Dear Teen Me,

Bless your heart.

Since I’m where I am, and you’re where you are, I see so many things that you have completely wrong, but then figuring those things out are what has made YOU what I am, today!

A few words of advice (I know, you don’t listen much at this point, but hang on to this – you might want to refer back to it someday):

You are not fat. You may think you are, but in years to come, you’ll pull out one of those plaid wool skirts that you wore in high school and wonder how on earth you ever thought of yourself as even “pleasingly plump” as a teen. You’ll figure out that God made you the way you are because that’s the way HE wanted you!

Don’t compare yourself to others. I know, easier said than done . . . Just because other people in your class – a particular favorite cousin, no less –  are valedictorian and you are not, does not mean that you are not intelligent. Remember that one nine-week grading period when you made two percentage points HIGHER than said valedictorian. (And yes, I love you, Cheryl!) 🙂

Be open to new experiences – the good kind, that is. When you’re 16, your parents will be called into the mission field. They will inform you that you are moving out of state. You will cry, you will be depressed, you will think your life is over. Guess what? It will enable you to embrace change later in life – much later, but at least you will have that experience under your belt to bolster you. Don’t let it drag you down, now. Pick a Bible verse and hang on to it for dear life. Might I suggest Psalm 37:4? Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” As hard as that time will be, think of it this way – it will make you the pianist you are, today!

Soak in as much of your childhood as you can – it doesn’t last long enough. When your parents suggest an extra day at Walt Disney World in Florida, don’t throw a fit because you have a date planned for Saturday. Enjoy your parents and sister while you can. I know. Sad, huh?

Never forget where you came from. You will be thankful for Facebook one of these days. It will reconnect you with classmates and relatives that you would otherwise have no contact with. You will find out that people at school really did like you, and didn’t think you were invisible. You will find out that part of your heritage is your smile, and the fact that you were nice to people.

And on the tail of that – keep smiling. There will be days when you think you just can’t smile, but you can. Even a small quirk of one side of your mouth will not only make someone else feel better, but will make you feel better, as well. You weren’t put on earth to make yourself happy – you were put here to glorify God and help others to be happy!

Now get out there and be the best teen you can be!!


A Letter to My Teenage Self–You Are Never Alone

Dear Brenda,

I understand it’s a lonely time in your life. Making friends has never come easy. The same holds true for many your age. I wish I could say that struggle will ease over the years, but few things worthwhile are achieved without effort. As you strive, always remember to be yourself. God made you uniquely you and He treasures who you are. Remember, you are never alone.

And don’t forget to look for friendship within your own home. Siblings make the best of friends and will always be there for you.

Those dreams you have of writing a book, they’re more than just dreams. God has crafted that gift especially for you. Don’t  bury those longings where you’ll never find them, but act on them. Receive God’s gift and multiply it. You’ll find no greater act of worship.

You’re growing up on a farm, one of the best places in the world, but it won’t always be there for you. Take time to enjoy the beauty around you. Cradle the kittens and roughhouse with the dog. Take walks through the cornfields and sing down by the lake. Throw snowballs and go sledding. Bike. Swim. Walk. Enjoy the skies dotted with innumerable stars and be awestruck by the northern lights. Breathe in lilac’s spring bloom and autumn’s spicy harvest.

Always accept your grandma’s offering of molasses cookies. Nothing fills her heart more than watching her children and grandchildren enjoy her baking. Your acceptance of her gift is her treasure.

Never stop making music, be it blending with a choir, harmonizing with friends, or playing guitar alone by the lake, praising the Creator of song. Music will always unlock your stoic facade and sing the truth to your heart.

And, in all things, remember the One who breathed life into you, the Giftor or your dreams, the Painter of nature, the Architect of music. Your life will climb peaks, slide into valleys, and plateau on the plains. Yet through every moment, He is with you.

Even when no one else is around, you are never alone.


Your older, wiser, and always-learning self.

A Letter to My Teenage Self from Shannon

Dear Teenage Shannon,

Be yourself. Stop trying to mimic others. They’re not any cooler than you are, so stop feeling bad about yourself. God made you the individual you are. 

Don’t worry so much about what others think of you. Your audience is an audience of one. It only matters what God thinks of you.

You don’t have to dress immodestly to get the boys’ attention. They’ll notice, no matter what you wear. And if it takes immodest clothing to attract him, he’s not the kind of boy you need. (Your parents won’t allow it anyway, thank goodness.)

Stop being embarrassed by your parents. Some day, you’ll be in their shoes and realize how wise they are. And how much they love you. 

Start an exercise program now. That way, it’s second nature and when you’re older, it will already be part of your routine.

Don’t go to cosmetology school. You’ll only waste your parents’ money and get stuck doing your mother’s hair for life. Hairdressing isn’t glamorous. It’s hard, nasty, and exhausting. Stick with your first instinct: computers.

Even better—they’re books. Those stories in your head that you never know what to do with. Don’t wait until you’re thirty-three to figure that out. 

The move to rural Arkansas. Stop fighting it. Embrace your new home. You’ll grow to love it, never, ever want to live anywhere near a city again, and meet the love of your life there.

In fact, you’ve already met him. That new boy that lights your fire–the rumors are true–but be patient, God is working on him.

Pay more attention to young boys. Someday you’ll have one. The things he does and dirt he can find will astound you. 

Always remember. No matter what happens or what life throws at you, you’ve got Jesus to get you through.

A Letter to My Teenage Self from Lorna

Have you ever thought, “If only I knew then, what I know now”? In the next two weeks, the Inkspirational Messagers will be sharing their letters to their teenage selves.  As you read through our letters, we hope you’ll see share some of the things you’d say to yourself.

Dear Teenage Lorna,

Reading feeds your soul. It always has and it always will. Books are part of you. They are your friends, but put them down once in awhile to experience life for real.

Wear a sweater for one of your senior pictures. A nice timeless look might keep your own kids from laughing at the senior pictures in your 80’s garb some day.

Don’t talk back to your dad. I know he’s a little tough sometimes and irrational—especially when he says things like “you’ve already had enough fun this weekend.” But realize what he is really saying is “I miss you and want to spend some time with you.”  His greatest joy is spending time with his children, and it is hard to watch them grow up.

Appreciate every minute you get to spend with your mom. Your time with her will be much more brief than you expect. She said her job as a mother was to work herself out of a job. She will have prepared you well for life, but you will always wish you had more time with her. She will also become your friend, your cheerleader, and your confidant. There will be no one you’d rather share your greatest joys with or deepest sorrows.

Don’t always compare yourself to others. Don’t compare your relationships to those others have. God has a plan for you and His plan for you is unique.   You wouldn’t believe the blessings He has planned for you if I told you, but know God will work out everything in his time. Trust Him.

Take chances. You aren’t much of a risk taker, but some chances are worth taking. Be brave. Trust your instincts. Have the courage to speak up, sing solos, and to try new things—even flirt a little. Follow your dreams. The real one. The one you don’t want to say out loud. You may actually live it someday.

It’s okay to be giggle sometimes. For some reason, you can’t let go and be silly. Maybe it’s because the other girls who act that way seem immature to you, but you need to let go and be a kid sometimes. Maturity is overrated. Laugh ‘til your sides hurt. Giggle until you can’t stop. In those moments you’ll bond with some of your dearest friends. Later on, you’ll discover a sense of humor you never realized you had all along.

Skip the whole science thing in college. Trust me, you’re headed down a different path and can save yourself a lot of headaches if you realize that your future doesn’t involve organic chemistry or human biology. While we’re on the subject, be sure to pay attention in history.

It’s more important to BE the right person than to find the right person. Focus on becoming the kind of woman God wants you to be and not on finding Mr.Right. You need to know who you are and not let a man define you.  

God is preparing an amazing man for you. The lack of dates on Friday nights may scare you, but God is giving you great guy friends to teach you how to sustain a long relationship someday with the man you will come to share your life with.  You will know him as soon as you meet him and he will not have brown eyes. He will be an incredible husband, father, and servant of God. The two of you will be blessed beyond measure with three children.

Hang on to your faith. There will be some dark times ahead for you, your family, and your friends, but your faith will sustain you through those times. Your tendency will be to put your faith in people, but even Christians will let you down. Put your faith in God, because only He will never fail you.

Enjoy the journey!