Strength and weakness

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

You’ve got to see your momma in a wide variety of settings and situations. I guess all kids do to some degree. But even more so, you’ve seen your momma in huge loss and you’ve seen her carry on for 7 plus years on her own. You’ve seen her take on Europe and Israel, Alaska and month long road trips out west. You’ve seen her take on mulching, rocking and re landscaping an entire yard and major house projects that most women wouldn’t even consider. You’ve seen her deal with car problems and being perfectly stranded on the side of the road in a state where she had no one to call that was familiar for help. And probably a whole host of other situations I’m not even thinking of.

I believe that you probably think that you have a pretty strong mom. You’ve probably even been told that from time to time by others watching on. They may have also connected the words crazy, adventurous, courageous and impulsive…but strong was probably a word that many would’ve used to describe your mom.

Then…I met Dane, fell in love right before your eyes. Sometimes I think it’s as if you saw me as a rock and all of a sudden I became water and you wonder what in the world happened.

I get it. I can see how you might look at me now and feel a little confused. You might even be disappointed in me from time to time because you had grown so used to counting on me being your rock.

I taught you to be strong and press on and suddenly it could appear that I am weak and have a kryptonite almost…

I want you to know…I am not weak. I am not wimpy. I am a fighter, a stay in the game until it’s finished kind of girl. I am a work hard, pull your own weight kind of momma, always have been, always will be.

But girls…can I tell you how amazingly good it feels to be water these days instead of a rock. Water is just as powerful…in fact water over time against rocks actually moves and changes the rocks (Remember the grand canyon!!). I feel stronger than ever. I feel braver than ever.

Yes I like having Dane by my side as much as possible. Most of us aren’t made to live alone. And Dane is definitely my best friend. And yes, these days I don’t have to do it all on my own…Praise be to God! But I am strong girls…I am healthy and active in ways I never have been before. I am happy and at peace. I am deeply content. I am secure. For this girl who easily was insecure for 40 plus years…that’s HUGE. I look in the mirror and I like who I see. Again, HUGE.

I am fully alive.

Sometimes when I was single parenting I was able to plan trips and adventures, to take on projects and keep our daily life going, but in the process…sometimes I had a hard time really being in the moment…really feeling alive.

Ultimately, that’s why I quit teaching. That was a HUGE first step.

Maybe strength doesn’t look like what we think it does. Maybe it doesn’t mean going it all alone all the time. Maybe it means totally risking it all and opening your life to someone else completely, receiving their love and giving love freely. Maybe strength is all about vulnerability.

I’ve always been fairly open and vulnerable…hence my history of blogging about anything and everything, but to be completely bare before another human, face to face, as in my relationship with Dane is the highest level of vulnerability I have ever experienced.

It may be hard to see…but I am still your strong, sometimes crazy, impulsive, adventurous, brave momma…I will always be. I’ve just switched the strength of standing alone like a rock, to flowing with life like a powerful river.

I often look at the Mississippi and think…surely it wouldn’t be that hard to swim in it. I mean, I’ve swam across lakes before. Dane has told me several times…oh but Ruth, you don’t understand the current, it would sweep you under before you even realized what was happening. And I know he’s right. He’s just smart that way :)

So when you take a look at me these days…don’t mistake the changes in me for weakness. I still am an individual with plenty of thoughts and feelings, plenty of ideas and things I want to do. I am not wimpy. I am stronger than ever. I know what I want in life. I’m living how I want to live. I am fully aware that the future is unknown and I know with confidence that whatever comes…I will keep pushing on, throwing off everything that entangles. I will finish this race strong, you can count on it. I will finish with nothing left in me because I will give this life all I have to give it.

Having a partner…a best friend, a husband, Dane…has not weakened me in anyway. I promise you. And it sure feels good to flow with life instead of just feeling like I’m a rock.

And by the way…I do still cry, and have moments of untogetherness and that’s perfectly fine too.

Love your momma who stood on a rock yesterday by the Mississippi River and realized how strong I feel these days. It’s a beautiful thing. Not because of who I am. Not because of Dane and who he is. But because of God in both of us and what He is doing in our lives.

Love from miles away

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

You’re away from me right now up in Michigan having fun with relatives. It’s a wonderful break for both of you from normal day to day life.

Lauren you’ve been pushing hard to get through high school early and have already in your senior year put in 6 classes of college while taking on a part time job at Dairy Queen. I know you’re ready for a break.

Breathe it in…relax, enjoy and breathe in the time of having no responsibilities, jobs, and to do lists.

I encourage you to work on being healthy this semester as you take a break in every way.

Healthy in what you eat.

Healthy in exercise.

Healthy in how you spend money and your time.

Healthy in how you use technology.

Healthy in your spiritual walk, emotionally, mentally, etc.

Set a good foundation for what is to come and it will go smoother, I promise you.

Lydia…you’re in your final year of homeschooling. You’re taking some great classes this year and I’m looking forward to all that you will learn and experience. I want to enjoy this last year at home with you.

You’ve got ACT tests coming and college choices and a whole lot of grown up stuff. It will all come together just fine. God will lead you in ways that you can’t even imagine right now.

I just want you both to know that whether we are in the same house or not, you are never far from my thoughts. Yes, Dane and I enjoy our alone time too, just as you enjoy some mom and Dane free time :). But it’s never out of sight out of mind.

I love you. I’ve said it so many times the words almost feel worn out like a pair of jeans that are so holey they need to be thrown away. But I hope instead of the words being weary and old, you find they cover you like you’re favorite blanket.

So many changes…years gone by and so many changes to come that we can’t even imagine today. Some will be awesome, some really hard. Life is about change.

Here’s celebrating the changes I see in you…

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Girls and Mark at camp

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Lauren and Lydia jumping in the sprinkler

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Love your momma who will now return to cleaning house after this sentimental break and trip down memory lane :)

Rededication

Dear Lydia,

Last night you came home from Encounter Tour telling me of what God had done in your life this past week. I could already tell in the pictures that you texted me. I could see it in the smile on your face and the joy that showed in each photo. I knew it was more than the ocean, the friends and the fun. I knew it was more than Florida could offer. So I wasn’t surprised one bit when you came home last night and talked of rededicating your life to Christ.

It took me right back to my own teenage years when I had moments and times when I rededicated my life to Christ. Times when I knew I was being drawn into a closer relationship with God and wanted to surrender fully to Him and His plans for me.

I see the change in you. Dane sees the change in you. Last night as we went to bed we talked about how refreshing it was to be around you last night even though you were exhausted after a long week of tour. This is God in you. You were kind, positive, joy filled, encouraging and open to life.

When I was in high school my dad wrote me a letter once during a summer camp we were helping my mom cook at. He talked about the difference he could see in me and knew it was because of the Holy Spirit in me. I was kinder. I was more helpful and willing to serve. Willing to put others before myself and so much so that it stood in stark contrast with my normal. I remember reading that letter and being moved so much that I kept it and still have it today.

Lydia…that is exactly what I see in you.

All I can say as your mom is Praise be to God. He truly will be there for you and provide for you, drawing you closer to Himself even when I’m not anywhere near or forcing the issue. I can trust Him to speak to you and to love you better than I can myself. Praise be to God. He is faithful and trustworthy.

This is the beginning for you of an ever deepening relationship with Him. He loves you as you are right now, delights in you…but the amazing thing is…He will continue the good work in you and you will find yourself changed even more so as you look back five years from now, 10 years from now, etc.

Stay open…who knows what God will do in you! He will cause you to be your truest, best self and this will lead to deep peace and contentment within you. You will stand out like a light in the sky and people will see you and although they will see Lydia…they will also see Jesus.

You’re home now…home to a lot of ordinary life, it won’t feel as passionate and exciting probably….but don’t be fooled into thinking the moment has passed or it was just an illusion. The working out of our faith happens most in daily moments, very ordinary days that come and go without much change. We pray and notice God’s presence. We read the bible and think things through, writing, journaling, processing. We gather with God’s people. We worship God as we notice creation and as we love one another well. We encourage one another and notice the positive and then all of a sudden we start to realize this world is filled with good that is just waiting to be noticed. Yes there is evil…but there is also great good. We become part of the change we wish to see in the world.

I want to help you stake down the decision you made this past week in your heart and soul. I want you to remember the first week of August, 2015 and the changes it brought in your life. There will be days when you feel as if you’re not changed at all. Days when you feel like you’ve stepped back into old ways of doing and thinking…but when those days come, recognize it, stand back up and move forward, not back to start…just stand up where you are and move forward.

You’ve changed this week. Everyone in our home could feel it. You’ve encountered the living God. I could not be more happy for you. Today as I go to worship at our church, I worship a God who loves my children and delights in drawing near to them. I worship a God who is always with you no matter where you go or what you do. I worship a God who’s love has changed you in beautiful ways.

The work is started…just trust Him to complete it…He will.

Love your momma who is very happy for you.