October 28 is a WONDERFUL day, because I have an excuse to tell the whole world about my incredible Momma! (I’ll spare you the “there are no words to describe how wonderful she is” spiell, but just know that it’s true.) I’ve decided to share some of the lessons she’s taught me throughout my life. So get out your journal and start taking notes! She’s the real deal!

[DISCLAIMER: Mom is my #1 editor and proofreader, and she doesn’t know I’m writing this. Hopefully you won’t find any typos!]

Mom taught me…

  1. How to talk to God like He’s real.

Yes, I know, He is real. But sometimes we don’t pray like it. Whenever Mom prays, she talks to God like He’s sitting at the kitchen table next to us. Whether she’s asking for a specific need, thanking Him for a blessing or lifting up a difficult situation, Mom knows that the Lord is there and that He is in control. I’m thankful for her open example of how to draw near to God our Father.

  1. How to load a dishwasher.

Silverware pointed down, cups and bowls on the top, each row filled, dishes facing inward. If it’s in the sink, you can find a way to cram it into the dishwasher! (Poor Dad and Andrew try their best, but somehow the message just didn’t completely sink in…)

  1. How to make life a musical.

Sometimes singing is more fun than talking. Sometimes good news calls for dancing. Sometimes we take catchy commercial jingles and make them a regular part of our vocabulary. It’s just better that way!!

  1. How to put others first.

You don’t have to watch through hours of our old family home videos to realize that I was… what’s that phrase? All about me. While I was a child, Mom taught me to put others before myself. As an adult, I see how Mom lives this out in her everyday life. She is servant-hearted, compassionate, empathetic and caring. She talks the talk AND walks the walk. What a role model for me!

  1. How to “let it go.”

Guess what? I’m not perfect. Guess what? Mom’s not perfect either. But guess what? THAT’S OKAY! As a Type-A, goal-setting, gotta-get-it-right kind of girl, I need to be reminded that it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to have bad days and good days, to succeed and to fail. Listen to good ole’ Idina Menzel. (And of course sing along!)

  1. How to treasure God’s Word.

God’s Word is truth. No matter what happens, the Bible is our foundation. It never changes, and it never fails. I am so grateful for all the wonderful things Mom has taught me. However, her best “lesson” has always been teaching me to rely on God’s Word and to seek Christ in all that I do.

Happy birthday, Mom! We’re celebrating you today!

Like A Child

This summer I had the WONDERFUL blessing of living with my aunt, uncle and precious, rock-star cousins, Parker (8) and Caroline (6). I can’t tell you what a joy it was to come home from work to squeals of excitement, giant hugs and a million shouts of, “look what I did!”

I loved the everyday adventures of living with Parker and Caroline. Through laughter, tears and everything in between, they reminded me of what it means to be a child. God used this experience to give me a living picture of what it looks like be a child–His child!

Ask Questions

My favorite question of the summer was when Parker asked me what college was like. I begin to explain that I’m in 16th grade, I live without my parents [WHAT?!] and I sort of get to choose my own classes. Caroline looked at me with a squinty-eyed faced, like she was thinking hard. “Why don’t you play games instead?”

Good question, Caroline. If I get to choose my classes, why wouldn’t I play games instead? I said that the classes were for my “major,” which would hopefully lead to a job. I told her that I was majoring in writing.

Again, she makes the squinty face. “Why not crafts?”

Hmm. Why not crafts? I’ll have to run that by Aunt Angie and Uncle Don.

Be Messy

Sometimes I felt like a juggler, subconsciously waiting for something to fall, break, spill or who knows what else! But as time went on, I realized that making mistakes is part of the process of growing. If I never let Caroline hold her own milkshake, she wouldn’t learn how to keep it from spilling. If I always insisted that I hold onto the dog’s leash, Parker wouldn’t have the chance to practice being a leader and taking responsibility.

While I was always there to support and guide them, I couldn’t do everything for them. I’d be there before, during and after, but they had to learn some skills on their own!

Sweet Moments

So many sweet moments. This is a picture of a letter Caroline wrote me on a weekend when they were out of town. It’s just one of the many precious memories that I treasure from my time this summer!img_7818

Limited Understanding

This insight was probably my most impactful lesson from the whole summer. Sometimes children ask questions that are simply too big, too complicated and too above-their-heads to answer. I knew that they either could not understand, or they didn’t need to understand.

Friends, please stop and think about this in light of our relationship with God the Father. How many times do we ask, beg, yearn to understand things that don’t make sense to our small, earthly brains. God wants us to ask Him questions (James 1:5), but sometimes we’re not supposed to know the answer (Deuteronomy 29:29).

It’s hard, but it’s also comforting that we don’t always have to know. We can trust Him to be good, greater, wiser and better than our earthly perspective. Take a deep breath and let that sink it. That’s encouraging!

Limitless Love

There’s something unique about the pure, limitless love and adoration of a child. They aren’t afraid to wrap you in a hug, sit to by you during a movie or tell you that they wish you could stay forever.

As adults, we often think long and hard before expressing our feelings, especially to those we really care about. What if we weren’t afraid to say, “I love you” or “I need you”? What if we worshipped God with a pure joy that springs from the heart?

 

These are only a handful of the many lessons that God taught me this summer. Hopefully my experience will encourage you to examine your relationship with the Lord, the perfect Father!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).


 

Dear Freshman,

College is awesome. It’s fun, hard, exciting, complicated… pretty much all of the above! College is where you learn about yourself as a person and make decisions for your ever-looming “future.” Truthfully there is no blog post, book, or conversation that can fully prepare you for the journey ahead. But, I wanted to take the time to share with you a few tips from my experience. Sit back, hang on and enjoy the ride!

 

1. Go and do.

College is FREEDOM! Wahoo! You are going to meet a million people from a million different places and have a million opportunities to do things that are new to you! Whether that’s studying abroad in London or trying out the new restaurant downtown, this is your time to go and explore. Always be on the lookout for local festivals, outdoor activities, concerts and cool day trips. Grab a group of friends, split the gas money and have fun!

dreams lizzie

2. Be wise.

Mama always said, “If you have that funny feeling in your stomach that something is just not right, don’t do it.” Friends, mama is right. While college is a time to have new and fun experiences, don’t compromise your standards. Stick to who you are. Use good judgment and don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’ You’ll always thank yourself for making the right decision.

3. Eat with people.

The simple but true strategy for making friends! Ask some classmates if they want to go to lunch after biology on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Invite the girls down your hall to join you for free queso on “Moes Monday.” Or–if you’re feeling extra on top of things–gather a few friends and cook one of your favorite dishes from home. Forget easy mac and Chinese takeout for one; meals are meant for sharing!

4. Miss home.

It’s okay. In fact… it’s normal! After spending 18 years of your life with the same people, it’s hard to not see them every day. FaceTime your family (and your dog) to keep up with those who love you the most. Plus, the time that you do get to spend with family is now even more precious!

rory calling mom

5. Really study.

College is no breeze, but it’s doable. My best advice? Study every week on a regular basis. Your next test may not be for two months, but boy do you need to know the material that you talked about in class today. Do the homework, read the books and–yes–go to class! Once again, you will thank yourself later.

6. Change your major.

But you’ve wanted to be a teacher since you were five years old! You thought you loved politics! You swore you’d never have the same career as your parents! I know. I’ve been there. You’re talking to the girl who used to consider becoming a lawyer, until journalistic law nearly put me to sleep. On the other hand, I thought I’d hate accounting, but I actually loved the class (#nerd). All that to say, be open minded! It’s okay to change your plan.

andy gif

7. Make many friends.

Friendships don’t happen overnight. As a freshman looking at a sea of hundreds of potential besties, it’s kind of hard to know where to start. I think It’s important for you to make many friends from different parts of college life. Don’t stick to one or two people and shut out everyone else. Take this opportunity to befriend lots of people, and be friendly towards everyone!