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A Letter to My Teenage Self

Dear Teenage Paige,

This letter is living proof that you do, indeed, survive High School. I know sometimes it feels like you won’t, but I promise, you do. I know the struggles that you’re facing deep within your heart right now, and I want to share ten things that I think will help you navigate this better. Being you, about a decade later, I know what you need to know. At least, some of what you need to know. I’m still learning a lot and have a long way to go…

You may not like everything I have to say. Just hear me out. 

1.    It won’t be this way forever. I know you feel trapped. Stuck in classes and schedules that often don’t feel like they will benefit your dreams. To be honest, many of the things on your tests won’t benefit you in the future. But the discipline you’re learning and the character you’re building from working hard to achieve something are essential tools that will be invaluable to you for the rest of your life. I know you want to jump out of your skin sometimes because you’re dying to fast-forward to the life-changing things you want to do. But let me tell you… the way you spend your days right now is currently shaping your future life. So be careful and wise. And know this season is truly short.

2.    Protect your heart just as much as your body. I know you’re all focused on protecting your body right now from sexual promiscuity and THAT’S A GOOD THING!!! Keep it up!! But your focus on solely protecting your body in relationships is causing you to more freely give away your heart. Your words can create ties to another person’s heart that you’ll have to undo later when you realize they weren’t the person you were going to marry. If you focus on guarding your heart first, above all else, you will find it even easier to guard your body too. It’s not meant to be a legalistic thing. God is trying to protect, preserve you and keep you whole. It will be so worth it when you marry the amazing man God has for you… I would know!!! “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23

3.    The opinions of people you are trying to impress now won’t matter AT ALL later. I cannot stress this enough. You know the “cool” kids who you want to think you’re cool? You never see them again. And… I may or may not have noticed, the cool kids don’t always end up being cool later…

4.    Don’t be a flirt. I know you fervently believe you’re not a flirt, but… you are. You secretly want every guy to like you – or at least, to think you’re pretty. Calm down! Keep reading. I know in your heart you don’t want to be this way. But there’s a difference between not wanting to be that way, and still actually being that way. You are a people pleaser, but you do not need everyone to like you. Your desire for this is not in line with God’s Word and you are unknowingly toying with other people. Some guys will think just because you’re nice to them that you like them – this is not your fault. Just make every effort not to lead guys on in order to maintain a pure heart and to not hurt others.

5.    What you do now DOES matter. Be strong. In your heart you know this, and you have deeply strong convictions. But there’s that little voice that keeps whispering in your ear at very unhelpful moments telling you the teenage lie… “You’re young. Live it up! You don’t have to be such a good girl. You’ll have plenty of time to get it together later.” This is a lie. Stand firm in your convictions! You will not regret this later! You will only regret when you didn’t. Every small choice you make now walks you into your future… the one where I stand.

6.    Not all the authority in your life is right. But you still need to respect it. Not everything you’re being told by authority is true. In fact, you’ll go through some painful seasons in the future working to undo the damaging affect that some of it had on you. Regardless, graciously respect everyone in authority over you. (You know that’s what God wants.) But, also know that God wants to be your ultimate source of Truth and authority. Test the things you’re told against His Word in the Bible. His truth is unchanging and will never lead you the wrong way or build up things that you’ll have to tear down later.

My brother Scot, and two sisters (missing my brother Josh)
My brother Scot, and two sisters (missing my brother Josh)

7.    Your guy heartbreaks are actually God protecting you. I know many times you’ve felt like you were “too much” or “not enough” for someone. Just know that the relationships that haven’t worked out are God’s grace in your life! They were never meant to be your husband! Those guys are good people – but if you could see from where I stand now, you would see so clearly how your lives have gone in completely different directions. You were not meant to be with them. As you seek God’s guidance in who to marry, know that He doesn’t just match up people, He matches up callings and destinies. They are meant to fit together in the most intricate way, that only He can set up. Trust that He knows what He’s doing and stop beating yourself up about how “you could have been better”, or “more” or “less”. Paige, you are enough. In fact you are just right for that very specific man that you one day meet.

8.    ENJOY the freedom and fun of this season in your life. Yes, I just said freedom. I know you feel like there are tons of boundaries around you, but you have so much more freedom than you realize. You have TIME! Once you are married and have kids, you’ll look back with green envy on all the free time you used to have. Use this time to hardcore pursue those gifts and God-given passions. It will pay off later… trust me! And most of all, spend time with Jesus.

9.    Pay more attention in history class. It’s the one class that you wish you could remember more from.

10.  It gets good. Really good. You actually get to do most of the things that are currently written on your “dreams list”. Not even a decade later! So dream bigger. I’m not gonna tell you that it’s all “happily ever after”, because the truth is, it’s been quite a rollercoaster. Incredible ups and excruciating downs. But it’s okay, because you learn a lot from it and keep going. God never lets you down. In fact, all the things that you thought you lost, God actually gives back to you in a greater portion. He restores more than you ever lost. So relax, dear girl. You worry too much. It really is all going to be okay.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36

 

Confessions of a New Mom

I was one of those women who motherhood surprised. I had always wanted to have children – but considered it more of a far-out, “someday” thing. I was busy still settling into married life, learning to take care of a home, and working on my ministry. When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, we were shocked. I knew nothing about being a mom and only a little about watching other people’s babies. Not raising one.

I frantically bought every good book I could find about “what to expect”. Could any book even begin to prepare me? I put my writing and speaking aside temporarily to focus whole-heartedly on this new little creature rapidly growing inside of me. I wanted to be ready when they arrived. I wanted to be a good mom.

On May 10th, at 3:29am, my daughter, Scarlett Grace Omartian, made her debut! She was beautiful. She was perfect. I couldn’t believe I was seeing the intricately formed little creation that God had been knitting together inside of me. He did such a great job.

But what now? All I wanted was to go to sleep and recover from my exhausting middle-of-the-night labor so I could then happily coo over my new baby angel. However, hours later, even when the lights were out, I couldn’t take my eyes off the little human swaddled up next to my bed in her rolling cart. New feelings I had never experienced before swept over me.

Momma fear.

What if I closed my eyes for a second and she stopped breathing? What if she starts choking while I’m asleep? What if, what if, what if…

I laid there with my wide-eyes glued to her while panic, joy, peace and terror mingled in my soul as though they were familiar with each other. As though they had been meeting for centuries in the hearts of new moms all over the world.

The next few weeks were rough for me. I’d be lying if I tried to candy coat it any other way. Breastfeeding got off to a rough start and required all kinds of tricks and “processes” in order for Scarlett’s feedings to be consistently sufficient. My amazing husband, Chris, was there with me through it all. 

Numerous occasions I thought I might be going insane because of how sleep-deprived I was. ALL. I. WANTED. was a few consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep. That’s it! Was that even possible any more? Would I ever sleep again? How could I live on the brink of delirious insanity? My life flashed before my eyes as I feared it might officially be over.

My friends brought me meals, hugged me, and told me it would get better. But I didn’t believe them. I thought every mom that I had ever known just handled it more gracefully than me. One bewildered trip to Target I’ll never forget openly staring at every single mom I came across in the store. I remember thinking as I saw one mom with three (!!!!!!) kids, “YOU’RE ALIVE!!! And so are your kids!!! And you all look HAPPY! How did you do it?!”

You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Those were the exact words that came screeching out of my brain.

But my friends and family were right. It did get better. Day by day, week by week. I began to get the hang of this new life a little more, and I began to enjoy it. Of course, Scarlett starting to sleep through the night definitely had something to do with that!

I began to make peace with parts of me that died. Parts of me, frankly, that needed to die. Like my selfishness. I didn’t have a clue how selfish I was until my little girl showed up. Even during the pregnancy, I began to realize that this whole journey was not about me. The sickness, the sacrifices I needed to make to keep her healthy, the carefulness, the pain I’d need to undergo. All of it was for a much greater purpose that I could feel a glimpse of inside, but couldn’t yet see.

What a greater purpose my Scarlett is. And how metaphorical is childbirth to our lives! We go through things that require us to stretch, painfully expand and endure… sometimes leaving scars. But if we surrender to the Lord’s plan for this painful growth, this process births something far more beautiful in our lives than we ever could have dreamed. It’s perfect! It’s sweet. And it grows and grows with a life of it’s own that is so much bigger than we are.

Today, my amazing daughter is one years old. And it also happens to be Mother’s Day! I woke up this morning with overwhelming joy and thrill at the miracle God has done in my life over the course of this year. I am so grateful. I am so grateful. I love being a mom. I love my daughter. I love this journey. And as I type this, I am even feeling the flutters of our second baby who is 18 1/2 weeks old kicking around in my stomach! What did I do to get to bear these precious miracles? Nothing. With my life story, they are here against all odds as it is.

Thank You for Your plan for mothers, God. I’m in awe of the role You’ve given us and the amazing journey that You have laid out for each one of us. Thank You for Your strength which has personally carried me through this year. You and I both know I wouldn’t be standing here without You.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you precious women. I am inspired by you and am cheering for you as we march out our lives together!!!

 

For Those in a “Season of Hard”…

 

Have you ever felt like all that’s waiting for you on the road ahead are hard things?

My husband and I have been in a season like that recently. A season where the things we’ve been praying about are being answered, but for the most part, not how we’d “like” or how we’d expected.

I have to admit, though I am grateful to hear God’s answers to my prayers, sometimes a part of me is hesitant to fully run with what He’s said. When I start to think through what actually doing what He’s said will look like, “reason” starts to kick in. My mind gets flooded with overwhelming thoughts of how hard it will be, how some people won’t like it, and how even painful it may be. I find myself beginning to question God’s words and assuring myself that, “Surely God wouldn’t be calling me to do that.”

Do you ever do this? Many of us pray for the Lord to answer our prayers yet when He does – we miss it – because it wasn’t what we wanted to hear. We keep praying for confirmation and asking Him to make something clear when perhaps He already has, we just haven’t wanted to accept His answer. I can explain this process because I know it well. I’m guilty.

Currently, there are three major things that the Lord has asked Chris and I to do that we’ve had to come to grips with. All of which, are hard. This puts my faith to the test and causes me to do a heart check. Do I really believe that “he who trusts in the Lord will prosper?” (Proverbs 28:25).

Yes, Lord. I do.

I believe this because I know the amazing character of the God I serve. I know He’s good. I have experienced His blessing when I follow Him, and how the things He gives me are far better than the things I leave behind.

I want to encourage you if you’re in a “season of hard” and God has told you to do something that you’re scared to do… take a step of faith. It doesn’t have to be a leap, just a step. Though it may not be how you would choose to do things, trust Him. He knows you and longs to delight your heart, not burden it. Whatever it is that God is calling you to do is an integral part of His purpose for you and for others. Remember, His plans are to prosper you, not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). One day you will look back on those hard steps of faith that you took in your life and trace your greatest blessings back to them. We have a whole book of God’s Word that proves His track-record, and millions of testimonies of those who have run this race before us.

You with me? Let’s do this!

 

Warning: Discretion Advised

When I was growing up, my parents always used to warn me about the movies I wanted to see. When I’d get invites to go to the movies with friends, honestly, sometimes I didn’t even think to ask what the movie was. The only thing on my mind was hanging with my friends – the movie was secondary. But of course, as I went to ask my parent’s permission, they would always expect to know exactly what movie we were planning on seeing, what I knew about it… and where they could read a thorough review. Though this often drove me crazy and sometimes meant that I wouldn’t get to go… they made sure that I learned a few lessons.

1. Don’t be mindless and not know what you’re about to be doing/watching. 

2. Don’t assume your friends are making a wise suggestion…
3. Be discerning.

When my parents eventually turned over the “key” to my movie watching decisions, I found “being discerning” could sometimes be difficult. Whose standards should I base my decision on? My friends said it was ok… so it should be, right? My parents probably wouldn’t like it… but they are really strict. I’m sure I can handle it, I reasoned.

We can “reason” our way out of anything. As long as we turn our conscience off first.

Right now, you and I are in a battle that requires incredible discernment. This battle is with way more than just movies… rather, what we believe, what we support, what we give our lives to. Each one of those areas in our lives have been attacked, and without even realizing it, we may have had the truth stolen right out from underneath us. What are you standing on? Why do you believe what you believe? How have you determined truth?

There are many things that appear one way, and are another. We all love the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”… but how many people actually like to dig deeper when the cover looks great and is extremely popular?

I feel a deep burden to remind us all to be discerning in these times in which we live. We are bombarded daily by so many voices and messages – we can’t be lazy and neglect to sort and discern each one. If something blows up and becomes crazy popular – don’t take it at face value. Research it. Pray about it. Seek to really understand and determine God’s position on it. Don’t blindly follow something without knowing exactly where it’s leading you (and others).

I want to leave you with some verses to dig into and meditate on. I encourage you to ask God to reveal if there is anything that you have mistaken for truth or have not dug deep enough into. Pray that He would give you wisdom and discernment, and that you would clearly see everything with His eyes and heart. I am doing the same. :)

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8

“Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” 2 Thessalonians 5:21-22  

*Do you have a story of God revealing an area in your life where you hadn’t been discerning? How did He reveal that to you? And what did He call you to do differently? I’d love for you to share your story below.

What is my book “Wake Up, Generation” about?

 So,

 

I wrote a book.

My very first book.

And it releases THIS August.

I couldn’t be more excited!! The truth is, God has been writing this book on my heart since I was 11 years old. I never grew up thinking I would be an author, but as my story has unfolded, there was no way I could keep the things God has been teaching me to myself. They’re too big. Too essential. Too life-changing. I had to write a book.

This book is about finding your purpose. It’s called “Wake Up, Generation” because I believe my generation has been sleepwalking in apathy, blind to our life’s value, and worst of all, numb to our true purpose. The world tells us that we’re young and have all the time in the world to “get things together”. But as I found out as a cancer-stricken 11-year-old, we don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow (James 4:14). Our life is a precious mist that can be taken from us at any second. We don’t have time to be apathetic. We don’t have time to mess around. We don’t have time… to waste.

If you feel drowned in the sea of indifference and mediocrity… this book will inspire you. If you feel lost in the maze of countless expectations and routes… this book will free you. If you feel hopeless beyond all reason… this book will begin to restore you.

Some of the specific things God has led me to cover in this book are: reclaiming your value, discovering your gifts, igniting your God-given passion, writing a mission statement for your life, learning how to live the mission God’s given you, and opening your eyes to global needs so you can use your life to change the world around you.

This is a book about waking up to your purpose. This is a book about refusing to waste your life.

If you’re still breathing, there’s a reason why you’re here.

That’s what my book is about.

Meet the New Me… Paige Omartian.

Hey Everyone,

Some big changes have been going on in my life lately… namely… I got married! :)

November 11th (11.11.11) was our special day, and it truly was amazing. We said our vows in front of huge bay windows that displayed a gorgeous sunset and perfectly tinted fall trees. The celebration continued at the reception where we had dinner, fellowship, and dancing. Chris and I actually learned a special dance for our “first dance song” (which was “One and Only” by Michael O’Brien) full of turns, dips, and even a kiss! Every moment of our wedding was unforgettable. After waiting our whole lives for that day, it felt almost strange to actually be standing in the midst of it. Chris and I had to keep looking at our rings and telling each other after the ceremony… “Psst, we’re married!!” It seemed too incredible to believe!

We returned from an amazing honeymoon just in time for Thanksgiving (how awesome is that?!) and have been working on getting settled in our home and decorating for Christmas ever since.

As I sit in my new home and type this, I can’t help but think of what an amazing whirlwind this all has been. In those brief moments at the alter, Chris and I declared vows that have changed our lives more than any other words we have ever said. (Besides what we said when we first came to Christ, of course.) When Chris and I were going through our pre-marital counseling with our pastor and his wife, they tried to warn and prepare us for the on-setting changes marriage would bring. To be honest, they blew our minds with the depth of what it really means to join your life with someone… to lay down your life for them, commit no matter what to them, and so many other things. One of the things that I didn’t expect to hear from them was that I should seriously prepare myself for my changed name. They told me that taking on your husband’s name can result in a sort of identity crisis in some women. While I loved writing “Paige Omartian” all over my desk’s Post-it-Notes and notebooks, they were right. There was something scary about loosing the name that had “defined” me all my life. Who is Paige Omartian?? I didn’t know her! The name sounded so foreign… yet it was soon to be mine.

Since I am a nerdy list person, I grabbed my journal one night and began to dissect who this “Paige Omartian” really was. What does she look like? What is she like? How does she carry herself? What does she find important? Questions like these flooded my mind until I spilled out all the things I felt Paige Omartian “should be”. My pen stopped after one description in particular. This was the one my heart had been longing to see. I had written, “Paige Omartian is who Paige Armstrong is destined to be.”

That was it.

That was the answer I had been searching for to give me assurance of this “new person” I was about to become. I already knew that Chris was God’s plan for me, but when I grasped the fact that Paige Omartian was as well… every drop of fear over my new name evaporated and was replaced with the deepest excitement and thrill. This is the name God has given me!

Now, it’s official. I am Paige Omartian. I realize that many of you who have followed my music, speaking, and ministry have gotten to know me by my former name. This is why I wanted to share some of the process with you – to introduce you to the same, but very new me.

There are a lot of things on the horizon right now, and my first book is on the forefront. Currently, it’s in the editing process with my publisher, and is projected to release in the fall of 2012. I will certainly keep you posted during this process and will let you know the official release date as soon as possible.

Oh, and one more thing! Just to make sure we are all starting off on the same foot, let me give you the correct pronunciation of my new last name. (Many people seem to think it rhymes with the little green martians from space!)
It’s pronounced: OH-MAR-TEE-AN.

Ahh. There we go. Much better now. :)

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey as we each seek to live the mission He has called us to. I’m excited about His promised plans for each of us!

Living His Mission,

Paige Omartian