Posts filed under Letters to my girls

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 April 28, 2017 and filed under Letters to my girls.

An Anthem on Women's Day

It's Women's Day, and since we're in a season when what it means to be female is a hot topic, I wanted to spend a little time writing out a prayer here for you and the women in your life. I'll be honest, this originally started out as a prayer for my daughters, but as I began to think about it I realized I was praying for all of our daughters, our sisters, our mothers. All of us. So without further adieu, an anthem for my girls on Women's Day.


Happy Women's Day 2017,

May we be women who relish in who God made us to be, women who don't adhere to stereotypes, women who live lives full of joy, generously giving away the gifts that are entrusted to us.  

May we be strong women.

May we find that strength, real strength, isn't in getting our way or being right; it's found in being rooted in something greater than ourselves. May we learn that strength is both the grace to admit when we're wrong and the formidability to stand firmly for what is right. May we spend our strength and power for the good of others, rather than hoarding it for our personal gain.

May we always know that we are at our strongest when we are locked arm in arm with one another rather than pulling each other down to get to the top. 

May our steps be guided by a faith that knows that all things were created to worship. Our creativity, our gifts, our very breath was made to bring glory to God and point to His goodness. May we lead, write, sing, engineer, teach, dance, study, lift weights, run, paint, create, analyze, heal, assess, counsel, fix things, and fight for justice with our utmost. May we give our best not because we want to be better than whoever is standing to our left or right, but because we know that when we bring our best we lift each other up. We work hard to the glory of God, not man or woman's praise.  

May we LOVE our bodies and personalities and know that all of our quirks and differences make us beautiful. They point to a brilliant creator instead of a flawed design. 

May we cheer each other on, recognizing each other's gifts without a sense of jealousy. And when envy arrises, because it inevitably will, may we fight against it, ultimately choosing the betterment of others over ourselves. 

May we be women who love and know God's word and as a result are able to know and love each other fiercely. I pray that we are people who learn how to forgive and give grace like it's going out of style. What a world we could create if we loved and forgave like Jesus did!? 

May we be faithful with the lives and gifts we've each been given. I pray we look back at the end of our days and see a life well spent. May we be generous with our time, money, emotions, energy, and resources and spend them on things that matter. May our investment in each other and this world grow in generations to come. 

May we love God above all other things, looking to Him in every situation. Knowing that the highest highs and the lowest of lows were all ordained by Him. Because of that, we rest. We rest in a good Father and know that we are loved by Him. When suffering comes, we are grieved but not destroyed. We stand firmly rooted in truth amidst the torrential storms that life throws at us. 

May we do all this and more because we are women, made in God's image. We have gifts to offer our churches, our communities, our families, our schools, our politics, our world, because we were designed and gifted by the most loving and creative God on High.

Let that fuel us! 

In a generation that strives for recognition and the stage, let HIS LOVE motivate us to be faithful in both the little and big things, wherever He has placed us. 

We are women. Hear this roar. Our battlecry is not our own; it is soft and loud and humble and strong, and it proclaims that our God is GOOD. He restores all things. There is nothing too broken He can't fix. And one day He will right all wrongs. THIS IS OUR ANTHEM. It is our life's work. It is every thing we are working towards. 

We are women, smart, strong, beautiful, creative women. May we continue to be strong women with eyes focused on Jesus, looking to Him in all things. 

This, this is my prayer for you, for us. Happy Women's Day, my sisters!

Much Love,



Today I tried to clean out my minivan while letting the twins play with chalk on the driveway. Yes I really thought that while I threw books, toys, 19238417234 cheerios and stale donut holes out of our car, they'd sit there and have a grand time.

(CUE all the experienced moms laughing knowing exactly what’s about to happen)

Rookie mistake.

As soon as Mr. Hanks jumped in the car and started helping me clean (ie. eating the 19238417234 cheerios) the girls followed suit and started jumping in and licking up the cheerios like a dog as well. After all, they really do think that they’re dogs sometimes. Which is ok, because Mr. Hanks thinks he’s human. It’s a trade off. Anyways, after an hour of wrangling the three of them… with the last straw being the HUGE bag full of trash (and I confess some fresh dog poo that I had just picked up out of our yard) being dumped BACK INTO MY VAN while I was cleaning the twins seats (which is a whole nother ball game)… I finally got smart and buckled them in, brought out snacks, and turned a movie on.

Mom wins. Twins win. Mr. Hanks wins (bc air conditioning… duh).  And alas our DISGUSTING van was clean (really... it was SO gross) so a HUGE win for my uber clean and organized husband.  

But I feel like this summarizes all of my parenting experiences. Try to do something new or enter a new parenting stage and the beginning is a HUGE COLASSAL STRUGGLE... BUT eventually we figure out a way to confine the twins, er, I mean we find a way that works for our family.  The three's definitely started out this way. The last 2 months we were all struggle bussing it with empty promises of never going out in public again and boarding school, and then somewhere, somehow, we found our footing. Nothing magical happened… rather it just eventually clicked or we moved onto the next stage. And this happens with every new stage... EVERY TIME. I'm all... WOE IS ME WE'LL NEVER SURVIVE and then BAM I'm all like THIS IS THE BEST STAGE EVER. (I just don't know where the girls get their dramatics from).

ALAS... in celebration of it finally clicking (kind of)… I wanted to document a few of our fav things about the twins during this stage because had you asked me a few weeks ago what my favorite things were I would've looked at you with crazy eyes and yelled, "THERE ARE NO GOOD THINGS," while sipping a venti red eye and reminiscing about the good ole days when I slept and peed by myself. 

So while I'm in a good mood... here we go...

  • Noel refers to herself as “Foel” despite being able to say the word “No!” quite fluently and frequently. And Felicity refers to Noel as "O-el." SWOON.
  • Felicity loves apple juice and Foel loves orange juice. And they love to argue about which one they’re getting, despite the fact that I give them their favorite almost every time.
  • Our nap time routine includes at least 25 minutes (minimum) of me telling them to “not get out of your bed,” “no you cannot ‘sleep’ with sissy,” and “DO NOT GET TRAPPED UNDER THE FITTED SHEET AGAIN.”
  • They love bossing Mr. Hanks around as if he’s their brother. “No Hanks, Stop that. Come COME Hanks.” Also, dressing him up is a recent fav pastime.
  • They’re bossy in the car and know the routes to the YMCA and Target. Not sure what it says about me when my kids get mad at me while on our way to church and start yelling, “No mama, THAT WAY. Go that way to target!!!” #targetaddictprobs
  • They love to listen to music, or mooozick, as they pronounce it.
  • They talk a lot, but still use their baby jabber and twin talk. Just today Noel kept repeating some phrase that I had NO CLUE WHAT IT WAS and Felicity repeated it at me all like come on woman don’t you understand her?!  Felicity got so frustrated with my lack of understanding Noel that she huffed off saying the phrase on repeat and brought a toy over to Noel and said it again while looking at me like… idiot.
  • Speaking of attitude… Noel has mastered the pout and Felicity has mastered the temper tantrum. Like they’re pro’s at it. I think the 2’s were a practice round for 3’s. During their 2’s, they learned HOW to do it (increase in quantity), there 3’s are for learning WHEN to do it at the best time to get maximum results (increase in quality). Bless it, I think they’re learning strategy.
  • Noel has learned that she’s funny.
  • Felicity has found her voice.
  • Their love for each other and care for our family is astounding. One second I think they’re about to strangle the other, but as soon as one of them falls or gets hurt… the other one is right there asking, “Oel, you ok?” or “Licity, you ok?” Or if the other one sneezes they’re quick to sweetly say, “Bless you sissy!”
  • On that same note, they’ve learned what makes the other one happy and will bring it to them whenever they’re sad/in trouble/mad/etc.
  • Teaching them things is FUN during this stage because they love learning new things. Whereas teaching them things during the 2’s gave me heart palpitations and hives (only a slight exaggeration).
  • They love seeing the moon at night... and they get confused when it's cloudy at night and they can't find it. We hear "Where'd the moon go Mama?" 2379 times on a 5 minute car ride on these nights. 
  • They refer to Cinderella as “Tanglerella” & they refer to Tangled as “Tangled” soooooo…. I’m not really sure what happened there but we just go with it.
  • They still say “Hold you?” instead of “Hold me?”
  • Did I mention that they’re bossy? Felicity tells us all the time when brushing her hair, “EASY DADDY!” or when putting an item on her plate she wants us to put it in a specific spot and says, “PUT IT RIGHT THERE.” I keep telling them that we don’t negotiate with terrorists… but they don’t seem to care.
  • They are DADDY’S girls for sure, but when something scares or hurts them, they want their mama. So we both win.
  • Speaking of Daddy… They love to stand on the porch and cheer him on as he leaves for work in the morning.
  • They love planes & helicopters. Oh, and BTW... helicopter is pronounced “Helicocker.” And yes, we laugh. EVERY TIME.

WHEW. If there are any of you who actually read that whole list and you aren’t a relative… wow. I applaud you. It might seem like a lot… but I know myself well enough to know that I will forget some of these things one day if I never write them down. So alas… the forever long blog post.

Alright. That’s all for now. Here’s to the girls being 3 and surviving and ENJOYING all that this year will entail!

Much love,