A Letter to My Daughters {God’s Love}

Girls,

Two weeks ago I turned thirty-seven.  I wanted to write then, but as you know, there hasn’t been much margin in our house for several weeks (years?).  And the words, they often come slow for me, until they come like a flood, and then they pour out on paper or screen but rarely out loud.  I wanted to write on my birthday because I write on yours, not to sing my own praises, but to stop and reflect and start to share.  To share some of the things that I want to say but just never find the words in day-to-day life when the conversations often stay on the surface and focused on survival.  And there are so many things I want to say that I can’t say them all today, so they will come slowly, with time, as the Lord brings the words.  And I want to post them here, though maybe not all of them, at least not publicly, because I want you to be able to find them later and I want your younger sisters to have them too. And so, here we go.

As I turned thirty-seven this year, I realized there is nothing significant about this birthday.  I’m not entering a new decade of life.  I’m not halfway between any either.  It’s just an ordinary birthday.  But this life we live is nothing ordinary at all and every year, every day, is a gift.  And as I look back on my life so far, my one great take away that I want you all to take away as well is that you are loved.  Deeply.  Wildly.  Madly.  Passionately.  Not only by your parents, your family, your friends.  But by the one great God of the universe.  The God who made you, who knitted you together and placed you in this family.  The God who names the stars loves you, rejoices over you, delights in you, died for you.  And there is nothing more important I can teach you than this.

But you have to do more than know of His love, you have to experience it.  You have to claim it as your own by faith and walk in relationship with Him.  You cannot just cognitively know of His love, you have to live in His love.  Rest in it, abide in it.  You have to spend time with Him, talk to Him, read the Word He has left for you.  A relationship can’t grow if it’s not nourished by time and attention.

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You will be let down in life.  People will disappoint you.  Heck, I probably disappoint you daily.  You will feel hurt, neglected, abandoned, ignored.  But you are not.  You are loved more than you will ever know or understand.  One day, if the Lord wills, you will have children of your own and you will have an understanding of the depths of my love for you and (hopefully) have a better appreciation for some of the “crazy” things we do (like having rules and stuff).  But you will also realize that your love for your child is only a fragile reflection of God’s love for you, and it will break your heart to know how loved you are by a God who doesn’t need to love us.

Each of you girls has given an expression of saving faith.  I know you know Jesus in your heart, but it’s up to you to know Jesus in your life.  It took me a long time to let Jesus find me and even longer to fully fall in love with Him.  And He’s allowed some dark times in my life, times of incredible hurt and pain, but He’s never left me.  Never forsaken me.  And He’s always making beauty from ashes.  He will do that for you too.

Sometimes I pray your road will be easier, lighter.  But sometimes I hope it isn’t.  The kind of love that walks through the darkness with you can soften you, make you real, like the Velveteen Rabbit, if you will only trust the One who lights your path.  We never know what God is up to, but we always know it’s something good.

I love you girls.  But God loves you more.  I want nothing more than for you to know His love, His grace, His mercy.  For Jesus to be real in your lives and for you to know how desperately we all need Him.  I pray that you will choose to grow in Him and follow hard after Him and that your path will be smooth and light, but that’s rarely the way in this broken world.  So as hard and as scary as it is, I pray He takes you down whatever path is necessary to truly know the depths of His great love.  I know He will walk with you all the way.

Love,  Mom

For When You Wear Regret Like a Robe…..

While on vacation Matt told me about an article he had read, written by someone who regretted saving herself, her virginity, for marriage.  And I laughed and said that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. I read her article.  And my heart breaks for the bad theology she was raised in and for the broken religion she was taught because, based on her post, so much of it is so far from the gospel of grace that Jesus lived.   And as a church we have so far to go to teach our young people that purity matters but it does not define us and that we stay pure because we trust that the God who made us really does know what is best for us, not because of pride or fear or shame.  And this morning I read Ann’s words on why to wait and they were beauty and grace.

On that same vacation I read Just 18 Summers and pondered the caricatured pressure, anxiety, and regret these families lived with and how they were an over-stated reflection of what so many of us feel and it seems to me that Satan has two primary tactics in which he wages war – pride and regret.  And while the book and the article are unrelated, the messages of pride and regret go hand-in-hand.

We wear our pride and think we could never make those bad choices, do those awful things – never have sex outside of marriage, never drink too much, smoke, do drugs, yell at our parents / spouse / children.  Because we’re good people, rule followers, righteous, and we just.don’t.do.that.  Until we do.  We fall and we stumble and we sin and we wake up in the dirt and mess of our own choices.  And while all can be forgiven, none can be undone.  And regret climbs on like a weight we can’t put down and it follows everywhere like an ugly shadow.

Or our pride keeps us on edge, trying to put forth an image, make us something we know we’re really not – pulled together, controlled, prepared, practically perfect in every way.  Until we realize we’re not.  And we see the time that was wasted pretending when we could have been living real. And our heart breaks for the relationships lost and broken while chasing the wind.

And I know regret well.  I can’t fathom regretting saving oneself for marriage.  It just doesn’t register.  But I can I understand the feelings of how is this suddenly okay, when it’s never been okay before.  I get that.  But giving away pieces of one’s soul in the name of being more at ease on your wedding night seems counter-productive.  But I know Satan will use any method to keep us from experiencing the fullness of God’s love, even to the point of making someone regret trusting His word.  And I have bags full of stuff I could carry around and regret from my pre-marriage life, but I’ve never been a big fan of living with regret and I see how those things shaped me and changed me and life carries on because God is bigger than all of it.  And while my pride was totally stripped, regret never really haunted me.

Until I became a mother.  And the thought of how my singular influence could so shape a life and that latent perfectionist within has never been able to handle the pressure and Satan found a way to saddle me with that burden of regret early and I daily have to lay it down.  The things that should have been said differently, or not said, or should have been said that weren’t.  The time that should have been used more wisely.  The snuggles I skipped, the stories we didn’t read, the encouragement I didn’t give to my husband or children.  And the hours I could spend focusing on what didn’t happen…..that’s when Satan wins a victory.  Oh, I could invest so much time and energy into what could have been but what would be the point?  I cannot go back.  I don’t intend to have more babies just so I can try again.  God has given me this one marriage and these five girls.  He’s given me eyes to see where we need to go, not just what we missed in the past.  I can’t go back and re-do any of it.  But I can make the most of now – being present, being available, being real.

And I think this concept of regret is a fairly Western, 21st century problem.  I don’t imagine my grandparents or great-grandparents or yours sitting around the fire at night lamenting all the “quality time” and “experiences” their children didn’t get.  They didn’t feel pressured to provide swimming pools or elaborate fire pits or elite sports teams or study abroad opportunities to make their lives full.  They lived their one life the best they could.  They loved, cared, and provided for their families the best they knew how.  Our generation has the luxury of worrying about the quality of time we spend with each other  or activities we are involved in and we’re killing ourselves because of it.

There are so many many things that could have been done differently.  I don’t want to spend this one life looking back wishing for  a do-over.  I want to look ahead with hope and joyful anticipation of all that God can make out of the ashes of a messed up past.  He makes beautiful things….
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For His Glory ~

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*image source – Pinterest; original source unknown

Weeks in Review: 2014 {Weeks 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, & 35}

Sometimes the need, the drive, to put words on paper, characters on screen….sometimes it’s deep and maddening and yet the words won’t come or time won’t stop long enough to let them flow.  And so a list or two and some photos.  Because time goes so fast and I don’t want to forget these moments or how to find my words.

July was:

  • Grace going to Kanakuk
  • a glorious time on the lake with friends for the Fourth
  • Grace going to Haiti
  • Ellie enjoying her first year at Camp Enosh and Chandler enjoying her last
  • celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary
  • a week of nothing but laying by the pool with the girls
  • sorting through nine years of school files and still keeping too much stuff
  • Chandler’s first trip to Schlitterbahn
  • a LeCrae concert
  • back to school preparations and planning

August was:

  • our oldest turning fourteen
  • littlest one losing her two front teeth and learning to ride a bike (not related events 😉 )
  • the start of fall sports with volleyball and soccer practices
  • finally getting all of Amania’s documents updated with her American name
  • a few days away with my beloved soaking up the sun and burning through a stack of books and nourishing heart and soul, mind and body
  • the return of Friday classes for the girls
  • lots of race prep as Capitol Craze draws closer
  • friends in for the weekend to close out the month
  • a tour of our newly renovated Capitol building – architectural beauty

And of course, both were filled with countless good gifts…….

Jesus looked up at said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.’ (John 11:41)

 The sequence of events in this passage seems strange and unusual.  Lazarus was still in the tomb, yet Jesus’ thanksgiving preceeded the miracle of raising him from the dead….Jesus gave thanks for what He was about to receive.  His gratitude sprang up before the blessing had arrived, in an expression of assurance that it was certainly on its way.

Streams in the Desert, August 4

And as I teach my girls that feeling follows action, I’m reminded that the practice of counting the gifts, looking for the gifts, often shows us just how much we have to be thankful for and a grateful heart starts to overflow.  For God is a gracious and generous giver.  We need only to open our eyes to see.

3006.  a God who tramples our iniquities underfoot and casts all our sins into the sea (Micah 7:18-19)

3007.  oldest off to Haiti for a week; this mama heart leaking just a bit

3008.  fifteen years of marriage – lessons of love, sacrifice, friendship, and intimacy

3009.  faith

3010.  fire pit, friends, and s’mores

3011.  girls all home

3012.  mild evenings

3013.  a broken Saturday – tears, struggle

3014.  a Sunday that makes strong – music, sermon, concert

3015.  beautiful Monday and little projects completed

3016.  grocery shopping with Minion #4

3017. a fourteen year old in the house

3018.  summer ending, but not quite over

3019.  August thunderstorm; heavens declaring His glory 

3020.  weekend and school planning and the super moon

3021.  September weather in August

3022.  window shopping with my people and so much race prep finished

3023.  weekends and friends and laughter and new church additions and a day of rest

3024.  a week and the beach and my beloved – resting, reading, reconnecting

3025.  G’s Frozen Custard and last day of summer treats

3026.  the first day of a new school year

3027.  meeting with Jesus in the early morning quiet

3028.  remembering that gentleness toward them is worship of Him


















Time flies, my friends.  Treasure the moments.  List the gifts.  Be all there for this one life you have to live.  

For His Glory ~

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