Today, my second born daughter, Kya, turns 16.

She’s the funniest, sweetest, most beautiful 16-year-old I know!  The world is a better place because of her.  God knew what He was doing when He knit her together in her mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

She’s also scheduled to take her driver’s license test soon and, if you live in Ohio, you know you get your permit at age 15½.  So, for the last 6 months, we’ve been going on driving lessons.  I remember this from Eliana, my first-born, having that alone time with your kid is so fun and special.  There’s something about having a long period of time together that opens up a chance for having a myriad of conversations.  We’ve covered everything from boys to career interests to shortcomings she wants to improve on.

And, throughout these conversations, what I’ve learned is that being 16 in today’s world is much difficult than in my era.  With social media, our kids today have many more comparisons to make, and much more bullying to deal with.  For the most part, Kya has managed it well (with the help of her mom!).  But the pressures of the day are still present.

God has a special plan, a unique purpose for her, and I’m excited to see her journey.

On this day, her sweet sixteen, I’d offer some thoughts for my daughter (or any other 16-year-old).

  1. You are valuable.  Don’t ever measure your worth by comparing your beauty or image to a paycheck or air-brushed fashion model.  Your worth isn’t tied to being the first chair in your French horn section, or being class president, or certain title at your future employer.  Your worth is so much more.  You fill a special place in our family, your school, our community, our church, and the world would be empty if you weren’t in it.  You are valued.
  2. You are loved and lovable.  Whether or not you get asked to the prom or how many likes you have on your posts, you’re loved because you’re you.  You’re not afraid to be real and your authenticity draws people in.  Once they get there, they find out how funny and fun and likable you really are.  And, you’re also compassionate and caring with kids, and those qualities make you special.  You were made on purpose, for a purpose, for such a time as this.  Live on purpose.
  3. You are beautiful.  What you wear, how your hair or skin look that day, or whether you have the right logo on your shoes or shirt has nothing to do with your beauty.  You are beautiful because of your passion and your spirit.  These come from inside of you.  Your love for others makes you beautiful.  Never compare your outward beauty to anyone or anything.  God made you just the way you are, He makes no mistakes, and His creation is beautiful.
  4. Be the kind of friend you want to have.  The best kind of friend shows grace and mercy despite a person’s rough edges.  They look past the quirks and focus on their strengths.  They look out for you and are always there for you in the tougher times.  Be that kind of friend to others, and they’ll be that kind of friend to you.
  5. You are more than your problems.  Your problem doesn’t define you, it refines you.  You might be struggling with something, but it’s not your whole story, it’s not all of who you are.  You’re an overcomer.  You’re a child of God.  Hold onto hope, and take the next step, and do the next right thing.  Soon…eventually…you’ll be on the other side and the problem will be behind you and all will be right in the world again.  Hang in there.  It gets better.  Don’t quit.

Remember, I love you.  I’m always on your side.  As you step forward into this 16th year, your sweet sixteen, step boldly and with conviction.  There’s so much life to live!  So many that need you to fulfill your purpose on a daily basis.  Be a blessing to others today!

Happy birthday, Kya!