So. You've arrived.
I must admit that I don't particularly like your looks. Partly because sixteen was such a brilliant age. She told me to let 16 be what it was-- to breathe and relax, but to live it to the hilt. And oh, I think I did. Even though I was oh-so-tempted to stress out. (I mean, sixteen is the one. Sixteen candles and all that.)
But I think I let it be what it was-- which ended up being, in a word, rather fantastic. In all its meanings. Sixteen was sitting in a darkened movie theater at midnight with purple hair and three great friends. It was watching my aunt battle a life-threatening disease and being oh, so proud of Daddy as he so willingly became her stem cell donor and spent the better part of the summer by her side. Sixteen was spending two of the best and hardest weeks of my life in the Dominican Republic and realizing that missions is what I want to do with my life. Sixteen was realizing that I can't live without a few very special girls. (Y'all know who you are.) It was falling in love with beautiful new stories-- but especially A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Great Gatsby, Les Miserables, and The Book Thief. Sixteen was discovering photography. (JOY.) It was realizing that everything can change in moments and nothing is certain except Christ the solid rock. It was realizing that I don't know what the heck I'm doing but God is beautifully, marvelously, eternally in control of my life and His plan is ALWAYS better.
Remember that, seventeen. When you're tempted and tired and heartbroken, remember that.
Don't run before you can walk, but please, oh please-- don't spend your life crawling. Take chances. Love and trust like one forgiven-- fully, deeply, sacrifically. Dream a lot but live even more. Pray long and hard. And then longer and harder. Search the Word like an explorer-- relentlessly, excitedly, passionately-- with keen eyes and an open mind and a passionate heart.
More than anything else, PLEASE don't get to eighteen and not be any closer to the Lord. Learn, seventeen. Learn, learn, learn. Learn God, learn prayer, learn His Word. Learn how to listen and when to speak, learn faithfulness, learn love. Learn to trust. Learn everything you possibly can.
"Wherever you are, be all there." Be all there for Christ. Every minute, every season, every attitude, every emotion, every thought, every change, every season.