Letters to your kids...

Letter to Sam…

Samantha-
Well here it is, your senior letter from Dad. I have enjoyed sharing wisdom with you the past 3 years. I was hoping to get this letter to you before you left for Argentina... a little late on the timing. Then I waited to see if we would hear about Medical School... well, it is January 29th, you leave for school in 7 days, I didn't want to wait any longer. So, here goes.....

I know this year is "just" another chapter in your life, an exciting chapter, some may say the most important chapter in your life. I would agree but would also add that your life is first a series of pages, then a series of chapters, and lastly a series of different stories. All your story should have a common thread that is uniquely Samantha Lee Storts. This thread should weave itself thru all the pages and all the chapters. From birth, you have had a huge heart for people and animals. I truly believe you put the interests of others in front of your own interests, never lose that quality! You are a natural conversationalist with young and old; you have what is called an "old soul". I can not tell you how many times that I heard from others that "Sam is so mature for her age" or "Sam can have a meaningful conversation with so many different types of people". Sam, you are known as a kind person. Some people associate kindness with weakness, I strongly disagree. Our best example of kindness is Jesus Christ. He was kind like no one else; He could also show mercy, love, justice, anger at the right time, with the right tone, to the right people. Sam, you are naturally intelligent, you see something and you remember it. I learned early to never question the validity of your memory. Sam, you understand the value of family... remember, it is not about things, it is about relationships & memories. The list goes on and on and on..

Well, what can I share with you that I have not already shared....

  1. Love God! Sam, If you could have seen my life before I had God I am not sure you would be proud to call me your Dad. To this day I credit a lot of people for my transformation but I point to one single event that radically changed my belief in God; that day was your birth. Sam, God brought me closer to Him through your birth. God was knocking on my heart for a while but it took something much bigger than knocking; it took a premature new-born baby to make me realize that I could not do life without help. That help came from God and still comes from God. Trusting God, trusting that His plan will always work out if I surrender to my own sinful heart to Him. People will disappoint you in life but God always has your back. He may have you go through some patches of disharmony (See #4 below), those patches are to strengthen your character.

  2. Love others! I think you got this one. I can not tell you how many times I have witnessed you doing acts of kindness for our family, your friends, people you babysit, strangers. Just yesterday, you called me and volunteered to pick up Noah at school. I didn't have to ask or even hint to you that deed was a huge help to me on a busy day. You sensed it, that is a gift of yours, keep using it! We all seek what is called the "good life": money, fame, kids, etc. Pretty simple, the "good life" is most easily attained when you choose to use your unique gifts and talents to serve others.

  3. Follow your passions! Sam, don't settle! If it is Medial School then do it with all your heart. Do Med School for the right reasons; to help people better their life. If it is something else, again do it with all your heart. Colossians 3:23, "Work hard and cheerfully in whatever you do, as you are doing it for the Lord and not for people." There are several elements to a healthy "well-being": relationships, physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, career, etc. Of all these elements, we spend a great amount of time dealing with our careers. Regardless of the profession you choose, there will be good and bad days, that is inevitable. If you choose to follow your passions (see #1-3 above) you know that happy moments or sad moments are fleeting, they are temporary, they will quickly pass. If you have joy, you have a meaning to your life, you have courage to face bad days as just as they are, just days. Joy supersedes all this, it is deep down in your heart, your soul, your meaning, your purpose. You know that you can Rise Up (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNKu1uNBVkU) over anything!

  4. Embrace adversity! You have had heard me reference Romans 5:3-5 many times. In addition to a few other verses, Roman 5:3-5 has become my life mantra. You will be handed some tough situations in your life, sometimes you may even ask, "Why me, Lord?" I encourage you not to ask "why?", instead challenge yourself to ask, "what?" What am I to learn from this experience? What can I use to help others as a result of me going thru this situation? When you are in the battle it may be the hardest thing to ask "why?". You do not have to do it alone, ask for help, seek the love and support of people that truly love you and will not judge you. Proverbs 27:17, "As irons sharpens iron, people sharpen people." Sam, I told you this before, I will run to you in times of trouble, I have your back in times of need. Mom will do the same. You have built an awesome relationship with your brother Noah, I am certain he would take a bullet for you. Libby has her own special way of showing you love. Use all of us!

  5. Have Fun! Be the person that others want to be around. Be the person you want to be around. You love to travel so travel a lot. Build memories instead of mansions.

Sam, in year's past I have shared 10 ideas for each year. Well, I am down to only 5 which means you have gotten twice as smart or I have become 1/2 as wise... I will go with the former!

I am so proud of you, I know that God has big plans for your life, and lastly, know that I love you deeply!

Letter to Libby…

Libby-

As my second child heads off to college I want to keep a tradition going that I started with Sam. This is hard for me to write as to me it really means that you are heading off to college. I think I have re-written this letter 100 times in my head and 5 times on paper so please accept my apology for bad grammar or random thinking. Just know a lot of tears were shed in writing this to you. I know you will only be 90 minutes away from home but you have been a fixture in our home for 18 years and that is now changing.

Here is YOUR first installment of your "College Letters from Dad".

I will start with a simple sentence to describe your past; I am proud of you! I do not want to spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror but you are a special kid. God has blessed you with many "talents" and like his parable in Matthew 25: 14-30, you did not bury your talents, you used and shared them with others. You are truly unique and one-of-a kind with your talents; smart, beautiful, handy with power tools, can make a dress in 30 minutes or less, have a killer fashion sense (after all you were named "Most Fashionable" by the yearbook)....the list is long. I believe you have an extremely high work ethic, that quality will take you far. Some kids shy away from work and providing funding for themselves while you actively seek out work. You started working early in your life, rarely did you ask for $, thank you!

Now, onto the future, this is the fun part. Libby, college is awesome on so many levels! You will have a wild range of experiences, emotions, successes, and failures; there are great lessons in all of them. Romans 5:3-5 says (I am paraphrasing a bit here), "you will suffer some (or a bunch), which will teach you to persevere or quit (I hope you choose to persevere), by persevering your true character will be tested, and by having strong character (solid foundation with God), you always have Hope of a greater future regardless of how bad things look at the present time".

I am not real smart person, did not do great grade-wise in college, but I did have an amazing four year college experience. Some of those experiences I would like to have a "do-over" but that is not possible so I am imparting my wisdom to you. Wisdom is based on experience; my wisdom comes from 53 years of doing, seeing, and listening.

  1. Friends...You will meet all sorts of people at Iowa. It is a great time to remember, "seek to understand not to be understood". Make it a goal to meet new and interesting people, and by meeting, really get to know them, buy them coffee, ask lots of questions. In doing so, you will find people that really want to get to know you. These are the true friends that you will cherish in college and beyond. Proverbs 27:17 says, "as irons sharpens iron, people sharpen people". Watch a blacksmith form a knife or sword, they pound tirelessly on the metal, heat it up, pound on the metal, repeat several times in order to make the tool sharp and strong. Find friends that will "pound" on you to make you stronger, sharper, and smarter. Surround yourself with good people!

  2. Professors.... You may not get to "know" all your college professors at a big campus like Iowa but you will resonate with some professors. I guarantee there will be one special professor that pushes you to excellence. I encourage you to ask lots of questions, create relationships with professors, seek their wisdom for your career.

  3. Social life...You are a social creature, no denying that fact. Iowa will present a lot of fun opportunities but also some potential pitfalls for you. If you can adopt a "work first, play second" mentality you will do great in all aspects of the college life. On the other hand, enjoy Iowa and all it has to offer from a social life. I would not be a good dad if I didn't say, "be safe, don't walk alone at night, never accept a drink from a stranger, and surround yourself with good friends who will watch your back at all times."

  4. Men.... I am one so I can share some good points in this category. You may or may not find dating in college the thing for you. You are extremely beautiful and pleasing to the eye for boys/men so I know they will be on the lookout for you. Your roommates and friends will have various beliefs on this topic, so you will have lots of outside influences and pressures. You will encounter mature men and not-so-mature "boys". Boys will be boys but men with strong fathers will respect you, treat you like a princess, love God, and value you for the beautiful creation that you are. Watch for "wolves in sheep clothing", they are everywhere, they have reputations on campus, their trickery comes in words you may not have heard before. Do not settle for a boy!

  5. Grades...As mentioned in the Matthew parable, this is one of your talents. You are so intelligent, that is a gift from God. Does that mean you need to keep a 4.0 GPA? Not in my eyes, it is more important that you learn, give your very best effort, and let the GPA be whatever it is. Are grades important? Of course, it will help you, and us, with future scholarships, grants, work study, and possibly graduate schools if you should choose to go on for a Masters degree. Embrace the challenge in your own special way. My special way was to have a higher GPA in college than high school, it was to be an Academic All-American. What will yours be?

  6. Drinking....Libby, alcohol will be all around you, your roommates will have different opinions and practices with alcohol. Remember, consumption of alcohol by minors is illegal, and if you choose to participate there can be life-changing consequences. Solomon (the wisest king ever) warns us about many things in the Book of Proverbs but the big four are; alcohol, money, greed, and sex. Pick a month that has 31 days (October, December, January, March), you should read one chapter of Proverbs each day, lots of wisdom that I wish I had in college.

  7. Sex....it will be everywhere around you, and your roommates and friends will have opinions and experiences. It is uncomfortable for me to even talk about this, all I can say here is do not settle.

  8. Parents...Know that we love, know that we are your biggest champions, know that we want to hear your college stories, know that want the very best for you, know that we know you are going to screw-up sometimes, know that we do not base our love off your performance, know that we want you to grow, know that we will run to you anytime you need us, know that we may not run to rescue you sometimes, know that you can come home anytime, know that we want you to call when you want to call, and know that we will miss you dearly.

  9. Health & wellness..Libby, eating well and exercising are critical to your overall health. Healthy body = healthy mind! Continue the great habits you have already formed in your life.

  10. Spiritual growth...Libby, find a campus church that you enjoy. Get involved, grow your faith. Believe it or not, God wants to come along on your college ride with you.

Libby, I love you so much! I look forward to seeing the woman you become these next 4 years.

Dad