Letter to my children

To my dearest Joey and Josie,

My life was not complete until you arrived.

Every day, I feel blessed beyond measure. I cherish every moment, every snuggle, every giggle, every conversation. Being your mother is the most rewarding, yet most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And while I still have a lot left to learn, here’s what I’ve discovered so far, life lessons I want to share with you.

Josie, 2, and Joey, 5.

Put God first. Pray. Smile. Forgive. Dance. Listen. Laugh. Hug. Be kind to every person in your path. Don’t judge, it’s not your job. Read your Bible daily. Volunteer. Do what is right, not what’s easy. Live to serve others. Do not be selfish. Be honest. Lying is for cowards. Always help a person in need, no questions asked, no thanks required. Hold the door open for the person behind you. Have a firm hand shake. Be confident, but not arrogant. Find a job you love and work hard at it. But always put your family first. Go the extra mile, you’ll be amazed what you’ll find when you get there.

Huge storms in life will hit, they will be so strong, they will knock you off your feet, but hold on, my sweet children. Stay strong and keep praying. Remember that God loves you and I do, too. He will get you through it, no matter how bad it is. And you will come out the other side stronger and wiser, more caring and compassionate. It’s not easy. In fact, it can be downright unbearable. But these are the moments that will make you a better person.

The only way to be a good parent is to ask God for help, daily. Be kind and caring with your children and give them unconditional love. Discipline, but never destroy who they are.

Make a difference in the world, every day. Think each day of one small act of kindness you can do for another. It may seem small, but it can have a huge impact. Get outside. Exercise. Manage stress. Get sleep. A good night of sleep makes everything better. Don’t smoke. Drink wine, but don’t overindulge. Have a pet. Be kind to animals. Play music, a lot — it’s good for the soul. Read. Write. Sing, even if you’re not good at it. Be in the moment. Live in the moment. That’s when you are truly living.

Marry a nice person. Life is too short to share it with someone who treats you badly. Life is not perfect, and that’s OK. You are not perfect, and that’s OK, too. God made you exactly the way you are, and He thinks you are perfect, exactly the way you are.

Every day is a beautiful gift, no matter what the weather forecast says or how much money you have in your bank account. Stand up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost. Have fun. Eat chocolate. Don’t grow up too much. Blow bubbles. Play in the snow. Build sand castles. Ride horse. Stay connected with nature. Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” it’s the best movie ever made. Be kind and respectful to your grandparents. Don’t talk too much, instead, be a good listener. Don’t interrupt. Love with all of your heart, you will never regret it.

I hope to live to be 100 and to be here for you every step of the way, from graduations to weddings and grandchildren. Being your mother is the single greatest honor of my life. But if anything happens to me along the way, please know that I had a very good life, and I’m thankful that I got to share it with you. Remember, this life on earth is not the ending — it’s only the beginning.

And if you forget everything else I’ve taught you, just remember one thing: put God first. That is the most important lesson of all.

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