Hope and Disappointment (An Ellie Lesson)

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My daughter is a hopeful person.

She wakes up every single day at around the same time excited for whatever the day will bring. There is never a sad, “Oh man, what will I do?” moment with her. Each morning, she awakes not remembering the day before but anticipating the joy that is to come.

Ellie’s hope is SO big that when she gets bad news, she falls hard. The other day we noticed that her eyes ACTUALLY well up before a single tear falls. Just like in the movies. Ellie will stare off into the vast distance and those green eyes just go. (Side note: that will get me every time…).If Ellie finds out that she can’t go to a friend’s house or that a trip is postponed, her life is OVER.

Until the next day when she awakens to new hope. New chance. New possibilities.

Today, she was hoping that her friend could come over for a playdate. Wifey and I weren’t sure it could happen and wisely said, “we’ll see…we don’t know…” because we’ve been bad at telling her we’d be doing things only to take it back because of broken plans (funny how adults shape disapointment in their kids through the little things. A little, “I know I said we would BUT…” goes a long way.)

So we didn’t place any hope in the situation. But Ellie did. For over an hour, Ellie sat on the couch with her play backpack on…waiting in anticipation for the arrival of her friend. And when her friend came, she responded with a defiant laugh and jump of “I knew it!” At that moment, hope won the day. And it was awesome.

Now I know she’s 3 and that one day she’ll be older and possibly miserable as only a teenager can be. But for today? I love that she’s filled with hope. Hope that we’ll always go to McDonald’s. Hope that her favourite sitter will come over and take her out to buy a fish. Hope that Sid The Science Kid will come on TV JUST when she says so. Hope that the sun will come out so she can play outside (or snow for winter). Hope that everyone will like her and be her friend.

I pray she always “keeps” her playdate backpack on as she gets older. I pray that as she puts “…childish things…” away that she never loses the hope found in believing “…like a little child…“*

And God help the person who ever ruins that.

Meaning? God help me.

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*Scriptures found in 1 Corinthians 13:11 (KJV) & Luke 18:17 (NIV)

Parent Blog: Don’t You Forget About Me…

“Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did WAS wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is … a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal…Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”

This quote from one of the greatest movies of the 20th Century which then cues up one of the most recognized songs of the 80s, titled “Don’t You (Forget About Me). The scene, where the song is introduced, is punctuated by one character (seen above) pumping his fist in the air in a classic freeze frame shot (man wouldn’t that be awesome to do, eh?!). Truly unforgetable.

This scene, along with the song has been on my mind as of late because of my daughter. While she can’t write legibly yet, she left me a letter of sorts the other day. I was preparing to go to work after playing with her in the AM when she ran to me and give me two pieces of her puzzle and said “Daddy, don’t forget about me, okay? This is so you don’t forget!”

A purple star and green circle.

She’s 3.

As I drove to my Siri-led destination, my brain moved overtime:

  • Am I too distracted with her when I am with her to give off the impression that I’m not really with her?
  • Am I not home enough?
  • Why would she say that? Who does she think she is?

You see, with adults and ESPECIALLY with spouses, we graduate from talking directly to passive agressive conversations when we’re upset. Example:

Person 1: Hey, I’m leaving now…

Spouse: Okay…well have fun. I’ll be here. (subtext: You get to be out and I’m with the kids all day…with no car.)*

Person 1: I could stay a bit later. Do you want me to stay? (Subtext: I’m sure I did SOMETHING…can’t figure it…)

Spouse: No. It’s fine. (subtext: I shouldn’t TELL you to stay. You should just stay, dummy!)

But kids, just come out and say it: “I want you to stay with me and play and laugh and make a mess and have snacks and (big breath……) tickle me and play hide and seek and giggle and watch the Lorax right now, okay?”

And so, as a father aiming to be a better one, I HAVE TO reevaluate how I do my time spending. I have to let her words sink into my soul and reform my way of being, because if she said it, she feels it. And if she feels it, I have to work on fixing it. Here’s what I think so far:

Parent Real Talk: Feeling Sucky

If you’re a parent, you’ll understand this feeling: inadequacy.

This isn’t what we’d project on Facebook with our fun family pics or on Twitter with our happy 140 character notes, but more often than not, behind the front door of our homes, we sometimes feel this way. Especially when it comes to how we raise our kids.

The other night, Ellie was taken by SOMETHING. She was kicking her brother, crumpling her face while crossing her arms, cry screaming (which is a mixture of both crying and screaming) and just not listening to us at all. The night ended up with her in bed crying at 7:00 with no snack, me standing outside her room angry that I yelled at her (there is a difference between being stern for her sake and simply yelling because I lost my cool) and Liam picking his nose.

That night I felt like…I wasn’t a good dad. I know I am but there are days where I just feel…inadequate.

Question for Parents: Ever known that feeling? What seems to trigger that for you?

It’s worse when you’re out somewhere and you kids seems to…dare I say “embarrass” you. You know those times when they are the only kid who throws themselves into a foam-at-the-mouth, roll-in-the-dew (#seewhatIdidthere, Cobourg Camp peeps?), punch-kick-claw-yell-cry state while other parents look on with that face? You know the face…that smug look that says, “If that was my kid that would NEVER happen!” And it is so embarrassing, isn’t it? I know it is for me.

The real talk truth is that every kid has moments like that, whether we want people around us to know it or not. If a kid doesn’t:

– Sleep long enough or sleep too little
– Eat enough or sleep too little
– Play enough or play too little
– Feel the sun or to the moon
– Find out there is no Santa or some fictional character
– Suffer from first world problems like “Sorry no McDonald’s, kiddo” or “No Ellie, we’re not getting Starbucks banana bread (told you…first world yuppie problems)”

…They will freak out. And the younger they are, the harder it is to explain to them why they can’t have what they want and why they shouldn’t respond they way they do. So there are only a few things I can do.

1. Pray a lot. Becca and I picked up a cool booklet by Mark Batterson called “Praying Circles Around Your Children“, based on his book “The Circle Maker.” Without giving away too much of the book, the main gist is to help give parents direction on HOW to pray for their kids on a regular basis. The other night, I made a list of things I will speak over my children. For Ellie, kindness and honesty (among other things). For Liam, humility and love.

2. Apologize. I lose my cool sometimes. If you’re a parent, you know what that’s like. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to say sorry to a three-year-old who would rather play than listen at the time but if I live a life of apology, maybe when they are older, they’ll learn that being wrong and admitting it is okay.

3. Say “I love you” a lot. Today Ellie asked me, “Daddy, do you still love me when I do bad acts?” I told her that I could never NOT love her no matter what she did. Out of that, on her own, my three-year-old said, “Daddy, I’m sorry for hitting and yelling…”. She apologized for something she did the last week. Love brought out honesty from her, not my yelling.

4. Still discipline. Sometimes my kids are going to need to be disciplined and as a good dad I have to do that. But I have to talk afterwards.

5. Not compare myself to other parents. Hey other parents: I know you have sucky days when you get mad at someone else because you had a bad day at work or something. Because I know that, that face don’t mean nuthin! People without kids, know this: Your kid will mess up. Your kid will do dumb things. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It just means you’re like every other parent, whether they say so or not:)

6. Remember that kids remember. Today I saw a tweet from Mark Driscoll that made me pause (Thanks Taigan Bombay for retweeting him). It said, “Men, we need to be the kind of men we want our sons to become and our daughters to marry…because they will.” I think that goes for all parents. Our kids will be like us no matter what, so let’s all aim to be the best we can be.

…Tonight when I got home, Becca and I had to have a long talk with Ellie about her recent behavior. It was crazy to see Ellie embarrassed and saddened by her actions. She even tried to hide, reminiscent to two people who tried to hide from their own discipline so many years ago. Yet when all was done, we had a dance party.

Thankfully when things are done right, the ending is always sweet and filled with awkward attempts at dance moves meant for teenagers and NOT 30 year olds.

Parents: Please pass this along to other parents to hear their thoughts! How have you dealt with your own feelings of inadequacy?

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

Little Miss Independent (Letter to Ellie)

Last Friday I took Ellie to the park for our Daddy Daughter date. It was something in the works for some time and it was worth the walk there and back. I wish there was a way to capture on paper the joyous sound she made as the stroller rolled closer and closer to our destination. It was infectious. I laughed with delight as she ran up and down the jungle gym but paused with horror as she approached the slide. It was a BIG KID slide, with a twist and everything! instinctively, I ran up the gym to join her for what could only be seen as an adorable gesture of love and protection to all around. Not so to Ellie.

She, with command in her voice like a linebacker calling a blitz, said aloud, “No DADDY, I do it, kay?!”

And with that she went down the slide, leaving me the go down after her turn was over, looking more this time like a creep than adorable father.

Now Ellie has been using that line a lot lately for just about everything but at that moment, I realized in a small way that I was losing my little girl. Over-dramatic you might say…crazy even! I say, I don’t care! I remember when she was completely dependent on Becca and I (mostly Becca for obvious gender reasons) for everything. I mean, she couldn’t burp without someone to tap her back. I remember how fun it was to teach her how to walk and how through Pickering Town Center, she’d hold my hand for balance, while I’d hold her hand for comfort. I remember how she’d cuddle with us on the couch and give kisses and hugs.

Now it’s like living with a teenager! She won’t be caught dead holding me hand in the house, let alone in public. Cuddling has been replaced with a calls for Elmo & Dora. Kisses are given at her pace, not our own. And now she can do things on her own, like pick her clothes, walk down the stairs, use a grown up fork, climb up chairs and into her car seat…the list may not be big to you (or you may have a kid who is more advanced…prolly not but still…lol) but to me it’s huge. Here’s why…

…soon she’ll be able to read on her own, potty on her own, ride on two wheels, go to school on the bus, go to sleepovers, go to the movies, apply for college, go on a date (…oh God help me…and then HIM…), make decisions…everything. Of course she’ll still need me but my role will change from teacher to chauffeur to bank, to the “No-You-Can’t-Guy“, to the scapegoat, to the last resort advice to whatever she needs.

There are some days when I love the fact that makes progress, like today when we got her day care report card and we saw that she is doing great in every area. I love that she can talk so much (thanks to her sisters Jenna, Leah and Allie), dance, sing, pray and more. I love that now she knows how to play hide and seek, can count and become her own self. But at the same time, I miss being able to pick her up and simply carry her. I miss having to guess what she wanted and stuff. And this will be the rest of my life: being proud of the woman she’s becoming while missing the kid she was.

Dear Ellie,

One day you’ll look at this letter and not believe me when I say that you used to cuddle with me all the time. You’ll think the pics were created on Photoshop or whatever we have at this point. But nope. At one point in your life, you were my little girl. You’d reach up to be picked up not out of laziness but simply out of need and I was happy to give it to you. You’d sit in the back of the car and listen to music with me and not roll your eyes at my dance move but instead, you’d dance like me. You’d hold my hand and tell me you loved me in front of your friends. We’d have sleepovers when you were sick and freezes on the steps together. You’d sing Elmo’s World, Justin Bieber (remember the guy who was working at the Gap that one time? Yup, he used to be HUGE!) and Dora all day. You weren’t always so independent…but you’ve grown up to be strong, capable, smart, beautiful (I mean you DO look like your mom, kiddo), talented and accomplished. 

I watched everything and was proud all the time as I am now. I watched as those innocent green eyes took in the world and became mature and wise. I watched as you dealt with heartbreak, questions of faith and issues of morality and came out on the other side with everything intact. I am so proud of you, Eliana. And I’m thankful that from time to time, you still needed my help. And as it was when you were learning to walk, I’ll hold your hand through anything until you tell me as you did at two years old…

…No daddy. I do it, kay?

Love you, kiddo.

Dealing With Boys (Letter to Ellie)

Boys Suck!!

Something that will bug me forever, Eliana, is that you will one day like boys. Even worse: boys will like you. A lot. You’re funny, pretty, smart, creative, confident (just today when mom asked you if you’re silly, you said, “No, I’m beautiful!”)…the list goes on. And while I will already hate the boy who marries you (kinda), I feel that it is my responsibility to give you the inside track on the majority of guys (there are some exceptions, but in many areas, we’re all the same) and what you need to watch out for.

Now I don’t worry about you ever having to stand up for yourself (the other day at day care, I saw you push a boy over when he tried to give you a hug. The fact that it was during bible story time, is besides the point.). But as you get older, a boy will take your attention and possibly break your heart. And it’ll suck. So before that happens, here are some things about boys you need to know.

1 – Boys Suck

Just right off the bat, they do. All of them.

2 – Boys are smelly

They all sweat a lot, some smell a lot worse than others but the all smell. Really bad.

3 – Boys live in a land of passive aggressiveness

You think you know what they are thinking or how they are feeling. You ask them for their opinion and they hem and haw at you. They get mad but mumble under their breath. They ignore you because they don’t know how to express themselves but desperately want your attention. Is he mad at you? At life? Just quiet? Is he a vampire? Rarely will you know how they feel and when you do, you’re sorry you found out. They know what, or who they want…it just takes them a while to know how to ask for it. (See Edward from Twilight…or so I’m told…).

4 – A lot of boys have dad issues

Boys will try to be just like or completely unlike their dad. A lot of what they are trying to find on the path to manhood has to do with figuring out how their dad feels about them (because THEIR dad never knew how their OWN dad felt about them…you see, men only do as they’ve experienced…). (When you’re old enough, see Good Will Hunting).

5 – A lot of boys are scared

They will never say it because men are to be heroes, leaders, soldiers and athletes (when’s the last time you saw a guys accountant or psychologist action figure?), but underneath it all, they fear. They fear failing, commitment, getting over their issues, never making it, being broke, doing life wrong, living in regret, growing up, zombies…you name it. When you meet “him” ask him what he’s scared of. If he says nothing, he’s a liar. If he says, “I don’t fear because_________”, he’s a liar. Now if he says, I fear this, but I bring that to God everyday, you’ve met someone who hopefully has a good sense of self-awareness. They’ll know that they can’t get over their stuff on their own. I should say, however, that because I am a cynic and because you are my daughter, I MIGHT not fully believe him so he and I might have our own coffee date to hash that out:). (When old enough see the movie Antoine Fisher)

6 – Boys suck at giving and reading signals

He won’t know if you like him and he’ll think you want him. Use words, not eye and ESPECIALLY NOT YOUR FACE!!!!! (Example: Every man who has ever lived. Period.).

7 – Boys want to be better

Even the really rough ones, when they are away from their crew, don’t want to be bad. Many of them want a better life for themselves and for ones they may bring into the world. Some are rotten apples who have been dealt a bad hand (whether they were spoiled or left alone). And if you confront them (and wade through the passive aggressiveness) and ask them about it, they’ll tell you. However, once they are back with their crew, it’ll be like it never happened (see The Simpsons episode where Nelson dates Lisa for an example).

8 – Boys often don’t know how to be the “starter“.

You won’t be sure if something should be happening or IS happening and he won’t say anything (see nos. 3, 5 &6). And so you’ll become the man to ask him what’s going on. That should never, ever be. If you have to go to him for that, you’ll have to do that for the rest of your life. And it’ll annoy the heck out of you. Think on that one.

9 – Boys will break your heart (knowingly and unknowingly)

At least some will do it knowingly. I will hunt them for sport. The guys who do it unknowingly…they are the worst. They led you on, didn’t know how to get out of it and they broke it off in an ugly manner. Urgh…boys really suck (Example: Scott Pilgrim Versus The World).

10 – Boys are territorial

They may not want to be with you but at the same time, they won’t want anyone else to be with you either. It’s really weird…and when you’re taken, they won’t know what to with themselves…watch out for guys who are naturally selfish. If they are selfish with stuff, they’ll also be so with you.

Bonus: Beware of the guy best friend. You may end up marrying him OR running after him like in “My Best Friend’s Wedding…”

Bonus 2: Boys suck. It’s true, kid. They do.

Bonus 3: Even the Christian ones can be sucky. That’s a whole other letter, kiddo.

There are so many more things I could say. And I’m no psychologist here. I just know a lot of guys, kiddo. And I was a boy too (and still am sometimes.). My prayer is that as you do life the right way, you’ll meet the right kid of guy who will take care of you and love you sacrificially and unconditionally. And something I have to remind myself of is that you will (i don’t know if it’s consciously or unconsciously) look for a guy who is either a lot like or the complete opposite of me. And so if I do life right (love my life, love your mom, you and your soon-to-be brother or sister), your standards will be set and you’ll be okay. And if I don’t, I’ll meet him and say (to myself, of course…maybe to your mom…), “You’re MY fault.”

And it will be.

I love you kiddo. And when a boy breaks your heart, we’ll sit on the couch, eat ice cream and plot our revenge.

I already have their graves dug out 🙂

P.S. This is not ALL guys, I know. Dudes, I got love for you. I just gotta give my kid the 411 on the bad ones! If you have a daughter, you know EXACTLY what I mean. None of you want a dummy son-in-law right?

Vacuums, Santa, Clowns & Dread: These are a few of the scariest things (Letter To Ellie).

I think that once a child discovers fear, the slow burn to adulthood begins.

Once fear shows up, it is like “innocence” begins to pack up room after room until it is forced to move out.

Most kids first meet fear around a new person, or in moment of separation from their mom.

Not you, Ellie. You’re way too strong and independent to cry when you’re not near mom or dad.

Instead, you first met fear by way of a singing toy penguin. You cried, kicked and kicked and KICKED until it was far from you. I think it was the sound it produced that got you. You are petrified by loud noises. You can’t walk by the bathroom when mom is blow drying your hair and god-forbid we put the vacuum on in your royal presence! You hate that thing even though it keeps us clean. And unlike other kids, you hate Santa. Oh you love him from a far but once you’re two kids from him, the abyss of disturbance rocks you to the core. Like a hurricane…(too sooooooon?)

I hate that you know what fear is. I wish I could erase it from your mind. I wish you didn’t have to live in a world with fear. That being said, if you didn’t have fear at ALL, here’s what you’d be doing:

– Running in the middle of a busy road without looking both ways.
– Walking up to someone bigger (or smaller) than you and smacking them in the face.
– Putting your hand on the stove.
– Running away from home at age 15.
– Breaking the law without fear of consequence

Stuff like that.

So in that regard, fear is a good thing (maybe it’s fear that turns into wisdom…) but here’s what I don’t want you to be afraid of:

– Making friends as you go through the awkward preteen phase.
– Trying new things like a sport or instrument or simply dreaming big.
– Love. It’s work, it brings out the best in you while killing the worst. But it’s so worth it.
– God’s voice. As of now, I wouldn’t want you to do what I do. That being said, if God calls you, listen to him as the PRIMARY VOICE. I’m 2nd…maybe even 3rd.
– Being yourself. I never want you to be afraid of becoming you. Don’t try to be like the status quo. Start a new one.
– The Vacuum. Seriously, Eliana, it’s cleaning. I know it’s loud but it is helpful.

Kidlet, fear is always going to be around. It’ll get your adrenaline up, give you quicker problem solving skills and hopefully make you wiser. But don’t be a slave to fear. If you are, you’ll miss that job, that friendship, that love, that call. God is bigger than your fears. He’ll walk with you through your fears and help you get past them.

There’s a story in the Bible that you’ll probably hear forty times by the time you’re 10 but it fits well here. A bunch of guys are on a boat when they see Jesus (the same Jesus who lives in your heart) walking on the water. (P.S. Jesus is a G! You’ll hear me say that a lot…). One of them, Peter, asks Jesus to invite him to walk on the water too. Jesus does. And so the guy GETS OUT AND BEGINS TO WALK ON THE WATER.

No tricks. No graphics. Just walking.

After a few steps, he realizes what he’s doing, gets scared and starts to sink. But Jesus is right there to take his hand.

And when you feel like you’re sinking in fear, he’ll do the same for you. He promises.

Love you, kiddo.

Da-ddy

P.S. And I still deal with fear too. I fear clowns. And zombies. And the event decline of Kobe Bryant.

Letter to Ellie – Dealing with Friendship

Hey Ellie,

At some point in your life, someone will call you a bad friend.

It’s happened to me a couple of times. And it sucks.

When it happens, you won’t be ready for it. You’ll think everything is fine. You may be in the midst of a laugh together. You might be at their house for a sleepover and then the mood will shift. Then the talk will happen. You;ll find out that your friend has felt that you’ve ‘dissed/pulled away/not cared about them. And you’ll be crushed. And it’ll never be the same after that…it’ll change and you may get along but that sting will never leave.

 So as your dad, I want to give you some friendship thoughts to help you navigate through this messy maze.

1 – Friendships require work.

The things that you love will always take a lot out of you and friendship is no different. As you get older, things like making plans, phone calls, emails…what seems easy. But to keep one moving, it takes work. And at times, it can be taxing, especially if you need times by yourself to recharge. Then there are different forms of friendships that do different things to you. There are some that by the end of your time, you feel drained. Then there are others, where you (knowingly or unknowingly) will drain them. And then there are others where you feel completely refreshed and can’t wait do it again. But to get there takes work.

2 – Some friendships have unvoiced expectations

If someone says to you, you’ve been a bad friend, in most cases, you simply didn’t meet their expectation of what they either though friendship is OR what they thought YOU’d be as a friend. And because you’re friendly, a lot more will be put on you. And if you have that attitude towards someone else, they didn’t meet YOUR expectation. Now I’m not saying when you meet people to give them a form with all that you can provide as a friend and what you can expect. That would be weird. But in your heart and mind, know who you are and what you can do, what you need and what you bring to the table. Then when a friendship ends its course, you’ll be able to look back on expectations. The flipside to this is that, if you have expectations on them, it’s not a friendship, it’s a service that someone is providing for you.

Remember expectations, Kid. If you don’t, then you’ll get mad when people don’t live up to yours (when you’re the taker) and you’ll be thrown off when you’re in the blame (when you’re the giver). If you know what’s expected of you (emails, phone calls, hang outs everyday, etc.) then you’ll know whether you can live up to it or not. And you’d think that this is only for high school people. But there are 40 year olds who fall for this too (I tend to think that people never graduate from HS in their brains when it comes to friendships and relationships…you’ll hear me say that a lot as you get older.

3 – There are different TYPES of connecting relationships

Now this is simply MY opinion here, kiddo but This will help you soooo much. First, there are relationships where you are the giver. By this I mean, someone is expecting you to lead the relationship. Second, there are relationships where you are the taker. This is where you’re in need of someone helping or leading you. And at the get go, things will go well. Then over time, communication will fall and it might end. This is tricky because in both of these ‘types’, it’ll end and you’ll be confused. If you’re the giver, you’ll ‘get tired’ and because you’re like me, you’ll just space out of it. The person will be very mad with you. And you’ll be crushed. And when you’re the taker, it’ll end and you’ll be mad and hurt.

Then the last type is the best type. I call it “friendship“. It’s messy, it’s hard but it’s where both people give and take. Conversations are always about making one another better. You look out for how the other person is doing before how they are helping you and in return they do the same for you. It become effortless. Those types of friendships are the ones where you might not see someone for years but when you do, it’s like yesterday. It’s awesome. Those ones are worth investing in. Those ones are worth preserving and having messy convos. As you grow up, those friendships will help you and carry you through some tough times.

4 – Your number of friends will shrink as you get older.

When you’re a kid, everyone is your best friend. Then in high school, you’ll have your ‘girls’ and that one guy friend. I will hate him, by the way. Then you’ll get older and you’ll have 2 or 3 sisters. That’s okay. It’s okay to have a close circle. A teacher once told me that Jesus had 3 besties, 12 homies, a bunch of close associates, a 72 crew and then a lot of people he knew.  Be careful with the crowned title of best friend. That title is earned. And there’s nothing worst than thinking someone is your best friend and they don’t feel the same way. (You’ll feel that about boys too but that’s a blog I’m not ready to write yet. Boys are dumb. And smelly.)

5 – Good friends try to give the benefit of the doubt.

If you’re in a friendship and the relationship runs its course, don’t waste time thinking about how they hurt you. Instead, think more about how the relationship has changed you and made you a better person. Every relationship you’re in (close to acquaintance) can be a blessing, if you have the right perspective. If you don’t, you’ll always be the victim. If someone isn’t able to connect with you for a time, check up on them rather than expecting them to check in on you. This helps with the focusing on others more than wanting it for you. You never know, they may be going through something. OR, maybe the friendship is ending and they don’t know how to say it. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Think kindly and speak highly of them when asked. And if  they get mad with you, give them the benefit…speak highly of them. If someone is your friend, don’t judge them. Talk to them. Ask questions when it’s right. Be silent when it’s right. Grow together.

6 – Friendships require wise honesty

Trust is a careful commodity. And some people can’t carry it. They are good people but they can’t keep secrets. If someone talks a lot, be wise. If they speak bad about others in front of you, chances are they do the same about you when you aren’t there. Just who they are, kiddo. Be smart with who you tell what to and how much you tell when you tell. Be smart, kiddo. And if you know that you haven’t been a good friend, be honest and ask for forgiveness.

7 – Lastly, don’t look for in PEOPLE what only JESUS can provide.

People will let you down. And you will let people down. Expectations suck. But never live off of the words of others. Live off of God’s promises and encouragement and balance everything else on what his spirit is telling you. If you’re being crummy, He’ll tell you before someone else needs to. People will unintentionally judge (though most times, it’s with full-on intention), categorize and say things that hurt you without even knowing it. People will expect much from you and you’re only one person. When they are nice, focus on Jesus and stay wise and humble. When they aren’t so nice, remember WHO He’s told you YOU are. I hope you learn to hear him from watching Mom and me…He loves you more than I ever can. And I love you a lot! He will always be honest with you, kiddo. Always. And His word let’s you know what his motives are. There’s no shady, selfish needs in him. He’s not like people. Which is cool!

Ellie, if you love and serve your friends with all you got (using wisdom as you do it…you don’t want to be a doormat either), the right type of friends will come your way. And they’ll return the love.

And on the days where you come home from school sad because you’ve been ditched or called a bad friend, I’ll be here. We’ll eat ice cream, watch your favorite movie and get through it together.