Earlier this week I was searching for something in some of my old posts, and I happened to come across a post I wrote in November of 2009 titled "Ten Things." I read it through and realized that it would be perfect as a "Letters to My Daughters" post (something I've been trying to resurrect recently due to some very kind comments from some of you). I've edited the original just a bit to fit our circumstances now, but most of it remains the same.
A long time ago, either before you were born or when Kate was just a baby, 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.
You might have heard of him? Jerry Jenkins?
Before Jerry Jenkins ever wrote the Left Behind series, he had already written several books, including the book that I purchased called 12 Things I Want My Kids to Remember Forever. I actually stood in line to have him autograph my book (the only time I've ever done that!) because, as I told him, I bought that book (and not one of his 25 other books on the table) for the title of one chapter: “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 you. It's kind of what spurred me to write this "Letters to My Daughters" series.
You are, all three, in the process of leaving home. In just a few years our house will be empty, our walls will echo with memories, and my head will suddenly remember all the things I wish I had told you but forgot.
So, a list. Just so I don't forget to tell you.
1. I have to say this first because it really is the most important thing: Know Jesus. Really know Him. 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. 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. Don't be afraid of it; just dig in and see what you can do to help.
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 just 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. 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, dear readers? What would you add to this list?