• Stephannie Bramlett

Ten years and Taylor Swift

Some things in life are worth celebrating big! My oldest child, Carly Deane, recently turned ten years old. As a mom, this was a huge milestone for me.... I mean, a whole decade of raising her has already passed and led her to this sweet moment- double digits. I was considering several ways to make her birthday extra special, and I had decided that she did not need any more stuff. She needed an experience! About that time, a friend from college posted some tickets to a concert for sale, and I knew it was just the memory I was looking for.

A week before her birthday, I had her open her gift. This was a treat in itself because her daddy always makes us wait until the real day to celebrate and open gifts. He is a stickler like that. In this circumstance, the concert fell the week before her big day, so we had to improvise. I had matching shirts made.

She opened them and was slightly confused. “Oh, how cute, Mom. I heart Taylor Swift. Oh wait, there are two of them. Is one for you?”

I replied, “Yes. I wonder where we could wear matching shirts like that? (dramatic pause) Maybe we could wear them to a Taylor Swift concert together?” The look in her eyes said it all: pure excitement for our big day ahead!

On the road to Atlanta we sang "You are the best thing that's ever been mine" and "I've got that red lip classic thing that you like" and every thing in between. We spent the afternoon shopping and we had a delicious dinner at Cheesecake Factory before we caught the Marta and headed to our venue. When we arrived, she was shocked to see the size of the Mercedes Benz Stadium. Every single seat was filled with fans so excited to celebrate!

One of the big surprises for Carly Deane was how close we were. We were on the 15th row on the floor in front of the stage! This made the experience so magical! She couldn't believe it! I've probably ruined her for all future concerts, but it was so worth it! We danced and sang every lyric as the night went on.

On the way home that night, she fell asleep. Right there beside me was this precious child that just had a pretty fascinating experience. She had held my hand and thanked me so much for the day! I knew she felt special and celebrated, and that was exactly what I wanted for her! I pulled over for a few minutes to grab some caffeine and a snack, and I studied her face while waiting in the drive-thru. Eyes closed, with a slight shimmer left from the sparkly eyeshadow I let her wear, I can see her morphing into a beautiful teenager right in front of me. I also see the sweet cheeks that I rocked and nursed to sleep her entire first year of life. I count each freckle as a spot of joy as we just finished another summer playing outside and poolside. I am blessed beyond measure to get to be HER mom. I hope she knows how I love every fiber of her! I thought about the things I want her to know as she embarks on this 10th year ahead.

10 truths I want my 10-year-old daughter to know:

1. God created you. The very you YOU are! Please don’t let the world tell you to be anything other than yourself. He created you to be a part of this world and leave your own unique impression. Do not feel the need to conform or change just because the world tells you to.

2. Modesty is beautiful. Fashion and beauty do not equal making your ten-year old self appear to be twenty-five. Showing every inch of your thighs or tummy does not equal beauty! I promise to help you find cute clothes and accessories that you will love and that will showcase exactly the fashion viewpoint you would like to share.

3. Follow your dreams. If you want to be a fashion designer, actress, CEO, doctor, teacher or professional athlete then you must work HARD to become what you dream of being. I promise we (your mom and dad) will be your biggest cheerleaders in pushing you to become what you dream of being in this world!

4. Prayer is powerful. Spend time every day talking to God. Share with him your biggest wishes, hopes and fears. You will find comfort in your relationship with Christ when ever life lets you down. As hard as I try, I will not be able to protect you from all of life’s challenges. But, your prayer time will be a huge source of comfort when life gets tough!

5. Study and learn everything you can. School is just the beginning of what you will learn in this life. Use this time to soak in everything and you will be wiser for it as an adult! The work you put in now will pay off later! Cherish this season with your teachers and peers.

6. Choose your friends wisely. Find a group of girls that love you for you: your team! Make sure they are positive, love Jesus, and have the same trajectory you do. “Mean girls” are real and you will need a close tribe of friends that will be a support system! Jealousy will ruin relationships… be happy for your friends and recognize that God has placed them in your life for reason, even if only for a season.

7. Be thankful. You get to live in a country where you can pursue happiness in just about any way you choose. You can worship freely, travel anywhere, and have a family that will support you. Remember how lucky you are! Always send a thank you to those that influence you along the way: teachers, parents, small group leaders, coaches, etc.

8. Be a leader! If you know something is wrong, stand against it! If you see something that needs to be done, do it! If you see someone that needs a voice, be the voice for them! You will be called to do this many times in your life; don’t fight it! Sometimes, you may stand alone in this! That is ok! Be the leader God has called you to be!

9. Forgive. People will make mistakes and hurt you. Forgiveness is more for you than it is for the offender. I learned this far too late in life. God forgives us when we sin. It is ok to draw a line and not allow others to continue to hurt you. But, forgive them when they do! Carrying around resentment will make you bitter and angry.

10. Have a happy heart. The devil works in every way to steal your joy. Joy can be found in the most trying of circumstances! So, choose to have a happy heart and soul. Remember, the only thing you can control is you. Happiness is a choice! Be sure to let those around you know that you love them and the joy they bring to you!

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