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,
When I was little, probably kindergarten-3rd grade age I liked to surround myself with stuffed animals at night. For some reason I felt safer in the dark if I had something all around me.
Even now I always sleep with at least a sheet and I prefer our house to be cold at night so that I will be able to use more blankets. I like the weight of the blankets covering me. And I like them right up to my chin. Your Aunt Mary Anne has a running joke in her family about using a sheet. When Larry asked her about her need for a sheet always she said it was in case a tornado came through. When she tells the story it’s told with drama and flair that only your Aunt Mary Anne can capture, but I get the point. I’m cut from the same cloth.
Who wants to be exposed at night. Who wants to be exposed at anytime of the day but especially at night.
It used to be that people would leave their windows open at night, long before every body had air conditioning. Now a days that’s considered a safety risk. I do it occasionally but always with a sense of unease.
We like to feel safe.
And then all of a sudden something happens that pulls out the carpet from underneath us and we realize that the whole thing was just an illusion anyway. If somebody is going to break in, they’re going to break in regardless of the deadbolt on your door. And a million other things could happen at any point to those you love.
When your dad was diagnosed with cancer and then died a short five months later I learned a lot. I learned that my definitions don’t match God’s definitions. I know the verse that all things work together for my good in Romans 8:28. People love to throw that one around but what they don’t understand is my definition of good is not the same as God’s. So we scrape and try to find silver linings to comfort ourselves or one another with and honestly, I’d just rather be honest and say…”Hey it doesn’t look good to me.” And leave it at that. I’d rather just say…”man, I don’t know how that’s good, it doesn’t match my definition but then again I threw that out a long time ago anyway.”
Girls. You need to know, no matter what precautions you take stuff can still happen. You can drive yourself crazy with this kind of stuff. You can get obsessed with protecting your family but even then you can’t prevent stuff from happening.
A car accident.
A loss of work.
On and on and on and on. It’s out of your control.
Be wise. Don’t make it easy for something to happen. Use your head. But then let it go.
I find great comfort in knowing that God knows exactly the number of days I will have and that no one on earth can change that. He already knows. It’s written in stone. What will be will be.
Lots of people especially moms are afraid right now. People are afraid because of the latest tragedy. A school shooting. What they don’t know is they were exposed long before this event happened. Any illusion of safety they felt was just like my stuffed animals around my bed or your Aunt Mary Anne’s sheet in the face of a tornado…useless.
We either trust God or we don’t. People always want to add a lot of “buts” on to that sentence. Bottom line though, we either trust God or we don’t.
When we are afraid we need to look deeper and realize that we have trust issues. Or possibly control issues. Sometimes we think that we have everything all under control and nothing can happen to us. It’s an illusion.
In some ways it’s kind of good that illusion got shattered for us on May 5, 2007. I find that we are not nearly as hung up on some of the stuff others are. The worst has already happened. And we survived.
So what now…
You being afraid or setting up little illusions of safety for you and your family accomplishes nothing. Absolutely. Nothing.
If I was a stay at home mom who was really concerned about my kids schooling after the shooting thing, I think it would make a whole lot more sense to get on board with that school and immerse myself in the activities there. Or to spend time in prayer for the community, the teachers, the students. There are positive things we can do in the face of loss. But being afraid and pulling back isn’t one of them.
Ultimately this is what I believe. God is our Protector. God is good. Whatever He chooses to do in my life is acceptable by me. I will trust Him.
Just today I was talking with you about this Lauren. I was telling you about the conversations I was hearing at school and seeing on facebook and I asked you if you felt afraid at all. You said simply and without any emotion. “No mom, I’m not afraid. If I die, I’m just going to the best place I could possibly go. Why would I be afraid of that?”
Girls live in that kind of confidence all the days of your life. You’ll find that you live large and aren’t afraid of risk. We have nothing to fear. We can trust God. And our trust is not based on what we see. It’s just based on knowing the end of the story.
This next chapter, five years from now, 10 years from now might have some times of challenge and loss and difficulty…but it’s like reading a book. When you know the end you can rest in the parts that are full of tension and angst.
Do not fear is one of the most common directions in the bible from God.
Do not be anxious about anything but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Lydia this morning I quoted that verse to you on the way to school. It’s all you need.
I say let’s stop setting up illusions of safety. Let’s see the world as it is…broken and let’s live with courage and confidence that God is still good and that there is still beauty to be found.
I’ve never played the dainty woman role very well. I’ve never been the high heel, damsel in distress type. I just can’t do it. Girls you are strong. No matter what happens in your life you can continue. You know the end of the story. You know that God will never leave you or forsake you. He is all you need.
Love your momma who refuses to be afraid, even when I looked at my classroom today and realized I have not a single closet or cabinet to hide in or to hide children in if anything ever happened. We would just be fully exposed. I will simply have to trust in God to be my fortress and my refuge. It will be enough.
This morning I changed all of our scripture readings for the next month or two. I was ready for a new start. So now we’re going to be reading through the book of Philippians each week and Psalm 91, 27 and 1.
This morning because it’s Saturday and you’re not yet awake and I haven’t really started in on any big projects or tasks yet I just wanted to drink my hot tea and try meditating on scripture. I’m not even sure I know how to do it well. To actually clear my thoughts and just soak in the words and phrases and let them penetrate my heart and mind deeply.
I read a Facebook post this week about meditation and how if we taught all of our 8 year olds to meditate the violence in the world would cease within one generation. That kind of stuff grabs my attention. I started to think maybe I should be giving it more time in my own life.
That’s the thing…it takes unhurried, uncluttered time to meditate. About the only day of the week I feel that way in the morning is on Saturday.
It’s hard to train the mind to empty and be open to receive.
Today I read Psalm 91.
It was fitting as usual. It talks about the Lord being my refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust. It talks about Him saving me and covering me with his feathers and under His wings. It talked about me not fearing the terror of the night and I couldn’t help but stop and think through how many nights I’ve lived alone now since your dad died and how it really is true. I sleep in peace. I know ladies who tell me when their husband is gone for a night or a week trip they struggle to sleep and here I’ve done it for five plus years. That must be a miracle.
It talked about God commanding his angels concerning me to guard me in all my ways and I couldn’t help but smile and think about all of the angels I must keep busy in any given day:).
The promise though that stuck in my mind today is from verse 14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”
I started to think about my love for God. What do I love about God? I could say everything but honestly, there are things that scare me about God, things that I don’t understand. Do I love Him simply because of what He’s done or can I love Him simply for who He is? I started thinking about my love. I say I love Him easily and often. And I do. But it’s probably more like a two year old coming to their dad and saying “I love you”, it’s real but not very tested…not very understanding, quite immature. Thankfully, I think it’s enough. The verse doesn’t say “When you love me perfectly…” What a relief!
I thought about God rescuing me and protecting me. One of my biggest holes…one of your biggest holes, the place where we will feel the most grief and loss is in the area of protection and rescue. Our roughest memories are the ones in which we felt unsafe, unprotected, unsure, in danger. There is something about having a man in your life that makes you feel safer as a lady, it’s only natural.
I was feeling this just yesterday. I wanted to be rescued and protected and safe. Ultimately, I was…but in the moment I felt huge loss.
I was reminded today…that God is present, He will rescue, He will protect. I was reminded that just as I was “Mark’s woman:)” and he would’ve never tolerated anybody messing with me or with you two…I am God’s woman and how much more is he capable of taking care of me.
The last part of the verse talks about acknowledging God’s name. Connecting ourself with God’s family. When we take on God’s name, when we join the family we automatically line ourselves up with a whole host of people that will come to our aid in time of need.
Girls…without your dad I have a feeling you will always have times when you feel unprotected, unsafe, unrescued. I hope these times are few and far between. I hope that you find incredibly great guys someday that will give you their name and fill some of the holes. But I know this is a place that is missing in your lives. It’s missing in mine in a bit of a different way.
I’m reminded this morning that God promises…”I will rescue…I will protect…” The very God of the universe will do it Himself. He loves us enough to take care of us Himself.
Today I want to be drawn back to that thought, that promise over and over.
From your momma who loves God and is so glad to be part of the family of God.