This is my 100th blog! Who knew that my thoughts, opinions, feelings and prayers were significant enough to fill 100 blogs?! God knew ... He knows everything that is in my heart. I believe that He is actually in the process of going for the treasure in me and you ... after all ... He is the One Who put it there in the first place. In honor of my 100th blog ... I wanted to share something significant and impactful. I have pondered many possible topics ... a few inconsequential meanderings ... and several themes that you would quickly forget. And so ... this is where I have landed ... If I could talk to the 12 year old in you ... and in me ... this is what I wish someone would have told me when I was 12. I want to save you from some of my ridiculous mistakes and to challenge you to be more than you are.
And so ... to the 12 year old Carol ...
1 - It really is more important to be kind than to be pretty. People will forget how you dressed for a certain occasion, what color eye shadow you wear and how often you get your hair cut. But they will never forget your heart. They will long remember and be impacted by your genuine kindness and friendship.
2 - Don’t date in high school ... it is a total waste of time. Focus on things in high school other than the opposite sex. Develop Godly relationships with other girls. Reach out to girls who are being bullied and be their friend. Go on missions trips. Teach Sunday School. But please don’t give your heart to a string of hormonally charged males who care more about how you look than who you are. Wait for the right man at the right time. He is worth the wait ... trust me ... I know.
3 - Practice the piano or take gymnastics lessons... Keep playing soccer and writing in your journal. Take ballet and learn to give speeches. So often when the teenage years and hormones hit, girls become distracted from their childhood dreams. Don’t allow your dreams or the disciplines of your little girl years to become lost in the foolishness of parties, social media and dating.
4 - Keep in touch with your childhood and high school friends. That sweet Girl Scout song holds a lifetime of truth in it, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” There is absolutely nothing like going out for lunch with someone who has known you since you were 8 or 10 or 12.
5 - Hold your babies ... they grow up so quickly. Someday you really will meet the man of your dreams ... and you really will have babies together ... and you really will be a mom. When that day comes, remember that the bonding process that takes place during the newborn days is more valuable than a beautiful nursery, designer clothes or a full night’s sleep. Rock your babies ... sing to them ... hold them ... snuggle them ...pray over them. These really are the most precious moments of your entire life.
6 - Increase your vocabulary. Listen to the words that other people use and make a list of the words that are unfamiliar to you. Look up the meanings of the words and try to incorporate them into your daily speech. Sign up for “Word of the Day” from dictionary.com and challenge yourself to use that word in a conversation. There is nothing quite as captivating as a vocabulary that is not peppered with slang but is filled with the beauty of interesting words and enriching phrases.
7 - Don’t just read the twaddle of the day. Travel to England between the pages of “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice”. Experience other times and places through the magic of great literature. Go to the Civil War in “Gone with the Wind” and through the pages of “Little Women”. The passport of your mind is too valuable to stay merely in one country and in one time period. Linger over a cup of tea with Ruth Graham in her biography, “A Portrait of Ruth” and travel to China with Amy Carmichael in “God’s Missionary”. The world is so much bigger than your little corner of it ... so envelop yourself in meaningful literature that will enlarge your capacity to dream. Trust me ... I know.
8 - Listen more than you talk. Women have a horrible habit of talking more than listening. Don’t be that girl. Ask questions of others and then truly care about their answers. Don’t feel that you have to say everything you think, feel and believe but be someone else’s safe place.
9 - Don’t always drive on the interstate ... take back roads as often as you can. Arriving at your chosen destination in the shortest possible time is not nearly as important as seeing the beauty along the way. Stop at an old bookstore ... buy lemonade from a child ... walk through an old cemetery and read the tombstones ... linger over a well-tended garden.
10 - Respect your parents in every season of life. Listen to their wisdom and never discount their input. You really don’t know better than your parents. The world and your peers will tell you to mock them, tolerate them, disobey them, ignore them and sass them. God calls girls from every generation and every historical juncture to honor them. I don’t think that you have a better idea than God.
11 - Please dress modestly. Please!! Your body is not a show and tell stage for the world to gawk at! Your body was not meant to be paraded for every boy to see what you have been given. Pieces of your underwear should never be easily seen under your shirt, skirt, or shorts. You may think that jeans with rips around your private areas are stylish ... they are not. They are seductive. You can be stylish without being sexy. I dare you! Try to do it! Be a young woman of virtue who refuses to cave into the culture. Have a backbone when it comes to how you dress ... be lovely and not lascivious. (This is a word that you are going to have to look up! See #6 and follow the instructions there! You can do it ... this is a word that you do not want used to describe you!)
12 - And please ... don’t gossip! Don’t be a drama queen! The circumstances and events that you are going through today will quickly pass. Pray your way through every situation and allow God to give you peace. When you talk about others ... let it always be in a kind and encouraging way. When others are gossiping ... think of something good to say about the victim of their verbal abuse. Your words hold power and with your words you either wound someone or encourage someone. Who do you want to be?
13 - Remind yourself on a daily basis that it really does pay to serve God. He has better plans for you than you can even imagine.
14 - Choose Godly friends who dress modestly, obey their parents and refuse to gossip or be drama queens. Your life will be better for it.
15 - Read your Bible every day. Connect your soul to eternity through this one simple, yet life-altering, choice. You can never underestimate the power of reading a Psalm a day ... a Proverb a day ... or about the life of Jesus Christ every day. If you desire to be the very best version of “you” imaginable ... you will read your Bible.
There are days that I wish I could be 12 years old again and anchor myself to these solid principles that somehow alluded me the first time around. However, we all only get to do life one time. We all only have one chance to be 12 ... and 16 ... and 23 ... and 37 ... and 45 ... and 58. And so today I will hunker down once again into the important stuff in life and be the very best version of “me” possible. While my feet yet remain on the soil of planet earth, of worldly culture and of a civilization that touts compromise, I will maintain my focus on all that is glorious and eternal.
Happy 100th blog to me and to you! And to all of us ... who are no longer 12 ... let’s fill the rest of our days with all of our hearts set on that which is noble and pure.
“Finally, sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” - Philippians 4:8