To My Future Daughter

This letter was written by a high school senior.  Her AP English teacher had given the assignment of writing a letter to a future teenage daughter, giving her advice about life.  I’m amazed at the maturity and clarity with which this 17 year old wrote.

To my daughter,

     My greatest wish is for you to have the most fulfilling life that is possible.  There are many things a young lady your age needs to know. And I, as your mother and your friend, want to be the one to share these with you.  

     Always put God first in your life, no matter what.  Trust in Him and let Him lead your way.  No matter what the situation, God is with you.  Be submissive to His will and strive to be like Him in everything you do.  Place your life into His hands and He will lead and guide you.  He has so many things in store for you.  When everyone else fails you, when your world seems to crumble, and all hope is gone, He will be there.  Jesus will ALWAYS be there, He will never leave you or forsake you.  You are the reason He died and He loves you.

     Your identity is the most important asset that you have.  Don’t be ashamed of who you are and what you stand for.  Be PROUD of who you are and what you stand for.  Never conform to the world, even when your friends are pressuring you from every direction. Be an individual and stand boldly and strongly in your convictions.  Always be yourself, never pretend to be someone that you are not.  People will like you for who you really are, not someone fake or superficial.

                                                          Image

     Respect yourself at all times. Don’t let people walk all over you.  When dating, respect yourself enough not to give away your innocence and purity to every young man you fall in “love” with.  We, in ourselves, as mortal human beings with wild hormones and extremely strong emotions, do not always have the strength to resist temptation.  If you fall, you can be forgiven, never lose hope. But, remaining chaste until marriage is a wonderful thing.  Giving yourself to ONE man and he to you,uniting as one flesh, is the most sacred and holy experience.  Intimacy is best within the sanctity of a strong and happy marriage.  If it happens before, emotional scars may be left and the pain unbearable if you lose him. 

     When you DO get married, you should be marrying not only your lover, but your best friend.  Share you innermost thoughts with your mate and you will draw closer to each other. Finding that special someone is very important, so make sure he is THE one or you could lead an unhappy life.  Once again, seek God for direction.

     Concerning friendships, hold on to those true, best friends.  Don’t gossip or tear your friends down, don’t “stab them in the back.” Be faithful to them, treat them as you would want to be treated.  A good friend will stick by you through thick and thin.

     Be kind and patient with others and tolerate the seemingly intolerable.  Sensitivity could be helpful to you as well.  Being sensitive to others will let them see that there is something different about you.  Let your uniqueness be a tool for letting your light shine for Him.  Remember, you have a mission to tell others about Jesus Christ-never forget it.  There are so many hurting and broken people who God can touch through you.  Let them see His love in you.

     With God as the center of your life, leading you all the way, you will not be a failure.  Listen to wise counsel on things you are unsure of and always stand strong.  Stay on the straight and narrow path and you will make it all right.

I love you,

Mother

The student received an “A” for this paper, as well as “Nicely written and directive!”  She attended a public school and was not afraid to state her beliefs.

The year was 1996.

The student was Susie Matlick………..that’d be me.

I have 2 reasons for sharing this.

1.  Young ladies-Don’t be ashamed of what you believe in or afraid to share it.  Trust me…the world needs to hear it.  And God DOES speak to you and give you insight and wisdom about some stuff.  Don’t doubt yourself or let people look down on you because you are young!  I knew a lot of things about myself and life in general even when I was 17, but I allowed boyfriends, parents, teachers, friends and insecurities to change my mind about those things that I was passionate about.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Listen to your Creator when He whispers those special things to your heart.  Follow and listen to THAT voice.                                                                                                                                                                                     Image

2.  Older people-What were you good at when you were a teenager or child?  Or what did you love to do when you were young and carefree, without any worries or bills or kids or jobs?  Go back to that.  That’s what God wants you to be doing.  That is what He has gifted you with.  As a 35 year old woman, I am returning to my “first loves.”  Writing, instructing, teaching, etc.  How I ended up in a technology-based career for 15 years, I’ll never know.  Better late than never!  It’s never too late to use your God-given gifts and talents!  If He has called you and gifted you, even if it was 20 years ago, it is still good.  His gifts and callings never expire!

Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

What a special blessing it was for me to find this letter as I cleaned out my closet today!  A sweet reminder of God’s gifts to me.  What have you been hiding that you can bring out and dust off?

This lost and dying world needs you to be YOU and use the gifts that only YOU have been given!

 

4 Bucks and a Dash of Hope

I was on my way to pick my kids up from their dad on Sunday night.  I left a few minutes early so I could stop at the grocery store on my way for some necessities. It was going to be a “drive by” shopping trip.  You know the kind.  Get in, get what you need, get out.

I step out of my van and head toward the store.  The wind is whipping and the air is biting. When is it ever going to be spring? Hurry, hurry.   Bread, milk, eggs, creamer…I recite my list over and over in my mind.  I always forget something!  Hurry, I only have 15 minutes!

“Excuse me.  Excuse me, ma’am.”

Is he talking to me?  Please, don’t let it be me.  WHAT DO YOU WANT???

I turn my head to the left to see where the voice was coming from.

Sure enough.  He was talking to this “ma’am.”  Apparently I have a “look.”  The look that screams, “Naive Sucker.”

“Would you be able to help me out?  I need some money for gas.”

Ugh…I’m in a hurry…It’s almost dark.  There’s hardly anyone around.  What if he tries to abduct me and kill me?  Fear creeps in.

Then, I hear a voice…”You say you want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Here’s your opportunity to prove it.”

That ever-present voice in my head get on my nerves sometimes.  So, here I go.  If he kills me, he kills me.

I tell the man I don’t have much cash as I dig in my wallet.  I never carry cash.  He tells me his plight.

“I lost my job.  I’m on worker’s comp.  I’m stuck in a lease for $600 a month.  I have 3 kids at home and one here in the back that we weren’t expecting…”

Yes, indeed.  There was a precious little blonde headed girl in a carseat in the back of the beat up, rusting Durango.  I peeked my head in the window and smiled at her.  She smiled and waved back at me.  Sweet little girl, just like my Lily or Emma.

The man was very scruffy, in great need of a shave.  He had two gold rings coming out of his nose. Several in each eyebrow.  I notice his hands were chafed and cracking.   He wasn’t much older than me.  I began to judge him, putting him in a category of a lower class.  Then something began stirring inside of me.  I kept listening and studying him. As I listened with my ears, I began to hear with my heart.

“I’m a welder.  I loved my job. I love to see a piece of metal turn into something useful because I was able to make it.  I haven’t been able to work since my back surgery.  The doctors say it’s a miracle that I can even walk at this point.”

As I scavenged for the dollar in my change purse and some quarters I knew that were in there, I began to voice my empathy for him.

“My husband had back surgery.  I know that can be hard.”

“I’ve had to get by on workers’ comp too.  I know that isn’t easy.”

“My brother-in-law is also a welder.  I know that job can be rewarding and it takes a special kind of person to be able to do that job.”

“My family has fallen on hard times too.  I know how it is to have a lot more days in the month than money to pay for your bills.”

I only had about $4.00 in my wallet.  I gave him what I had.

I kept hearing, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee…”

These words were spoken by Peter in Acts 3.  There was a beggar at the temple gate who asked Peter and John for alms.  They had no money to give the beggar. What they had was far better.  They had Jesus and His healing power, hope for a crippled man.

Feeling strongly in my heart that this man needed more than just gas money, I began telling him about the love of God.  How much God loves Him and desires a relationship with him and wants to bless his life.  I urged him to give his life to Jesus if he had not done so yet.  I said a little prayer for him.  He thanked me and I hurried into the store.  I left him with $4.00 and some hope.  He was gone by the time I came back out.

I tell this story, not to toot my own horn, but to share my own lessons learned.

We all have bad things in our lives.  Loss of jobs, health crises, loss of a loved one, divorce, financial problems, addictions, etc.  We wonder why God would allow such things to happen.  Why do we have to go through bad stuff?  Why DO bad things happen to good people?

God does not make bad stuff happen to us.  He loves us and wants only the best for us.  That’s the kind of Father His is.  We live in a fallen world, we make bad decisions, we live among imperfect people.  Bad things, unfair things, things that don’t make sense to us are going to happen.  For sure.  But, God doesn’t let one ounce of our life go to waste.  He can use every bit of what we have been through to glorify Him and help others.  If we allow Him to…

Because I had been through some “junk,” similar to the man in the parking lot, my heart was able to find a way to empathize with him. Even when my mind and prejudices began their knee-jerk reaction to his “type,” my heart heard his heart and reached out to him.  I could relate to him.  I was able to show him love.

In the past, I have mumbled a “No, sorry,” and continued on my way.  If I had done that on Sunday, I would have missed the opportunity to speak life and hope into this family’s life.  If I had never gone through any of the same “junk” as this man, my heart would not have reached out to him and I would have missed an opportunity to give him the most precious handout of all.  Jesus.

Do you get what I’m saying?  Don’t despise what you’ve been through.  Share it and use it to spread a little hope.

Sympathy and empathy are two different things.  Sympathy is feeling bad for someone because of what they are going through.  You feel sad FOR them.  Empathy is knowing what a person is going through and feeling their pain WITH them.  It’s very different.   Empathy activates true compassion.

A friend going through divorce.  “There is hope.  Life does not end after a divorce.  God has promised to be your husband when you have none.  I’ve been there and made it through.  You will too.”

A neighbor whose husband has lost his job.  “God provided for my family in unbelievable ways.  He can do the same for your family, too.  He wants to pour out blessings upon you that you can’t contain.”

Who can you empathize with and speak life and hope to today?  Open your heart and eyes to the people in your world.  Hear their words, hear their heart, feel their pain with them.  Don’t be afraid to get in the trenches with your fellow human beings and get your hands dirty.  That’s exactly what Jesus did.

You don’t need a degree from a seminary or Bible school to “preach” the gospel.  All you need is a heart for others and the willingness to be real with people.  The good news of the gospel…what everyone NEEDS more than anything!

One more lesson I learned…or two

I admit.  I was a little scared to approach the man in the creepy SUV with the pierced face and scratchy voice.  Well, a lot scared, maybe.  My active imagination, tendency toward paranoia and perhaps my common sense was screaming “serial killer, rapist, criminal!”  But I also felt the tug in my heart, God gently prodding me to action.  I didn’t allow fear to control me.  Sometimes, we need to “Do it afraid.”  I stepped out and obeyed.  The Bible says that God values obedience to His voice above anything else we could ever give Him.  I’m learning to hear His voice and obey immediately.  How many opportunities for ministry have we missed by brushing aside or ignoring His voice or because we are just too afraid?

As a born-again Christian, you have within you, the answer to all the world’s problems.  The hope that is in you is the most precious gift you can give.  Allow God to use every bit of you and your life for reaching your world.

As a side note…I’m sure my mother will be reading this…The parking lot had plenty of good lighting and there were other people walking into and out of the grocery store.  Had I been kidnapped or what have you, someone would have seen and heard.  I have quite a boisterous scream.  And you know, Mother, I’m packing.  😉  A mother never stops worrying about her kids…even when they’re 35!

Don’t Be a Brat!

After battling the flu/strep throat all weekend, today I was feeling more like myself.  When I awoke this morning and surveyed my surroundings, much to my dismay, my house was in shambles.  Apparently a tornado had gone through while I was in my sick/comatose state over the last three days!  I straightened up and started some laundry.  There were several loads of clothes that needed put away from last week, so I had the kids help.  I asked them to put their own clothes away once they had finished their school for the day. Sounds reasonable, right?  It’s not like I asked the girls to put away their brothers’ underwear or anything.  Just put away YOUR clothes.

Ugh…the fighting.  Not physical, but that kind of verbal battling only girls are capable of doing.  On and on and on.  About everything and nothing.  Each daughter had to get the last word in, thus the ongoing arguing.  Ignore the poor mama trying to speak correction over you with her still-raw throat.  Bicker, bicker, bicker.

My girls went from delightful little creatures playing Littlest Pet Shop and Minecraft to the “Wicked Witches of the West” in under five minutes.  All because I asked them to put away their own clothes.  Geesh!  Can’t a mom get a break around here?

As I sorted laundry, I could hear them through the laundry shoot from the second floor of the house all the way down to the basement. I just don’t get it.  Everything is fine and dandy when they are playing and doing what THEY want to do, but the moment I ask them to do something they don’t want to do, the nasty comes out.  Full blown brat attack.  I mean, can’t they just help a mom out and be happy about it?  *Cue the still small voice…

“Sometimes when I ask you to do something YOU don’t want to do, you act like that too, Susie.”

Who me?  Nah…not ME.

“Yes, you.”

Oh man.  I hate when I get called out on MY stuff.

Am I always a willing participant in the tasks God gives me to do?  Do I go about serving others happily, as unto the Lord, for His glory?  Am I a cheerful giver?

Sadly, the answer is sometimes, “No.”  I DO complain and grumble, once in a while.  I have, on occasion, toted a stinky attitude.  And sometimes, just sometimes, I’m a “not-so-happy” giver.  Guilty as charged.

The Bible says,

Philippians 2:14 

Do all things without complaining and disputing

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whatever your hand finds to dodo it with your might
2 Corinthians 9:7
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
Ahhh…the lessons I learn from being a mommy.  If you keep your “eyes and ears” open, you’ll hear them too.  Lessons are being taught all around us.  By His grace, He teaches us and fills in the gaps when we’re not so gracious on our own.  I’m so thankful for that!
Have a blessed and HEALTHY day!
Susie 🙂