Dear friend who just cannot believe that Jesus is real,
Let me guess, you look at all of the awful sadness in this world, all of the suffering and you say to yourself, there is no way there is a God. There just cannot be.
Can I please ask you a question?
Is there a place in this world that you take a deep sigh and feel so at home and so comfortable that you cannot wait to be there? Is it your childhood home? Is your calming place the ocean? Or is it the mountains? I know there is a place that makes that flood of relief wash over you; a place that makes you exhale and breath deeply and slowly; a place that you never want to leave.
My guess is that wherever that place is, there always comes a time when you must leave and most likely you cannot always get there when you desperately want.
I ask that question because my secret place is when I’m with my God, Jesus and my calm and peaceful place is everywhere. I never need to feel alone. Sometimes when I’m in a funk, I may choose to be alone. However, He is always there for me. Jesus is always waiting for an invitation into my quiet or my crazy.
Now I’m going to say something that may rub you the wrong way. I’m sorry for that. If you look at this world and all you can think is that there could not possibly be a real, loving Jesus, well, you don’t know Him. You might know people who say they know Him, you may have heard someone talking about Him and you may have even been in a very dark place in your life and called out for Him. I happen to know for a fact that if you were in a very dark place at one time and you called out searching for His comfort, He showed up, didn’t He? Don’t answer. I know Him and I know He did. He’s faithful like that.
My point is, please don’t look at any of us people who say we know Him and think you know Him. Some of us do better than others at reflecting Him but we all screw up so you can’t possibly get to know Him by simply being in a relationship with one of us human beings.
When my heart hurts and when tragedy strikes and when the questions come flooding in about why the Lord allowed something to happen, there is only one thing to do. That one thing is to go back and recall all that I know about Him. Remembering His character during painful and difficult times does not help me answer the question, why? I’m just being honest here. It just doesn’t. I don’t have the answers for the questions flying around about pain and suffering.
What I do have is that quiet and calm place – I know He is with me. I know He can be trusted. I know He knows how jacked up things are here on earth. I know He understands the pain and suffering. I know He loves us all. I know He will serve justice on every daggum atrocity ever to take place on this earth. I know He is compassionate. Friends, I know He can be trusted. And I know this only because I know Him. I’ve taken the time to know Him so that I can survive; so that I can thrive; so that I can see joy – because He is joy and hope and all that is good.
If you take the time to get to know Him, you will know always have a peaceful place to retreat. He will always be there to hold you up – He will never leave. He promises that and I know that because I’ve studied His words. Yes, His very words. The Lord of the universe gave us His Words so we could know Him. Wouldn’t you rather have peace and hope than what this world has to offer?
Dear Makenna & Sara Bella,
First, sorry Sara – you’ll always be my Bella:-) I hope that’s ok!
I feel so blessed and overwhelmed that I’ve been with you both since the very beginning. And tomorrow you’re off to college – both of you. In different states. Studying different things. Just such different girls.
I felt moved, however, to tell you how much I admire both of you.
Sara, you’re witty and funny and full of life. I’ve so loved watching you grow up. It’s been a joy and delight in my life. I was thinking today that I have some regrets – only that I didn’t spend more time with you. It occurred to me (and I think I told you this) that you are one of the people in my life that I would go to the ends of the earth to be with because you’re just so fun. You’re passionate about things and I see so much of myself in you. You mean the world to me, Sara.
Mak, you’re passionate about things too and I love that about you. You’re a gentle and loving soul. You care deeply. And I adore being with you. You know that. This past weekend in San Francisco may have been one of my favorite times with you. Thank you for showing me and Olivia such a great time.
Mostly I want you both to remember that you are sisters. You have each other’s backs. Always. No matter what. Call each other when you need someone to talk to. Text one another. There is no substitute for family. You’ll make great friends but never ever forget each other. Support and Encourage one another. Surprise each other with texts and visits and be interested in each other. Be interested in each other. Be interested in each other. Ok?
Your moms are so excited for you. And we’re aching a bit. Give us a bit of grace. We will need it.
I love you both more than you’ll ever know.
Dear Makenna and Olivia,
The water is calm on the lake and the sun dances on it. The surface is very peaceful. However, deep down in the lake where I can’t easily see, the bigger fish prey on the littler fish. There are styrofoam cups and other litter is strewn about on the dark lake floor. I can’t see the dirty lake floor. And I like it that way. I’m happy not seeing. Aren’t we all?
Inside the abortion clinic, I am sure the waiting room is somewhat inviting – much like the surface of beautiful lake that calls me to it. Bright magazines and smiling faces greet broken women and their partners. However, deeper in the clinic there are lies. It’s murderous. It’s not freedom or a choice. It’s pain and blood. And we didn’t want to look, did we?
Is the Lord shaking us awake with these videos depicting Planned Parenthood evil? We certainly can’t be all status quo now, can we?
American society is moving far from what we should feel comfortable with, Darlings. Now is not the time to think things will change slightly but not too much – not so much that we will be uncomfortable. Let us be uncomfortable with what they say about us. Let us not confuse love with weakness. Let us not be silent while the wide gate gets jammed with an overload of traffic. Let us plead with them to see Him, to seek Him and to sit down, breathe in hope and be found and saved by Him.
Nehemiah knew God was calling him to rebuild the walls of his city so that both the city and the people would be protected. He rallied the city. When the enemies of the wall builders voiced opposition, Nehemiah saw the fear in the eyes of God’s people. He then proclaimed: ”Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughter, your wives and your houses.” Neh 4:14
Each man built up and took responsibility for his portion of the wall. They became very serious about building up and protecting the portion the Lord had given them and for which they were therefore responsible. ”So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water.” Neh 4:23
We have been given a portion of this wall to protect. Rise up and figure out where you’re called to protect.
Mak, you’re called to serve girls in a meaningful way. To help set them on a firm foundation – not a weak one typically seen in girl’s ministry. Not one characterized by things that are true (modesty and discernment in dating) but one rich with the Word and deep, life giving relationship with Him.
Liv, where are you being called to build? I can’t wait to see what portion you’ll be called to build and protect.
If we brothers and sisters in Christ do not all stand up now for that which we are moved, disaster is ahead of us. I have looked away too often, I have not diven down deep and now I must rise. In His power if we all commit to our certain tasks we will be successful in rebuilding.
If we will only “remember that the Lord is great and awesome” and if we ALL agree to fight for each other and truth, what could happen? Lord, please stir all of us to move. Help us to know our part. Make plain to each of us our portion and go with us as we RISE AND DEFEND.
Dear Mak & Liv,
Racism is alive in the United States of America. I tell you this for one reason and one reason only. I implore you to hate it. I beg you to despise it. Please, with everything you have inside of yourselves fight against it.
If you’re ever in a situation where someone tells a joke that has racist undertones, open your mouths in opposition. Open your mouths wider and say more if it’s a blatant racist joke. Do not be afraid to say it’s wrong. DO NOT let them tell you it’s only a joke. Or that you need to relax. There are some things in this world that cannot and should not be made into a joke. I don’t care what the circumstances are. Remember this: not saying something because it makes things very uncomfortable in situations like this helps to perpetuate the ugliness and allows ugly people UNAFRAID of continuing in their backwards mindset.
Do not allow racist words or descriptions to be uttered around you. Make known that they are wrong. Please.
The debate over the confederate flag has stirred something up in me and I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I feel the need to explain why my heart has been stirred.
My heart has been broken open over the debate raging about whether or not to remove the confederate flag from public places. Why? Because it seems so simple. Maybe I’m just simple minded but to me, the action needed seems so incredibly obvious.
There are sweet people who are scared of and feel real fear when they see that flag. Now I ask you, do you think it is ok if another human being has a legitimate fear based on reality to continue to wave something in their faces that evokes those kinds of emotions in them? It is not ok, girls.
Advocates for the confederate flag insist that it is a symbol of southern pride. Children, we are called to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” Philippians 2:3. Let’s always remember to put the needs of others above our own. Let’s lay down any pride or symbol we have if it adversely affects another. It’s really about loving people. It’s about caring for them. It’s about wanting the best for them.
There are certain words that, when spoken, should shock you. They should take your breath away because they are so hurtful. So ugly. I want you to know that along with certain words, there are certain symbols that, when seen, should shock you. They should take your breath away. That’s what I’m talking about here. I am praying really hard that the spirit in you evokes shock in your very core when you hear ugly words and when you see ugly symbols. I am praying that your heart is always for other people. I am praying that you will be strong advocates for what it right; for what is loving.
I love you.
This young one was just born this way. The Lord put in her the way an athlete moves and most astonishingly, the heart of an athlete. Loves hard work and doesn’t get why some cheat during workouts. Loves to get dirty. Loves to win. Hates failing. Pushes hard. Encourages teammates. No matter what, always wants to do better; more. None of these things were learned; they were put inside of her by our Creator -uniquely Liv.
Dear Mak & Livy,
I can’t sleep tonight. I just sat there, eyes wide open talking to God. I’m writing you because this is long overdue and after today, I can wait no longer.
Today the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion. I disagree with both of those decisions (and many more) but not because I think I know better. I disagree because God disagrees. However, stop, please. Don’t continue thinking I’m going to cite verse after verse defending my statement that God disagrees. This will not be a biblical defense of the evangelical Christianity. My heart and reason for writing this is far more important than truths the Lord already made clear in the Bible.
I want you to understand something crucial. Something that changes everything when we think through and discuss hard issues.
First I want you to know that I don’t like everything that God says. It’s true. I happen to love the idea of two consenting people coming together in marriage and celebrating love. However, I always have to defer and surrender to what God says. Why? Because He is God; He is holy; He knows what is good and right and I can’t see nor understand everything that He does.
I also want you to know is this: if we come from a different starting point with people, we will never come to agreement. Let me explain.
I have a weight problem. My weight problem is the consequence of me turning to food, idolizing it and trying to get it to comfort me. Instead of turning to good and healthy things, I turn to food often times. Because I surrendered my life to Jesus and committed my life to following Him, I recognize my behavior as sin. Gluttony. Idol worship. It’s all choosing something above God and God says that is wrong. I ask forgiveness every single day I commit this sin and I’m forgiven because God says that if we turn to Him, acknowledge and repent of our sin He will be faithful to forgive.
Let’s say Jane and Karen fall in love. After today’s ruling, they decide to marry. Let’s also say that Jane and Karen are dear friends of yours. And they come to you and ask to talk because they are good, kind friends of yours and they want to openly discuss something about which you disagree – same sex relationships. If Karen and Jane don’t know Jesus and you tell them that the Lord has made it clear that it is not acceptable, I don’t think it is possible to come to agreement. It’s certainly possible and desirable to continue a sweet friendship with them but without deference to God and His law from both sides, it’s really not possible to see eye to eye. Why? Because you began from different starting points. The difference between my behavior with food is that I repent of it, recognize it is wrong according to God (even though it feels so good to eat ice cream in abundance) and agree with Him that I must fight to change while Karen and Jane do not agree with God, do not recognize their desires as sinful and make no attempt to turn toward Him in obedience. I do have to add a bit of a caveat here – I don’t proclaim that my sin with food is as complex as Jane & Karen’s sin. I just chose to discuss my sin by way of example. It may be very well true that the lusts Karen & Jane have create larger life implications than mine and I want to recognize that. I do not intend to diminish their struggle by comparing our sins and lusts.
Finally and most importantly, please remember and never forget that Jesus’ offer of salvation is more important than any of these social issues. Because we all tell God by our actions that we want to be the authors of what is right and wrong and because we effectively tell Him that we want to make up the rules, we needed someone to come and make things right again. Jesus came and said, I will be the sacrifice for you. I will live a perfect life and stand in your stead before the Father because the Father cannot and will not look upon sin without ordering the just consequence, which according to His Word is death. It is the great news for all of us. We need Jesus in order to live. Everyone does. So, let’s always agree with God but let’s also bring Good News to the world as our primary goal because when people hear the Good News and choose Jesus, well then we are at the same starting point and we can more easily discuss important issues.
It’s always about Jesus first. satan will try to convince us to argue the issues because he knows that we will never come to agreement with our friends who don’t know Jesus because our base is not the same. Our foundation differs. And that’s just how satan likes it. What satan doesn’t like is Jesus. Why? Because Jesus always wins no matter how bleak things may appear. He’s already victorious.
I love you.
PS, can I be completely honest? I’ve never been so afraid to publish my words before because I know how poorly this may go. But then again, I have to stand firm in God’s truth. And it’s my job to be your mama and point you in the right direction. Forever and always, I promise to do that – no matter how scary.
Dear Mak & Livy,
Last year I attended an awards ceremony at Makenna’s school. She received a nice academic award. Afterwards, she saw me and said “why are you here?”
“You received a nice award, Mak, I wouldn’t miss it,” I replied.
“Mama, you saw all of the other kids who received the same award – this is really no big deal,” she quipped back.
The award was for kids who earned above 4.0 for the school year. That’s a good achievement, right? That’s something to celebrate, I thought. However, her comment has plagued me. It bothered me because I could not put my finger on the wrong thinking that prompted her to make it.
Today, Makenna and one of her friends received an all Wisconsin state academic honor. When I came home and congratulated her this was her response:
“Oh, mama, I feel like if I receive the award it must not be that big of a deal.”
Yes, people! Yes, that is what she said to me.
So while I did dishes this evening, I started processing this the only way I know how – biblically. I’m not done figuring this all out – I’m in the middle of processing it, however, this is where I’ve landed midstream:
- It is right and good to be humble. It is right and good to acknowledge all gifts, talents and abilities come for God. It is NOT right and good to dismiss them.
- It’s critical to dig into and ponder why you are where you are. We know God has given you the abilities He has. We know God has given you two parents who support you and pour their lives out for you. However, it’s crucial to remember that not all children have the same God given abilities and they don’t have the luxury of having been read to every night of their lives. They don’t have the luxury of middle class living. They don’t have the luxury of so many of the things we take for granted. Should we not acknowledge that it is your obligation to take what you’ve been given and use it for good? And not only that, should we not be compelled to say to ourselves “wow, I’m being recognized for an accomplishment that took hard work and dedication and people see me”? The point here is not that you’re being recognized; the point is that you are in a system of schooling and support where people see you and want you to know that you are seen. Do you know how many people in this world live outside of any kind of system where they feel seen and noticed?
- While we may live in an environment where many children do have the support, gifts and opportunities we do, it is a travesty to forget that we have been given what we have for a UNIQUE purpose. There may be others getting the same awards. There are always going to be people who are more talented and gifted, however, the Lord has made us each uniquely and crazily different for a reason. Let’s remember that when we see a sea of faces receiving the same award. Let’s remember that it’s our job to figure out why we are in a unique position and exactly what we are to do with the accolade. Maybe we should accept it humbly and allow it to fuel us for the good of others.
I don’t want bragging. That’s not what I’m after. What I’m after to some introspection as to *why* God has given the UNIQUE you these opportunities and *how* you can use them to put others before yourself and impact the world for good – not because you’ve been honored but because you recognize there is a reason for it.
Will you continue to think about this with me? Will you help me understand?
Tonight you and I went to the movies alone. We went to see Aloha. And on the way home we talked and talked. And then you looked at me and you said “golly, mama, I love being with you. We will have to do this more and more after Makenna goes to college.”
And then you told me that you had a wonderful idea. ”Mama, do you want to know what I just thought of?”
Of course, I do. I want you to tell me everything in your head. It’s ok – don’t stop talking.
“Well I still want to play professional softball when I grow up. But I was thinking. What if I became a National Geographic photographer and travelled the world? And then I came home on holidays. And played softball just in the summer?”
Yes, Liv. Yes. Do it all. ”Don’t stop dreaming.” I say it all the time. Don’t stop dreaming up ways to live in this world. Don’t.ever.stop.
“Hey, Liv, it’s like you want 30 different lives. That’s exactly what GrandMary always says to me – that I want a million different lives.”
It’s true. And then I told you that I just want to drink it all in. And then we agreed that we are so much alike.
And when we got home, I sent you to wash up for bedtime and I sat down to write this out. So I don’t forgot. Oh Father, I don’t want to forget any of it. I don’t want to forget the conversations, the dreams, the giggles…. the love. Thank you for all of the Love.
I love you, my dreamer.
Love, mama xoxox