Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ten Things

A long time ago I attended a writer’s conference. The keynote speaker was a relatively unknown Christian writer who had an idea that he floated to us during one of his talks. Something about the rapture, the antichrist, and the end times.

Before Jerry Jenkins ever wrote the Left Behind series he had already written several books, including one that I bought at that conference called 12 Things I Want My Kids to Remember Forever. When he autographed my book I told him that the reason I was buying this book and not one of his 25 other books on the table was because the title of one chapter was “Women Work Harder than Men.”

Think about that for just a second.

I have loved that little book over the years. It’s the book I wish I could write for my own daughters. Because they are going to be leaving home really soon, and I have so much to tell them.

Anyway, when my Facebook friend, Jennifer, gave me a list of blog topic ideas, she asked me to write about the 5 or 10 things I want to be sure my girls leave the house knowing. I immediately thought of that Jerry Jenkins book and went to town.

I’ll tell you one thing, my list doesn’t have anything to do with sewing . It might have something to do with cooking. Or laundry—that’s pretty important.

But definitely not sewing.

I have to say that this was really hard. (Thanks, Jen.) How do you whittle down 18 years of training and teaching into a small list of 10 things? I mean, really, I could write a list of 100 things. But that might water down the significance of this little exercise just a bit.

So, here’s my list of 10 things I want my kids to remember before they leave home.

1. I have to say this first because it really is the most important thing: Know Jesus. Love Him with all your heart. Take Him with you wherever you go.

When you were little I always made you hold my hand when we crossed the street. When you got a little older you started to get embarrassed about that, and you shrugged me off. But very soon I won’t be there to hold your hand all the time. Hold on to His. And not just when you’re crossing the street. Hold on all the time.

2. Marry a man who loves Jesus more than he loves you. Because in doing that, he will love you best. After that, make sure your husband makes you laugh every day. Because, believe me, laughter can get you through some tough days.

3. Be kind to the outsider. We all know how it feels to be the person on the outside looking in, so try to include others. Bring people in. Be warm. Be welcoming. Be hospitable.

4. It’s not about you. Ever. I know this phrase has turned into a bit of a cliché, but it is so true. This life, this world, is so much bigger than you.

5. Debt is NOT your friend. It will suffocate you like a blanket and, once under that blanket, it’s really, really hard to get out from under it. Debt removes options from your life, and I want you to have options. Stay far, far away from the allure of debt, and the best way to do that is to live below your means.

6. Some stuff that people say matters really doesn’t matter at all. But then, there is some stuff that some people don’t care about that matters a lot. Life is often about having the right perspective.

7. Learn how to make a couple of dishes really well. Make them your signature dishes. That way, when you have company over you’ll have a recipe or two that you can make really well and you won’t have any disasters like the double-charred, hard-as-a-rock ribs I made for friends one time when your dad and I were first married.

8. Find a church and commit to it. This is your body, so do everything within your power to help make your body healthy and strong. Serve. Confront. Help. Unless there is heresy being preached, try to stick with it. You will be blessed so much if you do this.

9. Don’t complain. Now, I realize that I spend my fair share of time complaining about the weather, but I know I shouldn’t. There’s nothing I can do about the weather. But this is bigger than the weather. Nobody likes to be around a person who complains all the time. Instead of complaining, try to make the world a better place.

10. Finally, always remember that you are so special. Each one of you is so very gifted, and by that I don’t mean intellectually. Each one of you is so beautiful, inside and out. You love well. You give a lot. You are good friends. You have taught me so much. Never, ever forget how special you are because there will be some days when you won't feel special. You'll think that you have nothing to offer this world or the people in it. You'll wonder what you can do to make a difference. Believe me, just because you're here the world is a better place.

I know I said I’d give you ten things I want you to remember, but there’s one more thing. . . .

Never forget that I have loved you with more love than my heart can hold. It overflows. It spills over into everything I have done for you. And there’s more there. Always more. You are the work of my life, and I’m so very proud of what I’ve accomplished.


So how about you? What would you add to this list?


  1. You gave me my first big smile of the day, Shelly. And my first tears. I love thinking about the big stuff in life, the stuff that really matters and that I want to be sure to pass on to my kids. And I love hearing from others about what they think the big stuff is. It helps me know you better. So, thanks for doing this hard work. I enjoyed it : ).

    What would I add? I love all of yours, by the way. Especially #8 (that was the church as body of Christ one, right?). I would add:

    1. See the need. Don't just be helpful when someone asks. Look for big & little ways to serve, ones that are noticed an ones that aren't.

    2. Be the mercy (hat tip to David Wilcox for his song lyric). Choose grace. Your strength, intelligence and convictions will make erring on the side of truth easier for you. When you can't find the perfect Jesus-kind-of-balance between grace & truth, err on the side of grace.

    3. Cultivate peace, in your heart, in your relationships, in the world.

    4. Choose a partner who loves God & loves people. You will not go wrong if your husband or wife is working hard on the 1st & 2nd commandments!

    Thanks, Shelly. I really need to blog so I don't have to fill up your comments so much : ).

  2. I cry easily and I don't like doing it so early in the morning!! Great post!!!

  3. Loved the "10 Things" blog. All are good to keep in mind. I would add - make good choices because after all life is all about choices, both good and not so good. I harp on Katherine all the time that with every choice there is a consequence hoping she will think before she acts.

  4. This is why you need to write a book.

    Loved this.

    In so many areas of this I could be a testimony of failure. But praise God He is bigger than my failures!

  5. I second what Linda's time for the book. Great blog.


  6. Loved it! All of them. One of mine for my daughter is - Be able to support yourself and your family financially. You need a career, even if you choose not to work as a mother - you never know what life will hand you and you need to be able to support yourself and your family. But that's just a practical thing.

  7. This is great advice and focus for me as I begin this parenting adventure. Thanks for all the great direction!

  8. These are all awesome things! I want the same things for my boys! Great post.

  9. That made me cry, Shelly. I'm so grateful that you are willing to share your parenting insights. It's already a great help to me as I'm raising a daughter!!

  10. I could have used your "parenting insights" (re: Mary) when I was raising my family.

  11. Wow. I've been gone half the day and just got home to find all these wonderful comments. I am humbled and thank you all so much for adding to the list.

  12. sitting in Cosi (like Panera) crying. Thanks Shelly. Rob took a day off so I could have a day off and his generosity and your blog have given me a refreshed perspective. I have nothing to add. It spoke to me - the oldest of 3 girls and mother of 2 girls (so far). Thanks.

  13. Aww, love you, Mrs. Wooga. Glad I could help with that perspective.

  14. Agreed. The book is being born I think...

  15. Shelly, that is beautiful! What an incredible list to give your children. I can't even begin to think of how to add to it because I am too teary now after reading it, and it's been a long day... I'm not sure it needs adding to! You are an amazing mom!