Sweet 16

Dear Lydia,

Happy Birthday booboo (remember those days :) schmoo schmoo (sorry I couldn’t resist).

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On this special day when we celebrate you I just want to write and tell you how much I love you. This is no surprise to you. I’ve been telling you daily for 5,840 days now but I still feel the need to tell you again.

When you were born you were amazing right from the start. And I mean from the first second anyone laid eyes on you. That red hair. I had no idea how unique it was until I had you. I grew up in a home with several red headed people. But from day 1 everyone around us has noticed your hair.

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Your eyes…wow…they just pop, and you have the good style and personality to pull off really cool glasses to go with them.

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You’ve got a contagious laugh and I have many, many memories of hearing you laugh uncontrollably that make me smile. And dance :)

And you have courage and personality to go with it.

Such a tender heart. It’s been hard to have a tender heart…easy to get hurt and then hard to know what to do with that hurt…but girlie…keep it tender anyway. God will help you deal with the hurts.

You are a wonderful daughter and sister and friend. All who know you are blessed because of you.

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You’ve loved music from day 1. I can still picture you at age 2 sitting on the couch with your feet down between the cracks of the couch cushions rocking back and forth with headphones on listening to “Jesus is life”.

On this day I will give you some presents. We will celebrate with friends. Go out to eat at the steak house you like. Go watch a movie (Annie) and in general just have a good day celebrating you. We will go to a family christmas party and to our church service just because that’s what we do.

But…

16 marks the start of the possibility of dating. You’ve never had a boyfriend so far. Which in this day and age seems strange I know. But I’m glad for you. Your dad was really big on you not dating till you were 16. We’ve kept that promise.

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At this point though…more than anything we give you today I am wishing for you to be loved and cherished someday extravagantly well. I know it seems over the top right now. I know you see Dane and I kiss and cuddle and think we’re crazy…but Lydia, oh how I wish for you what I have some day. I don’t know a single woman on the planet who doesn’t want to be cherished and loved for who they are.

My prayer today is that wherever that young man is…he is learning well to hold doors, and help put on coats, and have manners, and to want to hold you close, to delight in your presence. I am praying that he loves God and can’t help himself from loving you. That through a dating/marriage relationship someday you will experience the very presence of God through love that is unconditional and beautiful.

I look forward to watching it all unfold. And I admit…Dane and I look forward to watching you kiss someone and smiling. Love is a beautiful thing.

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Sweet 16…oh how things will change for you in the coming decade. Through every change and transition I will love you and you will always be mine. I believe in you and will come visit you no matter where you go or what you do (even South Korea!).

Happy Birthday girl.

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Love Always and forever,

Mom, Dane and Lauren

Truths for you to give thought to.

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

You’ve grown up…you really have. Lauren you’re almost done with high school, starting college in just a short 2 months. You’re at the age I was when I was dating your dad and eventually marrying him!

My role as your mom is changing. I feel it every day. You’re growing more independent. Wanting me to be involved with your lives and yet wanting some distance from mom. It’s a tricky balance for me to figure out.

These are a couple of things I’ve noticed lately that I just want you to give thought to. These are things that I’ve worked on and struggled with my entire life. Perfection and mastery of these is not the end goal…but they are at least worth giving thought to. God will lead you as you work out your faith and life with Him.

1. There is more than enough love to go around. It might not feel like it sometimes…but if love seems scarce than it’s not really love. Love multiplies as it’s given. Love is not about being left out. When you realize that there is enough love to go around you will stop thrashing, pushing,and having to have your own way. You will be able to rest, be at peace and find contentment. My understanding of this is improving all the time…I still occasionally struggle with it, but I know it’s true. Relationships need air and space to breathe in. When we aren’t sure if we will be loved we panic, cling and become people who are not our best selves. God loves you. He delights in you just the way you are right now. You don’t have to earn or deserve His love. And…you have people in your life who love you unconditionally too. So when you are not at rest step back and check yourself…most likely you are buying into the myth that there is only so much love and there is not enough for you. This truth when lived out will either make you a secure confident woman or if you don’t believe it, an insecure, clingy woman.

2. Make sure God is your source…your anchor, the constant in your life. He is the only one who can be your hope, your refuge, your shield and stronghold. He is the only one who can be your peace and love you the way you need to be loved at the core of you. You will have amazing people come into your life but even amazing people cannot meet your deepest needs. If you look to God to meet those needs instead your relationships will be far healthier. No human being can handle the pressure or expectations that should only be placed on God. Again…if you   trust God to be your source you will be a secure, confident woman. If you don’t you will become resentful and cause others around you to shut down or get angry when they realize that they can never meet your expectations.

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3. Believe the best about people. Especially those closest to you. You will be tempted to jump to bad conclusions and false assumptions. Especially if you believe there is only so much love to go around. You might even find yourself withholding from others because you are hurt and feel they are withholding from you. But don’t do it. Learn to recognize you are falling into this pattern and you and the people around you will be far happier. Trust instead. Even if you might be taken advantage of from time to time. It’s worth the risk and will change everything about how you respond to life.

These are all struggles I know well. To some degree I will always probably have tinges of these things in my life. Which means I’ve probably passed on some of these things to you girls without meaning to.

I love you two and want you to be the secure confident women that God has created you to be. The only way that can happen is if you believe at the core of you that there is enough love, God is able and the only one who can meet your needs and believing the best about people becomes your default way to live.

Love your momma

Today…

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

Today is a big day. Huge.

Today we add a man back into our lives…permanently, in forever life altering ways.

We have been a family of 3 for almost 8 years now. We have loved and lived and survived and been full of estrogen and emotion and expression with 2 female cats thrown in for good measure. I want you to know…we have done well.

Make no mistake…I am overjoyed at the reality that this is all going to change…but girls, we have done well.

We’ve conquered house disasters and car repairs and being stranded by the side of the road. We have taken on trips and adventures and experiences that are generally seen as only things one might do with a man present. We have been afraid and moved forward anyway. We have been brave, not because there was no fear…but because we identified the fear and said it won’t stop us.

And it hasn’t. I couldn’t even list all that has happened in the past 8 years. The adventures, trips, experiences, daily life, frustrations, joys, and sorrows…but we have lived.

We have lived each day as fully as we could muster at the time.

Girls I am so proud of us 3. Your dad would be and guaranteed is proud of us.

Today though…we get to add a man to our home. And not just any man…but Dane. If ever you question if there is a God and if He is good…all you will need to do is think of Dane and you will be assured that God is faithful and loves us.

Dane has made our home a better place even in the short time he has been with us. As practical as the fact that you haven’t had to deal with your mom’s normal fix it tactics lately…Dane actually knows how to fix things the right way with the right tools! Dane has brought much joy and laughter to our home. We’ve played games and watched movies, ate meals, played tennis and sat outside in our yard enjoying camp fires. We’ve told stories and acted out each other’s quirks just a bit and had a great time laughing about it all. You girls even go around copying his expressions which is hilarious :)

Lydia…last night before Dane left for the last time you said from the other room as he kissed me goodbye…”Dane…tomorrow we will become dad and daughter.” You’ve never just walked up to Dane and said “Hi dad…” You’ve always called him Dane. And that’s alright. Only you girls will know what feels right to you and Dane and I are good with that…but last night when you called out those words from the other room and he and I looked at each other…you didn’t get to see the expression on his face. The pure joy of him knowing that you know how much he loves you both.

Today is a beautiful day. Oh how happy it would make your dad up in heaven to know that Dane will love you both well. To know that it doesn’t matter that you’re not blood because love isn’t bound by such things. I believe maybe he does know. Surely God shares this kind of precious thing with those we love in heaven.

Our lives are changing at a crazy pace this fall.

We’ve literally moved from one house and into another.

Lauren is enrolled in college.

Mom is getting married.

We’ve changed vehicles.

You’re both driving.

You’ve started part time jobs here and there.

Today we celebrate. Today we take a good hard look at everything that has brought us to this day and we can’t help but worship a God who would love us this much and take this good of care of us.

What we thought was hopeless…wasn’t. What we thought was impossible…was nothing for God to do. He lined up everything for us. Exactly. At. The Right. Time.

Girls…let this day be a day when you stake down your faith and trust in God. Let this be a day that anchors you when storms come. Let this day be a reminder of how much God loves you.

Dane and I love you. We always will…but even more so…let this love lead you back to The Source.

You may call Dane whatever you like. You’ll know what feels natural. But be assured…today not only does he become my husband…he is also becoming your dad. He will protect you. He will love you. He will be there for you. That’s just who Dane is.

Soak it in girls…just soak in the goodness of God. Let the water of God’s provision and presence run over you and fill every crack and broken area. Our losses provide places where God has opportunity to enter in. Today the love of God is so pure and rich I think if you take a moment you’ll actually be able to feel like you’re standing under a waterfall. Stay open to it. Receive God’s love.

Let’s welcome Dane into our home in ways that let him know how extremely glad we are that he is here. He is God with skin on to us. Let’s be God with skin on to him.

Love your momma who is so proud of you two and the fact that we did the last 8 years just the 3 of us and did them well. But today is so grateful for wholeness and hope. To God be the glory.