africa one day. (I know, you really don’t have a desire to go to Africa right now, but trust me… that will change!)

LISTEN and READ MORE. Those biography stories of great Christians that you guys read as a family seem long and boring and are getting in the way of you wanting to do fun things. But those stories have valuable lessons in them that you will need to draw from in the years to come, those stories highlight a very BIG and Amazing God who worked in crazy big ways and you will need to be reminded of that when you are trusting Him to show up in a much needed “only God can do this” way.

PURSUE WHAT YOU LOVE. You have just picked up your mom’s camera and starting experimenting taking photos…. You fix your friends hair, do their makeup and take them down the street into the woods to take their photos (never thinking a career in photography OR cosmetology would be in your future) You have so many passions and loves…. and even though you might not realize it your parents are supporting you in those quests by letting you run hard after them and not pushing you into areas that they might think would be best for a career. I’m so glad you enjoy these two things and I can’t tell you how blessed I am today by those two areas of passions that you as a 16 year old took interest in.

WORRY LESS. Right now, you have the least things to worry about than you will ever have in the years to come. Stop fretting over the fact that you may not be doing/learning everything your public school friends are…. you are being taught a love for learning which will bless you the rest of your life. Stop planning your life out…. you have NO idea all that God has in store for you and that it will not even be close to what you have in mind right now. Throw away that list of things your future husband must have….. Trust that God will bring the right man into your life and that you will both have lots of areas you need to grow in and you will push each other to know Him more.

LOVE GOD MORE THAN CHURCH. Yes, you find a lot of purpose organizing youth events and planning for camp, keeping nursery and playing handbells and even folding bulletins. But be careful that activities at church don’t take the place of your personal walk with the Savior. Stop looking at how “good” you are and focus on some of those areas that you know need work even if it’s hard to be honest with those not so attractive parts of you on the inside. I think sometimes you took comfort in the “goodness” you felt you had inside and focused on feeling good about those qualities instead of the unhappiness you felt towards the outward awkwardness and extra weight you carried. Do me a favor, Start working on that now, it doesn’t get easier as you get older.

ACCEPT YOUR FAMILY. Having such a big family is fun for you, but it’s also frustrating. Why can’t everyone just be like you. Why can’t your mom just be okay with your friends coming over even if the house isn’t clean? Why can’t your sister understand you just want someone to go with you to all the fun things you have planned out for the week? Why can’t your brothers help with the kitchen and laundry instead of always getting the garage and yard and typical guy things assigned to them? Why do I have to wear skirts to church? Why doesn’t mom trust me to spend the night every weekend at a friends? Normal parents hire babysitters instead I have to always watch my siblings…. for free. Surely I’m lacking in my education because of having all these brothers and sisters who are in much younger grades than I and we have to track with them too. If only Christmas looked like my friends who don’t have to share the wealth with 8 other kids.   I know these things and more are running through your 16 year old mind and I understand…. but I want to encourage you to trust that God put you in the family you need to be in. Trust that your parents are wise yes, but also imperfect and that they are truly trying to raise you according to how they feel God is leading them to, and that at times God will change their stances on things…. and at times He will only reinforce what He is leading them to do. That you will be so grateful that as they become adults your bothers are manly men who love to serve in ways that women aren’t often skilled in. Be thankful that you will learn things in watching your brothers and babysitting others that will help you thrive as a mommy of 4 under 4.  Start to understand now that everyone is so very different and that we all have different giftings and personalities, if you do, gosh, you will save yourself so many arguments and disappointments later on in life. That you will go on to get  double major in college and do just fine in the education area. And oh friend, I can’t wait for you to realize that all those years of sharing the wealth will only reinforce a mindset that says “yes, we can make room for two more….yes, we don’t need as much if we have each other….yes, people matter more than possessions. God has you EXACTLY where He wants you to be in order to make MUCH of Him!!!!

IM PROUD OF YOU!!! Many days I look back at you and marvel for the most part, yes… I cringe a time or two… but for the most part I marvel. You have such courage and strength. You have a larger than life attitude that you will attribute to being a highschooler with big dreams… but oh how I wish you knew that it’s for MUCH MORE than that. I can’t wait for you to see what all God has in store for you…. Keep an open mind, because it won’t be anything like you are thinking it will be, but it will be just perfect for you.

Thanks for reading….  (one of these days here soon… I’m going to add some photos to this post!!)

Check out Christy’s blog HERE

CHRISTY, STEPHANIE, ANGELA, BONNIE, KRISTIN…. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into your past and for beautifully writing these posts! I love each of you so much!!

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