Dear Emily {31 Days of Letters}

Dear Emily,

I realized, after writing you that previous letter, I had much more to say.  I could write an advice dictionary to you, with all of my words-to-the-wise in alphabetical order and explained in detail.  Though that would appeal to my type A personality, I think even my younger self would rebel against such blatant superiority.

Superiority is far from what I’m trying to communicate with any advice I give you. Sure, you make mistakes, but believe me when I say, you continue to make mistakes as you grow older and “wiser.”  However, in 25 years, I’ve begun to recognize a pattern in your mistakes and struggles.  You have an insatiable desire to do everything right and do it right the first time around.

There’s a danger in this striving for perfection that has made your journey seem more primitive than it needs to be.  You desperately seek God’s will and His direction for your life, but you focus on the minutia of His answer.  I’ve learned over the past 25 years that God’s still small voice likes to communicate the big picture.

Maybe that mode of communication is unique to us because God knows we spend too much time fixating on details.  Regardless, after years of burdened prayers asking God to reveal His will, that still small voice led me to a verse that becomes our hearts cry over and over again.  I’d like to make you privy to this knowledge a little earlier in hopes that you can avoid some tears and confusion.

It’s quite simple, really.  There are three things that always comprise God’s will for you: joy, prayer, and gratitude.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  {1 Thessalonians 5:16-18}

Joy, constant prayer, and giving thanks are always God’s will.  The surest way to do the right thing the first time is to be joyful in any circumstance, steep your decisions in prayer, and give praise to God for the outcome.

My dear Em, even in their simplicity, all three are difficult to do without God’s strength and grace.  You won’t always choose to be joyful or choose prayer before action or choose to give thanks.  But, devote yourself to these disciplines. Pursuing them, even when you fail, is always more fruitful than striving after your own plans and purposes.



You can find all my letters here.

For more information about the 31 Day Challenge, visit The Nester.

Dear Me… {a letter to my teenage self}

A letter to my teenage self

My dearest Em,

What a journey you have ahead! In your small (and by small, I mean tall and semi-chubby) self, you have no idea what joy and pain, triumphs and failures, love and heartache, adventures and mishaps are waiting for you.

I don’t want to alter your path too much with my words from the future.  I am grateful, though vexed at times, for the lessons I learned from your choices.  I would, however, like to offer some encouragement, and maybe a pointer or two, to make the coming years less of an emotional roller coaster.

Be Yourself!

Life got a lot more enjoyable when you began to embody who God created you to be.  Unfortunately for you, it wasn’t until college that you really started to act like yourself, and even then, you had days so driven by the whims of other people, Emily was nowhere to be found.

I realize it takes time, and trial and error, to discover who you are.  The process of discovery never really stops; but, the more you look to the Lord – the author of the life you live – the more confident you’ll be that YOU are speaking, acting, thinking, believing, not other people.

With that in mind: embrace your height, wear lace, start a book club, get your groove on, speak up in class, bake for everyone you know (and don’t know), share your faith boldly.  Indeed, people will judge, but at least they will be judging the real you, not who you think they want to judge.

Clippings from the Senior issue of the Tartan Shield, my high school newspaper. I was on staff for three years. {Ashley was my Maid of Honor}

About boys…

Teenage love is swirling around you in all its hand-holding, texting, and movie going glory.  The idea of a guy liking you is a heady thought, especially that guy you’ve liked since 6th grade and will continue to like all through high school.

Baking his name in cookies, toilet papering his house, and endlessly instant messaging him may seem like good ideas, but probably come off as a tad bit overeager (desperate, maybe?).   The triumph of getting him to admit that he thinks you’re pretty isn’t worth the endless hours you obsess and journal about him.

God seems a bit cruel, not allowing some romantic action to develop over the years.  Yes, a date to just one school dance would be nice, but deep down you know you only want to go for the dress.  Don’t fret, you’ll get to wear a beautiful dress when it really counts. God isn’t being cruel; He’s keeping you all to Himself until both you and the one who will cherish and care for you is ready.

I don’t want to give too much away (just wait until you find out where your “meet cute” is…), but know that your future husband meets everything on the list you so diligently made and has qualities you didn’t know you needed.

In light of all that, you won’t have a boyfriend until you’re 24 and that boyfriend will become your husband.  You saved your first kiss for him.  You saved your whole self for him.

It was worth it!

Reach out!

Friends don’t make themselves.  Your dependence on others to create friendships for you is unnecessary and puts strain on the ones that matter the most.  I know there are others around you who have the same difficulty moving past “Hello. How are you.”  Those people are friends in the making!

Shyness is not an excuse.  Come to find out, you aren’t shy.  Reserved, yes.  Introverted, yes.  Shy, no.

Look beyond yourself and reach out to those around you.  Not everyone you meet needs to become your bosom friend, but love and caring without prejudice should go without saying.

Reach out to the girl who gleefully pointed out the mating moths before 4th period.  Reach out to the foreign exchange student who’s too smart for his own good.  Reach out to the forlorn girl in PE who obviously has “sadness in her heart,” as mom would say.

On beauty…

I am hesitant to say much on the topic of beauty and self-image, not because you don’t need encouragement, but because I am so vastly in need of the same encouragement.  I don’t know what to say to keep you from negative self-talk and strict food intake.  You have already begun to build your self perception around a worldly standard.

Your family, your friends, your husband will spend many hours affirming you.  Their encouragement will all be for not if a confidence in Christ’s unconditional love for you doesn’t remain strong.

If you internalize anything from this letter, let it be this: You are valuable.  Your value isn’t directly linked to any sort of physical attribute or personality trait.  Your value is given by God Almighty.

Put your God goggles on and believe what you see.

In parting:

You will begin to notice a theme develop as God molds and shapes your heart and your path.  He never works when or how you want Him to work.  Initially, that’s quite frustrating and works directly against your perfectionist modus operandi, however, you cannot deny that God knows.  He just knows…

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

{Ephesians 3:19-21}

Amen, indeed, Emmy – Amen!


Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl, has written a second book geared toward young women.  It’s called Graceful and Emily shares:

For the good test taker and the strict list maker. For the rule follower, the fear wallower, the messy, and the misunderstood. For the self-critic, the silent judge, and the girl who feels invisible.

For the girl who is tired of trying and the one afraid to fail.

You don’t have to be perfect, but do you trust the One who is? The God who came to save you also came to live with you, in you, today.

She encouraged others to remember what it was like to be a teenager again.  Many of us took that challenge and turned our reflections into letters to our young souls.  You can find a link up of other letters on Emily’s website Chatting at The Sky.  She has even created a wonderful video to spread the message of Graceful.

photo credit: Dr Stephen Dann via photopin cc