An open note to Dotter and to all the girls of this year’s graduating class:
1. Never stick your wet hand in the freezer. For that matter, don’t stick any wet limbs in the freezer.
2. The easiest way to learn something is to watch others. If they make great choices, take note. If they make bad choices, take note. If they make good choices but get bad results, watch how they deal with it. If they make bad choices and get good results, watch how it all catches up with them sooner or later.
3. In all circumstances be humble. Even during those times when you know you are the only one who “gets it”.
4. When God talks to you:
- He won’t mumble, waste your time or be confusing. Although he may have you wait on his answer for his loving reasons.
- He won’t go against his own word, the Bible.
- He won’t tempt you to take the easy route.
- And he won’t let others vote on his plan for you; nor, will he broadcast his plan for you through someone else.
5. Eat real food. Eat a rainbow of colors for your health unless the rainbow comes in candy form. Stay away from the middle grocery aisles as much as possible.
6. When you have a family of your own, you don’t have to make the same mistakes you saw us make while you were growing up. You will make plenty of your own – and that is okay. Then, God will use our mistakes to remind us of how hard life is so that we can support you empathetically.
7. Pray for Mr. Right until and after you meet him. When you find Mr. Right, put him through the test to make sure he can handle it when you disagree or say no.
8. If you lose your children in the clothing department, don’t panic. They are probably just under the clothing racks.
9. It is perfectly okay, and normal even, to cry. Just don’t use tears to manipulate. Make sure the people you cry in front of are safe people and never cry during a business meeting.
10. Things you must have in your kitchen: a bench scraper, a great spatula, a KitchenAid mixer – if it has not been inherited then it should be in your favorite color and glass jars which are awesome in oh so many ways (who knew they could be so handy?).
11. Accumulated interest can work terribly against you when you have credit cards or incredibly for you when you put your money into a savings account. Save at least 15% of what you make and increase that by putting any pay raises into savings as well. Learn to live on less.
12. Learn something new everyday. Be delighted by this when you do. I learned how to cook noodles at 25, found out I didn’t know it all at 30, learned to drive safer and slower at 35 and learned how to make good gravy at 40.
13. Friendships are started and become meaningful one person at a time.
14. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know until you find out what you didn’t know that you thought you did.
15. Never put noodles in the water before it reaches the boiling point and never cook them too long.
16. You will begin to think like those you spend time with. Surround yourself with those you want to grow up to be like and help the other people who are hurting.
17. No one in any position is any better than you are. You are equal in value to them. Don’t allow them to make you think otherwise. Respect their position but never place yourself lower in value.
18. God won’t show you something new until you learn what he is showing you right now. Don’t avoid today’s lesson. It will be uncomfortable but you can do it.
19. Remember, a woman brings life into her home and her community. Your role is so very important. You can never be replaced.
20. Google does not have all the answers. Everything put into computers is generated by humans and they are, well, you know, human.
21. Bullies aren’t out to get you. They are out to fix something that is broken within themselves. Don’t let angry people get you down.
22. Take advantage of every sunshine-y day. Take walks, go on hikes, and play frisbee with people you love. Especially if you continue to live in Washington.
23. Even when you are done with school, keep reading.
24. Just when you are about to give up is probably when you will break-thru the hardest part of your journey. Learn and be patient during those times. It’s more about who we become in the process and less about where we end up.
25. Always choose like-minded roommates and always write a check or get a receipt for your rent or house payments. Don’t ask me how I know these things. I just do.
26. Always remember a salesman’s job is to sell you something. Again, don’t ask me how I know this.
27. Some people are deathly allergic to peanuts. If you make something with nut products, always place the same kind of nut it’s made with on the treat as a garnish. Never lie about a product containing nuts, caffeine, etc. It applies to many areas of life that someone’s well-being could depend on your honesty.
28. Integrity isn’t just about being honest with God and others as it begins with being honest with yourself.
29. Men have feelings too.
30. From the time you were born until you were 18 months-old, you learned trust. From eighteen months to the age of three, you learned autonomy. From the ages of three to five you learned initiative. Between the ages of six and twelve, you learned industry. From ages twelve to eighteen, you have now learned who you really are. While we have given you a good life so far, we know there will be areas that will need healing. You are not alone for there are no perfect parents and therefore, no perfect upbringing. We are here for you if you feel broken in the areas of trust, autonomy, initiative, industry and for the times you might struggle with knowing who you are (see number 9).
You are beginning the journey now until the age of thirty-five to learn intimacy in your relationships. Your kids will think you are too old to be cool when you are about thirty-five, but this is when you will learn how to better everyone’s life – not just your own – in a much deeper way. I know you will enjoy giving back and those you give of yourself to will be so lucky to have you in their lives. Finally, when you are even older you will gain integrity. You will have been real with yourself, God, and others and will have a true sense of the meaning of life. There is so much more ahead, so please drive safe.