Sweet 16

We knew the day would come when Kyli would find someone she was interested in dating. And we also knew that when this happened, we wouldn’t be ready or know what to do.

The deal was, Kyli would not be able to date until she turned 16. She’s 16, and here we are. Kyli jumped in with two feet while Kevin and I are anxiously standing on the shoreline wondering how we go back the other way.

To be completely fair, Kyli came through her first year of high school with ease. No drama, good grades and socially active in several clubs and sports. She transitioned well into high school and we’re proud of her.

The young man she likes is a nice guy, and actually is someone that Kevin and I agree is a nice first boyfriend, or as we call him “friend.” We’ll call him MK. He’s a year older than her, is very committed to basketball, his family, his grades and is quite fond of Kyli.

Now that we’re here, I can’t help but think about some of the things my mother said to me when I first started dating. My mother was cautious, sometimes overbearing, but she helped me to understand the rules of dating. Now it’s my turn to pass on to Kyli what I know to be true.

My Dearest Kyli,

As a young lady, you never want to give everything away. Or as my mother told me point blank, DON’T BE SO AVAILABLE. It’s so easy to want to be with MK all the time. Yeah, he’s a good kid, a nice guy and comes from a nice family. BUT, let him chase you.

Let him know that you’re special and have your own identity. What I’ve learned from my dating years is that guys like the chase and they admire young ladies who have their own goals, and activities. He should understand that you have a life beyond him and you love yourself enough not to give it away.

Have fun, be silly, seriousness will come later in life. NO DRAMA. Ok yeah, obviously all relationships have some drama, some issue that will come into play. For example, at some point he may not call as often, or he’ll notice that you don’t laugh as loud at his jokes. Your relationship like all teen relationships will go through a series of stages including, boredom, break up, break down, get back together, jealousy, etc. etc. etc.  Geesh!

Here’s the deal my dear, keep it light. A healthy perspective on your first relationship will keep things all good.

BE CREATIVE. Leave the house, get out of the family room and stop scrolling through Snapchat! Go roller skating, jumping at  sky zone, see a play, to the museum. There’s so much to do. These are the best and last years of your life to take advantage of spending your parents money to have a good time with friends. Go for it!

Lastly, WAIT FOR SEX. Sigh… Sigh again. This is uncomfortable to talk about but we need to address it.

I’ll start by affirming what you said to me Kyli. Without any prompting from me or your dad, you’ve committed to wait until marriage. The pact you made with your best friends is amazing and one that I encourage you to stand by.

But I’d be foolish not to keep it real with you.

Know this my dear, 1) you are loved and are special 2) sex is not new, not bad or even taboo, it just is, 3) don’t feel pressured and don’t pressure anyone into doing something you’re not ready for, lastly 4) sex is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, it comes with a whole host of consequences and considerations that I hope you’ll feel open enough to talk about with me or your family who has your best interest.

As we traverse new terrain we pray that you will always make the best choices, and when you don’t, always know that we love you.

…so it goes.


Life Lessons From Solving Puzzles

When life gets complicated, take a step back, look at the whole picture and count your blessings.

Every Christmas break the kids and I buy a jigsaw puzzle to work on together. Most often it is a colorful scene with a lot of tiny detail. This year the image was a picturesque waterfront lined with colorful restaurants, boutique hotels and handsome looking ships.

We worked into the wee hours of the morning to match up colors and shapes to complete our holiday masterpiece. Over three days, we put 750 pieces together, and we couldn’t feel more satisfied and accomplished. Another holiday puzzle conquered.

But it is through this tedious, time consuming and precise pastime that I’ve learned some fairly straightforward life lessons that I’d like to share.

No one can be summed up in one word and no one should be judged in that way either. It’s easy to make judgments, come to quick conclusions and maintain your position about people. But like the many shapes and colors of a puzzle, people are complex, complicated and intricately made. Deciding who someone is based on what you see is unfair. We’re more than just what’s on the outside, we’re the culmination of a growing multitude of experiences that most often no one truly understands. Be fair and compassionate with others, we’re more alike than not.

You only get to your destination through perseverance. Puzzles can be frustrating! When the color palette is the same and you have to focus on very small details you feel like giving up. Don’t! Whatever your goal, keep moving forward. The payoff feels really good.


When life gets complicated, take a step back, look at the whole picture and count your blessings. As we meticulously searched for each and every puzzle piece to place it exactly in its proper location, it became evident that sometimes you’ve just gotta back up to get perspective. Like the puzzle, life will get tough. When those cloudy, rainy days come, accept it as a moment in time, backup, get a healthy view and thank God for what you have.

Change your approach when faced with a recurring problem. Kyli and I worked on separate parts of the puzzle to get it done quickly. But at some point, we both were stumped. Having looked at the same patterns, the same colors and the same shapes for so long, we decided to switch up. A fresh set of eyes gave us both a boost and we each were able to see things that the other did not. As the saying goes, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get the same result, so if it means anything to you, try a new way.

Sometimes what you’re looking for is staring you right in the face. I hate when I’m looking for a puzzle piece and the entire time, it was directly in front of me. Duh! Why didn’t I see that the first time? There is no mystery, the answers you seek are often so obvious but we just won’t accept it because we think it’s too simple, or sometimes it’s not the answer we want. No need to go searching far outside of yourself for answers and truth, it’s most likely right in front of you.

Don’t force things to work that weren’t meant to go together. We’ve all done it, forcing puzzle pieces together that don’t match. Clearly, that doesn’t work, and if you keep those two unmatched pieces together, the rest of the puzzle will fail. Whether its relationships, jobs, or a pair of shoes, don’t force things in your life that clearly are not meant!

…so it goes