I know this is going to sound old fashioned…

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

I know this letter is going to sound old fashioned and maybe things aren’t done this way anymore…but I’m going to say it anyway.

When you start to date, which believe it or not is probably not far off…

1. Let the man make the first move. Sure…be friendly, welcoming, open, encouraging, etc. But…let him make the first move. If nothing else someone around him is bound to pick up on the fact that he should make a move and give him a nudge…but let him be the one to initiate.

2. Let him open the door for you…every time. It takes longer…it’s not necessary. It’s old fashioned, but let him do it anyway. It’s good for him and good for you. Starts that whole cherishing thing agoing. And believe me you are going to want to be cherished.

3. He doesn’t have to pay all the time…but yeah that’s kind of part of the deal too. I know we women are strong and independent…but some of these age old traditions have great value.

4. Listen to him. Take an interest in his stories and then share a few of yours too.

5. Do simple things. Not expensive things…not huge. Once in awhile a nice night out on the town is good…but honestly the simple things of just taking a walk together or watching the sunset together are beautiful and help you to focus on what’s important…getting to know each other.

6. Take the physical stuff slow. I’m not a person who says wait for your first kiss until your wedding day or anything…but let all things crescendo naturally…you will sense it, there is no need to rush. Delight in small touches…holding hands, a hug, an arm around your shoulder. It’s amazing how lovely the smallest of gestures can be when we really savor the moment and don’t rush.

7. Give each other space…trust that the relationship can handle not having constant contact and that it’s large enough to fit friendships and family in too. The more you try to cling the more the other person will want to flee. Let air into the relationship and you’ll be surprised at the attraction that happens naturally.

8. Tell each other the places where you’ve been hurt, the hard stuff…and then be trustworthy with that kind of information. Everyone on the face of the earth has hurts and hard stuff in their past. Give honor to it all, mourn where needed and rejoice too.

9. Be kind. Do the best you can with the outside…look pretty, etc. but even more so be kind to one another. Kindness is incredibly attractive.

10. Serve together…do things for other people where it has nothing really to do with you or him…

11. Take it one moment at a time…try not to weight the relationship with thoughts of next week, next month and next year. No one can predict where life will take you or him. Enjoy this moment and eventually the moments add up and create a whole story.

12. Be honest. Real. Authentic. Share your feelings and be vulnerable. Hopefully he will do the same…it’s harder for guys but if you give them your authentic self it’s likely they might as well. It’s all about trust.

13. Give grace…no man will complete you. No man is perfect. 

14. Anchor on God every day. He is your hope. He is your Source. He is the One who will never leave you or forsake you. Don’t confuse the issue and put that kind of expectation on a man. He can’t meet your deepest needs.

I could probably list so many other things…things that I’m still learning for myself, honestly, but at least this is a start. 

I pray that you two will find guys someday who will love you extremely well, that will cherish you and make you feel beautiful inside and out. In the mean time I also pray that you two will be secure in who you are, aware of your own worth and value, confident to move through life in peace and trust that God will provide just what you need and desire.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart…

Love your momma

Holes

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

Everybody has holes. I know it doesn’t look like it. Some people seem so together and cool, so with it and smooth, but I’ve lived long enough to know everybody has holes. Some of us are just really, really good at hiding them. And some of us, not so much.

No one’s life is perfect. Even if it appears to be. It’s not. It’s not possible.

I guess we could try to make comparisons between people…but it’s not helpful. It takes energy away from where we need to be focused to receive healing in our own lives.

Knowing everyone has holes should cause us to give grace more freely. It should cause us to love others well.

Your big hole, at least this far in your life is the fact that you don’t have a dad. Well you do have a dad, kinda, in another world, I know he still knows you and loves you, he’s not that far removed and yet…I also know you haven’t seen his face in real life for over 7 years. When you’re only 17 and 15 that feels just about the same as not having a dad at all. Which just sucks. 

I’d like to fix it for you.

But I can’t. And…it’s not my job to do so. 

Parenting is a tricky thing, we parents are used to providing all of our kids’ needs and several desires too. We are used to providing shelter and food, clothing, fun and play, hobbies and travel, life experiences and entertainment. We’re used to buying cars and paying for college and weddings…but as much as we might like, we can’t provide everything.

I think that’s one of the things that’s hardest about the shift in parenting from when you’re 2 to when you’re 17. When you were 2 I had you covered Lauren…pretty much almost knew your needs before you even asked, or could at least figure them out. Now that you’re 17…I can’t cover everything anymore. I can’t fix everything. I can’t provide for everything. I have to leave gaps that are empty. Not because I want to…but because literally it’s impossible for me to fill them.

Part of me hates holes. I hate the feeling of emptiness in my own life on days when I especially notice my holes. That ole’ no man really notices me, loves me or takes care of me thing can be a doozie. 

Part of me knows that when I embrace my holes and somehow find peace in letting go that’s when I feel nearest to God. That nearness is somehow at least a redemptive quality of the hole. I’m not saying that I want more holes…but at least I can find some purpose, some good that comes out of having them.

For the past 7 plus years you have watched me choose to fill that hole in my life as deliberately as I could muster with God, with loving Him and trying to love other people and even learning to love myself better. Can you imagine if I had instead taken to filling the hole with alcohol, drugs, sex, bringing guys home, or whatever else I could’ve tried? It would’ve been devastating for our family. When I was teaching I saw it all the time.

This is not to say that I’ve handled my holes perfectly. I haven’t. This is not to say that those who handle their holes by using alcohol, drugs, etc. are terrible people. Honestly…I think they’re pretty normal people who are just trying to cope with life. 

My point is simply that we all have holes and we all have choices about how we will fill those holes. I have found that NOTHING works for long except God and His presence. I know that sounds mystical and hokey…but it’s not. 

Prayer is about simply bringing our holes to God and asking Him to fill us. Prayer is about hearing from God, lining ourselves up with Him. As I do that 24/7 somehow the holes don’t seem quite as oppressive. Somehow I even have moments when I feel joy and feel divine love.

You need to be reminded and I as your mom will make every effort to do so the rest of your lives…

This man…you dad…LOVED you then, LOVES you still and will always LOVE you.

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We must trust that the veil is thin and that in time this great disconnect will not seem like a disconnection at all. We must trust that God is aware of your holes and knows perfectly how to fill them with life and beauty, peace and joy.

We cannot satisfy for lesser things. We cannot allow ourselves to believe lies…we must listen for truth. 

Love your momma who is right in there with you trusting and hanging on for God to fill my holes too.

Don’t rob from today

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

Today is a good day for the most part. Life is reasonably good…food to eat, a home that is safe and secure, pets, closeness to each other, no big expectations placed on us, bills paid, etc.

Sometimes if we’re not careful it’s easy to take away from today’s good by thinking about what might happen or how we will cope with the next bad day or loss. We rob today of it’s joy and don’t fully let ourselves be present because we are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If I really knew how many days I’ve robbed of their joy because of ridiculous worries and what might happens, I would be shocked I’m sure and then saddened. Don’t live that way.

You have today. You have this moment. You have each other. You have shelter, good food, family, friends, etc. You have Daisy and Chloe. The fragile nature of life hopefully helps us to realize how precious the good days are. Hopefully it causes us to walk away from things that waste our time and to not take each other for granted.

Tomorrow something terrible might happen. No amount of preparation on your part will really change that fact. Sure, you can have money put aside for emergencies and try to make some plans as it makes sense but overall, most of the huge changes and losses that happen in life are not things we can prepare ourselves for. 

When your dad developed cancer and later died from it there was no preparation on our part that took care of that. No amount of worrying ahead of time would’ve helped or made a difference. In some ways, most really, it’s good that I had no idea it was coming or I would’ve surely fretted away the good days before that time. Instead, we dealt with it as it came.

I can not tell you how many days I’ve robbed of their joy because I was anxious about something that might happen at some point. Most of the time I find that my worries come to absolutely nothing except loss sleep and stress on my part.

Soak in this day. Soak in the goodness of it today. Try not to even give a whole lot of thought to tomorrow and what needs to be done or the losses that might happen. Sure, make goals and schedules and plans…you need to head yourself in the right direction and take steps to get there…but make them, set it down and enjoy this present day.

You will have conversations today that will never come around again. You will see people you might not ever see again. You will feel things and remember things that might not return in quite the same way. You will laugh and tell stories, cuddle your cats and sing. Enjoy it all.

Life is incredibly rich. Not because of stuff…not because of money…not because of fancy things or places. It’s rich because you have the chance to love and be loved TODAY. You’ve got to have your head in the game though. You can’t just be present in body and not in spirit. 

Don’t dread.

I have dreaded and counted down days upon days of my life…I look back now and see how insane that is/was. Don’t do it. Make the changes you need to and live in a way where dread isn’t necessary. If you dread…figure out why. That is not the way life is meant to be lived.

Life is hard. But the hard stuff will take care of itself as it comes. You will adjust. You will move forward. You don’t have to prepare in advance for how you will feel…believe me, all those feelings will be automatic.

Live the best life you can right now. Life is amazingly beautiful…especially when we show up and are present without borrowing troubles from tomorrow or the next day or 10 years from now.

Now go cuddle your cats…you know you want to :)

Love your momma who is glad that you enjoy my letters to you. The fact that you ask me to write makes my heart happy :)