life at four. a letter from her mama.

In honor of what makes Mother’s Day so sweet…

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Dear Skyla,

Happy 4th birthday to my favorite little girl. A girl who I delight in, adore, and calls out the best in me. I write this with a deep sense of gratitude for the life God breathes in you and the role I get to play in it. I think back to the years we were trying to conceive and who would have known it would be this good, this honorable, this splendid, this transformative.

Skyla Rae, you’re a girl who grabs onto life with both cautiousness and boldness.You’re a helper and initiator, filled with ideas and intent. You’re simple and straightforward, yet diligently charm my heart with your words and smile and eyes. Your spirit is tender and your mind is sharp. Your love for me melts me. The love I have for you, it changes me. I love all the ways that you remind me of who Jesus is and all the ways that being a mommy to you draws me to him. His wild love for you and the ways you express that love bear witness to how good he is. I feel him chasing after me through you. Stunning.

In the most honest and honoring way, I can say that this year with all its joy and love, has been a really hard year. Whatever “they” say about “the terrible two’s” (and perhaps three’s), I’ve often times found myself swimming in whatever these years are defined by. It’s felt like you’ve been in this process of finding who you are…your charm, your boundaries, your capability, your strength, your endurance, your voice. I have this understanding that the place all this comes from isn’t “bad,” but really, just part of being human…figuring out your place in this world, in our home. But for me, the mama that parents you every day, it can easily feel like determined push back…on every thing. From your clothes and shoes and hair and where the most comfortable place for you to sit on the couch is, to your choice in food and sippy cups and volume on the TV. There is no hesitation whatsoever in telling us what you want or how you feel. Oh, the “good girl” in me feels stretched each time. And then, God reminds me that you’re just learning, that you’re only three, that it’s about how I respond…to your strength, your growing need for autonomy, your figuring out how capable and loveable you are. So, I try to gather myself and breathe, inhale some perspective, and step into each little episode offering what I’ve learned, what I’ve discovered your little spirit needs, and who I’ve become. My mistakes, my imperfections…yup, they’re clearly evident. The ways I can “miss” you, over-correct you, over-compensate…they enter in at any given moment. But my heart for you is to offer you the consistency and structure and nurture and connection that I believe you need, that you were created for. My prayer is to be the kind of mommy that while teaching you about the world, how to step into the world, to also be a place, a person, who you feel safe running to as you offer yourself to the world.

My heart soars when I watch you with your daddy, you’re favorite man. The way you laugh when he “plays rough” is authentic and pure, fearless and sweet. I giggle when I see you come alive with Zane and the sweet little smile I catch you giving him when I look in the rear view mirror. I totally get sucked in to singing and dancing and laughing and hiding and seeking with the two of you. We have so much fun together! You teach him how to talk, splash, draw, brush his teeth, and about Micky Mouse and Curious George…how good each of these things are, how essential each of these things are. You’re learning to share…your toys, your space, your parents, your time. You offer him so much of yourself. You’re the perfect sister for him.

You’ve leaped into this little girl phase with all the energy and life that brought you to three. Your “firsts” of chewing gum, flying in a plane, saying “bye” to diapers, riding the merry-go-round by yourself, visiting the dentist, venturing to the “windy city” and Disney World, taking gymnastic and swimming lessons, navigating your way on the computer, riding a bike, your first sleepover…they all represent the unstoppable growth and the way you represent your exit from being a little toddler to your entrance of being a little girl.

Totally loved.

Utterly adored.

Pure delight.

Here’s to birthday #4…all that has passed, and all that is to come.

Love you girl!

Love, Mommy

A song that helps me remember and honor my mom as I make memories with my little girl“How Could I Ask For More” (Cindy Morgan)


remember her. honor her.

It’s that time of year again…my favorite time of year.

The purest and brightest greens add their voices to the outside world, sweet little flower buds say they’re ready to be seen, and the air…the cold brisk air begins to fade as spring gently pushes its way in. I love this time of year. I’m ready for this time of year. Something in it breathes new life. And each year, just like the last, I’m so in need of it.

As I find myself stepping into May and the newness of the world around me, two people fall into my mind who always do so poignantly each year as April draws to a close…my mom and my daughter. Two people, two lives, that ground me to this world.

This world…both in its brokenness and beauty.

This world…both with its pain and joy.

This world…where both death and life reside.

For me, each spring, each May, marks significant moments.

May 15, 1943 – my mom’s birthday

May 17, 2003 – the day my mom met Jesus

May 8, 2008 – the day I gave life to our first child

My mom….She was not the woman who gave me physical life, but she was the woman who taught me how to live life. A woman of strength, wise, intuitive, humorous, thoughtful, courageous, etiquette queen. I received intentional lessons about the kitchen to my clothes, to people and churches and makeup and nails, how to entertain guests to strategic ways to obtain used couches on “trash day.” But mostly, she taught me what it meant to be “a lady.” That’s what she was good at. That’s what she offered me. And now as I wear the skin of an adult, I see parts of these things in me, reflecting her. I love that. I want that. I’m grateful for that.

Yet, in the midst of the good and lessons and character development, our relationship didn’t come without pain.

She was strong and I needed tender love.

She was precise and I needed space to make mistakes.

She was fearless and I needed someone to run to when I was scared.

She was strong and I needed to learn how to ask for help.

She was consistent with correction and I needed connection.

Brokenness and beauty.

My daughter…she’s a girl who grabs onto life with both cautiousness and boldness. She’s a helper and initiator, filled with ideas and intent. She’s simple and straightforward, yet diligently charms your heart with her words and smile and eyes. Her spirit is tender and her mind is sharp. Her love for me melts me. The love I have for her moves me. Nurturing this life has changed me…is changing me. The parts of me that have been called out in this season are mysteriously beautiful, yet the ways I feel drained I’m confident you could see with your very eyes. You give, you serve, you pour yourself out. You find yourself weary and vulnerable, unsure and expectant. This parenting season I’m in, right now, is hard…really hard. At least the way that I’ve chosen to step into it.

Brokenness and beauty.

This season, this month, this week…it evokes my heart in a myriad of ways. I sit in the tension of both the good and the hard. And that’s OK. I believe there’s something really honoring in doing that. It honors the past, it honors the present. It allows for the future…to unfold authentically. There’s this way that our humanness can deny the hard parts. Exhausting. There’s also this way that our humanness can linger in the hard parts. Despairing. Either may make a person feel numb, justified, prideful, battered. But, that’s no way to live.

Could it be that part of “honoring” our mothers means naming both the beauty and the brokenness, embracing both rather than eliminating one? When I imagine my little girl all grown up, I wonder what she’ll remember about me, about who I was…to her, to her daddy and brother, to our friends, to the world. Secretly, of course, I totally want her to think I was the most perfect and fun and balanced mom, extravagantly loving everything and everyone around me. And then I wake up from that dream…and find myself hoping to be remembered not for how I escaped the broken moments, but what I did with those moments – acknowledging them, stepping into them…with dignity and honesty and grace – asking God to form something beautiful and purposeful out of my mistakes and all the ways I unraveled. That’s how I want my children to remember me.

So, as we anticipate Mother’s Day, I urge you to take some time to think about your mom…her beauty and her brokenness; your beauty and brokenness…and the story you both share. And then go to your favorite card shop and find that card – the card that says just the right thing. Now. Today. Whatever place you find yourself in the midst of holding those two realities together.

Remember her. Honor her.

And if you need it, whether because the relationship with your mom is fake or distant or gone, may the tender, loving, nurturing, relational parts of you connect with the feminine parts of who God is.

Mothering…it’s profound and powerful, sacred and life-giving. Because we, in this mysterious way, get to take care of our little ones in the same way that God takes care of his little ones. It’s because of his love that we are able to love the ones who gave us life and the ones who we give life to.

Happy Mother’s Day.

“How Could I Ask For More” (Cindy Morgan) – a song that helps me remember and honor my mom as I step into this season of creating a home for my children.