Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Letters to My Daughters: Ten Things

Earlier this week I was searching for something in some of my old posts, and I happened to come across a post I wrote in November of 2009 titled "Ten Things." I read it through and realized that it would be perfect as a "Letters to My Daughters" post (something I've been trying to resurrect recently due to some very kind comments from some of you). I've edited the original just a bit to fit our circumstances now, but most of it remains the same.


Dear Daughters,

A long time ago, either before you were born or when Kate was just a baby, I attended a writer’s conference. The keynote speaker was a relatively unknown Christian writer who had an idea that he floated to us during one of his talks. Something about the rapture, the antichrist, and the end times.

You might have heard of him? Jerry Jenkins?

Before Jerry Jenkins ever wrote the Left Behind series, he had already written several books, including the book that I purchased called 12 Things I Want My Kids to Remember Forever. I actually stood in line to have him autograph my book (the only time I've ever done that!) because, as I told him, I bought that book (and not one of his 25 other books on the table) for the title of one chapter: “Women Work Harder than Men.”

Think about that for just a second.

I have loved that little book over the years. It’s the book I wish I could write for you. It's kind of what spurred me to write this "Letters to My Daughters" series. 

You are, all three, in the process of leaving home. In just a few years our house will be empty, our walls will echo with memories, and my head will suddenly remember all the things I wish I had told you but forgot.

So, a list. Just so I don't forget to tell you. 

1. I have to say this first because it really is the most important thing: Know Jesus. Really know Him. Love Him with all your heart. Take Him with you wherever you go.

When you were little I always made you hold my hand when we crossed the street. When you got a little older you started to get embarrassed about that, and you shrugged me off. Very soon I won’t be there to hold your hand all the time. Hold on to His. And not just when you’re crossing the street; hold on all the time.

2. Marry a man who loves Jesus more than he loves you. Because in doing that, he will love you best. After that, make sure your husband makes you laugh every day. Because, believe me, laughter can get you through some tough days.

3. Be kind to the outsider. We all know how it feels to be the person on the outside looking in, so try to include others. Bring people in. Be warm. Be welcoming. Be hospitable.

4. It’s not about you. Ever. I know this phrase has turned into a bit of a cliché, but it is so true. This life, this world, is so much bigger than you. Don't be afraid of it; just dig in and see what you can do to help.

5. Debt is NOT your friend. It will suffocate you like a blanket and, once under that blanket, it’s really, really hard to get out from under it. Debt removes options from your life, and I want you to have options. Stay far, far away from the allure of debt, and the best way to do that is to live below your means.

6. Some stuff that people say matters really doesn’t matter at all. But then, there is some stuff that some people don’t care about that matters a lot. Life is often about having the right perspective.

7. Learn how to make a couple of dishes really well. Make them your signature dishes. That way, when you have company over you’ll have a recipe or two that you can make really well and you won’t have any disasters like the double-charred, hard-as-a-rock ribs I made for friends one time when your dad and I were first married.

8. Find a church and commit to it. This is your body, so do everything within your power to help make your body healthy and strong. Serve. Confront. Help. Unless there is heresy being preached, try to stick with it. You will be blessed so much if you do this.

9. Don’t complain. Now, I realize that I spend my fair share of time complaining about the weather, but I know I shouldn’t. There’s nothing I can do about the weather. But this is bigger than the weather. Nobody likes to be around a person who complains all the time. Instead of complaining, try to make the world a better place.

10. Finally, always remember that you are so special. Each one of you is so very gifted, and by that I don’t mean just intellectually. Each one of you is so beautiful, inside and out. You love well. You give a lot. You are good friends. You have taught me so much. Never, ever forget how special you are because there will be some days when you won't feel special. You'll think that you have nothing to offer this world or the people in it. You'll wonder what you can do to make a difference. Believe me, just because you're here the world is a better place.

I know I said I’d give you ten things I want you to remember, but there’s one more thing. . . .

Never forget that I have loved you with more love than my heart can hold. It overflows. It spills over into everything I have done. And there’s more there. Always more. You are the work of my life, and I’m so very proud of what I’ve accomplished.


So how about you, dear readers? What would you add to this list?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Just One

You guys know I'm all about education, right?

Education has been my work for a long time.

And girls?

Three precious ones of my own and countless others who have impressed and inspired me.

Yep, education and girls--I kind of have a thing for them both.

Bring the two together in one inspiring story and I'll be a puddle of tears.

And that's just what I am this week over this one story.

Kristen is one mom. One blogger. Who took one trip and met one woman. She heard one Voice calling her to one task. And she obeyed.

Just one. With open hands and an open heart.

A mom who said yes.

Mercy House is the task that God has called Kristen to, and it's a task that is just too big for one person. So over the next few weeks, Kristen is asking for a community of moms to come alongside her in her task.

Mercy House is one ministry that is doing a whole lot of good in Kenya. Women are being healed, lives are being restored, and babies are being saved. All because Kristen said yes to God.

This week, Mercy House is trying to raise enough money to provide a classroom for the young women who are being rescued. These are women who were previously living in one of the largest slums in the world, raped or being sold as sex slaves, who find themselves pregnant and without hope. Mercy House provides shelter, nourishment, community, and education for these desperate women.

Their babies are being saved.

Please, won't you learn more by clicking right here and watching the incredible video about Mercy House? And then, won't you go one step further by giving a gift to this ministry which will provide an education that will help free these women to do amazing things with their lives?

I get it--I see it every day--the difference that an education can make for a young woman. And I want to help pass that gift along to others.

Won't you join me?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Of Dick Van Dyke and Dreaming

Last night, after coming home from a soccer game, B and I sat down together on the couch and flipped on the T.V.

News flash: not much is on on a Friday night.

We ended up watching an old episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show

(Seriously. There’s nothing on on Friday nights!) 

B and I laughed about how we felt we knew every square inch of Rob and Laura Petry’s house, including their bedroom with twin beds (!), and I noted how prim and put-together Laura looked in her starched blouse and well-sprayed hairdo. A far cry from how I look most days in my yoga pants and sweatshirt.

In this episode, Rob, who worked as a screenwriter for a T.V. show, confessed to Laura that he felt like a failure because he had started writing a novel and had never finished it. He said that he never felt like a real writer because he had never written a book.

Apparently, writing a book is what makes you a real writer.

Laura spent the rest of the episode encouraging Rob to finish his book, even going so far as to arrange for him to spend a few days in a friend’s cabin, alone, so he could concentrate and write.

But poor Rob was suffering from writer’s block. He got busy sharpening pencils, stacking paper, and getting out his typewriter in order for the scene to be just perfect so that he could finally write. But as soon as everything was set, he just sat there, looking around, eventually getting distracted by a paddleball game. Rob spent three days just pounding that ball against the paddle, trying to beat his high score.

In the end, Laura and Rob both had a moment of clarity: they realized that Rob just wasn’t ready to write his book. One day he might be ready, but this wasn’t it.

Rob summed it up this way: “I know one thing, when I’m ready to be a novelist I won’t need a cabin to write it. I’ll be able to write it on the subway during rush hour.”

Here’s what I want to know. Did Rob give up?

We read so much these days about dreaming big dreams for our lives, which, in my mind, means do bigger things than you’re doing right now.

But what if what we’re doing right now is exactly what God wants us to be doing?

For the past two weeks I haven’t written a word. I’ve been busy teaching, grading papers, talking to students and friends, and generally living my life.

Oh, I think about writing. I think about my blog and what I’d like to see happen here, but it just isn’t happening for me right now. Call it writer’s block. Call it a busy life. Call it different priorities.

Whatever you call it, writing isn’t happening for me right now, and, in a way, that’s frustrating to me.

I dream.

Oh yes, I dream a lot.

And yet, here I am in the everyday, trying to find the adventure right here.

And I wonder: am I doing this right as I live in the tension of the everyday and the some day? More importantly, I wonder: what if my dreams for myself aren’t God’s dreams for me? What if He has something else that is not necessarily bigger, but definitely better, than I can see?

I’d like to explore these questions a little further. Will you explore with me?

Over the next couple of weeks, just because I’m kind of like Rob Petry and can’t seem to find my writing mojo, I’d like to give myself a little task. To write about dreams and see where this gets me.

Now tell me, what do you dream about? What do you think about dreaming big dreams for your life? Where have your dreams led you? How would you respond to the questions I’ve posted above?