It is the middle of the night.
We leave in 2 1/2 hours, at 3:00am to board a bus for Mount Vernon, Virginia.
I should be sleeping but I can’t turn my brain off.
Oh, how I envy my sweet husband, snoring next to me, who can simply shut off the worries of his day and sleep.
This week a friend passed away.
We haven’t talked in a few years but this friend had a life changing effect on my life. This friend was the one who started our home school co-op group. She saw a need and worked to meet that need by creating a venue for our children to gather, and learn, and for friendships (kids and mommas) to be forged. Meeting her on a cyber school field trip put me on a path that forever changed my life. Her effort has blessed my life abundantly. My children have blossomed, learning has taken place, memories have been made, and friendships have been formed. I owe her so much.
It is funny how the Lord uses us to answer the prayers of others…
and uses others to put us on the paths we need to be on.
Sometime friendships are life-long, but so often friendships are seasonal. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t real, or deep, or special, or valuable, it just means they are there to meet a need or serve a purpose, and then the Lord sends us on to the next friend that needs us.
Or the next friend that we need.
This friend came into my life during a season of transition when I needed support and encouragement. I was graduating from MOPS and moving out of the toddler/ preschool phase of life and entering the world of home schooling. I was nervous, insecure, and lacked a support system. I joined co-op just as it was beginning and immediately felt like I had come home. The past 10 years have been all the sweeter as a result.
I look at the profound role this dear friend played in my life. She affected the lives of so many, far more than she probably ever realized. We haven’t talked in a few years but I was heartbroken to hear of her tragic passing. It has affected me profoundly…
Perhaps because the loss feels so personal. She is me. She was living my life, she was my peer, with kids the same age. In a moment their lives were changed forever. It makes me all the more aware of my own mortality and the fleeting nature of life. In a moment it can be over.
The reality of these thoughts have been all-consuming this week as I consider my own life…
as I look at my own children…
as I listen to my husband snore next to me in the dark.
What would I say if tomorrow were my last day? What would I want my children to know?
So here it is. My words to my babies…
If I die young:
1. I love you. Oh, how I love you. I never understood the power of love until I held you in my arms. In loving you I better understand how my Father in Heaven feels about me, and I am humbled. I worried, with each addition, that I wouldn’t have enough love in me to go around, but I discovered love is sort of magical. It grows and multiplies until it is spilling out of your very soul. There is no limit to it.
I can’t wait until you each hold your first baby and feel the love I’m talking about. Then you will understand the love I have for you.
2. Being kind is the most important thing. More than being pretty or smart or talented. It is important to remember that everyone you will meet in your life is fighting a hard battle. It could be sickness, infertility, the loss of a loved one, financial struggles, a loss of faith, addiction. Everyone has a burden they carry. Most of these burdens are hidden and you will probably not even know they are there, so it is imperative that you be kind to everyone. Be kind to those who deserve it, but more importantly be kind to those who don’t. They are the ones who need it most.
Nothing has greater value in this world than kindness and if you can be nothing else, be kind.
3. The answer to life is found in JOY. The acronym is simple. Jesus first, Others second, then Yourself. By following this blueprint you will always have joy, because contrary to what the world is shouting at you, real joy comes from forgetting yourself and serving others.
4. Build a relationship with your Father…earthy and heavenly. They both love you dearly and want the best for you. These relationships are built from TIME. Your relationship will grow and sweeten as you spend time together, communicate, listen, and follow their guidance.
5. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, only how you are doing it. I don’t care what vocation you choose. I see no more value in being a doctor than a handyman. I only hope you will let God lead your steps as you seek out your life’s path…
and whatever you find yourself doing, do it well. Work hard, give it 100%, do your best. If you can learn early the enjoyment that comes from a job well done you will always find life enjoyable…for there will always be work to do.
6. How you treat someone who can do nothing for you says more about your character than anything else. Remember this when choosing friends or considering a future spouse.
How do they treat animals, children, the janitor, the homeless man on the corner, or the man behind the counter waiting on them? That is the real test of character.
7. Embrace plan B. Your life will be full of plan Bs. Those unexpected roads and course changes that go against your plans. They are often disappointing and it can be hard to embrace plan B when you are struggling to let go of the dream you had. Just remember that your plan B is often God’s plan A…
and His plan is always better!
8. Be grateful. Gratitude is the father of all other virtues and the key to growth and happiness. Count your blessings and change your life. Something as simple as listing your blessings can change everything…
it may not change the circumstances, but it will change you.
Say thank you. Express gratitude to your Heavenly Father and to others. Take the time to write a thank you note when someone does something kind.
Please be grateful.
9. When it comes to relationships you get what you think you deserve in life. This is a hard one and its root is found in the way you see yourself. You have divine worth and you must believe that. For when you truly understand your great value in the eyes of your Heavenly Father you will attract a spouse who also sees that value in you. Unfortunately, I have also seen the opposite be true.
Believe you are a royal daughter or son of a Heavenly King and you will attract royalty.
10. Live today…really live! So often we postpone the important for the urgent, spending our days racing around “putting out fires,” and never really living. Each day is a gift from God and how you use that day is your gift to Him. So for today be present. Stop and see. Experience the world around you. Listen to the words of those you love, really listen. Work, and pray, and laugh, and love a little more. Practice patience. Say your sorry and forgive…
Forgive others. Forgive yourself.
Give that compliment, and hug those you love a little tighter for a little longer. Share your testimony. Dream big dreams…
and enjoy the journey,
every twist and turn,
because it is an amazing ride!
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…Gratefully.” – Maya Angelou