Dear Emma

Dear Emma,    

I've spent the last week helping over 1000 students in their transition to university, and I've lost my voice and a lot of energy welcoming them to their new home. But none of those transitions seem nearly as important as you leaving home. You - my strong, independent, beautiful sister - are starting a whole new life adventure, and I'm so excited to see where God is leading you on this wild journey.

You're off to a new school, and it's not too far away from home, but the experiences will be new and fresh - you're living on your own for the first time, and you're experiencing a whole new style of teaching and learning. And I'm so excited for you and proud of you choosing to make this next step, because it's going to be an amazing step in your life. 

I've been at this university thing for three years now, and our experiences will be very different because we are very different, but I thought I would share five things I wish someone would have told me in my first year. 

I. Be Brave: You are going to be scared of new things. There'll be some really uncomfortable moments - moments that will stretch you out of your comfort zone & what you've always known. Being brave always looks different, but being brave is a choice. I spent a lot of my first year being scared, and I missed out on a lot of things. You are so fearless and fierce - but be brave, even when that looks hard. (& if it's hard, call me up - you will always have people behind you to back up your brave choices.)163091_10150372795950651_4750903_n

II. Be Vulnerable: You always like to pretend everything is a-ok, and it's admirable, but it's okay to be vulnerable and admit you're not okay. You can't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and update: you don't have to. Ask for help when there's too much happening. Admit that you're having a sad day and you need some chocolate. Tell someone what's happening in your lovely head. You don't need to be a hero, and you're not burdening anyone when you tell them the truth. When you're vulnerable, you let people come in & help you, and I know this is hard to hear, but sometimes? You just need people. I know this piece of advice is hard, but sometimes you have to open your heart for great things to happen.

156008_10150372796105651_7818969_n

 III. Work Hard: First year comes with a lot of distractions - everything & everyone isscreaming for your attention and time. But when you work hard and focus, you achieve greatness. You'll have Netflix later on in life, you'll be able to grab Starbs another time - but for now, work hard. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to do your best. Don't settle for less than your best - you are a hard worker, who is smart, and you are going to do great things.

154303_10150372796255651_1727986_n

IV. Love Deeply: Take mental snapshots when your heart feels as though it's about to overflow with love and joy. Cherish all the little moments. And I know this won't be hard for you, because you love everything deeply with your big heart. But sometimes, you'll be working really hard and you'll forget to love what you're doing. I think it's really important to love deeply, especially when you don't feel like it. Plus, people around you need your love to help them be brave and vulnerable; they need your loving encouragement to help them work hard. Your love can change people, Eemz - it's that powerful.

And when it's hard to love deeply, when you forget why you fell in love with what you're doing in the first place, dowhat Mom always tells me: breathe. Make some tea. Play some worship songs. Ask God to remind you. And maybe He's saying, "Be brave - you don't love this anymore, it's time to make a change." And maybe He's saying, "It's hard now but things will be better." Be still and listen, Em.

 529584_484520714937215_522308559_n

V. Seek Christ: I know this seems easy because you're continuing in your Christian education, but it'll be hard. There'll be distractions. There'll be questions of His goodness, there'll be moments of unbelief. Be still and know, and ask for help in your unbelief. Even if you have to squint, search for Christ. He's not a set of rules - He's relational, so go seek Him wholeheartedly. 

417443_10152038339490651_823006431_n

I love you immensely, kid sister. I'm so proud of who you are growing up to be - you are so kind and loving, you are the queen of sass, you make me laugh harder than most people, you are thoughtful and generous, you are talented, and I'm so proud that I get to be related to you. There is an incredible plan for your life, and I'm lucky to watch you in this journey, lil sis. 

Much love, my beautiful girl.