Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Letter to a 14 Year Old Girl: Julia’s Birthday Letter 2016

Her letter but my post-- I get to choose my favorite picture.
Dearest Julia,

This birthday letter writing thing can be serious business now that you’re a full fledged teenager.  There are blush worthy things that need to be said, but maybe I’ll save that as a post script— just for you.  There are still things you need to be taught but these are the days for you to be practicing much of what we’ve tried to teach you.  It’s all beginning to count, you know?  The stakes are getting higher.  Mistakes can be bigger.  Bad choices could cost you more.

So, now is the time.

It’s time for your faith to really become your own.  You need to ask all the questions that you have.  Even the ones that you are afraid to ask— even to yourself.  Let’s have those conversations— and it would be very considerate if you’d do it when your Daddy is around— and see where they take us. Face any doubts you have now— is all this for real?  Does this faith my family has really matter for me?  Why exactly do we pray?  Will I really view the Bible as the final authority?  Ask before you leave us.  We will welcome it.   Don’t just assume what you hear is truth and Biblical.  Check it out for yourself.  KNOW YOUR BIBLE.  We hope we gave you your Bible-for-life this birthday— one that will hold memories for you as you filter your very life through the pages of Scripture.  The notes you make will remind you of markers, heart aches you’ve experienced, celebrations you’ve enjoyed, prayers that have been answered, times you have waited on Him, comfort you’ve received…..  You have a life to be lived and I pray His Word will inform you and propel you every step of the way.  {And when you are old, like me, you can look back on ALL HIS FAITHFULNESS to you.}

We’ve been snapping pictures on SGI for 12 years now!!  I love them EVERY year.  The candid ones are my favorite.
If you take that foundation seriously, the rest will fall into place— and if it doesn’t, it won’t rock your world.  Part of me wants to turn the above words into a begging or pleading because I feel so strongly about it.  You’ve heard me say these things so many times but He won’t disappoint you.  He may bewilder you, but NEVER will He not come through for you.  You may hurt in the present but I promise you, give it some time and you will see His goodness.  I’ll stop— but make your faith your own— preferably before you leave our home.  ; )

I love your friends, Julia.  You’ve been so blessed to know and get to know some of the sweetest girls in Fort Worth.  I know you don’t always feel you fit tightly into any one group but sweetheart, I know these girls love you and are blessed to get to call you friend.  I am trusting that God has a creative plan for your friend group and that you are going to have a blast all through high school with them.  But as new ones come, pick them wisely.  Hold close the ones who share your values— and the ones who don’t?  Engage them WITH your friends.  Introduce us to them.  Show them what Christ’s love looks like.  Share His love with them.  And then let them choose.  But always, always stay connected to your close friends.  This is a time in your life when friends really, really matter.  Does this quote from D-Town look familiar? “The friends you ride with determine the course of your life.  Make sure you are riding with people who point you to Jesus.” {Harrison Ross}  He’s absolutely right.

There is another type of friend that is on the horizon…..  and that would be a friend that is a boy….. or a special friend….. or a BOY-FRIEND.  There.  I typed it.  And I know there is one you’ve preferred for a little over a year now and I must say, that has been a very sweet experience.  {And a HUGE learning curve for me— AND his mom!!}  We have navigated some BRAND NEW things this year but I think it has been a lot of fun— and did I say sweet?  One day I can write ALL about it.  But more is coming and like I said at the beginning… more is at stake.  As you gain more freedom, you’re going to have more choices to make.  As a mom, it’s my job to prepare you for that— because, really, you have NO IDEA.  I could go off on a momma rant/talk here but I’ll save that for some face to face.  My prayer is that you will choose boys to spend time with just as you have picked the girls you like to hang out with— ones who share your faith in God, ones who respect you, ones who value who God has created you to be, ones who truly enjoy your personality…..I could go on and on but I just want you to just enjoy these special friendships.  Learn from these young men.  Admire their qualities that are so different from your own.  Pray for them.  {Being a young man is really hard.}  Be an encouraging and honest friend to them.  Inspire them to be better young men.  And make their lives a little easier by continuing to be modest in your dress and your actions.  Again… you have NO IDEA.  {Face time, girl. Later.}

But now is the time.  Remember that.

Would you be shocked if I stopped right there?  I am shocking myself but I think I should stop.  Those are biggies, girl.  I want those to stick with you.

Even with all the groundings and lost privileges, I have SO ENJOYED YOU this year.  We have had a lot of fun together.  I love that we both love a good story and a good bargain. {I may never beat your Old Navy 50 cents shoes… impressive.}

I am proud of you because I see some really great things becoming a part of who you are.  I am not your friend now, but oh, girl, God willing, we are going to the best of friends one day and I simply cannot wait.

I love you,

You got braces this year!!!
You and your city garden bounty
Concert in the Garden- Journey
I get a LOT of these on my phone! {Where is this shirt/outfit anyway, Julia?  I like this one!}
Our summers at the pool-- sweetest group of kids
Angel in Ballet Concerto’s Holiday Special “O Holy Night"
First day of school
Best day-- picking you up from camp
Such a fun memory....can we do this tomorrow?

Quite proficient in the kitchen...
Your “oldest” friends in the Fort 
First ride on the Texas Giant!

No matter what you think, he does love you.
Awesome Camp Joy founders and creators

Grateful for long time friends

And these decade long friends...HOW many pictures do I have of THESE THREE?!?

This picture on Disney Day says SO MUCH about you.
Remember.  ONE DAY-- BFFs  LOVE YOU!!


Friday, January 22, 2016

I’m Still Here... Along with 2016

I am not giving up on this writing thing.  I need it.  However, at this point, my traffic of thoughts is so backed up, I may never get a coherent thought out.  That’s the way it feels today.

I felt the Christmas season blow my hair back as it whizzed through our home.  It's never long enough.  There were a few moments that seemed to slow its pace but overall, it left me wishing for more.  For the first time in years, I missed my 45 minutes with Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God CD-- listening from start to finish.  That's a favorite thing for me.  {It’s worth the purchase.} Come to think of it, I should just listen to it now.  Best idea I have had all day.

But I press on because one must start somewhere.  Of all the words typed and posted on the world wide -getting wider every second- web, what could I possibly have to say that is any different?  Don’t I wish I could get my hands on some woman’s journals from, like, the 1800’s?  A few things I think I would find— I’d be challenged to have a different perspective—on many things, that my complaints are ludicrous, my desire for comfort is way out of balance, my idea of hard work is pitiful and so on.  But then, when it came to the heart of what makes us women, I think I’d find some common ground.  Family.  I think any “good” mom — and I can consider myself at least that— desires similar things for her kids- and women with a few soft spots in her heart desires to be loved and cherished by her husband.  All that to say— we wives and moms have SO MUCH in common so we are bound to say much of the same thing from time to time and that’s why I think we like to read.  Did C.S. Lewis really say, “We read to know we are not alone.”  {He did in the movie Shadowlands.  So there.}  Whoever said it, it’s true.  We like to know someone else “gets” where we are.  Not that someone is stuck in the same sin pattern we are, but that someone understands what we are up against or that someone else has already gone through what seems to be an impossible situation but they made it!

Therefore, I keep writing.  As sporadic — and somewhat guarded it has become because of my kids’ ages— I still do it.

A couple of weekends ago, we took the kids to plan and pray for the New Year.  Jeff and I have done this before.... but never with the kids.  One night before we left I was lying in the bed I heard Brighton in the kitchen asking Jeff, “So, what else are we going to do?  We can’t just pray the whole time!!”  {B usually says what everyone else is thinking but won’t say.}  No, we didn’t pray the whole time but we gave it a good Sanders’— with a 14 and 12 year old in a tiny cabin on the coldest weekend of the year— effort!  For the first attempt, I think it went well.  Sure there were moments I wanted to get back in bed and hide my head under the pillow—-.  the kids still fought.  I still said too much.  Jeff never backed down on the agenda— and that meant praying when maybe we didn’t feel like it.  But by the time we’d finish, hearts would be softer and our perspective would be less skewed.  I kept telling myself that time spent praying is NEVER wasted.

The owners of the property were kind enough to take the kids out for a {very cold} ride over their land.  I love the cow photo bomb.  
Though most of the change and fruit will come from praying together, I loved hearing the kids’ thoughts when it came time to talk of their goals, things they wanted to change, places they wanted to go, events they’d like to experience…..  These are easy questions to ask anytime of the year but there’s something about a new beginning that gets their noggins churning.  They were primed to talk and we were not distracted by the responsibilities of home.  A couple of new things I learned about my kids is that one of them is energized by the thought of entrepreneurial type endeavors and the other is determined to set and keep a tough goal if someone joins him/her in it.  Our kids think more than I think they do— about fitness, about eating well, about nurturing friendships, about how they are treating their sibling, how they fit into the family mix, how they engage or don’t engage at times.  They are fascinating to me- these kids in the years spilling into adulthood.  On the brink… of something.

There are times when Jeff and I feel time is running short.  Their time at home with us is ticking away.  Planning seems to need to be more strategic— and this takes time and energy, which honestly some days I am all about it but other days, I am content to let it all drift by and let it be what it is.  Sure there are days for drifting but there is wisdom in putting some plans to paper— after prayer.  And this is one of the lessons with which we want to send them off.

Did this weekend prayer retreat change their lives? My life?  Who knows?  But I am praying for this:
that some things are accomplished this year that wouldn’t have been otherwise, that we will continue to think on the desires and goals we communicated and are challenged personally, that we find more Scripture hidden in our hearts over the year, that as parents, spouses, children and siblings, and that we can all say that we depended on the Lord more to order our steps and words.
I hope we can look back on 2016 and feel like we gave it our best shot.  And most importantly, I trust we will see changes in ourselves as a result of time spent praying.  Together.

I’m pretty sure any wife or mom can relate to that.    On the wagon or the white SUV.