Advice For A Sister On Her 15th Birthday

Advice For My Sister On Her 15th Birthday

I'm giving it even if you don't want to hear it.

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So you're turning 15, Saturday. It seems like yesterday, I was 7 and at the hospital, bored as could be, waiting for you to arrive. If I had known what a fireball you would be, I probably would have been nervous instead. In spite of all the bickering and squabbles we've had, though, you're still my little sister, and even if you don't want me to be, I'm still protective of you.

So on the week of your 15th birthday and getting your driver's permit (that's a scary thought), I am going to give you some advice. Please pardon the road sign theme, I couldn't help myself.

Stop

Photo by Will Porada on Unsplash

We may not like stops signs because they slow us down on our way to somewhere, but stopping can be a good thing. As a teenager in high school, it may seem like you're on the go all the time. You become stressed and strung out and don't know whether you are going or coming. That's why it's important to stop sometimes. Take a break. Go hang out with your friends, watch a movie, or go outside. You will be amazed how much better a small break can make you feel.

Slow down

Photo by George Huffman on Unsplash

Slow your roll a little bit. You may wish you could graduate and go to college, but it goes by so fast. You grow up so quick. Just the other day you were the kid sister who tried to follow me and my friends around. Now you're nearly fifteen and taller than me. Don't wish for time to hurry up, it will get here quick enough. Slow down and enjoy the moments you have now because once they're gone you can't get them back.

Bumps ahead

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You will have some bumps in your life. You should expect them. Things won't always go your way. You will fail tests, lose friends, plans will fail, but just remember it is not the end of the world. Sure, you will be shaken up a little bit and get some scratches, but scars make the best stories. Just remember that God always has a plan for you, and all things work together for good for those that love Him.

Do not enter

Photo by Adrian Williams on Unsplash

There may be places that your friends ask you to go that you have no business being there. DO NOT GO THERE. Teenagers and young adults do things all the time, for example underage drinking and drugs, that are not things that you need to be involved in. Your conscience will tell you when these situations arise, all you have to do is listen. You may lose friends and might not be popular, but your health and well being are more important. It may not seem like it at the time, but you will thank yourself later for making the right choices.

Wrong way

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

There will be times in your life that you will be faced with decisions both large and small. I hope that you will always seek God's will no matter what the matter is, but sometimes we let our own wants and plans get in the way of His plans. When you make wrong decisions, it's okay, just don't stay in them. Do not be stubborn and continue in the wrong direction. Admit that you are wrong and make it right. I am speaking from experience when I say that God and your family will not cast you away. There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from God's love or your family's love.

I hope you heed my warnings. Life is too short to not live it to your full potential, and your are a strong and smart girl with plenty potential. Happy birthday, Al.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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