13 Gifts for 13 Years

Yesterday was my oldest daughter’s 13th birthday.IMG_3304

I have my first teenager in the house. And…get this…over the next 7 years, another preteen will become a teenager every couple of years. When my oldest is 19, I will also be looking at a 17, 15, and 12 year old. It would be a sobering picture except that I fear once I enter that era, they will be out of my house as quickly as they appeared.

Truth be told, I am crazy excited.

I think.

I feel a bit like I am in the fourth quarter of an intense game where every pass in every play matters.

Veteran moms, is this normal?!

I usually love crunch time because I tend to work well under pressure. It certainly does not mean I am not immune to freak outs. My husband has talked me off the proverbial cliff more than I care to admit. He will, however, tell you that I get it done one way or another. The rush of kicking productivity in gear, giving all you have, and intentionally focusing on a goal, well, I’m already excited.

This teenager thing stirs in me a different kind of fourth quarter adrenaline. Maybe because there is so much at stake? A desperate plea to the Lord for help seems only a breath away most of the time.

Needless to say, my prayer life just got intense.

Turning 13 is a huge milestone. I wanted her birthday gifts to be different to represent this coming-of-age marker. So I began a creative search online.

After reading other moms’ blogs and searching for ideas, I “borrowed” a few ideas and created my own version of 13 Gifts for 13 Years. IMG_3308

Before you see 13 Gifts and think it’s overkill, look below to see that some gifts did not cost but a few dollars, and one costs nothing! I am a minister’s wife whose paycheck is earmarked for my kiddos’ tuition at their private Christian school. In short, birthday budgets are tight. Bring on the clearance isles. My point? 13 Gifts for 13 Years can be done on a humble budget or an extravagant one!

Each gift was selected to correspond to 13 verses. Through these years ahead, I hope she is reminded of foundational truths concerning her purpose and her identity.

I did not set out to share these, but as several friends heard about the informal “ceremony” and had questions, I decided to share my ideas. Moms unite.

1. We began with a new study Bible (ESV). As she opened the crisp pages, she was instructed to find Luke 11:28.IMG_0345-1.jpeg

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

After reading the scripture aloud, she read a card I had written and placed in Luke.

There is nothing more important than the word of God. It breathes life into your soul. I am praying you thirst for it and long for its teachings. There you will find wisdom, peace, and hope.

2. Before opening each gift, she was given a scripture to look up and read aloud, and then she would read the handwritten card found at each location. The second scripture was Proverbs 16:24.

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

Our words can be used to hurt others or to build others up. May you work to use yours for healing and be quick to encourage.

The sweetest thing I could think of? Ice cream! We gave her a gift card to a local ice cream dive.

3. Next, she turned to John 8:12.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus is the light of the world and in Him there is no darkness. When you become tunnel visioned or feel as though you are stumbling in the darkness, look to Jesus and find the light and find life.

You probably guessed this gift – a candle! My oldest loves pineapples, so I happened to find an inexpensive keepsake pineapple candle for her room. IMG_0346-1

4. The next verse was Matthew 5:16.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Your smile lights up your face and is contagious. In a similar way, I am praying your light draws people to see the Father and glorify Him.

Her gift for this verse was a picture session with a local photographer. I really love this one because it is a gift for me as well (since I will display her pictures on my walls for years to come)! When the kids were little I was diligent to schedule formal picture session. As the years have passed, those sessions became few and far between. Pictures are a gift for us all!

5. Next up was James 1:5.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

One of the important virtues we can possess is a teachable heart. God has placed people in your life to impart knowledge, bring words of correction, and guide change…all important as you become a young woman. Stay teachable.

I looped her grandparents in on the next two gifts, and they picked her up a darling whiteboard for her room as a symbol for staying teachable.

6. This next verse/gift corresponds with James 1:5 and with the whiteboard, 1 John 1:9.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

You are only beginning your life into “teenagerdom” and adulthood…both likely to be peppered with mistakes. I am praying these mistakes lead you to a deeper relationship with Christ, as He has already covered them on the cross! In Christ there are no regrets, no shame, and no guilt. Let Him erase it all away.

What better reminder than an eraser for the whiteboard!

7. Next she turned to Isaiah 52:7.

How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
    who publishes salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

What good is it if we know about God, have the key to eternal life in the Gospel message, and do not give it away? Step out in faith, share boldly and beautifully the love of Jesus with the world.

My daughter has been eyeing a pair of sandals for months, so I picked her up the pair she wanted – perfect for the verse!

8. Deuteronomy 20:4 followed.

“For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.”

The love of the game and the love to win runs deep in your genes. You are after all a Teat/Burt. But, when the game is hard and you do not feel like you will come out on top, look to God to fight for you. Let Him give you the victory.

My oldest loves sports, so this gift was fitting and specific to that drive inside her. I found a scoreboard clock for her room, but this gift could be adjusted to fit any child’s specific loves. IMG_0352-1

9. Nearing the end, she turned to Romans 12:4-5.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

No matter what stage of life you are in, it takes a village of fellow believers to “grow up” in the Lord. God created us for fellowship with one another. Listen to those you are in covenant membership with and let them speak into your life.

I knew years ago raising kids was a group effort. Most teenagers tend to think they know it all, and I am sure mine will follow suit. As a teenager, I often needed to hear the same message several times from several sources before I “got it.” My husband asked our youth minister to write a note to our daughter and speak into her life. It was a really neat moment and I am thankful he was willing to pen the words for her!

10. Next, she turned to Luke 12:27-32.

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Sometimes these years ahead can bring you many worries. But these verses talk about the absurdity of thinking God is not going to protect and provide for you. He is an amazingly loving God, and He proved that in His Son. Lean into His love.

As a reminder of God’s love displayed on the cross for her, we bought a James Avery charm for her charm bracelet/necklace.IMG_0350-1

11. 1 Peter 4:8-9.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Two of God’s greatest commandments are to love Him and to love others. Pineapples are a sign of warmth, welcome, friendship, and hospitality. So much is wrapped up in our willingness to practice biblical hospitality. I am praying you continue to love people well.

I found (on clearance 🙂 ) a small pineapple with a picture holder to represent the principle of hospitality.IMG_0348-1

12. Next to last, I had her turn to 1 John 1:7.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

There are two key parts to this verse: 1) walking IN the light and 2) fellowship WITH one another. If you are tempted to use technology in such a way that draws you to the darkness or isolates you from fellowship, I pray alarms go off in your spirit. If, however, technology is used IN the light and draws you to fellowship WITH live, animate, beings, then you know you are finding pleasure in one of God’s gifts. Be TECH-WISE!

We bought her a new phone case to remind her to be tech-wise as she entered this new technological season.

13. Last, she was asked to find Hebrews 10:22-23.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

Purity and cleanliness are found in repentance and forgiveness, not in striving to “be good.” As Dad often says, “God is the bath.”

What more appropriate way to end than with a reminder we are saved by FAITH ALONE and not by our works. Her final gift was body wash to represent the constant and daily cycle of repentance and forgiveness found in Christ. What a precious gift to start over daily!!

I hope you can use some of these ideas and make them your own. While teenagers certainly are the future of the church, they are not only the future but the present church as well. Parents have no small task to raise them up in the Lord. We pray for God’s guidance and covering over all our mistakes. His will be done.

Here’s to the teens in our lives and to the moms and dads investing in the upcoming generations!

IMG_3306

Mommy/Daughter Journaling

During one of my mommy chats with one of my best friends three years ago, we were discussing how to intentionally keep the communication lines open during the tween transition period. She mentioned she and her then tween son shared a journal. She indicated the journaling between them was proving very helpful to talk through life.

 

So, I began writing to my eldest daughter, then age 7, in our Mommy/Daughter Journal. While we have not been crazy consistent in our entries, I find the journal to be a go-to for difficult seasons. Safety is found in the paper. It allows us both to express ourselves freely and honestly. We can connect when face-to-face conversations are proving difficult. The process of writing allows our thoughts to percolate and words to be chosen carefully.

 

Fast-forward three years and I now have two tween females in the house. At the age of 8 and 10, my girls already have weighty topics pressing on their hearts and minds. In the few short years I have been journaling with my daughters, I have experienced an intimacy with them I can credit to this particular line of communication. As we approach the teenage years, I hope my daughters will look back at this journal and the words will prove my love for them even when they might not feel it. Truth be told, I will also likely visit its pages from time to time to remind myself we are all on the same team.

Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts. Proverbs 3:3