Letter to My 15-Year Old Self

Yesterday was my 25th birthday.  I am officially a quarter of a century.  I have entered the mid-twenties.  For some reason this year feels significant to me.  I think back to 10 years ago and I am proud of who I am becoming and the family Lance and I have started.  I also hopefully think ahead 10 years to the future and I have so many goals and dreams as to where I would like to be at 35.  In honor of 25 years, I wrote a letter to both my past and future self.  Here is the first letter:

Dear 15-year-old self,

Hi Kelli Sugimoto, this is Kelli Capel writing to you.  In 10 years, a lot is going to change for you.  You will get married, you will have a baby, you will come to truly know Christ.  These are the big ones, but your next ten years will be filled with little moments, little decisions that will change everything.  You are going to feel lost at times and uncertain that you are making the right decisions, but I just wanted to reassure you that you are.  Even the mistakes, led you to the life I am currently living and it really is a beautiful one.  It is so full with family, friends, the sweetest little boy and a man that loves you.  I know what you are dreaming about right now and I am pleased to tell you some of those dreams will happen in just a few short years.

Right now you are probably just in the midst of figuring out that you really love to run.  It is your freshmen year and I know you have no idea what running will become.  You are entering a chapter where running will be everything.  It is going to teach you a lot.  It is going to build within you a determination and a strength you did not even know you were capable of.  It is also going to test you.  It is going to wake you up and make you realize you are much more than just a runner.  It will show that running is a good thing, but it is not the thing.  It will get you places and open doors and give you things.  This is a lot of vagueness, all to say this: keep running, keep chasing dreams, keep getting better, keep putting in the miles and the minutes, keep believing you can.  Running will begin as the everything and it will end as really nothing, but I am learning right now that it will come back to be something really beautiful again; just with a different look.

Along with running, you are also forming some very important friendships.  Some of those friends, you are going to lose touch with and that is okay, but some, specifically a couple, will be your two best friends, 10 years later and beyond.  Enjoy your time with them now.  Things will change very quickly.  Definitely not for the worst, but it will be different.  You will all live in different states and your time together will be limited.  Soak up your time with them now.  These girls will stand by you at your wedding, they will be there for your baby shower, they will drive to see you in Arizona.  They will love you in the good and the hard.  They will be true friends through and through.

As with your friends, spend as much possible time with your family.  As strange as this may sound, you only have about 3 more years of living at home.  You only have 6 more years of being unmarried.  In three years, it will be different.  In six, entirely changed.  Your time at your family home is limited.  Appreciate it as much as you can now.  Thank your mom more for always helping pack lunches and making breakfasts and loving you so well.  Thank your dad more for all his support and believing in you always.  Spend more time with your sister.  Tell her more often all the amazing strong qualities you see in her.  Give more cuddles to your dog, Jack, he will pass in just a couple years. Go and visit grandma as often as you can.  When she tells you to “run along now” stay longer.  Treasure this season with your family.

I know now you are not even really thinking about dating or boys, but just remember the real man will come in the form of a very good friend. He is more than you are even dreaming about.  Therefore, do not take the different heart breaks too seriously.  As dramatic as they feel at the time, God has something infinitely better planned for you.  All the disappointments are one step closer to finding the life He has intended for you.  I don’t want to tell you who your husband will be (some things are better left as surprises), but trust me when I tell you that he is perfect for you.  He will be the man that helps point you back to the cross.  Through your friendship, you will be reintroduced to church and find out what it means to truly be in relationship with Jesus.  Reality LA will be an important church and community for you in the coming years.  I know right now you go to church, but I am so excited for you to fully see what it looks like and feels like to have a personal relationship with God.

Remember how you always dreamed about being a teacher and a mom?  These dreams comes true.  Teaching will be hard at times, but by the time you leave for the next dream to happen, you will have a heart so much fuller than when you began.  You will come to find that you learned more as a teacher than you ever had as a student.  You will realize that teaching is not always about the deliverance of content as it is about the example of love and kindness you can set for your students.  It turns out this is what they will really remember about you; not the proper placement of a semi-colon.

You will leave the classroom for a bit and enter your next dream.  Motherhood.  Your baby boy is more precious than you can even imagine.  He has your nose and his father’s eyes. Even in just the first few months, he is going to teach you a lot about sacrifice, patience, and love.  There is not much else I can tell you on this, considering I am just a few months in, but I am sure my future self will have some good lessons to prepare you for.

I want to leave you with these final words.  You have so much to look forward to.  There is amazing and beautiful things ahead.  A common thread you will be faced with is lack of confidence in your abilities.  Whenever you are in those places of doubt whether it be on the line of a race, in a classroom of students, up late with a sleepless baby; remember that God made you ready for each of these different seasons.  You were made for this.  Don’t ever forget that.

Love,

25-year-old self

 

 

A Heart Fill Up

This mama needs a heart fill up.  My heart was low this week.  It was in need of a fill up.  Just like the way I drive my car, my heart is often on empty while I keep pushing through the miles without taking the time to do what I really need…fill up! I am not sure what it was.  Maybe it was the after-Thanksgiving rush.  The Black Friday and Cyber Monday push to consume and save.  Maybe it was all the Christmas decor messily spread throughout our home.  Maybe it was the fact that I have a baby that refuses to sleep through the night.  Regardless of the exact reason, I felt slow this week.  I felt unproductive.  And mostly, I felt plain tired.  Mondays are my clean-up days.  On Mondays, I mostly regroup from the weekend rush and get the house back in order. Sweeping up all of Nala’s golden hair, dusting, reorganizing, folding laundry.  This Monday none of that seemed to happen.  So the rest of the week I felt behind and questioned how it seems like I only seem to be able to take care of Hudson and make dinner in a full day when most people are out in the world being productive and busy and important. These are the lies I tell myself.

On Thursday, I got my much needed fill up.  The rain almost stopped me from getting what I really, truly needed, but thankfully it did not.  Thursday was the day I went to visit my students at the school I taught the past two years at.  The night before when I looked over the weather forecast, I thought to myself, if it is rainy really hard in the morning, I will just reschedule.  And it was rainy really hard in the morning.  The easy thing would have been to just choose another day.  The students did not even know I was coming.  Just my one teacher friend knew.  While this was the easier thing to do, I really felt God tugging on my heart to go.  So I went.  While I was stuck in rainy LA traffic and had a screaming 5 month-old in the back of my car, I questioned if I heard God correctly.  But I kept driving.  When I pulled up to the school, it began to come down even harder.  I quickly wrapped my oversized scarf over my head, draped a blanket over Hudson’s carseat and ran towards the school’s entrance.  I felt slightly crazy. Why was I doing this?  But literally right when I pulled open the metal gate, two students called out “Mrs. Capel!” and ran towards me, grabbing Hudson, and helping me get out of the rain.  It was right when I heard that “Mrs. Capel” that I knew I heard Him right. This was where I was supposed to be on this rainy Thursday morning.

From that moment on, I was filled up with so much love.  It came in the form of hugs, smiles, and “we miss you so much”.  In a lot of ways, I have not missed teaching.  I have not missed the tremendous stress, the endless grading, the repeated disciplining.  However, I have absolutely missed them.  They were absolutely the very best part of my job and I miss them daily.  I miss them so much that I do sometimes wonder if it made sense to leave the school.  But then I look at my sleeping baby on the monitor as I type this and I know I made the right decision.  I miss all of my students so much, but I know I would miss even more this precious time I get with my little Hudson and for that I am very grateful.  I am learning that you simply cannot have it all or do it all.  I wish I could.  But I can’t.  I think I will always be in a season where I will be missing something or someone.  And that is okay.  While it is okay and even good to miss what we no longer have, I hope that I never miss things too much; that I prevent myself from soaking in all the good things I do have.  Because there is a lot of good to be soaked in.

I left that Thursday afternoon, with my heart filled to the brim.  I drove away feeling so thankful I went. So thankful for all of those kids I got to teach. And so thankful for Hudson.  Sometimes we need fill ups.  Actually, daily we need fill ups. I daily forget who I am.  I daily need to be reminded of the promises of God in scripture.  Because the reality is the world is hard and messy and not always pretty; and each day the chaos of the day can cause me to forget who I am in Christ.  This daily fill up typically comes in the form of reading my Bible, praying, and being alone.  I am a fan of being alone.  But, I am learning that being with good people also is a big source of encouragement, energy, and love for me.  Thursday was full of good people and rain.  I am thankful for both.  And I am thankful I listened to those whispers to go out.