How I Learned to be Strong from my Teenage Daughter

This past year, my daughter’s life has taught me a lot – – especially in my weakest parts. My privilege as her mom is not easy. She is strong in ways I’ve had to learn to step into in my own life. I love and respect her deeply for this.

As I turn the spotlight to what I have learned from her life, I welcome you to open your eyes to people in your life. God may have for you some important revelations and growth opportunities right in front of you.

Pick up Good Habits and Stick with Them (everyday)

I see my daughter learn new things from others, try them in her own life and stick to the new things that work for her. This strength starts with an open mind. The mindset of openness is twofold. First, start with the character traits of humility and clarity. We don’t know everything there is know about who we want to be, what we want to pursue or how to become either in our lives. Be open. Be humble. Learn from others.

With humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 11:2

Second, know who you want to be and what you want to pursue to the best of your ability, i.e clarity. My daughter picks up habits from young women who are pursing optimal internal health and a fit, flexible body. She incorporates habits into her life that move her toward those goals. She doesn’t put regular effort into pursuing habits outside of her clear goals for her current life.

When you have clarity, flow, momentum, deep work and habits are all easy. When you lack clarity, you get mired in excessive consumption and sources of distraction.

7 Character Traits on People Who Accomplish Great Things, Srinivas Rao

Finally, look above at that the eight-letter word in parenthesis.


That word is intimidating for me. I don’t know what the day will bring. Someone may need me. Maybe I’ll be disillusioned or tired. A work problem may demand attention. That’s my personality. As an enneagram nine, I often relate more to the needs of others than to mine – – if I can even actually figure out mine! However, being faithful with the important, daily things God has called us to is the result of humility and clarity. I am inspired by my daughter to embrace Everyday even when my mind or heart wants to go elsewhere.


Lord, help us be women of great humility and great clarity so that our lives will be characterized as faithful.

When your Plate is Full, and Something Important takes Upstage, Keep Moving Forward

This may be one my greatest revelations of 2022. Please remember that I am walking a fine line of sharing what I’ve learned from my daughter without oversharing my daughter’s life. Without telling the circumstances, here is the healthy way she saw the world while under pressure.

My Daughter’s Quagmire: I have three things to do in this season. All three are loaded with enormous pressure to perform and achieve. These three things connect to my success as a high school student and college applicant. If I add the hours these three things demand on my body and mind, I will not likely sleep for close to three months. If I prioritize them equally, I may jeopardize my physical and/or mental health.

Mom’s Thoughts: Panic. All three matter equally. Stay up all night. Be afraid. Deny yourself rest. Don’t ruin your future.

Her Healthy Conclusion: The first thing will take precedence until the job is done. The second thing will move into first place until that job is done. When the third thing moves into first place, time to prepare will be limited. That’s okay. This is the season I am in and my best will be enough.

Mom’s Revelation Through Teenage Daughter:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2


Lord, help us be women who trust you with our lives. Help us to keep moving forward with a godly mindset even when we are strapped with jobs to do. Help us prioritize in a healthy manner. Father, let us not be conformed to the pressures of this world, but help us to renew our mind with your truth. Help us live in a godly, healthy way under pressure.

Even When You are on a Deadline, Take Breaks and Sleep at Night

Most of you who are reading this are likely to be in your 40s or 50s. We will likely rationalize the deadline (whether family, work or volunteer) over our own well-being. We will do this until our back is out; until we get sick; or depressed. I almost don’t want younger women to read this. I don’t want them to know that their mothers, aunts and older sisters (blood or otherwise) have done so poorly in this area of self-care. I want us to learn this lesson together:

Honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:20

I want us to teach our daughters, nieces and younger sisters to value their body because God values their body. Our frame has the responsibility to support our mental, emotional and spiritual output. If we deny it, our body will eventually no longer have the strength to support our monumental output. I have more to say on this on a post, hopefully, coming soon. For now, learn the lesson of my daughter:

Even When You are on a Deadline, Take Breaks and Sleep at Night

Take Tough Realities in Stride

As my daughter faced the three things in her life at one time, she plain out acknowledged to me that there were some hard parts. With strength, she simply told me that one of the things would probably not get a gold star. Despite her best, this year, there would most likely be a silver star. (There are no actual stars here, just making a point).

The reality was that one area was proving to be harder than in the past. Given the timing of the other two things, there was not more time or effort to give to the thing that needed more.

To me, that’s a rock and a hard place.

To her, that was fact to take in and a fact to live out with resilience and maturity.

To be gritty, in my view, is to have passion and perseverance about something in your life. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily engage in all possible pursuits with equivalent passion and perseverance. And indeed, the limits of time and energy suggest that focusing on one thing means focusing less on others. You can’t pursue becoming a great pianist and at the same time a great mathematician, and a great sprinter and chef and philosopher…But it’s also true, I think, that to be gritty means to pursue something with consistency of interest and effort. Some people choose not to pursue anything in a committed way, and that, to me, is lack of grit.

Angela Duckworth


God, help us be women of reality, resilience and maturity. Help us know the meaning of grit and empower us live it to your glory.

Focus on your Gifting and Grow it

For the last nine or so years, I have seen my daughter pursue one thing above others. She has said no to a lot of other things she loves and is good at. But she chooses to focus on this gifting and grow it. That means that her life choices point toward growth in that area of gifting, time and time again.

How she spends her time is a big factor in the growth trajectory. She gives up free spirited summers, early mornings and countless hours every week to the one thing.

Do you know what is important in your current season? Are you setting aside other things that matter to grow in that area of gifting?

On the path of growing her gifting, she has experienced obstacles and setbacks. Some of those setbacks had a ripple effect where she just had to wait for her time to come (again). In those times, I have never seen her train so hard or stay more committed. When I may have reserved some time for pity parties, dark days and guilty pleasures, she worked harder.

On the path, she’s seen others improve faster and shine when she would have liked to. My daughter doesn’t get long term discouraged by the pace or accolades of another’s growth. She shares her point of view out loud (once), releases it and returns to her personal best. How many times have I stayed stuck or stunted from growth in my gifting because I’ve measured my success against another or felt small about my personal growth?

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Luke 8:14-15


Lord, help us lean into our gifting by the choices we make and by the way we spend our God-given time. Help us work with all our heart; not for human masters, but for you. Remind us that we have an audience of one. Help us stay on the path you have set before us rather than the path you have set before others. Help us grow even when we feel slow or small.

Dear Sisters

I will end where I started.

This past year, my daughter’s life has taught me a lot. I love and respect her deeply for this. I pray that you learn from her life too. And, I welcome you to open your eyes to people in your life. God may have for you some important revelations and growth opportunities right in front of you.

Love always,


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Just Ask.

Dear sisters,

The one thing I am in these letters to you is honest.

This is my leading principle when it comes to being honest.

Offer truth and love without judgment.

I choose to let you in with the deep hope that you too will let someone safe in. That is why I press you to reply to my questions like What is your 2%? When you do, whether to me or someone else safe, darkness is broken. Freedom’s door is opened.

Earlier this week, I spent an hour with my counselor Dan. He knows me well. He knows how to help me build back from my lows. He knows my patterns of deep thinking that sometimes get me lost. He knows the truths to deliver to me so that I can be the strong, kind woman I aim to be.

Dan gave me a line from a book that my bible boyfriend James wrote.

You receive not because you ask not.

I did not know my boyfriend said that. I even had to look up that line to prove it to myself. I am hypersensitive to anything that sounds like the prosperity gospel and that’s what ask not, receive not sounds like to me. But Dan had a good point.

Present your needs to God. Be specific. Write them down. As time passes, look back. What did God say yes to? What did God say no to? This is insight. This helps you write your faith story. This helps you remember, in times of despair, that God says yes to your deepest needs.

God comes through.

This has been one of the BIG adult lessons of my forties. God comes through. I have been through some fire. So have you. The fire burned through my younger woman faith that “everything was always going to be okay” and “if I did my part (i.e. performed well), then, yes, everything was going to be okay.

Honestly, girls, everything isn’t always okay. Your kids wreck you – sometimes for years at a time. Your marriage can look more like a brick wall than a bridge, more often than not. Work exhausts you. You feel lonely. You try hard. Your health kicks your strong self down for the count. Your mind gets lost in circumstances and finds itself sad and panicked.

I am being honest with you.

You better be relating to my dirt and not differentiating yourself from it. 
This is one of my rules of friendship and authenticity.
If your gut reaction wasn’t relational, introspective and compassionate,
check yourself.

I check myself every day.

As the fire has burned though my younger woman faith, I am opening the door to new truths to live by that don’t include

  • How I see things
  • How I think the process should go
  • What the outcome should look like

The new truths include

  • I may fall but God pulls me back up EVERY TIME.
  • He gives me space, but He’d rather live in me that walk next to me.
  • The future is something I don’t have to worry about because His current presence evidences to me that He has already taken care of the future.

Here is Dan’s point. (which is also my boyfriend James’ point.)

Present your needs to God. Be specific. Write them down. As time passes, look back. What did God say yes to? What did God say no to? This is insight. This helps you write your faith story. This helps you remember, in times of despair, that God says yes to your deepest needs.

God comes through.

Sisters, God comes through. It may not be in the way you envisioned. It may not reflect the process you wanted or how you thought the glory story should go down.

So often, the process is harder and longer than you thought you could bear. The time waiting for the light to come through the darkness can feel endless and exhausting. For some of us, the time lapse between hardship and break though may bring us to hover over hopelessness.

Even in all of this, we learn that it is His unchanging character to ALWAYS BRING US THROUGH.


I have nothing more to add to that. It’s just true.




Today. Before you go to bed. Write three, specific needs to God with the parameters below. Share them in the comments to this post. We’ll encourage, pray for one another and watch God come through.

Be specific and measurable.

Please don’t say Help me be a more loving spouse or friend or Help me get a raise or bonus at work or Help me get out of depression.

Please say

Help me be a more loving spouse or friend by ________________ (name a few measurable things).

Help me get a bonus at work in the amount of __________________ so that our family or I am able to _________________.

Help me get out of depression by having the courage to share with _______________ so that I can feel that I am not alone. Help me reach out to this person by _________________.

Now that you’ve asked. Talk to God. See the doors He may open as the days, weeks and months pass. We’ll all be praying for one another.

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