Friday, November 24, 2023

To Jocelyn, on Your 18th Birthday


Dear Jocelyn,

                      I can not believe that I am writing this to you on your EIGHTEENTH birthday. I started writing to you when you were four. I am almost at a loss as to what to say. While I know that I will always be your mom, I know that no matter how hard it is for me, this era of our lives is drawing to a close. I don't think it is wrong for me to take a moment to grieve that soon things will be radically different. You won't be in your room at the bottom of the stairs every night when I go to bed. Your dreams are coming true and they are much bigger than our little house. And I love that, but it hurts too. 

    Parenting is the most beautifully, exquisitely painful, thing I have ever experienced. It fills your heart while simultaneously breaking it over and over. We are already experiencing the end of so many sweet "always" things. This was the first year ever that I delivered Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes without you. We didn't get to have corndogs at Sonic on Halloween. You have your own job, and school, and it is good! I'm so thankful for all the opportunities you have. We have worked hard to train you up in the fear of the Lord, and the time is quickly approaching where you will get to choose on your own how to put into practice all you've learned.
    And I know that you will still need me, but it will be different. You are already so wonderfully independent in so many amazing ways. You have made juggling college classes, work, and church commitments look effortless. But even beyond that, you have traveled with friends and student government on your own, found a new job, applied for college and managed to help out friends and family, too. 

    You are creating a life that you love and seeing you achieve so many goals is absolutely inspiring. You decided to go after a position in the college student government and you have fallen in love with it. You found a place in a group of strangers who are now friends. You have put on countless events already, and attended so many retreats and conferences. The highlight was sneaking in a trip to Disneyland this last week, which was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for you! I could not have been happier for you.

    I know you have your heart set on going away to school, and I know you will be successful at whatever you choose to do. You are still so fearless, and you love a new adventure. I know that you will stay strong in your faith wherever life takes you. Your love for Jesus hasn't wavered, and He will never fail you.

   I am SO proud of who you are. I have always loved you, but the older you get the more I truly like you. You have reached an age where you need less "telling" and more "recommending". I can trust you to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and I am always praying that will be true. I hope you will always know that the advice I give is based on my desire for you to follow the Lord, and that you will be able to trust that my love for you is an outflow of the love He has for us. And I pray you will never "outgrow" your need for me to be your mother. I love you.

                                                                                             Love always,

Monday, April 10, 2023

To Carson, on Your 15th Birthday

 Dear Carson,

                   I love that we have a day when we can celebrate you. This last year has had so many moments, big and small, that are worth commemorating. You have taken on many new challenges and risen to the occasion over and over again.

               I think sometimes perhaps you feel like you are in Jocelyn's shadow, since as the oldest she gets to do everything "first" but I don't think of it that way. You aren't doing it after her. You are each doing it. In your own ways, and your own times. And it is beautiful to me to see you figure things out, and to learn how to express yourself. 

               Now that Jocelyn is at work and college, it has been fun to have more time just the two of us. You are now my sole co-op buddy (something Jocelyn never got to do!). You are in my literature class for the first time, too, and I think you secretly like those old books more than you want to admit. You are really getting good at this whole school thing, and it is fun to see you understanding so many new concepts. You are taking so much responsibility for your education, and that is beneficial both now and in the long run.

          You are really taking accountability for so many things. You really decided to put in the effort to analyze your basketball performance, and it showed this season. Watching you play was really just *fun*. Seeing you score was thrilling, but really, I love what a good team player and how sportsmanlike you are. 

    And you are succeeding at other new things, too. Soccer, high school Awana, a new church and youth group. I know you love routine, and continuity, but you have had a good attitude about all these things. You played Hoopfest, and went on your first basketball trip. You've made new friends, something you've always done so well. 

      But as always, the thing I love the most about you is how you care so well for people. Inclusion is important to you, and hospitality. You make me feel loved by leaving me little notes, and always checking to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. You take care of your dad, preparing all his lunch stuff every night. You love on all the babies in the family, and all the sisters agree you are an excellent babysitter. And there is never any danger that a door will be left unlocked when you're around!

        We have reached the part where neither the days nor the years are long anymore. More so even than when you were smaller I wish time would just slow down. It won't though, so I'm giving it my all to try to enjoy these fleeting days. I know it you don't love it when I take photos or make sappy comments, but I'm just trying to remember it all. The eternal tension of parenting is knowing that the future holds so many more wonderful moments, while simultaneously mourning the ones that will never be again. But I wouldn't miss them if they hadn't been so sweet. Thankfully, I think the Lord will graciously give us many more. And because of your faith in Jesus, we are guaranteed eternity! I'm so thankful for you. And I love you. Truly, more than you know. 



Friday, December 23, 2022

O Come, All


         O come, all ye faithful,

(Those of you who haven’t been so faithful, you can come too, for there is forgiveness for those who repent.)


(You sorrowful ones, come also. He brings joy in the morning. And the mourning.)

and triumphant!

(Come all you failures, as well, defeated by sin. He gives the true victory. )

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;

(Come there, and find your way to the foot of the cross.)

Come and behold Him born the King of angels:

(Not just of angels, but of all the world. Come and behold the King of Kings)

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,

(Join the song, and know He sings over you.)

Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!

(Make a joyous noise along with them, knowing you are chosen, and yet still can choose.)

Glory to God, glory in the highest:

(For He alone is worthy. For He alone sits on the throne.)

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;

(Behold He stands at the door and knocks, will you welcome Him in?)

Jesus, to Thee be all glory given!

(And honor, and praise, and love. For now and forever.)


Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!

(And You chose to dwell among us full of grace and truth.)


O come, let us adore Him,

(Together! Forever!)


O come, let us adore Him,

(Fall down before Him!)


O come, let us adore Him,

(God with us! The rescue has begun! The Hero has come!)


Christ the Lord.

(And all will bow before Him. Amen.)

Thursday, November 24, 2022

To Jocelyn, On Your 17th Birthday

 Dear Jocelyn,

                     What. A. Year. It was good. It was bad. It was everything in between. We have weathered all kinds of storms as a family, but you have had many tough challenges of your own. Anyone who thinks that getting your first job, learning to drive, and transitioning from homeschooling to college is easy should just spend a few minutes talking to you. You have done an amazing job, but it has been anything but easy. The learning curve has been steep. For both of us. We have cried, but we have persevered. We have passed driver's tests, turned in midterms, arranged work schedules, navigated piles of paperwork, and we are still standing. 

            I never needed anyone to tell me that time flies. You know that the moment you have a baby. But it is getting ridiculous at this point. I am trying not to imagine what it will feel like when you aren't just at the bottom of the stairs, because it won't do me any good. Instead, I am savoring the moments, the fun we have running errands, you standing in the door of my bedroom to give me the latest stories from work, or even just crouching over the laptop to edit an assignment before you turn it in. I love that you still look forward to our annual west side trip, it makes me so happy to have that time to hear your hopes and dreams uninterrupted.

           Because even though I have been your mom for 17 years, I am still learning about you, in part because you are still very much in the process of determining your own identity. I never wanted a carbon copy of myself, as a matter of fact, I try very hard to help you learn from my mistakes. I want you to be *you*, wonderful, marvelous, created in His image but still amazingly unique. I want you to find joy in living for the Lord, to take pleasure in the small things, to be grateful in the tough times, and to learn to trust in the difficult ones. 

   Most of all, I want you to learn that you don't have to be afraid. The battle has already been won and He is with you. I love that your birthday is essentially the kickoff to the Advent season. All these festivities and decorations reminding us that Emmanuel has come and told us not to fear. You can fail, you can fly, you can live knowing you are fully known, and yet, still fully loved. You don't need anyone but Jesus. 

    And know, that as long as the Lord allows, I will be here. I will be honest with you, because that is the best way to teach someone. I won't tell you it will be easy, or pain free. But I will always love you too. I hope you always know that I will listen. 

     I have told you pretty much the same thing every year. But as we grow older I think it becomes even more vital to know that we have someone in our corner. The mistakes of a child do not have the serious consequences of the ones we can make as we grow older. But few mistakes are greater than thinking that we cannot be forgiven, and that we are only loved for what we do. I hope you know I will always love you because you are my dear daughter, but more so than that I pray that you will know and depend on the love Christ has for you. 

                                                                          I love you,


Friday, April 15, 2022

What Saturday's Stillness Says


 "...But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." Luke 23:56b

       By nature I am a talker. Silence makes me uncomfortable. How can I know what you are thinking if you aren't speaking? How can you know what I am thinking if I'm not speaking? Anyone who has ever spent any great amount of time with me doesn't have to worry about that. I won't be quiet for long. 

    But there are times when even I do not speak. It doesn't happen often, although as I mature it seems to be increasing in frequency. I think perhaps it is a sign of wisdom. I am least prone to speak when I am angry-it is not a good sign if I stop talking in the middle of a fight. But I have also learned to limit my words when someone is grieving. I have begun to see that there are no words that I have that can make that right. At those times people usually just want someone to be with them, not offer empty platitudes or trite phrases of consolation. They don't need the sound of my voice, just to know they are not alone is enough. 

  "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

    Today is Good Friday. Sunday is Easter. Saturday is...silence?  We tremble before the power of the crucifixion. We rejoice at the power of the Resurrection. But what power does Saturday hold?

I like to think it holds the power of silence.

Sometimes when God doesn't seem to be saying anything He is speaking the loudest. Sometimes He is sitting with us in our grief. That verse is from the Old Testament. Well in advance of Jesus' death God had promised to be with His people. Jesus time in the tomb did not undo that promise. 

"For the word of the LORD is right and true; He is faithful in all He does." Psalm 33:4

What happens in silence? We start to listen. We wait. We think of what we already know. When God does not seem to be moving we should start paying the closest of attention. There are times we have strayed from His immediate presence, to be sure. But I have found that in times of grief and loss, confusion and pain, we feel like God is not moving. And perhaps it is because He is sitting with us in our grief.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 

   I cannot speak for those waiting women. But Scripture speaks for them. Look at it again:

 "...But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." Luke 23:56b

The emphasis is mine, but every word of Scripture is true. In the dozens of English translations that word is rendered "rested" except in one (Darby) that says "remained quiet." 

    What do rest and grief have in common? How can you be at peace in times of greatest loss? How can you remain quiet when your heart is wailing with fear and loss? Was there any greater loss than that of Jesus? How could these women rest? How could they remain quiet?

"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His." Hebrews 4:9-10 

"When He had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." John 19:30 

We can rest when our work is done. And our work is done for us because we could never do it ourselves. We can remain quiet in the stillness of grief, knowing that we don't have to fight anymore. The battle is won. God didn't have to speak in the stillness of Saturday, the Word had already been spoken. All that remained was to believe. 

   And that is how we can rest in the stillness of whatever Saturday we may be currently going through. The end has already been written and it is glorious. The Word has already spoken and He is victorious. We can live on Saturday like it is already Sunday. We can walk in the same faith knowing He is risen even while He seems to be very silent, as still as the grave. 

"The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay." Matthew 28:5-6

  He has already spoken. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) He is with us, He is for us, He has given us rest. So if this "Saturday" seems so silent you feel like you are going crazy, remember that rest is possible. If those women could have enough faith in the promises of God to rest while Jesus was in the tomb, you can find rest in Him here. He is using the silence to speak and it is saying:

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 1:20 



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