Real Courage

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

It dawned on me early this morning…before I even had a chance to get out of bed, that it takes great courage to start another day, day after day knowing that things won’t and can’t be perfect today. It takes great courage to look in the mirror and see the physical and also the unseen imperfections we all carry day after day. It takes great courage to keep loving, risking, trusting, believing, hoping and persevering knowing that there will be hurts today, there will be failure, mistakes, and disappointment. Every day holds some of both.

It takes great courage to rise and face the day when you know you will never ‘arrive’, never be able to just coast on this earth until your very last breath. Kind of like losing weight feels to me. It will never be something that I don’t have to work at, that’s why it’s been so easy for me to give up most of the time.

None of us likes the idea of having to work and work at something only to see such little progress.

To fall into the same old temptation and habits is painful.

We have a hard time dealing with our own stuff let alone dealing with everybody else’s stuff that effects us too!

This morning I woke up with the verse running through my mind, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It’s not something I usually think of but that verse says it all for me today. We all have sinned, in fact we will all sin today most likely. We all have fallen short and by bed time tonight will most likely have fallen short again. It can feel pretty overwhelming to realize how little we actually are capable of when it comes to real change in ourselves.

Our only hope is God. And it takes courage to believe in and trust a God who we can’t see, touch or hear. It takes courage to keep the faith when some things in life just have no good explanation.

Last night at church I heard a quote by Corrie Ten Boom that is still resonating with me this morning mainly because of the visual picture it created. She said…”when you go through the tunnel on the train and all you see is darkness that is not the time to jump off the train and throw away your ticket…that’s the time to trust the driver.” When I visualize that scenario it makes complete sense to me. You would never do something so foolish, you would sit back and trust that the driver knows where we’re going and how to get there. But how often do we jump off the train in life when darkness is around? You’ll see it all the time in life, maybe even experience it for yourself. That sudden feeling that you know better what to do and that nothing and nobody is worthy of your trust when hard times come.

It takes courage to stay on the train.

It takes courage day after day, tunnel after tunnel to trust the driver.

It does not take courage to jump off. All that takes is foolishness.

So we get up and we start the day and have good intentions. We don’t want to fall into the same bad habits, to repeat temptations that are all too familiar. We love that clean slate feeling but it isn’t long before the slate isn’t clean anymore. You and I are not capable of being perfect.

Most days feel like we are inching home in this race of life. Occasionally there might be a sprint forward but many days even involve a step or two backwards. A good day is a step forward. Seems incredibly small and almost not even worth noticing, but one step forward over a lifetime of living is huge.

It will be enough. Because…He is enough.

Be of good courage. You’ve been hurt…trust anyway. Been disappointed…believe anyway. Experienced failure…persevere regardless.

Learn what you can. Lean heavy on God to carry you. Learn to tune in and listen to His voice, to talk with him all throughout your day. And every night…let Jesus wash your feet.

That was another thing I heard last night at church. At the last supper Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. Peter didn’t want Jesus to do it and then went to the other extreme and wanted Jesus to wash all of him. Jesus said…you don’t need all of you washed…just your feet, you’ve already had a bath. In the same way…you don’t have to ‘become’ a Christian every day…you are already clean and righteous before God…but all of us pick up dirt along the road of life and all of us need our feet washed by Jesus…a daily confessing of sin.

Our daily reminders of how short we fall are never meant to crush us or cause us to give up trying. Instead, they are a way of causing us to want Jesus to wash our feet and being open to the reality of our need for Him.

Be of good courage. This day will hold it’s share of good and bad. You’ll hopefully move a few steps forward. But no matter what God is with you and for you.

There will be a day when you will arrive. A day when all will be made right with the world and with you and all will be redeemed. Until then…keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep hoping. Keep risking. Keep persevering. Keep facing each day with optimism and joy.

I love you and am proud of who you are right now imperfections and all. Thank you for loving your imperfect momma too. No one knows my stuff more than you two.

Your worth

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

The world would not be the same without you in it.

Your value can’t be measured.

You are more precious than the finest things this world has to offer.

You are beautiful inside and out.

You are smart.

God has great plans for your life.

You are the apple of His eye.

Your name is carved on His hand.

He gathers all of your tears…You matter to Him.

You live in a world that will make you feel like you’re not special, you’re a nobody, noticed and ordinary. You live in a world where some are held high because of fame and fortune, celebrity and accomplishment. Don’t think for a minute that makes you less than.

This world is not about winners and losers. We are all people made in God’s image. We are all children of God, created by God, sacred creations of God. Every person you meet and see on any given day of the week no matter how they look on the outside or what they say is worth caring about. Every person you meet is someone’s daughter or son, someone’s mom or dad.

Life is hard and it hits people hard and in all different kinds of ways. It would appear that some are dealt a really tough ‘hand’ to play. If we had the same hand we would be in their shoes. Regardless of race, economic level, gender, personality, education or experience or anything else that may divide us every person you see is created by God and deserves to be treated as such. Not because of who any of us are…but because of who God is.

You will have days…already have had days when you wonder if anyone would notice if you were gone, you wonder if anybody cares about you. Please let me encourage you…you are not alone. This is the human condition. It appears for most of us that either we are arrogant and think we are above others…or we are insecure and think that we have nothing to offer. The trick and key is finding that spot where you realize that you’re not above others…but you do have something to offer. You become confident in the Lord and who He has made you to be. You realize you are nothing without Him but everything you need to be with Him.

You realize your worth comes from God…the God of the universe created YOU! He loves you. I know it takes a while for this truth to sink in and for us to really trust it…but it’s true. He loves you. That ought to take your breath away. The God who puts the stars, moon and sun in their place is guiding you. The God who gives you your next breath is the same God who will give you everything you need every day of your life. The God who causes the sun to rise every morning will be faithful to you your entire life. He will never leave you or forsake you. No matter what.

You will start to get a picture of your worth and value in this world when you accept His love for you and trust Him completely. You will start to find your meaning and purpose in life when you look for it to come from Him alone, not from what others think of you.

These things are hard to just do and accept but they are truth. The sooner you can lean into these truths the better. This is where peace that passes understanding comes from.

You can’t rely on others to give you worth. You have people who love you…but they will let you down. I will and have already let you down. You must rely on the only solid thing that will stay true always…the love of God. ┬áHe must be the anchor of your soul. He must be the rock you cling to when storms hit. He must be your refuge in times of trouble. He must be the one who covers you with His wings. He must be the lifter of your head.

Anytime you look for others to do this for you…it won’t work.

When you question your worth that is the time when you can guarantee that God is trying to get you to draw closer to Him. Tell Him how you feel, write it out, pray it out, draw, whatever you have to do but tell Him about it and then listen…wait. He will meet you right where you need Him too as you look for Him and see His face.

The people in this world who are confident without being arrogant, who move through life with purpose and meaning…are people who understand where their value comes from. They understand that God loves them and trust Him to be faithful.

Even though your dad died far too young, even though you were left fatherless far too young, don’t let that ever be a reason for you to not trust God today. I get it…it could feel that way and it would be understandable…but look beyond what you see and feel and trust anyway.

Why not…what will you lose if you trust and He messes up? Can God mess up? When your dad died wasn’t that a big mess up? It probably feels that way and I can’t give you explanations or reasons why things went down the way they did…but I do know God doesn’t mess up ever. God is always faithful. And God loves us. Maybe it feels like holding two things in your hands and looking at it and trying to figure out how they balance out each other…I get that. Regardless, I go with God anyway.

Go all the way with God. When you don’t know the answers, default to trusting in God. That response has saved me time and time again in this life. Striking out on your own or living in a way that says I won’t trust anybody but me is a way to certain failure and struggle.

I want you to know you have incredible value and worth because of God who created you and has planned every day for you. You have incredible value and worth because God loves you. You have incredible value and worth specifically to me because God has trusted me to be your mom.

I love you always.


Apology Assembly

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

Yesterday we had the most interesting conversation and experience that I think I’ve ever experienced with you two. It wasn’t planned or orchestrated by me…it was all you, well pretty much Lauren.

Lauren you have been my girl who has always struggle apologizing. I’m not sure why. Sometimes it’s made it seem as if you don’t care, but I know you do. Some people just have a hard time saying the words I guess.

So two nights ago while having a random campfire in our backyard you said sorry about something silly that had happened and then declared the next day you were going to hold an official apology assembly for all of us.

I thought you were just joking around.

But the next morning while Dane and I were biking you set up a complete area with chairs, sheet, mic stand and a metal whisk for a microphone and put your notes on a music stand and got ready for an actual apology assembly.

It was perfect.

I’m not sure how it came to you Lauren but it was absolutely a moment in time I will never forget as long as I live.

You had literally taken the time to write down actual events and things that have happened over your entire lifetime and to make an apology list to each person in the family and even the cats! It had some humor involved…but more than that, you were incredibly genuine and vulnerable. And I realized all those times you seemed like you didn’t care or notice when you hurt someone’s feelings…you really did care and notice.

I’ve never in my life heard a person clear their chest of that many things at one time and ask for forgiveness individually from each person in the room, but I can tell you every person on the face of the planet would benefit from what you did. So much so that you caused the rest of us to one by one step up to the whisk and make our list of apologies too!!

Even Dane…who we all know was a bit out of his element, but loves you enough to join in.

Girls if you could bottle up ‘healing’ and sell it…that whole experience would be exactly what you would try to bottle.

We all knew even as we were apologizing one at a time to one another that there will be things that happen tomorrow and the next and the next…but we even talked about the fact that we were apologizing for the past, the present and the future.

Every single family could benefit greatly from what you initiated Lauren. Seriously. Family life is filled with small and large hurts over the years. No family is free from them. Most of us just let it accumulate. We get to the point where we feel things and aren’t even sure why we feel them because the hurts are so buried.

It was funny…you had the right amount of wit. It was emotional…can’t help but be when you peel back layers and years of life together. It was healing.

I couldn’t help but stand back and be in awe of God. God always uses the least expected things and people to accomplish his purposes. He took you Lauren…the girl who I had to force to apologize time and time again…to head up an apology assembly in our home at age 18! Lydia…you know what I’m talking about. If you ever question whether God still speaks or moves people to action I want you to remember the day we all spoke into the ‘whisk/microphone’ and were brave enough to admit every flaw and failure we could think of that we had done to one another. I want you to remember what it’s like to feel completely forgiven and loved…free from the weight of hurts done and hurts done to you.

Sometimes as your mom I wonder if you’re going to be ok. I wonder what will happen when I’m not around to give you boundaries and advice…I walked away from that assembly knowing with full confidence that God’s got it all under control and can speak and move in your lives with or without me and my words. Blessed relief right there.

Let this be just the start. Keep the slate of your life clean. Deal with hurts. Admit your failures and weaknesses. Ask for help. Ask for and give forgiveness readily.

Love covers a multitude of sins. That apology assembly was one of the most loving things I have ever experienced with you two.

Thank you.

I’m so proud to be your momma :)