Letters written from a momma to her two teenage daughters.
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Dear Lauren and Lydia,
I’ve watched you both closely the past few days to see how you would handle me having a health issue. Routine. No big deal…and yet not my normal health issue.
Lydia…I think you were surprised at the depth of emotion you felt. The anxiety that came over you was intense. You were worried and unsure of what God might do and how you would respond to what He would do.
Lauren…you were quieter about the whole thing, but I’m sure you had a few misgivings too.
I know I did. Stuff happens. We don’t have many guarantees in this world.
Tonight, we’re on the flip side. Last night it was tears and hugs and sleeping with mom…tonight you’re back to your jolly selves, talking in your bedroom, oblivious to me typing this post. Back to normal. Seems nice.
You will be called upon to trust regularly throughout your life. You will need to trust other people, trust each other, and definitely trust God. People will let you down, you’ll let each other down and once in awhile you might even feel that God has let you down. He’s perfect…He doesn’t make mistakes…but that doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally feel that He’s let you down. Not only will everybody let you down now and then…but guess what, sometimes you’ll be the one who lets others down. It’s life, it happens.
But keep trusting anyway. Keep believing anyway and just keep the faith. That’s a deliberate choice on your part. You choose…will I believe or not? Will I trust or not? How will I respond to people who let me down or when I feel that God has let me down? You can write people off, or even God off…but what good does that do you?
Not everybody deserves to be in your innermost circles of trust. A whole lot of people are just acquaintances and people who don’t matter at the deepest levels of your life. But the people who do matter…the ones whom you choose are worthy of trust…go ahead and trust ‘em even if they let you down now and then.
And by all means keep trusting God.
He is always trustworthy…even if it seems like He’s let you down or screwed things up…take the time to circle back around and discover the trail of faithfulness He leaves in His wake. He has never been anything but faithful to me. I know He’ll do the same for you.
Love your momma who is glad things are back to normal…until the next time…keep trusting, keep believing, keep the faith.
Dear Lauren and Lydia,
Today I was showing a “stomp” dvd at school. They’re amazing… you guys have seen them in person and know how good they are. They make rhythm and movement look incredibly easy except for those of us who know if we got up and tried to do the same thing it would sound a whole lot more like noise than music.
I was showing it to my students simply because I love the creativity in the dvd. It’s musical. They are a solid enough group to be viable to show in a classroom and I just think watching them perform is something that should spur children on to great things musically.
I’ve watched the dvd over and over and over in countless classes over the years and yet I still enjoy it.
All of this to say…they dance around a lot. They are incredibly free with their bodies to experience the music not only with sight and sound but to actually feel it through movement and touch.
I’m noticing that as the years go by somehow kids now a days have been trained to say “ewww” anytime somebody does something that is different from somebody else. Sometimes I think they must be connecting it with something sexual. Kids seem to do that with just about anything now a days. Sometimes I think they say it simply because the people in Stomp are so free to be themselves, the kids at school just aren’t used to that and don’t know how to handle it.
Let me assure you…nothing should be ewww in the dvd. They’re clothed…there is no dirty dancing or anything, in fact they usually have some basic tool in their hand like a broom, a garbage can, a stick, a basketball, keys, etc. For the life of me I can’t figure out what seems so ewww.
I’ve even tried to talk to my students about it. Tried to get them to understand that some of the stuff they think is ewww isn’t. But they’re trained.
Somebody has taught them from an incredibly early age a whole list of stuff to say ewww about. This must come from adults. It surely is not a normal, natural child response. Children generally speaking love to move and dance and don’t find it ewww. Children generally, well at least back in my day were incredibly clueless to any thing that might reference boy girl stuff. Not anymore.
Now a days…even if you don’t raise your kids that way, as soon as they go to school they’ll figure out that if they don’t think something is yucky than they stand out and nobody wants to be made fun of or seem like they don’t know anything. So…school tends to make more ewwers.
It just hit me today how sad this is. How unnecessary. How like us adults to take the beauty of movement and body, soul and spirit and make anything out of the norm ewww.
I encourage you…and I will encourage your children someday to take all of life in, the width, the depth the whole thing. Don’t limit yourself with foolish preconceived notions of what is bad. Don’t care so much about what others think that you are not free to move and be who you were made to be. Don’t conform. Bottom line…don’t conform.
Today I showed that dvd because I wanted to encourage originality and creativity. I find it sorely lacking in our world today. Everybody wants to be a copy cat and do what everybody else is doing. I can’t change the tide for the boys and girls at school. I try from time to time…but…I can make a difference for you two and for generations to come.
If I had the talent…I would be out there with stomp and totally immerse myself in the experience. I would go for it mind, body, heart and soul. I would hold nothing back. I wouldn’t care about anything that might seem ewww.
If I have the opportunity I can tell you, I will travel and take in all this world has to offer. I don’t care if I’m around people unlike myself or people who do things and eat different things than me. I want to breathe and live and move in the widest space possible.
When you turn up your nose and say ewww…you end up living in tiny spaces. Tiny, hospital type spaces. Because as soon as you come in contact with anybody you have to withdraw. We’ve even gotten to that point with germs. Over the top crazy. I can’t live that way. I don’t want to live that way. And honestly…I have no desire for you and your families to live that way.
Your dad and I had a favorite restaurant we used to go to…in fact we went to it on our wedding night. It was called Angelo’s. It was in a bad area of town, it wasn’t the cleanest place and had it not been for your dad I would’ve never gone through the doors. But…your dad had discovered that their coney islands were the best and he loved their chocolate shakes and their fries that they would make extra crispy just for those people who asked. So he took me there several times. On our wedding night they even gave us our meal for free. I could’ve said “ewww” when I went the first time. It was not a high class place. A wide variety of people went there and my small town girl ness could’ve taken over and said…no way. But I decided to trust your dad and give it a try. Their food was wonderful and we never had a bad experience there.
Please…please stay open to all of life. Don’t judge by appearances. Be open to trying new things and being with people different from you. Don’t be afraid to get up and dance. Don’t be afraid to sing out loud. Live life all the way, nothing held back to try and please the crowd. You just be you.
Oh how I wish I could get that message through to my elementary kids. I guess we all have to learn it in time, in years of experience.
I just see a growing trend to say ewww about everything and I don’t want you two to live that way.
From your momma who believes in wide open spaces and wide open lives and just wants you to live large.
Dear Lauren and Lydia,
I was driving by myself tonight on the way home from a church board meeting. I turned off the music. It was dark, not much to look at and sensed in that quiet few moments God speak to me about something.
On one hand it’s small. I could brush it off as insignificant…not world changing. On the other hand…it felt huge and like I just put a significant piece of the puzzle into place.
You girls know that we have been focused on loving our neighbor, loving each other and loving our neighbors in a big way this past year or so at the Alton Mission. Or at least…we’ve been trying. We’ve started and stopped and moved forward sometimes feeling like something great happened and other times not so much. Lately…I had grown a little dry in the whole love your neighbor thing.
I’ve picked up trash down our street often.
I’ve given away a lot of copies of my book “Widow’s walk”. Honestly, I thought it was the best way for me to be real to my neighbors. Faith and flaws mixed in real life.
I started a neighborhood tradition of Christmas Caroling this year that will hopefully continue with refreshments at my home afterwards.
But lately…I’ve felt a little puzzled as to what to do next. It’s cold. Nobody is outside. It’s easy for weeks to go by and have little to no contact with anybody.
You girls know that I’ve been toying with the idea of starting my own music lesson business out of our home. So much so that we completely rearranged our house last weekend so I could be set up to do it.
Ironically enough, when I first had the plan I was going to charge low. That’s just who I am. Probably a bit insecure mixed in with compassion. Friends helped me rethink that. They helped me see that the whole thing could be much bigger than I first thought.
So…it came as bit of a surprise to me tonight on the way home driving in the dark when I felt this nudge that I could give free piano lessons to some of my neighbors. I’m not talking just a low price here…I’m talking about free…over the long haul. Piano lessons are not a one time endeavor. What I’m really saying is that I’m committing to pouring my life out into my neighborhood in a way that I’ve never done before.
Picking up trash is one thing. Doing a Christmas event, nice but no biggie. Even giving away my book…yes I realize that I was basically handing people my heart and soul…but if they never read it I’ll probably never know. But signing on to give piano lessons on a weekly basis out of my home for free for an unlimited amount of time. I think I’ve probably just reached a whole new level of crazy.
Girls…this is the only way I can explain it. God has free reign in my life to anything He wants. If that means my stuff…if that means my time…if that means long term commitment, if that means opening my home…whatever, He has free reign. He and I just reconfirmed that tonight on the way home.
So tomorrow…I’m going to choose five homes near us and go to the front door and give them a letter telling them my info, my experience, education and the offer and my contact info to see if anybody will take me up on the offer.
I try to imagine someone showing up on my doorstep offering that kind of thing and I realize this is not done much. I mean some people do cook well and give it away or have people over for a meal, or do some kind of one time handy man project…but what I’m offering is…the chance to learn a skill and the reality that I will give them my time over the long haul, weekly…30 minutes a week.
Which pretty much means you’re going to be in on the action too…because what I’m doing is inviting them into our home for 30 minutes a week where you will be interacting with them too.
I know right now as I write this that some people who care about me will be screaming…”No…Ruth” Don’t do it. I mean people didn’t even want me to have people pay less than $20 a lesson.
But…if I’ve learned anything I know this. When God nudges you girls…you must obey. Not because He will force the issue. If I say no…life will move on and nobody will know the difference. But because the only way to live the life you were created to live is to live it in wild abandon.
Sometimes we think of wild abandon as someone moving to Africa. I want you to understand that living in wild abandon can be a part of anybody’s life right where they are. Any time we let go and follow God and we choose to love others instead of just look out for our own interests we are living radically.
I still hope and plan to have paying customers. I do need to provide for you two. But I must trust that God understands this as well and that in my choosing to tithe my talents He will bless the other end and we will be provided for.
Girls…it’s easy to throw money in the offering. Probably not easy for everybody. I don’t mean to make light of it. But honestly…giving away money is one thing…giving away your time, opening your home, passing on your talent, being willing to develop relationships in this way….this feels really radical to me.
God is stepping me through this whole thing one step at a time. I can’t help but feel that I’m on the right path to not only greater fulfillment in my own life, and provision for my own family…but also to some really radical new community and love, relationships that will carry this widow so she will never be lonely.
It could be that as we give…we will receive far more in return that we can imagine. I’ve been around long enough to know that’s often how it works.
So…you’re in with me again. I’m opening our home…your home. I’m taking precious time…my most precious thing that I have and I’m laying it at the feet of Jesus and letting Him know…it’s His to do with whatever He wants to do. I’m trusting.
This is called abundant life. This is not duty. If you made me paint a house or some other task that felt like work to me…it might be duty. But taking what God has so graciously given me and pouring it back out to bless and bring beauty…this is real life.
I can’t predict what will happen. Maybe no one will take me up on the offer. If not…I will expand my search a little farther down the street. I’m setting aside two and a half hours a week of my time to teach five students. That’s my goal.
There are moments when we hear the voice of God and it’s so clear. Tonight was like that for me…so no matter what happens I will trust.
Love your momma who is on mission as the neighborhood piano teacher:)