Why, hello there. I remember you. I see you sitting there with your unruly hair, blues eyes that are changing to green rimmed by glasses, sitting there scribbling away in your journal. The words that fly from your pen are all about your schoolwork, friends, snowboarding adventures, love of and longing for music, your frustrations, your inescapable bent towards words, and your questions and dreams about your future.

You wonder about the future so much. Well, I can tell you a little about some of your future, because it is now part of my past. It’s not as grandly adventurous as you’ve always wished it would be – not yet, anyway. But it’s not dull, at least not to you. You’re going to learn a lot – about God, about people, about decision-making, about yourself.  Your hair is going to get curly, and you will finally figure out how to make peace with it – providing the humidity level isn’t too high. You’ll get contacts, but you won’t get your ears pierced just yet, even though you really wanted to for a while.

You’re going to work at a dental office. This has never been on your list of dreams, but it’s going to be an excellent experience for you and you’re going to grow and gain a lot of confidence there. You have some wonderful people coming into your life whose friendships you will treasure so much. You’re going to know you’re supposed to be a writer, but I’m still not sure how you’re going to achieve that. You are going to go to college! At least for a couple of classes, but maybe more.

The hardest times of your life that I can tell you about are still ahead of you, but you will learn so much from them. They are lessons that you wouldn’t trade for anything, about grace and faith and who God really is and how He relates to you. Your faith is going to be tested and battered, and life is going to feel really dark for a long time, but God will revive and transform your faith, and nothing will ever have to be that hard again unless you choose unbelief again.

I started writing this feeling like I would be the older, wiser voice speaking down to the child of my past. But today, as I was thinking about you, I realized that I have to say thank you to you. Thank you for taking your character formation in your growing up years so seriously. Thank you for fighting those battles against bad thought habits and pride, for getting on your knees and begging fiercely for victory. I can tell you now, you got it – you’ll still have more battles to fight, but your perseverance has given me confidence that they can be won. Thank you for putting Jesus first in your life, for those hours you spent praying, those verses you memorized, and for the effort you put into studying God’s word. You have given me a strong foundation to stand on. I would not be who I am today if  you were not who you were yesterday. So thank you. By God’s grace, I’ll try not to screw it all up. 😉

Happy birthday, kid. I’m proud of you.

Journal entry from December 18, 2004 – a few days before I turned 13: “I’ve got to get out of this ‘phase.’ If this is what 13 is going to be like, I’m staying put.” LOL!