Thank you for being a trustworthy 16 year old young lady. Thank you for acting like a lady – - all of the time. Thank you for asking forgiveness when you are disrespectful. Thank you for working so hard to maintain grades. Thank you for sharing your life openly with me. Thank you for respectfully telling me when you think I’m wrong and teaching me so many things. Thank you for working hard to make your faith your own. Thank you for being the kind of girl I can trust to be kind to everyone. Thank you for trying to understand when we guide you in ways that don’t please you. Thank you for being courageous enough to be yourself. Thank you for not conforming. THANK YOU FOR LOVING THE CUBS. No really, it would be tragic if it were any other way!
A few years ago, I asked a friend how she was doing with her daughter off in California for college. Her reply startled me and taught me so much. “Dawn, I’ve been preparing her for this………this is what we do as parents. We prepare them and then we send them off,” she said, kindly. It was then that my Father began working in my heart. He began showing me that I was wholly unprepared to let you spread your wings and that I needed to spend some time with Him on the matter.
And then last summer came. You were gone a lot. And it was so hard! I’m accustomed to my girl being with us……..all of us always being together. It was then that I remembered that I needed to continue working on letting my little cub roam from the den. Things seem to be moving so fast — your first job is coming, you’ll have your driver’s license soon and so many decisions are yours and not ours these days.
What I’m trying to say is this: I trust you with my entire heart. I know who you are and I like it. I really like you. I’ll still be here guiding you and putting parameters up for your protection but the truth is that I know you’ve got this thing. Your papa and I are over the moon grateful that God has done wonderful things in your heart and that you are our daughter. He gave you to us……..a gift we surely don’t deserve but one we greatly cherish.
I love you Macadamia Nut. Thank you for making it so easy.
Every year this time of year, I want three things. Desperately.
I want to hop into a vehicle with my husband and daughters and drive. I envision my bare feet propped up and hanging out of the window – the closer to the ocean we get. It happens to me every year. Sometimes the vision changes slightly – you know a drive along camper to see every baseball stadium in the country; or a rusty old Ford pickup with kayaks waiting to get wet hanging out in back and our tent flapping in the open of the bed of the truck as we drive along, just waiting to pop open and bask in the sun. That’s the first sign of restlessness – the desire to go. Just go. And never ever pay another bill. Ever.
And then there’s the music. I just want it loud. And I don’t want anyone to talk to me. Loud music. Usually honky tonk. You can throw in a good Waylon Jennings tune, some Darius Rucker, Eric Church or Keith Urban……..just give it to me loud. And please whatever you do, don’t talk to me.
The final rising up is taking photos of my girls. It is way too cold to do what I did to sweet Liv today. Way too cold. But that’s just like me. Out of my mind. Irrational. Flighty. Yes. I admit it.
Gladly, this sweet girl indulged her mama today. She was not happy by the end of it………..running to get warm when I said it was over. The shots are lovely, though. On the way home from the shoot, she saw a big semi truck full of cows. She said, “Oh, no. Oh no!! I think I know where they are going.”
“Oh, yes, you got that right, I said. That’s where they are going.” I said, very sad.
“Mama, I hope those cows find a way to get away before that happens. Oh mama, I hope so.” Me too, sweet girl. Me, too. And then she reminded me that there won’t be any meat in heaven because there won’t be any death. I like that thought. It’s a nice one for a 10 year old to have.
This is what my baby gave me today………..and it warmed up my cold soul. She’s quite the explorer and carries an exploring bag with her wherever she goes. I love her so.
Golly. Girls are mean.
That doesn’t surprise any of us women. Nope. We’ve been there. The surprising thing to me is that we allow it to continue.
I have two daughters. Today both of them were criticized by other girls. Girls that are no better than they are; no more loved than they are and no more gifted than they are.
One of my daughters was told that something she did sucked. I know! It’s appalling, isn’t it? And to add insult to injury, it wasn’t enough that the girl said so, she had to let my daughter know that someone else thought so too.
Now to be fair, it’s quite possible that my daughters deserved criticism. I’m not one of those mamas who thinks their kids are all that and not in need of improvement. They are not perfect. They are exquisitely imperfect. Marvelously imperfect, they are.
However, I do believe that kindness and love should be the rule. Have you ever known someone really good at encouraging and lifting you up while pointing out ways in which you could improve? Those are the most life-giving people around. I love those kinds of people. When I pray for my children, I pray fervently for those kinds of people in their lives.
As mamas, I think we have to do a better job teaching girls to be good to one another. A better job showing them how good it feels to lift a sister up rather than tear her down. A better job using kind words. A better job being Christ-like.
Right here, right now, I am posting an open invitation for any of you mamas out there to call me if you ever hear one of my daughters tearing another sister down. Straightaway, contact me please. Because if that happens, there is a serious problem. And that serious problem will be dealt with immediately by me and their papa. That kind of behavior is not tolerated in these parts. I promise you that.
These are my marvelously imperfect daughters. And they need what all other girls need: encouragement and to be lifted up as daughters of the Most High King.
Dear Mak & Livy:
It’s been a while since I’ve written you a letter here. Why? Because I don’t want this photography blog anymore! I have a lot of things to say to you but I’m just not sure where to record them. So, while I’m figuring that out, I’ve decided I need to continue here.
Golly, growing up is difficult! There are so many triumphs in life. And there are so many disappointments.
Disappointments in silly old people.
Disappointments generally in the way this world is.
And disappointments in ourselves, sadly.
Now. We can’t control people. We can’t control what they say. We can’t control what they think. And we certainly can’t control what they do. Yes, yes, people are mean and selfish and self promoting. That includes me and you sometimes. Just remember that. And don’t forget the phrase I constantly mutter around here: Live only for an audience of One.
And the world, well, it’s broken. Most of the time this crazy old world spins around and produces circumstances in direct opposition to our King. Don’t ever stop trying to change that, however, remember the results are in His hands. Be grateful for that, even when it doesn’t look so great. He can be trusted – all of the time. And there ain’t nothin’ else in this world you can say that about. Nothin’. He’s coming back and He’ll make it all good. Promise.
And that brings me to the reason for the letter today: disappointment in ourselves.
When you strike out or bomb a test or your fingers get clumsy when you are playing a piano piece, it is right and good to stand back and examine what happened, how you can improve and how you’ll approach things next time.
What is not ok is to say: I stink. I am sucky. I am no good. I always mess up. I’m a loser.
When I raised my voice to you girls today in the car, I meant what I said. If I ever hear those words or words similar to those come out of your mouths again, I will consider it a personal affront and attack on our God. I promise I will. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. In His image. I will think in my head (and may say outloud): How dare you say something so awful about something so wonderful and miraculous? How could you say something like that about His creation?
Please girls, the world needs to see young ladies taking stock in themselves and celebrating how they are growing by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the world needs to see much less of young ladies listening to the lies of satan – telling them they are generally worthless.
I just won’t tolerate the lies any longer. I’m all about helping you grow and encouraging you. However, I will not have the lies anymore.
I love you so. xoxox
At the end of every day when I pray with our youngest daughter, I always ask God to give her a great desire to know Him more and to spend time in His Word on her own. She is 10 now and it’s time that she spends time alone with God on her own. Sometimes I ask God to please remind her, as she’s falling asleep, to ask for His forgiveness for whatever it is she should.
When I pray those things, I do so because my heart fully wants those things for her. And I really am beseeching God to please answer my deep prayers. However, I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t tell you that I also want her to hear the way I pray for her.
We are not a family that has regular family devotions. We live our lives with God in the center. We talk about Him constantly. We make decisions based on His Word. We share Scripture with one another as we individually walk day by day with Him. In fact, last night the little one wrote out Psalm 91:1 and brought it to me with a big smile on her face. She was so excited to find this gem. She said she wrote it out because she loved it so much. And then she proceeded to tell me what she thought it meant and what it means to her. This was a sweet moment for me and I know you’ll agree that with the younger ones, these are the moments we wait for.
A few months ago, unbeknownst to me, our older daughter pulled a book from our collection by David Platt. It changed her. Ask her. She’ll tell you. I didn’t tell her to read it. I just left it there, along with dozens of others.
You see, God doesn’t demand that we love Him. He gives us a choice. He gave us all we need to know His character, His redemptive plan, His Son and His Word. In our home we try to parent very much in that way. We give our children everything they need to see Him. We adore Him and do our best to behave in a way that reflects His glory. We fail often times, but we keep trying. We let them see us in His Word. We let them hear us talking about Him and His ways. We have bookshelves filled with books about Him. They hear worship music in our house. They are around our friends who love Him and talk about Him and have dedicated their lives to Him. My point: the ground is fertile. It’s just waiting to burst forth with fruit.
Last night it did.
As I readied to pray with Liv, she said, “mama, can I pray?” And then she proceeded to ask God to please give her a great desire for His Word and to know Him better.
As I left I promised her that she just prayed a prayer that pleases the Father immensely. And that He will not delay in answering it.
Make the ground fertile, friends. And then stand back and watch our Mighty Jesus work in the hearts of your babes.
Dear Dave -
For the last few weeks I have had the lyrics to “Push” running on loop on my iphone while I’m on the treadmill. And everytime – EVERYTIME – tears fill my eyes as I think about you. As I think about how you love me. As I think about how blessed I am. Yes, I’m on the treadmill crying because I adore you so and am grateful that you’re my hot, hot, hottie.
Amazingly, as much a music girl as I am you are not a music guy. So, I’d better print the lyrics right here for you to read. Because I want you to know that every word is true for me. It feels like the words came right out of my heart and out of this song.
On this earth, you really are the one true thing I know I can believe in. And for 18 years you have been just that for me. The one I can believe in.
Every time I look at you the world just melts away
All my troubles all my fears dissolve in your affections
You’ve seen me at my weakest but you take me as I am
And when I fall you offer me a softer place to land
You stay the course you hold the line you keep it all together
You’re the one true thing I know I can believe in
You’re all the things that I desire, you save me, you complete me
You’re the one true thing I know I can believe
I get mad so easy but you give me room to breathe
No matter what I say or do ’cause you’re to good to fight about it
Even when I have to push just to see how far you’ll go
You wont stoop down to battle but you never turn to go
Your love is just the antidote when nothing else will cure me
There are times I cant decide when I cant tell up from down
You make me feel less crazy when otherwise I’d drown
But you pick me up and brush me off and tell me I’m OK
Sometimes that’s just what we need to get us through the day
At the beginning of the school year last year, I got very specific with God about my prayers for our children for the upcoming year. And do you know what? He answered so many of them. I shouldn’t be amazed – He is God and He does love us – however, I’m ashamed to say that I was pretty amazed by the ways in which He came through. Quite honestly, my desires are His desires for them. My deepest desire for them is continued spiritual growth, continued desire for His Word and increased joy in knowing who He is. Yes, I pray also for academic and other worldly successes, however, they don’t matter quite as much as when I was a younger mother.
When I was a younger mother, I cared so much about what you think, dear friends. I did. I cared whether you thought my girls were successful and I cared whether my girls fit in. I do still value your opinions, however, I now embrace marching to the beat of our own drum. Me and my hottie want only what the Lord wants for this family. And often times it’s not worldly successes and it’s not fitting in. I’m finally getting to a point where I can embrace that. I can listen for His voice and follow Him rather than the loud voices in this world. I hear the chatter and I know it’s there and I don’t like it. However, I hear a still, small voice calling this family to find joy in our journey……….ours – not the world’s. The freedom and joy in that is sweet.
Dear Mak & Liv -
Over the last few weeks something has been welling up in me that I want to explain to you. Once again. I feel like I try to convey this to you in a million different ways, a million times every year. And that’s ok because there isn’t much in this world that matters more.
Everyone has an opinion. Recently, I’ve become sick of hearing myself talk. And I’ve also become tired of hearing opinions at every turn. It seems as though there a seventy million blogs out there with a gazillion opinions and stories. Surveys and polls about stupid topics. Like this one: were Tim Tebow’s photographs in GQ ok? Really? Really Christian people? This may be harsh but it made me want to vomit. And if I see another article about the book “Shades of Grey”, I think I’ll scream. It’s porn. Don’t read it. That’s all you need to know. No debate.
What I’m trying to say is this – don’t waste your time on topics and things that don’t matter. And above all else, do not (DO NOT) take other’s opinions as truth. Say it with me now, sweet girls, go to Scripture for truth. Go only there for your answers. Take into consideration what others say and then go and dive into the Book to determine whether or not you can trust and believe what they’ve said. Don’t waste your time debating and don’t waste your time reading nonsense. Just read the Book. And talk with our Lord. And find good folks who know Scripture too and talk about worthy things with them. There is a lot of junk out there that will suck you in and waste so much of your time. Avoid it.
And eat lots of snow cones. I think they’re heaven sent:-)
I love you dearly and completely.