My Best Advice for High School Freshmen

Since I was once a freshman, I've rounded up my greatest advice for all of those who are about to embark on a totally new, crazy fun, emotional journey.
I'm going to be honest, I freak out…over a lot. My first day of high school was no exception. It was terrifying to walk into a completely new school with such a widespread diversity of kids- and adults.

But, Freshman Year was totally one of the greatest school years of my life. So, with that being said, here is 16 pieces of advice I have for you:

1. Remember That Everyone grows at their own pace. 
Appreciate that, and don't hate yourself because you're not doing the things that your peers are. Please don't rush yourself to do them too. Maybe the things they say/do won't be things you ever say/do. That is Perfectly Okay…Always, Always Remember this.
2. Know It's totally fine to talk to and Make Friends with new people!! 
The majority of my good friends weren't in any of my eight classes freshman year, but that turned out to be such a great thing because a door was opened to a whole new sea with a diversity of amazing fish! Now, I have so many new friends that I never would've imagined being friends with. So, do make new friends. It's a really, really good thing.
3. Don't try to change yourself for other people. 
I spent so much time hating myself because I was changing myself to be who I thought my (get this, best friends) wanted me to be. I didn't like the person who I had become and I didn't know how to get out of that relationship without loosing those friends, so I just became angry, and I hated myself. Changing who I was for those people was definitely not worth the pain that came along with it.
4. Always be Kind to People, but especially be kind to your teachers.
The thing about teachers is, the things they do to make you "hate" them, is all for your benefit. Appreciate that. Because if they're anything like my teachers were 9th grade year (and 10th, too), they are some of the most hardworking, patient, kind, and loving people who want to see you strive, and will do anything to help you accomplish your dreams.
5. Step out of your comfort zone and make friends with upperclassmen.
This is something I wish that I had done more of. Most of them are totally willing to be your friend and offer you advice to get through the day. It was two seniors I knew that totally calmed my nerves the first day when they ran up to me and screamed "HEY!" In reality, they were nervous just like me!!
6. Study, Study, Study. 
If you don't study, and you don't put in the effort outside of school, you won't do well. So study, the night before…days before. Don't cram 5 minutes before the test. Even if it is just as simple as WOTD!
7. Always, Always, Always remember to keep The Lord as your biggest priority in all that you do.
When God is at the Center of your life, and You work at everything with all of your heart, for him, everything else falls right into place. I promise. It's a challenge, I know, but try your best. The Joy that The Lord brings is the greatest feeling to carry around and radiate- even on your toughest days.
8. Celebrate the fact that Homecoming is SO AWESOME. 
Homecoming is one of the first times you'll ever feel real school pride, and you only get to dress up as a baby once, so embrace it, and enjoy it, Freshies!!
9. Get Involved!!!!!!!!
I know you've heard it so many times that you are sick of it…But, Involvement is such a great way to learn things about yourself and to make new friends, as well as build your resume! In High School, there is a lot for you to do regardless of your interests.
10. Know that the friends you walk in with in August of freshman year will more than likely not be the ones you walk out with in May of senior year. 
You probably don't believe me now, but you'll begin to understand this and realize its truth somewhere throughout Freshman Year. High School is a place for growth. Everyone changes and finds things out about themselves and it's really crazy. But if they're not worth it, don't be afraid to let them go. I have had a hard time with that.
11. Hey. Know this: Netflix is fun and is a great way to chill. 
I recommend Grey's Anatomy, Gossip Girl, Friends, or One Tree Hill, but (speaking from experience) don't over use it and mess with your sleeping, you'll regret it.
12. Speaking of Sleep, Sleep as much as you can! 
Someone told me this right before I started High School and I thought that it was really stupid. But, it was actually really beneficial.
13. Walk on the right side of the hallway/stairs. 
People will push you down and shove you around. Trust me, I know. I speak from experience…
14. Remember that your teachers can be your friends, and they are there for you. 
My teachers these past two years have been some of the greatest blessings (see my first blog post again!). It was incredibly hard to say goodbye that final time, knowing that I would never be in some of their classes again (insert a lotta lotta tears here)!!! But, those that I don't get the honor of being their student everyday anymore, are STILL encouraging and helpful- and fun to talk to sometimes!

15. High School can be very intimidating, but be confident in yourself. 
Confidence will carry you so so far.
16. Last, but not least, GET A PLANNER and take advantage of it.
A planner helps you to be a tad bit more organized and get things done on a schedule. It's the best!!

On your first day, everyone is nervous, the sophomores, the teachers, the seniors, the juniors. But it will be okay. Enjoy it, Freshmen. Don't wish it away because I promise, it goes by in the blink of an eye. This year has the opportunity to be the best one of your life!!

Xoxo,

Elle

Twelve and Sixteen; A Happy Birthday Letter to my Best Friend

Happy Birthday to my forever friend. 
Today, My girl MH is Sixteen. 
Sixteen and we’ve been friends since age 4-or 5 (Ok, we met in preschool, but became real pals in Kindergarten)?  Twelve years of friendship…
Through those twelve years the monogrammed and smocked outfits with bows have turned into Jennaration, and the dolls have turned into iPhones and Apple watches…The teachers pets that once shared that title in the 3rd grade eventually shared geometry together in the tenth grade (bless). Sharing school store erasers turned into sharing chemistry answers (sorry, Dr. Strick- we sure do love ya!), and the matching outfits grew fewer. The spend the nights every Friday night (your house, my house, your house, my house), turned into every once in a while dinners at Newks (of course). The games of doctor and dentist turned into games of makeup and two little girls grew from kindergarten besties to Juniors in high school. 
Although everything around us has changed, the love and bond we share has not. No matter how far away, or how rarely we see each other, we pick back up like we haven’t missed a beat. I love you all the same and even more at sixteen than at five. Your friendship is such a blessing. Thank you for these twelve years. 
Wishing you the grandest day in all of history. 
Because you were born, I am a much happier, sassier, and dramatic human being. 
Thank you for coming, and never leaving. I am 12 years more lucky because you’re my pal. 
Happy 16, forever friend. 

Be safe on the roads, Mary-Harbin. I Love you lots.

Take me to Newks?- just us this time:) 

You’re driving.

-Elle❤️ 

My Dear, Graduting Friends

To some of my dearest-

Right now I’m crying, but I’m mostly just smiling. Smiling of how G O O D (incredibly good) the Lord has been to me in giving me you. Smiling of the memories we share of my first years of high school and your last years of college. Smiling of birthday cards, sweet chats, and letters in the mail, and of D-Nows, baseball games, group snapchats, and parties we’ve shared.

My heart and prayer for you is that you go onto a new adventure where God uses your gifts of super kindness and super encouragement to bless someone else the same way those gifts of yours have blessed me. I pray that God uses you to be all the encouragement and spark that someone else needs, just like you did for me. I pray that you love with your whole heart- like you’ve loved the Lord and each of us in these years we’ve shared. I pray that you change lives- as you’ve changed mine, that you change the world as I know God will use you to. I pray that this new chapter of life will bring you joy, like our friendship has given me, and that it will provide you with the happiness of seeing everything you’ve dreamed of fall together. I pray that you’re successful wherever you go, and I pray that teaching and nursing are everything you’ve dreamt them to be. 

I cannot wait to watch you each succeed in every aspect of life these next years. 

As your friend, and sister in Christ, I couldn’t be more proud. Thank you for being everything I’ve needed in a friend and encourager- I love you with half my heart, AND half of Michelle’s. 

Your friendship is truly a treasure- I can’t wait to watch you share that treasure and spark with some incredibly blessed patients and students. 

No matter how far apart we are, I’ll always send you birthday cards 🙂 

Congrats, you little grads! 

Sincerely,

Your super proud pal, Elle❤️

A Letter to My Small Group

My very first blog post was all about how thankful I am for my teachers. 
Similarly, I’m so very thankful for my Bible Study leaders/ teachers. 
So I figured I could write one for them, too. 
Then I realized…that same love and gratitude stretches so far beyond those people. 
So I think this is just going to be a letter to my Bible study class/small group. Both leaders and others…
For holding me as I cried.
For rejoicing with me over my triumphs. 
For praying for me in my heartache.
For truly being my best gals…
I’ve told Hannah and Maggie a time or two how much of an answered prayer they both (and Jen..I don’t think I’ve told you, but you, too) are. I don’t even have the words to express how incredibly honored and grateful I am to get to have each of them walk with me through life. It’s the greatest, and
it’s the same way for each of my other sisters in Christ. For the ones who I sit next to in class every single day, and who I hold hands with and pray for.
From D-Now, to the Awakening, to Big Stuf, and VBS, to new school years, and different heartache and times of praise…These girls are some of my biggest supporters.
Friends,
Thank you for being just that. Our group is a unique one. We grew up together. We’re spending (so far) the best of our lives together, and we will get to see eventually how much better what is to come truly is. 
You girls and friends can be my rock when I’ve had a bad day, some of my greatest cheerleaders, and some of the best shoulders to cry on. 
Thank you for never ever judging me as I share my struggles with you.
Thank you for letting me text you at any hour.
Thank you for being in ridiculous (but ridiculously fun) group snaps with me. 
Thank you for being what I need in a friend and an encourager, when I don’t deserve it at all.
Thank you for encouraging me through my triumphs and trials.
Thank you for the gift of crying with you. Of rejoicing with you. Of praying for you. It is one of the greatest honors.
Thank you for never hesitating to talk to me when you need me.
Thank you for letting me be myself around you. That is truly rare.
Thank you for being my friend when it wasn’t the easiest.
Thank you for loving me through my awkwardness.
Thank you for listening to me be loud.
Thank you for letting me put glitter allllll over you. 
Thank you for praying about even the smallest APUSH quizzes.
Thank you for holding my hand throughout High School, and continuing to do so until we graduate. 
Thank you for always being excited when I bring breakfast. It makes me excited, too. 
Thank you for the best D-Nows!! 
Thank you for loving me when I felt as if I was the most unlovable. 
Thank you for making this path we get to walk together the most fun. 
My gratitude for you all stretches so far. 
My prayer for each and every one of you friends of mine is that you will somehow be impacted by me in the same way that I have by you. You girls have absolutely NO IDEA how big my love is for you, or how big you have touched my heart. I adore every one of you, and there is no doubt in my mind how BIG God is going to use each and every one of us to shake up his kingdom, either. I am so proud to be your friend and sister in Jesus. Thank you for showing me the beauty of that relationship.
Alllllllllll my love, 
Elle

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Two people are better than one, because they can reap more benefit from their labor. For if they fall, one will help his companion up, but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up. -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 

To my Teachers

I have no idea where to begin with this. I don’t know who will read this or who will ever see it, but here we go. 
Since this whole idea of writing was encouraged by a sweet sweet friend and teacher of mine, I thought I would write this one just for them, my teachers, because no matter what, they will never, ever know how much they mean to me. 

Dear Teachers Superheroes, 
I genuinely love learning, so I genuinely love going to school (shhhh. Don’t tell anyone!). It doesn’t feel so much like a chore to me. Don’t get me wrong, a loud alarm at 6 A.M. is one of the last sounds I ever want to hear, but when learning isn’t such a struggle, I truly enjoy it. Learning is so easy and always, always, always fun when the person teaching you loves teaching you. 


I’ve grown a ton spiritually, physically, mentally, and however else-ally since I’ve started School (obviously), and I’ve spent many, many of those days (gazillions it seems) sitting at a desk in your classroom. Some days, I’ve spent more time around you guys than I have my own family. I’ve seen the sacrifices you make. Because when you’re teaching all day, staying after school to help this struggling student, doing this for this child, supporting the club you sponsor, coaching your team to victory…You are spending more time with us than you are with your own family too…I also just recently found out you have to buy the paper you print our work on (Geez. I feel so bad), and you put up with the rudeness of lazy students who don’t care every single day. Thank you for all of that. Thank You for the sacrifices you make so that I can one day impact the life of someone like you have me. 


Thank You for loving us enough to work your hardest always. So often, We don’t deserve your hard work, We don’t deserve your love. I am so so guilty of this. So often, I sit and gripe and complain about this or that, or how awful this teacher is, or how this teacher did that. I hear what other people say about how they hate your class, or they hate you. I know that you hear that too, and I want to say I’m sorry. So, so sorry. 


I also want to Thank You for your dedication. When I started High School, I was crazy amazed by the devotion I witnessed in my teachers on the first day. Each and every one of them was dedicated to their job, a dedicated to the students they barely knew, dedicated to their school, and most importantly dedicated to The Lord. Thank you for your dedication. 

Thank you for always being there. Whether I needed help with my writing, or with a math problem. Or even if I just needed to talk and I didn’t know where else to turn, thank you for listening. That means so much. Because that, you are not paid to do. 
 


Thank You for your Prayers. It truly means more than you know when you pray for me. I have had teachers who would sit there and hold my hand and pray with me about whatever I needed. Those same people and more I knew prayed over us each and every day. I know that has to mean so much to that child that no one else prays for. That light he sees in you by the way you continually share the love of The Lord through your actions, may be the only way he gets to experience God’s goodness, His love, and His grace. 

Thank You for my at school closet…Your Classroom. Thank You for keeping my projects behind your desk, or in your closet. Thank You for watching my computer when I had a project to work on and needed to bring it. Thank You for letting me store my clothes I needed for after school. All of it. It means so much to me and my arms. 


Thank You for talking about Grey’s Anatomy with me and complementing my projects and coloring sheets. I’m not one bit athletic, but I love to draw and color and write…and I love to watch Grey’s. When you take enough of an interest in me to talk about those things, it makes my heart so so happy. 


Thank You for encouraging me to dream and for believing in me every step of the way. Even when I felt totally and completely defeated. When I thought that I was constantly failing The Lord because I was slacking and my grades weren’t as high and I told myself I was worthless because I would never be a doctor. You believe in me. And the cool thing about that- You know the grades as well as I did. You know the tests, You know the worksheets, You knew it all. So in that way, that is so so completely different than a parent or a family member believing in me. Because, they don’t know the work. You know it forwards and backwards, you know whats ahead. Yet, you will always, always, always tell me I can do it…and you mean it.


Thank You for the Joy your students get to experience in your classroom. I love Joy. Joy is my favorite thing. Because, you can always always choose joy. It’s not based upon circumstances, it comes straight from The Lord. Thank you for chasing that for kids that don’t know to choose it. Experiencing God’s joy is one of the greatest things. 


Thank You, Thank You a billion times Thank You. I try to say that to you often, but I know I don’t often enough. Thank You. Because I’ve seen the sacrifices you make. You do that so one day I have the opportunity to touch someone else’s life just like you have mine. 
When I grow up, I want to be so much like each of you (as a Doctor, of course).

I love you lots, 


Elle💚
P.S. I wish I had pictures with each of you, but those that aren’t pictured here still hold such a sweet place in my heart.