I wasn't raised with a lot of rules imposed upon me. At 7, my parents let me make a lot of my own decisions for better or for worse; 10 years later, that remains the same. Am I saying my parents neglect me? No. In fact, I'm saying something far from it. My parents realized that if they didn't let me make my own decisions, even the bad ones, I would never learn lessons. I think the times they let me wear sweat pants with long-sleeved shirts in mid-July and let me roller-blade without my knee-pads (the helmet was always enforced)....those times gave me the ability to set my own goals, limits, expectations, and boundaries.

What are some of those goals and rules I set for myself?

NO DATING unless he's a really worthwhile guy. If you have to be someone else around him, he's not worth it.

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS "GOOD ENOUGH." If it is grades, relationships, or prayer life, there is no such things as good enough. Saying that is another way of saying you've settled for something that's less than the best. Why settle for an A- when you know you can get an A+? Why settle for KU when you can shoot for Notre Dame? Why write a 1-page essay when you can write a 3 or 4-page essay? Why pray once a day when you can pray once an hour? Why eat by yourself when you can eat dinner with the family? Good enough just doesn't exist.

NO DRINKING OR DRUGS. I don't need them. They won't do me any good. I have no sorrows to drown or secrets to keep in remission. I also have no desire to put myself in such a vulnerable situation. Nothing good can come from doing drugs or drinking under age. I am not condemning people who do, either. It's your choice, and if you want to, I can stop you, but at least be careful and consider the consequences of your actions.

MOM AND DAD SAY AND DO THESE THINGS BECAUSE THEY LOVE YOU. If they don't let me go out, it's because they have a good reason. If they make me eat dinner with the family, it's because they want to talk to me and find out how I am. Everything they do is because it's in my best interest. I just wish my fellow teenagers realized it, too.

BE A GOOD EXAMPLE. I won't be around when my younger sisters are in high school. I want them to see that you create your own happiness. I want them to realized that popularity does not mean having more numbers in your contacts; rather, it is having left a good impression on almost everyone. I want them to be leaders. I want them to make smart decisions. I want them to be perfect and not settle for "good enough." I want them to know that I love them more than my own life, even though it may not seem like it to them sometimes.

BE PATIENT. All good things take time. Do they not? If you can provide for me one example of something really, really good that doesn't take any more than a week, I will write a blog post about anything you want me to (as long as it be appropriate).

LOVE. Love friends, family, God, and even your enemies. I am a very religious person. I do believe that love is the key to happiness and to receive love, you must also give love. Friends and Family are easy to love. It's basically built in. Loving God is a little bit harder. It is so much easier said than done. If He could give His Son to save you and me, He's worth the effort to love. The hardest, though, is loving your enemies. Christ told us to, so we really ought to. He didn't make suggestions; he made commands. But his commands were like those of our parents--only made out of complete care and in good intention. I have come to find that the easiest way to love my enemies is not to have any. (I will say that will continue to be near impossible as long as there are USC fans on the earth. I pray for their conversion constantly.)

These 6 are the fundamentals of my self-imposed rules. New goals and rules come as new obstacles and predicaments arise. They're not going to last me only through high school...they'll follow me into college and even after that. I hope that someday, if I'm meant to be a mom, I'll be able to raise my kids as well as I feel that my parents raised me. Although it is meant to be a compliment toward my Mom and Dad, it sounds quite conceited, but my Parents raised pretty damn good kids. At least, that's what I think.

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