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Your Name in Lights

Hello my sweet babes,

It’s 7 am in Ho Chi Minh City, and I am currently watching the body of my favorite little girl rise and fall under a too warm blanket in a over-cooled apartment because I wanted to be cold today. Sorry, Seattle… I promise I would love to watch you sleep, but you are twenty-three pounds of tropical storm and I just picked up the living room from our 3 am playdate.

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I have so many things running through my mind right now, some of them have to do with why the person who pinned the microwave scrambled egg recipe got my hopes way too high, and others have to do with you two. šŸ™‚ When I was young I had big, big dreams. In sixth grade, I was convinced I would some day be the first female president. (So glad that didn’t work out… Obama has aged WAY too much during his time in office and my skin just wasn’t made for premature wrinkles.) Some time after that I decided I’d like to be an archeologist, because who doesn’t like digging in the dirt all day, am I right?! But my most recent, pre-marriage, pre-Jesus, pre-beautiful babies dream was to be a writer, a novelist. I wanted to move to some big city, get lost in a huge crowd, pick up some low-paying waitressing job, and write the greatest book since Jane Eyre. (Come on, Seattle… it’s not that mushy!)

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I remember being little and knowing that I could do absolutely anything that I really tried at, I still feel that way sometimes… so somewhere along the way I decided that if I was really going to try hard at something then it better the be biggest, funnest, most important something in the world. I am happy to report that I am doing just that. Being a mommy to you and a wife to your father was never in my “How I’ll Make It Big” plan, and honestly I have struggled, even since you two have been around, to feel like I’m doing something important. This morning, however, somewhere between making your daddy a cup of coffee and cleaning spit-up off my shoulder, I realized how big and fun and important the something I do is… and I want to try my hardest at it. I won’t do this thing halfway, guys… I promise you that now. It should be easy to completely love you guys and your sweet daddy because you just happen to be the most wonderful people on the planet, but I am so, so human and it is even more easy to get so consumed with myself, to want glamour and fame. I’m telling you this now because I know first-hand the joy that can be stolen when you put yourself above others… and I only want you two to be so full of joy that it’s coming out of your ears! I want you to keep in mind that sometimes the plan God has for you doesn’t come with inaugural addresses or book signings. What is more important than your name in lights is the love you have for the people around you. I’m not good at this yet, little loves. In fact, I’m only just beginning to learn what it looks like to lay myself down daily, but I do know that this morning is one of the happiest of my life, and I’m doing the same thing I’ve been doing for 18 and a half months.

I’m signing out now because my best boy just woke up. Let the party begin!

Dream big, children of mine. Love God, love people… and dream big.

I love you both so much,

Your Mama

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Daughter, I’m not planning you.

Dear Areli,

This is my first letter to you. I hope you like it. I hope you like me. I know I will like you. That’s kinda what I wanted to talk to you about.

Today, you have been growing for 31 weeks, and this week we are buying plane tickets out of Vietnam to wait for your arrival. You’re living adventures already! The closer you are to being in my arms, the moreĀ I have been daydreaming about what you will be like. I find myself wondering ifĀ you will read constantly like me or if you will love to laugh and make people laugh or if you’ll be amazingly athletic and attractive like I am (okay, okay… I’m kidding.) The thing is, no matter how vivid or magnanimous my visions of you are I know I will never fully be able to imagineĀ you. That’s how wonderful, how incredibly unique, purposefully planned, how intricately woven you are. I want to put down in writing right now exactly how I feel about you, dear one. I want you to have something you can return to when times are tough, when you are forgetting who you are, when you need to know how very, very much you mean to me.

Areli

Sometimes people, myself included,Ā can get caught up in trying to meet expectations that people have for them… or expectations that they think people have for them. Sometimes the source of this pressure is media, sometimes it is peers, and sometimes… it’s parents. I was blessed with wonderful parents who had very small expectations for me. (Just kidding, mom!) In all seriousness, I didn’t deal with those kind of pressures from my parents. I did, however, watch some of my friends deal with them and I can’t explain the kind of heartache that came from the kind of pressure and criticism they received. Our world is crazy. You will find that out soon enough. There are shows on television dedicated to parents pushing their children to be one thing or another, saying awful things to them, breaking their spirits a little at a time… and people watch that mess for entertainment. I wish that was the worst of things happening around us. I wish I could save you from everything bad, but I can’t do that. I can however, at least try to save you from myself.

Darling girl, I release you from any expectations you might think I have for you. I am not planning you. I won’t be disappointed if you don’t have stacks of books by your bed or if you would rather be in band than play soccer. I won’t try to make you wear your hair any way you don’t want to wear your hair. I am not now, nor will I ever be, planning your wedding… unless you ask me to. I hope we get days when we don’t see eye-to-eye. I really do. I want to go through those tough teen-aged tantrums you might throw. I want to watch you storm off and slam the door. I know those times happen. I’d be lying to myself (and forgetting the things I put my mom through) if I thought they didn’t. I don’t expect perfection from you. I don’t expect you to be who I want you to be. I expect sometimes I will be broken about the disagreements we’ve had. I expect to pray tearful prayers. I expect I won’t always be good at being your mom, but I expect that we will go before the Father with every argument, every hurt, every mistake. I expect He will make me a better mother, and I expect to love you… no matter what.

Please know, beautiful one, that I am on your side. Know that God is making you into exactly who He wants you to be. Know that you are purposed, that you are chosen, that you are loved.

I cannot wait to meet you, dear girl. To kiss your tiny feet. To watch you grow into an amazing woman. God is so good to us for giving us you. We’ll do our best to give you right back.

I love you so much,

Your Mama

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On Soul Mates

Dear Seattle,

I have a confession to make. I believe in soul mates. As you can probably tell, your father and I are very in love. We may do things that will later embarrass you. Maybe you will be grossed out when you see us kissing. Maybe you’ll whine about it when your friends are around. But maybe, just maybe, you will learn what the love of a husband and wife can look like when God puts two people together. We hope that you will see what an adventure life can be when God places you with someone who pushes you toward Him, who challenges you to love others more, who teaches you how to lay down your life for someone else.

Now believe me, little one. Your father is the romantic of the family. You will find this out soon enough. (Just wait until you want to start dating.) I started out a bit cynical when it came to the idea that God could create two people in a world of seven billion (and counting) who were just supposed to somehow find each other and church bells would ring and all would be right with the world. Firstly, my idea of what it means to truly love was quite a bit off. Secondly, I didn’t know how big our God was at the time. (In case you are wondering, I still don’t know how big God is. That’s the beauty of a relationship with Him. Everyday there is something new, something wonderful, something terrifyingly amazing.)

The truth is that there isn’t a person that will complete you. God, and God alone, does that. Marriage is not between two halves that make a whole. God’s math doesn’t make sense to us. Marriage is an equation that looks something like this: 1+1=1. God has already completed the individuals (or at least, let’s hope so… otherwise marriage will be a little more difficult than it already is.) Romantic love and marriage don’t happen when you finally find someone who fills in all the gaps in your life. No, no, no. I doesn’t work that way. I do, however, believe that God has a perfect plan for each of us. That things don’t happen by accident. That, of course, God gives us the free will to pick whichever path we want, but that He always, always has a perfect option. I’d like to insert here for those that have been divorced and for those who married before they were believers that I am also a strong believer in redemption. I know that God can fix any broken situation and make it even better than we could ever believe possible. Like I said, He is a BIG God.

You and I, sweet boy, know that God calls people to certain places all over the world, that He calls people to certain professions and to certain cities. Why then would we not also believe that He calls us to do these things, to share these adventures, heartaches, joys, and struggles with certain people? Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that life will be all bunnies and rainbows. By the time you read this you will have experienced many times over my frustration when your dad still leaves the toilet seat up… or your dad’s frustration when I ask him to repeat something he’s saidĀ for the third time… or our everyday craziness because we are selfish people who don’t love perfectly. We are humans, and that’s saying enough, but your father and I believe that God gave each of us the perfect match in the other… just as He did for Adam and Eve. We believe in soul mates. We have living proof.

Walk this world gently, sweet boy. Love others well. Love God most. Know that He is big. Believe that He has a plan. He does. He always does.

 

I love you so much,

Your Mama