A new chapter

Dear Lauren,

Today I ordered the food for your open house that we’re having for you in 2 weeks. I’ve already sent out invitations and have you looking through pictures to display. I’ve even made up soap bars for the people who come as a gift to them for being part of your life. You chose the scents :).

It’s all a little surreal. You’ve grown up. You’re in college already, finishing your first semester this week. You’ve got a part time job at Dairy Queen and I realize more and more that the next 5 years for you will be pivotal in you becoming fully independent.

I love you. I still love the way you text me when something good or bad happens. I love the way you come in by the side of the bed at night sometimes to talk about hard stuff. I love the way you joke around and even when I shush you from time to time I still enjoy hearing you sing, dance and goof around. You’ve been giving our cats a voice for so long I think we all actually think they communicate with words!

You’re a writer through and through. Can’t imagine where you might have gotten that from :). All you want for you birthday are nice notebooks and pens!

As your mom I hope you look back on your childhood with good memories and that I’ve given you a good foundation for life. It’s not perfect. Sigh…

I guess if I could fix anything…I just wish that I could help you see yourself more confidently. I wish that I could get you to believe in yourself more and to find yourself more beautiful inside and out. I wish I could erase the self doubt you feel, the tendency you have to not engage because of fear.

But then again, if I could step back in time and see myself I have a feeling I was all of those things and more when I was your age. God will work these things out. He will speak truth and His love to you over and over and over and at some point it will really settle in and you’ll awaken to the reality that you are delighted in by the God of the Universe. I would say that didn’t really ring true for me til my 40’s. I hope it becomes real to you far before that. But if it doesn’t this will be alright too.

In this season I have to realize more and more what is my job and my part and what isn’t. I am your mom…not God. Sometimes I forget. I can trust God to work in your life and lead you. I will trust Him to love you even more than I do.

I want to remind you as I have so often over the years…God has good plans for you, really good stuff, stuff that will cause you to feel more joy than you can imagine, stuff that will take you by surprise and warm your heart, and some stuff that will cause you to cry and acknowledge broken places in you. It will be ok…He will heal the broken areas of your life and cause them to radiate with beauty more than you can imagine right now.

You have been an amazing daughter. Seriously, amazing. You have become one of my best friends. I hope for life. I look forward to watching you ‘become’. You have filled my life with great love, pride and joy. I have needed grace from you in ways that I probably have never needed it from any other person on the face of the earth. And you have given me grace. You have needed grace too…and I hope you know that my love for you covers anything that might not have been perfect along the way.

Dream big. Listen to your heart. Pay attention to what makes you come alive. Love with everything you have. Believe in yourself. Trust God. Listen to His voice…you will hear Him in the silence of your life. Engage with life in every way you can. Don’t be content to watch others live…you get out there and live. Set goals. Take on projects. Move forward. Grow. Learn and read the rest of your life. Treat others the way you want to be treated and it will come back to you. Go the extra mile. Be generous. Take good care of yourself. Exercise. Eat healthy. Again, another lesson that has taken me years to learn. Be true to yourself. Don’t live in dread or by counting down days. Each day is a gift from God. If it doesn’t seem so than figure out why that is. You have so many choices before you. Don’t get stuck in a rut. No career has to last a lifetime. Surround yourself with people who are positive and encouraging. Notice your thoughts…if they are garbage or negative than start filling your mind with the good, lovely, praiseworthy and true things of this life.

You will always be my baby girl. Always.

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Someday when and if you have your own kids…we will sit down and talk about so many things, I can already tell. We will have stuff to cry about and a ton of stuff to laugh about. And oh the stories and memories I have to share with your kids someday.

I’m so very proud of you. All of you…even the stuff that’s hard and not perfect. Ease up on yourself. Learn to breath in grace everyday. You need it and so does everyone else around you.

So the food is ordered…the party is planned. The childhood years fast coming to a close. Everybody told me it would go by in a blink of an eye and I guess it has. But oh Lauren…we have filled the years with a whole lot of living. For that I have no regrets.

You know I believe the best is always yet to come…even now with you I believe it’s true. This is not an ending…it’s just a new chapter, a new way for us to get to know and love one another.

You are God’s gift to me. You are evidence daily of how good God is. I love you more than I can even express…for always.

Love your momma who will always be your momma.

Happiness

Dear Lydia,

Yesterday I was able to spend some one on one time with you. We visited old places, our first home when we moved to this area, your first school, your first church, and last but not least the middle school where I taught you daily in choir for 3 years.

You are my sentimental child. Change is hard. And I’ve just noticed lately…maybe the past year?, that you don’t seem as bubbly or happy. You’ve noticed it too. Like happiness is something that has to be forced or feels awkward it’s so out of your daily existence.

Things get rusty with lack of use.

I got thinking that maybe this Easter season it was time for us to do a bit of a mourning walk through some of the hard stuff in life. Maybe it was time to recognize the hurts and sorrows you carry and have them acknowledged and hopefully healed. Only God can do the healing…but I thought maybe if I put you in the right setting it would help.

It’s not a one time deal for sure…you will have to recognize old hurts and sorrows often and have them come to the light but it was definitely a good start.

We also shared fun, good stories in each of those places too. And that’s the reality of life…sorrow and joy intermingle, pain and happiness mix.

Last night though, as I watched you perform in the group “Encounter” praise and worship songs with a choir of high school students I couldn’t help but smile and worship. The words you were singing, whether they really sink in now or not were beautiful and exactly what will lead you to joy.

That’s why we are told to praise God in everything, because in the act of praising our spirits are lifted. Even if nothing about our circumstances changes.

Lydia I was so incredibly proud of you last night. Really…busting with pride.

Life is not easy, you know this…I pray for you today that you will experience more joy on the journey and experience the healing in your life that only God can do.

God loves you. He really is crazy about you. He absolutely delights in you and has amazing plans for your life. I love you. As in take my breath away…I love you. Your sister loves you…even when she’s messing with you, she loves you and would give her life for you without even thinking about it. Dane loves you…you know this to be true, even when he doesn’t ‘get’ you he loves you and stays in there trying to know you and connect with you.

And a whole bunch of family and friends love you.

I pray that God will slowly but steadily restore your happiness and joy and that you will be surprised with the joy you feel…as in can’t contain it. God can do far more than we can ask or imagine and I can ask and imagine really well!

I enjoyed our time together yesterday. I want you to know that your sorrow, hurts and losses matter to me. God is your protector ultimately…but I will always have your back as much as I can. I’m your mom after all :)

Love your momma who really enjoyed watching you perform last night.

Because you’re following in my footsteps…

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

In the story of the prodigal son…I am the older brother. I admit it freely. It’s not a compliment and he’s definitely not the person to follow in the biblical story…but if I am left to my own devices…that’s where I will go.

I am in the Father’s House but not celebrating or feeling loved and connected the way the Father would like me to. I am prone to envy, bitterness, resentment, pride, etc. All of the stuff you feel when you don’t trust the Father’s love to be big enough for older brothers AND for prodigal sons.

I am only bringing this up because I have this feeling I have probably led you down the same path and you might very well struggle with some of the same feelings I’ve had over the years.

The constant in the story is the Father’s Love. It’s always available to both sons throughout the entire story. The variable is our perception of the Father’s Love.

When we don’t get a clear picture of His love we live in ways that show it. We start believing there is a scarcity on love. Only so much to go around. And so we grab for ourselves, even if we don’t do it blatantly, we find subtle ways to be selfish.

It’s only in the last 2 years of my life that I think I’ve finally gotten some grasp on the whole thing. I’ve stopped long enough to examine myself closely and to take the effort to figure out why I respond the way I do to things that happen around me. Almost always my responses have far more to them than what appears on the surface.

Be careful to notice how you respond to life. If you struggle to rejoice with others, to be happy with your own life, to be content and fulfilled, to love the life you live…it probably means that you’re experiencing the older brother blues.

It might very well be time to celebrate, play, rest and embrace the love of God more fully.

Responsibility is a good thing. Having a standard is fairly healthy. But don’t let responsibility triumph over love. Don’t let having a standard keep you from experiencing and giving grace.

Love and grace are two of the best things I have experienced in my life in the last two years. Blessed relief.

One more thought…when you notice the weaknesses of others, be careful…the fact that you notice probably suggestions that you are struggling with stuff that is very similar. I almost always find that my finger pointing is pointing back far more strongly at my own stuff that needs to be dealt with. As much as you can…let people off the hook. They’re probably doing the best they can at any given moment of the day. It’s all any of us can really do.

I love you girls…and always just want you to come to the abundant life earlier and more fully than I have.

Love your momma