Recently, a very close family friend turned 18. It was a long awaited day and a big milestone for her. I've known her parents since I was 18, so she and her family are practically an extended part of our family. She looks up to me like a big sister and is very wise beyond her young years. We often have deep adult discussions. She's such a joy to have around.

On the morning of her birthday I texted (of course! I'm a modern "hip" big sister kind of friend. LOL) the following words to her. It was meant to be a really quick "happy birthday, we love you" kind of text, but whew, I got wordy, imagine that! It's just that she's got her entire life in front of her and I care about her so much. I think I even surprised myself how quickly I churned out the longest text of my life! She urged me to share my thoughts with you and felt it was especially fitting since this is my final post here on this site.

I love you. Happy Birthday, girl. You're truly the most inspiring young girl I've ever known! 

Stay good and loving and kind. Don't let the ugliness of the world take you down! 

Be the best YOU that you can be. Always stay true to who you are and what you believe. 

Never alter yourself even when jealousy, ignorance and misunderstanding attempts to paint you differently. 

Only repay with love, kindness, and understanding. Refuse to settle. 

Always see the pot of "good" at the end of the rainbow. 

Make wise choices and well thought out decisions. 

Love everyone, even those who are difficult to love. Never give in. Never give up. Never quit with or without a fight. 

Know when you're wrong and admit it willingly. Don't ever let anger get in the way of love. 

Accept your destiny that God has chosen for you. When He gives you more than you can handle, rely on Him for the strength to handle it. 

Thank Him for the breath He has given you and use it to encourage and help others. Give more than necessary every time. 

See beyond the surface appearance of those around you:

Their smiles don't always mean happiness. Their tears may mean more than a momentary disappointment, and quite possibly could be the result of  a lifetime of repeated disappointment, loneliness, helplessness and exhaustion. Learn to recognize the different types of tears and don't miss an opportunity to ask how you can be of help. In reaching out and helping others, it brings happiness to ourselves. Making others smile, is addicting. Cry often. Let tears flow. Then pick up and move on. Live unapologetically. Love fiercely. Refuse to have regrets. Go out and grab life and live it. Be safe. I love you! Always.

 

Image via Kate Gosselin