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.

Broken glass and real life

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

The older I get the more I don’t think that you ever just “get over” stuff that happens in your life. We don’t have the power to shut off hurt, pain, loss, tragedy and all of the stuff that happens to us in this life that is far beyond our control. We also don’t have the power to give it a time limit as to how long it will affect us.

Life is full of hurts, pain, loss, joys, sorrows, triumphs, victories, high points, low points and everything in between. We can be real about this. We have to be.

We don’t have the option to act as if it isn’t there or to think we have the power to cut those things out. Only a fool would think that’s really how life works. Instead we acknowledge that everything is a part of our story. Every blessed day and moment is part of who we are and we are in process, on a journey that is taking us home, shaping us into what we were made to be.

Somehow if we can…without becoming a victim we should/could even embrace the hurts and loss. Embrace the scars that have made us beautiful and alive. There is nothing glamourous about living a perfect, cookie cutter, plastic life. It may appear like there is but that’s not really living.

Know great love and you will know great pain. It’s as much a math fact as 2 plus 2 equals 4.

Pain is not something that has to be avoided, shunned, denied, cut off, and unaccepted.

In fact pain refuses to be treated that way. Even if you think you can pull it off…pain will rise and be acknowledged one way or another. For some it’s through addictions. For some it’s through isolation and distance, walls that are created to keep one’s heart safe.

Just a week ago I slammed my own finger in a car door. No one else did it to me. I did it to myself. Happened so quick I couldn’t even believe I really did it except that I still have a finger that’s sore and bruised. As I opened that door off of my finger the pain was unbelievable…It could not be denied. I didn’t want to cry but it didn’t matter…tears came anyway. It hurt. And that was just a finger.

Most of life involves stuff that hurts our hearts and minds, our very soul.

This past week at storyline we heard a man recite poetry and he talked about how pain and scars become life tattoos. What a beautiful thought. What would happen if we could literally see everybody and literally see their pain in visual form on their body. I think we would treat each other so differently. We would be kinder and gentler. We would give more grace and unconditional love. We would be more patient and encouraging. Just because we can’t ‘see’ it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Every single person on the face of the earth knows pain. Everyone.

And no one has the ability to ‘just get over it’.

Girls…when you are 50 years old you will still carry the pain of losing your dad far too young when you were 8 and 9 years old. it won’t stop you from moving forward and living…but it will be part of your story and your life experience forever.

I’m sensing it now as I approach marrying Dane. We have both experienced great loss in losing our spouses. We will carry that with us into our marriage. Somehow through the power and grace that only Jesus can give…that pain is actually making our love now, present day something it couldn’t have been without loss.

Jesus has this way of holding on to our pain, the very thing that Satan would say “ha…what do you think about that,” He holds back up in front of Satan and makes beautiful. And the things that are hardest and most painful are the things that usually He makes the greatest beauty out of. I don’t know how that works. I don’t understand it. But Jesus regularly makes beauty out of pain, beauty out of ashes. And it’s never about denying the ashes or pain. It’s never about shutting those things off. It’s actually about embracing it.

I’ve always been a person who could handle anger or negative emotions expressed to me but not silence and a person shutting down. I would rather sit and hold onto broken glass in a relationship and have it hurt than for me to feel nothing. In Jesus…I find that He holds the broken glass for me. I am allowed to feel whatever it is that I need to feel at any given moment. My hurts and pain become his. And somehow…He redeems everything.

You are not required to ‘get over’ life. In fact, I strongly encourage you to throw away that line of thought and ignore those who are foolish enough to express it. They clearly are in denial of their own pain. You are only required to keep living, doing the best you can on any given day. It will be enough. Over time I think you will find that the things that have caused you the most pain will also be the areas that become the most beautiful.

Praise be to God…only He can do that kind of thing in your life.

Just breathe…feel…trust…lean into…embrace…breathe…repeat. It will be enough.

Love your momma who has many hurts and losses that I carry with me always…they have become or are becoming my greatest assets, my greatest places of seeing through to Jesus. They are worth embracing.

You’re becoming…

Dear Lauren and Lydia,

I feel the ground shifting beneath our feet. There are moments these days when we all aren’t on the same page. Which feels strange…but I know it’s normal.

I’ve raised you two to be independent, strong, thinkers, able to process and come to your own conclusions on things. I’ve raised you to be smart, wise, and intuitive…to trust your gut.

What’s happened is that you’ve become those kind of ladies. The kind that you’re dad used to tell me was different from the rest.

He told me that quite regularly…”Ruth…you’re different than other girls.” It was mainly because he knew I had thoughts and opinions and wouldn’t be afraid to express them. We were equals in conversation not me the lesser and him the greater.

So of course…now that we have 3 of us in the same house all not afraid to express thoughts and feelings…well we are not always on the same page. There are times when tensions sit and lie around at our house that don’t feel comfortable. Times when I want peace and there is none to be found.

I try not to panic about it.

I try to be alright with the journey. I know the journey is what matters anyway…not so much that we all end up at the same conclusion.

I will always love you.

Always.

Love your momma who is trying to just give a lot of space for all of us to be what God has made us to be.