Letters to My Girls: On Starting School

On Starting School

My babies,

The time has come for you to be released into the world in a way we’ve never done before. It's really just the beginning, I know, but it feels like an awfully big launch since I'm sending two of you out at once. 

In a few weeks you’ll be walking into our local public school where you’ll spend 35 hours of your week with peers and teachers. For the last 6 years, we have spent our days together and I’m not going to lie to you, my heart aches a bit at this first launching. But I’m also so incredibly excited for you. I have zero doubts of how much you’re going to love it because YOU, my vibrant girls, were made for this.  

But with this huge milestone also comes some uncharted territory, so I wanted to give you some words of advice. Consider this some of the many mom lectures you’ll get over the years. After all, if I’m nothing else, I’m wordy. But I’m hoping that one day (many decades later) you two can laugh at your bossy mom, but maybe also look back and see my fierce love for you (and that maybe I was right about at least one or two things… Eh, a mom can dream!).

So without further adieu, here are some words of advice on starting school:

Be kind to everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Be kind to your close friends, be kind to your acquaintances, be kind to those who are mean to you. Because being kind doesn’t make you a doormat, it makes you, well, A KIND PERSON. And the world needs more kind people these days. 

Don’t be snotty. Along those same lines, don’t be a snot. Don’t be a snob. Don’t be manipulative. Don’t be a gossip. Don’t laugh at others’ expense. You’re only 6, but we’ve raised you better than that. If it won’t fly in our family, don’t do it at school. 

Respect others. Respect your teachers and school administrators, and remember how we’ve taught you to interact with authority figures. As for your friends, when someone asks you to stop bothering them, even if it started out as play, STOP immediately. Respect their words. Respect their property by taking care of their items better than you take care of your own. And respect yourselves and each other. If someone is bothering you, stand up for yourself (or your sister) and ask them to stop. 

Cheer your friends on. Listen, there are going to be some things that your friends & sister will be better than you in. You can't be the best at everything, and truth be told you might not be the best in anything. When this happens don’t get catty. Don’t get jealous. Cheer your friends on! On that same note, your friends will get to have and experience different things than you. Instead of letting envy creep into your heart, choose to be genuinely excited for them. Comparison isn’t only the thief of all joy, it’s also a cancer to almost any relationship. And the way to cure that cancer is to take joy and celebrate others’ wins, even if their win results in your loss.  

Stand up for what’s right. Girls, this world is full of people who would rather not rock the boat than do the right thing. Never be afraid to do the right thing. Stand up for what’s right, even if it costs you something (especially when it costs you something). That kid being made fun of? Befriend them and do the right thing. If you’re tempted to take a short-cut? Do the right thing. If your friends laugh at another classmate. Stand up for them and do the right thing (and maybe find better friends who treat others with respect). Doing the right thing will cost you something, but it’s worth it EVERY TIME. And just so you know, your mama will always have your back  

Social Media. UGH. You don’t know these words yet, and you won’t for a good long while. But this is for when you do. When the day comes when you have access to this: BE A GOOD FRIEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online. And don’t use social media for blatant bullying or passive aggressive social out-casting. We see this even in adults today, people are either BLASTING EACH OTHER with great vigor or withholding likes or engagement as a modern day silent treatment. Don’t be that person. Also, the world OFFLINE is grander, bigger, and better than anything you can find online. Always remember that. 

Tell the truth. This is a good lesson to start learning now, but the truth will always set you free. Things kept hidden are rarely for your good. If you give your friend your word, make it count. If your teacher asks you a question, tell the truth. Live a life in the light, open and honest, because your integrity matters and it starts now. 

Always check your zipper when leaving the bathroom. Nothing further here. JUST SOUND GOOD ADVICE. 

It’s ok to be different. The world is full of conformers. Don’t let that be you. BE YOU. FULLY YOU. Be the smart, creative, goofy girls that God made you to be. The world doesn’t need anymore cookie cutters; it needs unique, confident, smart, engaging women. That’s who you are. Don’t you dare change yourselves to fit a mold. And when someone else looks differently, acts differently, or learns differently than you, celebrate that! Learn from them! See God's beauty in how diverse and wonderful our world is!

Say I’m Sorry. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong. WHEN you mess-up, tell a lie, or are mean to someone, go apologize and make it right. The best kind of friends aren’t the perfect ones, but they’re the ones who know when they’ve done wrong and are humble enough to go back and try to restore what’s been broken. And on that same note, saying I’m sorry doesn’t erase the consequences, but it does begin the restoration process. Don’t fear the consequences, face them bravely because they help us learn from our mistakes!

Don’t Be a Social Ladder Climber. Listen, even when you’re an adult there will always be pressure to be in a particular group of people. Don’t be a social ladder climber; no one ends up liking those people in the end. Find people who you enjoy spending time with and knock yourselves out BEING GOOD FRIENDS to each other. Be LOYAL. Be kind. Be truthful. Show up for your people. And don’t abandon them when something “flashier” comes along. 

Don’t worry about failure. My babies, don’t be afraid to be try new things and fail, because your identity doesn’t rest in your successes or failures. Some of my greatest lessons learned were birthed in failure. I really need you to hear this: Whatever you try, wherever you explore, whenever you fall, you will always have a family cheering you on. We don’t care if you’re the best or the worst or just average. We are proud of you for WHO YOU ARE, not what you do! Try things out, find activities that you love, and then do them with passion. Don’t let success or failure be the driving factor. Paint because you love to express yourself, sing because the music leaves you no other option, play a sport because you love the game, and run because you love the wind in your hair and how the ground feels beneath your feet.

Keep your privates private. No peeing on the playground like you pee in our backyard. Lame, I know, but again it's sound advice. BUT for real though, we respect our bodies and the bodies of others by keeping our privates private. If anyone asks to see, touch, or if they talk about privates in a way that makes you uncomfortable - tell your teacher AND me as soon as possible. We will always believe you.  

Be a diligent student. The disciplines you develop in school will help you in life. Work hard. Develop good habits now. Learn to love books. But also have a TON OF FUN! As women, I also need you to know that for centuries our mere gender denied us the honor of a formal education. Every day you walk into school, you stand on these denied women’s shoulders. Never forget that you GET to go to school because there were women who broke down barriers and fought for your right to receive an education. Do not waste their work. 

And lastly don’t worry about being a good girl. Just be a girl who loves Jesus, who is journeying and learning and living and failing and getting back up again. Perfection and/or Good is never the standard, because we rest in a Savior who has met the standard for us. So when you mess up royally (and like your mama you absolutely will), I want you to remember who it is that defines you. It’s not your grades. It’s not your friends. It’s not your goodness. It’s not even your family. It’s the blood of Jesus Christ. You are rescued and redeemed and there is NOTHING you can say or do that will make God love you more or less. 

And on that note girls, GO KNOCK ‘EM DEAD. And as our former church used to say at the end of every service, “YOU ARE SENT!” This world is lucky to have you.

You are so dearly loved,

You Mama

 

 

 

 

Posted on July 29, 2018 and filed under Letters to my girls.

When Good Men Fall

This week has been a hard week for many in the denomination that I’ve grown to love. More good men have stepped down from ministry due to moral failure. If I am honest with you, it seems to be a theme in my life. I have been close to many pastors who are now no longer serving in ministry. And when I hear news of another one, it triggers a deep familiar wound that sends me to my knees.

Posted on May 23, 2018 .

Fall :: My Season of Remembrance

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It’s undeniably fall, even here in Texas. The trees are losing their leaves, mornings are crisp, and the holidays are right around the corner. 

It has always been my favorite time of year, but ever since my life fell apart the fall has held a special place in my heart. You see, one fall in particular brought more than just a change of weather; it changed me entirely

A few years ago I woke up one cool morning with a splitting headache and the realization that the prior day wasn’t a nightmare; it was my new reality. Grief took a seat at our family’s table and was there to stay for a while. Heartache became the norm, and I couldn’t quite find my footing. It seemed as if everything in life was falling apart and the weather and trees were simply following suit. 

But that’s the beauty of fall.

Leaves are shed, the weather changes, and with every passing day I was changing too. And the fumbling that fall brought was what the Lord used to help me find my footing in Him. God was using the furnace of suffering to forge a new me and as fall turned into winter, I became bare-boned and raw before the Lord. And that was exactly where He wanted me. The people-pleasing girl who danced throughout the summer was learning to sit quietly before a Holy God who ordained both the summers and winters in life. 

And the falls, well… He ordained those too. 

It was the fall that taught me that both sorrow and joy could coexist and that holidays were meant to be celebrated in both seasons of great joy and deep sorrow. It was the stripping of the leaves that showed me that sometimes less was better than more, and depth was more valuable than breadth. And the cool air that took my first mornings’ breath away reminded me that my hope was not here in earthly joys, but in an eternal one. Fall taught me it was okay to not always be okay, and that the Lord who ordained every celebration, also ordained every heartache. And just as quickly as one season begins, it will also come to an end. 

The fall took so much away, and winter was cold and barren, yet spring couldn’t come and fully be enjoyed without those two difficult seasons. Never have I loved a Springtime more than the one that followed such a cold and stripping season. 

Years later, this sweet season both stings and brings an immense amount of comfort. And that is why it is still my favorite. I look at the changing season and am reminded that this side of glory both sorrow and joy commingle together to create a beautiful story of redemption. I sip the cider, let the cool air chill my cheeks, and I am comforted knowing that we serve a King who ordains every season, every change, & He cares about every leaf that falls. He ordains every valley and every mountain, and He oversees abundance and scarcity. And as I sit here with scars that will always remind me of the fall, I’m warmed by a resilient faith that was forged in that glorious season. For the healing that gave birth to those scars is evidence that our God redeems and restores. 

Fall is my season of remembrance. Look what the Lord has done and is constantly redeeming. 

The leaves may change and your life might fall apart, but “The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

Wishing you a Happy Fall and all that it entails. Praying that as the season changes, you do too and you find comfort in a Redeemer who never does. Because even on the coldest of days, the journey is still worth it all.

 

Posted on September 22, 2017 .