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September 23, 2013

Bullet Points for Life: Lessons to my children

Image: Flickr/Anne Marthe Widvey

Image: Flickr/Anne Marthe Widvey

  1. Character matters more than money, smarts, and education. I would rather you be a person of integrity than the smartest, wealthiest person on earth.
  2. Life is not fair. It stinks, but it really is true. There will be times when someone else gets the job you are more suited to or another guy/girl gets the date you want. Sadly, that’s part of life. Don’t be surprised when these things happen, but instead, focus on your response to it. What can you learn from it? Choose not to be bitter.
  3. Just because a chocolate chip cookie really does make you feel better when you’re down, it doesn’t mean you should partake. Have a good relationship with food. Don’t let it control you.
  4. Be kind to the people who hold lesser positions in life, the people who are servers or have menial jobs. In fact, you should have one of those jobs sometime in life to really appreciate the amount of work it involves. Don’t be so proud that you’d never take a job like that. The way that you treat people in those jobs is very telling. When you start to date, notice how your date treats the waiter, the valet, pizza delivery guy, etc. If they are rude or disrespectful to them, move on!
  5. Be interested in others. Ask good questions. Don’t always try to be the center of attention. Be a good observer of people, and remember things that people tell you about themselves.
  6. Have a good handshake and look people in the eyes when you introduce yourself. Use their name when you meet them, so you can remember it!
  7. Be willing to try new things—new foods, new experiences, new hobbies.
  8. Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. Try to find the humor in a situation. And when you do something stupid, laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  9. Marriage is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make Bullet Points for Life: Lessons to my children because your relationship with your spouse colors every aspect of your life. Marriage takes work, and just because you have a rough spot in your marriage doesn’t mean you should give up. Work through it because getting to the other side of a problem makes your relationship stronger. Continue to date your spouse; have fun together. Don’t forget what brought you together, but realize that your relationship will grow and change.
  10. Learn history—world history, Biblical history, American history, and our family history. Yes, I know it’s not always interesting in school, but there is so much to learn—how God intervenes in people’s lives, how to avoid the mistakes others have made, why we are where we are today.
  11. Show kindness to those who are different from you—the outcast, the one with special needs, the new kid in town, the elderly.
  12. Be an encourager, not a discourager. The words we say cannot be un-said, so choose your words wisely. Our words can give life or death. Choose life.
  13. Learn to do things yourself. Even if you have all the money in the world to call in an expert, if the toilet breaks, learn how to fix it. When the deck needs painting, do it yourself. You’ll eventually learn which things you can do and which really do require an expert. As you know, your dad and I stink at dry wall repair. J
  14. Learn to be content. God’s Word says, “Contentment with godliness is great gain.” There will be times when you won’t have everything you want and perhaps even be in need. Seek to be content. Ask yourself, “Do I have food, clothes, and shelter for today?” If the answer is yes, then you have enough.
  15. Be grateful. Practice eucharisteo—thankfulness. It’s not something just for the month of November. Slow down and notice all of the graces that God has given—a baby’s belly laugh, warm sheets out of the dryer, sweet tea—and watch joy erupt in your life. Discontent arrives when we focus on what we don’t have. Joy barrels into our lives when we notice what we do have.
  16. Explore other cultures. Often we think that our own culture is the best, but that is so shallow. Even if you don’t like it all, look for the good in another culture.
  17. Seek to be balanced in life. Work hard, play hard, and rest. We are not slaves, so learn to rest and not feel guilty.
  18. One of the most important things in life is learning to extend grace. Be one who is quick to apologize and quick to forgive. We are all sinners and in need of grace. If you don’t believe me, when you have children, you’ll understand your own sinfulness.
  19. Take care of your body. Eat well and exercise. You only get one body, so be a good steward.
  20. Be authentic. Don’t try to be something you’re not. As someone once said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
  21. Tell the truth. It’s far easier to be honest than to keep track of your lies.
  22. Stay out of debt. I realize that it’s not always possible and sometimes life throws you curve balls, so if that happens, get out of debt as soon as possible. Debt = slavery.
  23. Find your passion. Discover the gifts that God has given you—both the skills (the things you’re good at) and the desires (the things you like). Try to find a job that matches both—or create a job that uses both and it will never feel like a job.
  24. Do all things with excellence, whether cleaning up after dinner or writing that presentation for school or work.
  25. Above all, love God. Pursue Him. Spend time in prayer and studying His Word. And know that He loves you more than any of us can imagine.

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