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. 




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