Words to Lacey about Teenagers

About six weeks ago you turned nine years old!  Almost double digits!  For months I had been planning to sit down on the 30th of September and write you a lovely birthday letter about how precious and unique God has made you.  I even started it at one point but never got past the second paragraph.   This should not come as a huge surprise to you since all nine years of your life you’ve gotten the leftovers and hand-me-downs, and you learned early on that it is up to you to keep up and make yourself heard!  So is the life of the baby of the family- especially an eccentric, creative, busy family such as ours.  Thankfully you have no problem keeping up or being heard.   

So here I am writing some words to you on Thanksgiving Day which also happens to be the week of your sister Hallie’s birthday- it is not at all the words I have been composing for you in my mind the last several months when lying in bed at night.  It is not the words that I have prayed for you over and over, nor is it the things I’ve treasured about you in my heart that my mind has not yet found words to express. 

Nope- sorry to have to tell you this, but it is a word about your siblings- Kori Jane age 16, Cade age 14, and Hallie who turned 13 this week!  And now that Hallie is a teenager, we are on our own kid.   There are now officially three teenagers sharing a roof with us.    That means we are surrounded!  Surrounded by a swirl of activities and events, football games, school dances, parties, friends, extra loads of laundry, theatre rehearsals, SAT prep, tutoring, and mountains of homework.  We are surrounded by competing sounds from various technological devices- tic tocks, youtube videos and Netflix shows- as well as the sounds of moods swinging, feet stomping, doors slamming and music blaring.   In many ways it is very similar to having a house full of toddlers except the smells and sounds have changed dramatically.  The music is much more tolerable for one, but the parenting hours are actually much expanded.  They do have a bedtime, but it’s more of a goal and not a rule which means that the last words I speak before I climb into my own bed are often- “go to bed.”  And the first words I speak are “get up- you are late!”  There are the sleepless nights too, however it is not due to teething, croup, a wet pullup or a monster under the bed, rather it is due to wishing you could mend a freshly broken heart, wondering if they are safe at that new friend’s house (while tracking them on their phone), knowing they will make mistakes but hoping it’s not a mistake of the lifechanging sort, and praying that they know how much you love them even though that very day you spoke a plethora of words you wish you could take back.

I know that being a kid surrounded by teenagers is not always easy although you must admit it has its perks!  Like the fact that Kori was not allowed to watch SpongeBob until she was 7 years old, but it was your favorite show at the age of 7 months!  And maybe you are exposed to more colorful language than I’d like with so many of your sibling’s friends coming and going, but how many kids get to have a bunch of teenagers dressed up like the Descendants show up to their birthday party.   So, you’ve never been to the weekly library story time (or been to a library at all for that matter) and you were not in dance, gymnastics, soccer and t-ball by the age of 3.  You have however always had someone to teach you how to do a cartwheel, read you a book, kick the soccer ball around the yard, play pretend with you, go on a bike ride or snuggle up with a movie.

One thing that has not been easy for you recently is that there are a growing number of times that you feel alone in our house which is always full of activity and people.   A growing number of times when you realize that being the baby is no longer enough to guarantee the attention and affection of your older siblings.  I distinctly remember a couple years back on your brother’s 13th birthday when you burst into tears at the realization that he was now a teenager.  One teenager was more than enough for you after watching Kori and her entire world grow and change.  Your exact words were, “he’s never going to be home anymore, and he won’t ever want to play with me.”    We tried to explain to you that your oldest sister has always been ready for the next adventure, and even as a child was always on the go.  As she was growing up and becoming more independent, being on the go meant being busy with friends and activities more often because she had more freedom to do so.  We assured you that while Cade was most certainly growing and changing, we doubted very seriously if your introverted brother would suddenly cease to be a homebody.  But still there were and are changes happening in your brother- his body is clearly changing, his voice is changing, his interests and moods are changing and there are certainly an increasing number of times that his bedroom door is closed and he is not ready and willing to drop everything to play with his sisters. 

The reality is that there are physical changes, chemical changes and emotional changes going on inside of all three of these complicated beings called teenagers that live in your house.  And believe it or not these changes are even harder on them than they are on you!     So, I have a few words to share with you sweet Lacey as our home is now being overtaken by teenagers.  Afterall, I have a feeling that we are both going to need each other to survive!

Have grace on them!  There are a ton of changes happening that we can see, hear and smell- we can easily observe them growing taller, stinkier and hairier all the time!  But these are nothing compared to the changes we can’t see.   Think about the happy caterpillar who is content to explore the safety of his little butterfly weed, happily eating aphids and leaves day after day while never once thinking about the world beyond.  That’s what its like being a kid content to explore the tiny world that has been set before you, and never bothering to question what lies beyond the safety and security of the home where you were born.  Then suddenly everything changes- the caterpillar finds itself in the most awkward and uncomfortable of circumstances- suddenly trapped in a cocoon and completely out of control, going through miraculous changes both internally and externally, having no clue what lies ahead or what they will be, and finally realizing that the world is much bigger than they had ever fathomed.  As much as you want to spend all your days on milkweed journeys with your siblings, they are no longer caterpillars.  It is not that they do not love us or the homes where they were born.  It is just that they are in that awkward and uncomfortable stage of life- a stage where they are rapidly changing, constantly feeling out of control, starting to realize how big the world is and wondering what they will be when they finally spread their wings.  True they are no longer caterpillars, but they are not quite butterfly’s yet either.  And just as we see Kori Jane fighting to emerge from her cocoon and open her beautiful wings – we see Hallie at the beginning of her transition.     I know it is hard to not take it personally when they appear to be ignoring us all locked away in their cocoons, or when they suddenly seem more interested in the world and the people beyond our cozy little milkweed plant.  It’s hard not to get angry and annoyed when they respond to us in unexpected, unusual or unkind ways.  And it’s hard not to be confused when they suddenly begin to question and contradict all the things that you continue to cling to with childlike faith.   But they will not always make you so sad, angry, annoyed and confused, and I promise you that they still need us more than they realize and love us more than they show. So have grace on them Lacey-lots and lots of grace!    

They’ll be gone before we are ready! Your nine-year-old brain can’t yet fathom how quickly years fly by.  Your nine-year-old brain is not thinking about the world outside our milkweed home, or where butterfly’s go when their wings are fully formed and strong enough to fly.   My 40 something brain is actually still struggling to fathom that in less than two years’ time the first of my babies will be taking flight.    I still remember with clarity the day each of you were born.  Kori Jane’s appearance into this world is one of only a few times I’ve seen tears in your Daddy’s eyes.  When Cade was born, I immediately fell in love with that cone-head even as Daddy whispered in my ear “you just gave birth to an alien.”   Hallie made her arrival 13 Thanksgivings ago and took us all by surprise when she came out a girl.   And Lacey, the looks on your siblings faces the first time they laid eyes on you will be forever etched in my memory.  It seems like only yesterday that you stole their hearts in a moment but in reality, that was nine years ago.  Yet in nine more years you will be the one spreading your wings and taking flight.  So let’s make the most of the years to come as together we treasure each moment- even the stinky, confusing, and frustrating ones- knowing that all of the moments are fleeting.

You’ll be a teenager before I am ready!  And as much as I’d like to believe that my sweet little Lacey Bug will never need deodorant, wear a bra, take drivers ed or the SAT, be embarrassed by her mom or roll her eyes in disgust at Daddy’s rules, the reality is that you will be one of those alien teenagers long before I am ready.   Before we know it, you will begin growing wings of your own.  You will feel awkward and out of control and you will need grace- lots and lots of grace. Ideally, we will have made most of our parenting mistakes on your siblings, but realistically we will just be too tired to reinforce all the same rules.  I just hope when that time comes that you will remember that you need me more than you know, and that I love you more than you can possibly imagine.

Don’t forget to have grace on me!  If you think that having teenage siblings is hard, just wait until you have teenage children.  You feel things you have never felt before- you hurt in ways you have never hurt and experience a deep joy you never knew possible.  Some days you want to kill them and the very next day you are begging God to keep them alive.   You helplessly watch them learn things the hard way and fight the urge to help them struggle out of the cocoon.  You find yourself saying and doing all the things you swore you’d never say or do when you became a mom.   And then you wish you could take half those things you have said or done back.  It’s hard and the very hardest part is yet to come.  So have grace on me Lacey as I watch your siblings learn to fly.  Have grace on me when they start flying away and have grace on me when I’m not quite ready to let you spread your own wings and fly away one day. 

I love you Lacey!

Mommy

Words to Kori Jane about the Rain

Dear Kori Jane,

Twelve years ago almost to the day, you and I  were  heading to a little neighborhood carnival right by our home that we had passed that morning on our way to church.  It was nothing fancy, just some hand painted wooden games set out on card tables and a bounce house or two, but no party no matter how big or small has ever escaped your notice.    It was a couple of weeks before your fourth birthday and you were long overdue some fun quality time with your mom. When you noticed the gathering again on our way home, and through excited squeals begged to go play, I couldn’t say no!    After dropping your Daddy, your baby brother, and your baby sister off at home we headed back to see what exactly all those balloons, tents, and bounce houses were inviting us to. 

I circled some field a few times and ended up parking a good bit further than I wanted, but the joy and anticipation on your face as you bounced towards the crowd told me that nothing was going to ruin this day for you- certainly not a long walk to the entrance. Well almost nothing. Just as we finally crossed the threshold of the carnival (or the fair-never did find out for sure what it was) the first rain drop fell. I looked up and timidly kept walking forward, but when we reached the first booth the skies which had been completely clear just moments before opened up and a torrential down pour began. Within seconds people everywhere were running for cover. Booths, tents and bounce houses were being taken down at record speeds, and without a thought I grabbed your hand intending to start the long trek back to the car but at a much faster speed. You pulled in the opposite direction, and began to adamantly insist that we stay and play. It didn’t take me long to convince you there was no more fun happening as we were both standing in the middle of an ever-thinning crowd completely drenched to the bone- the rain had changed everything- in a moment.

When we finally got to the car, I could not tell where the raindrops ended and where your tears began.  It would not be the biggest heartbreak of your life, but I’m pretty sure it may have been the biggest thus far.  Or at least it is the first big heartbreak I remember, but that could be because I was struggling with processing a heartbreak of my own that day.  Well, as we joined the other cars in a race to get out of the crowded, wet field that had been transformed into a parking lot, your questions began.  You have always been full of questions.  Not the “but why” or the “what happened” questions but the deep, thought provoking, meaning of life kinds of questions.  There has always been a deep hunger in your soul for beauty, truth and meaning.   A passion for life like no other child I have ever known.

Through your tears you asked me “Mommy, why did God let it rain today?  Didn’t he know that we were going to have so much fun?  Didn’t He know that there was so much to do?  Why did He let it rain? Why?”

I tried to give you a little pre-school theology lesson and explain just how much God loved you, and how rain is one of the ways He shows His love and His strength.  I started to quote some bible verses about how He “provides rain for the earth” and how He is “a refuge from the wind and a shelter from the storm.”   I desperately wanted you to understand that God is good, and that He can be trusted even when the rain messes up our plans. That in fact He is the only thing this side of heaven that can be trusted.  But I quickly realized that you were still too young to understand all that quite yet.  You were not mature enough to see beyond your own little reality, and your ideas and plans for that moment were the only ideas and plans that you could fathom being good.  So I opted instead to let you ask why, while I started making promises of greater joys yet to come- other fairs and carnivals and even a world where all the princesses live that would blow those old bounce houses and wooden bean bag toss games out of the park.  And then we stopped and adopted a baby-doll who needed a new home from our favorite thrift store, followed by sharing a snow cone at the little blue snowball shack that sits in the parking lot of said thrift store.

By the time we got home you were back to your creative, passionate, playful self and ever ready to make up a game or put on a show for any willing audience.  The only hint of sadness left was the sadness you felt for the other baby dolls at Family Thrift who had not yet been adopted.  But for me, it was time for my daily visit with my sister.  Aunt Heather, diagnosed with terminal cancer eighteen months prior, had been moved to a hospice facility near our home.  Because she was so young and otherwise healthy, it took the cancer much longer to destroy her body than any of the doctors expected.  It was an impossible 18 months watching her slowly die, and the last two months were especially difficult as she desperately tried to hang on for dear life.  That day when I got to her bedside, she was in a particularly deep sleep.  When I pulled her beautiful long black hair out of her face and straightened her covers she did not even flinch.  So I sat down in the large arm chair by her bed, looked out the window and ever so quietly whispered the word “Why?” 

“Oh, God, why?”  “Don’t you know how young she is, don’t you know that there is so much fun still to be had?  Don’t you know how busy I am with three kids under the age of 4 that need me- why do I have to be here watching my sister die when she should be helping me teach them how to live?”

“Why cancer? Why suffering? Why sadness? Why death? Why?”

And even as I was still gazing out the window, asking my questions- the pelting rain started again just as suddenly as it had at the fair several hours before.    And with the rain came the reminder that He is “a refuge from the wind and a shelter from the storm.”   God is good and He can be trusted even when the rain (or the cancer) messes up our plans, and in fact He is the only thing this side of heaven that can be trusted.  And then I knew that like you, I too am not yet able to understand the whys.  I struggle to see beyond my own little reality, my ideas of what is right, and my plans for today.  I knew from my earlier conversation with you that asking why was just part of the grieving, but even in my asking and grieving the Lord too has made promises of greater joys yet to come. 

Two days after the rain ruined our plans, Aunt Heather got to see the promise of greater joy completely fulfilled as she took her last breath on this earth at the age of 31.

When I was a young child I remember thinking that real people don’t die.  People on the news or in movies sure, but not people you know in real life- and especially not people you love.   When I was in the fifth grade, my Uncle Jimmy died, and I remember that was my first funeral and the first time I felt real genuine grief.  Like the tangible grief that you carry around everywhere you go, even though no one else can see it.  By the time you were in fifth grade, you had already grieved the loss of four people that you loved.  Your Aunt Heather, a teacher at your school, and both of your grandmothers.   I do not have to tell you that you had two of the most amazing grandmothers that ever lived.  My mom was more like a second mom to you, and no doubt your favorite person on the planet.  We would laugh because most of your friends mom’s were closer to Nana’s age than mine, and often people thought she actually was your mom.  She was young, beautiful, and never ever lost her child’s heart.   Daddy’s mom was the perfect Grandma- broke all our rules and was the only other human I’ve ever known to have as much energy as you- which meant that she would get on the floor and play with you until we demanded you both go to bed.  She spoiled you rotten and loved you to pieces. 

Nana- age 53- and her four grand babies, two days before she went to Heaven.

Eventually in the midst of all the rain and storms that kept disturbing our family’s plans, you stopped asking questions and started writing journals, poems, and stories instead.  In fact, when you woke to learn the news of Nana’s death you did not ask a single question or shed a single tear.  You went to your room and you wrote a poem.  In the days and weeks that followed, I could not contain my tears and your lack of tears made me wonder if you were even sad at all- that is until I would stumble upon your writing.  I realize now that even at the age of 8, your thoughts were far too deep and your pain far too real for you to express without the help of a paper and a pen. 

Probably by Kori Jane age 8

Probably walking on water.

Probably walking through walls.

Probably laying on clouds.

Probably already bowed to Him.

Probably shaking His hands.

Definitely loving Heaven.

While I am walking on land.

While I am swimming though waters.

If you were me you’d understand- RAIN.

Not the kind of rain that falls from the sky.

It is when tears fly by.

Once again the line between the rain and your tears was blurred.  But your words even then assured me that despite your grief you were trusting in the promises of far greater joys.

There is no doubt that you understand rain.  The way it changes everything in a moment, the way it hurts and heals, the way it grows us and grieves us. How it can be both devastating and beautiful all at the same time.

You have certainly watched as it has changed me.  It’s no wonder that your tears no longer easily flow when you have grown up watching your mother’s tears flow far too easily.  In many ways you’ve had no choice but to grow up quickly. That first Christmas after both of your grandmas died, I was still trying hard to pick myself up off the floor, and figure out how to do holidays as the 32 year old matriarch of our family. But you were determined this would be the best Christmas ever starting with a spectacular lights display in our yard.  With your usual passion and flare you were tearing into the boxes that Daddy had dutifully brought down from the attic which were filled with decorations and lights.  You were handing out jobs to each of your three siblings and both of your parents, ensuring that not a single part of the yard was left bare.  As I was watching the lights go up, it became obvious to me that like usual, your big, bold, bright ideas were being executed without much planning or forethought.  That coupled with Daddy’s lack of designer instincts was stressing me out. The tree he was wrapping ran out of branches, so he decided that he would stretch the lights to a neighboring tree leaving a single strand of lights floating in mid-air between them.    I snapped and I said some unkind things to Daddy. I won’t go into details about the volume or tone of my voice- or the specific unkind words that came out of my mouth as that is not the point of this story!   The point is that you followed me to the wooden bench swing in our side yard and without speaking a word, gently sat down and placed your hand on my knee as I stared out into space allowing my tears to flow freely.   When one your siblings came to ask me a question you would answer for me as I continued to just stare off unable to find words with which to respond.  And when Daddy came over to kindly inquire as to what exactly he had done to upset me so much, you intuitively answered him by saying “Daddy, don’t you remember that Nana always hung the Christmas lights.”   After a while you drug me inside and insisted that we get busy on the Christmas Tree.   You were ten.  Wise and compassionate beyond your years-no doubt a wisdom and compassion that only can grow where there has been a lot of rain.

This month you will be sixteen and last month you went to yet another funeral.  I was so thankful to hear you mumble the question “why” when we told you that Grandpa was so near the end.  I worry sometimes that all the rain will make you angry or cold.  That you watching me through all my years of grief and tears will just be another storm for you to endure on your journey.   But when you asked why you had to loose someone else you loved- why you had to go to another funeral- why you had to be the only teenager you knew without grandparents.  I knew that all the rain had only made you stronger and more alive.  I knew that you did not really need an answer- just time and space to grieve and maybe a reminder that there are promises of greater joys yet to come. 

Thank you Kori Jane for helping me understand rain, for teaching me to dance in the rain, and helping me find the rainbows and flowers that the rain leaves behind.  Flowers which include your profound wisdom, tender compassion, intense passion and gentle strength.

I love you forever!

Mom

Words to Hallie about Charm Bracelets

When I was in the fourth grade, I sold enough Girl Scout cookies to win the custom-made, sterling silver, James Avery, puppy dog charm. This was back when the awards were special enough to motivate the selling of a ridiculous number of cookies. Turns out the hours of door-to-door selling followed by more hours of door-to-door deliveries were well worth it. That year my mom, your Nana, made significant sacrifices to buy me my very own James Avery charm bracelet, which as you know I still wear with pride.

When your older sister was born, Nana was given her own James Avery charm bracelet by her best friend Lonnie, which she added to upon the birth of each of her grandchildren as a way to brag about them everywhere she went.  When her first granddaughter turned six years old, Nana deemed her ready for a charm bracelet of her own, and so continues the family tradition of charm bracelets. 

You were only four years old when your nana was diagnosed with terminal cancer, so not yet old enough to have received a bracelet of your own. The ten months that followed her diagnosis remain to this day some of the most challenging of my entire life. But those days of juggling four young children amid hospital visits, chemo treatments, and watching my own mother wither and fade were eventually replaced with days, months, and years of grieving her death.

Before her final breath, your Nana found things to pass on to each of her four grandchildren.  To you she passed on the charm bracelet she wore on her own wrist.  Some of the charms were removed and given to the rest of us- each of us graciously accepted the charms eager to carry pieces of her with us everywhere we went.  But to you she left her bracelet, and on it a single letter H molded in beautiful cursive script.

H- for Hallie- a name that the both of you share. Of course, your name and your bracelet are not the only things that you got from your Nana- you also got your stubbornness, your playfulness, your strength, and your unique ability to mesmerize and delight young children.

On your sixth birthday (instead of the customary bracelet) you received your second charm. It was a little sculpture of the American Sign Language sign for “I Love You,” and it was given to you by Daddy’s mom- your Mamaw.

As you know, Mamaw was born deaf, but what you likely do not remember is that she spent every minute of the last 8 years of her life pouring herself into her grandchildren and finding ways to speak love to them without ever speaking a single word out loud. That was right up until one month after your sixth birthday when your Mamaw joined your Nana in heaven.

The next few years saw the addition of more charms. Uncle Randy (your Mamaw’s brother) supported your love of sports by adding a basketball.  Your older brother wanted you to know that you were the princess of the family, and he gifted you a castle charm. Your sister thought it should be made clear that she was the oldest among you, so she gave you a charm that declared you the middle sister.

In second grade you befriended a little boy in the medically fragile class at your school named Beau. Although Beau is nonverbal and wheelchair bound, you managed to learn his language and grow a beautiful friendship with him that continues to this day. His mother has become one of my dearest friends, and she never ceases to remind me of the forever impact you have had on her and her amazing son, simply by becoming his first and his best friend. As 5th grade ended, and you and Beau would no longer be attending the same school, his mother gifted you a charm that depicts a young boy and girl with clasped hands to be a forever reminder of your special friendship.

A couple months later, Hurricane Harvey dumped 51 inches of rain on our city.   Since you rarely took your bracelet off, you knew exactly where it had been left the night of the storm. We’d intended to make a trip to the mall that day to have your new charm soldered on, but instead found ourselves stocking up on bottled water and non-perishable food items in anticipation of the storm’s landfall.  So, after canoeing to safety the following morning, you quickly recognized that your charm bracelet was still in our car under 6 feet of water. After the floods subsided 14 days later, we sported face masks and held our breaths as we crawled around the soggy slimy suburban in search of your bracelet which was never found.

Of all the many, many material things that you lost in the flood, this one hurt you the most. It hurt me too, and when Beau’s mom heard about the bracelet, she set out to make it right. She penned a letter to Mr. Avery himself telling your story- the story that your bracelet used to tell. The story of two grandmas that you only vaguely remember, the story of your friendship with her son and the story of all that Harvey had stolen from you.  And in response to your story, Mr. Avery replaced not only your bracelet, but also every one of your lost charms. Beau’s mom decided that your bracelet needed to tell this part of your story as well, so she added a tiny canoe charm to your collection.

Last month your cousin Emilie turned six. While Nana was not here to celebrate the birth of any of Aunt Kellie’s babies, I was determined to continue the charm bracelet tradition in her memory. This is when I first noticed that you were not wearing your bracelet. Your cousin Emilie was on her way over, and I wanted to make sure she understood the significance of this right of passage so I told everyone to get their bracelets on.

Immediately I knew. I wish I could say that I responded with grace as you fell apart right in front of my eyes, but I was so upset. So as the story that you had been holding inside for more than a month came bursting forth, complete with tears and trembling, so did my own frustration. How could you lose your bracelet again? How could you not tell me? Why suffer alone bearing this burden by yourself when I may have been able to fix it had you just told me when it happened? Am I really that scary? Can I not be trusted?

Without a plan, you assured me that you were going to fix it.  Perhaps you were still determined to find it at school despite the strong evidence that it had been stolen. Or perhaps you were going to take odd jobs or sell some of your things to try to replace it yourself. More than likely you were trying to push the thought of it as far out of your mind as possible, and just hope that the problem would simply go away.

I finally calmed down, and then just assumed that you would be getting a new charm bracelet for some future birthday. We would start a new collection, which of course would never include the charms or the meaning that your other TWO bracelets held.

That was until last week when I had to stop by your school to return your brother’s laptop. Ms. Julie greeted me at the front desk with her usual enthusiasm and infectious smile.  As we were saying our last goodbyes for the summer, she asked if I needed anything else. Here is the conversation that followed:

“Oh yes, I just remembered- any chance Hallie’s bracelet turned up?”

“Oh Ms. Spaulding, I’m so glad she finally told you! She showed up in tears the day it was stolen, and we spent the rest of the afternoon and the weeks that followed playing detective together. She told me how special it was to her! She told me about her grandmas, and about the flood. I kept encouraging her to tell you it was missing, but I think she was just so certain she could fix it on her own.”

And just like that I understood. In a moment I knew exactly why you did not come to me for help!  And before I could even think about what I was saying, these words tumbled out of my mouth, and landed on the front desk lady-

“Isn’t that what I do every day!” I blurted out. “I am so determined to fix my own problems…to fix myself, that I refuse to go to the One who has all the fixes and answers I will ever need.  I hide from the One who knows me best and loves me most.”

Hallie, you hid it from me because you cannot possibly comprehend how much I love you, or how much I want to help you. You hid it from me because you overestimate your own strength, and you underestimate how much you still need your mom. You hid it from me because you want my approval, and somehow think that I could not love you despite all your imperfections. You hid it because you cannot comprehend the fact that I know you better than anyone, and yet I love you more than anyone- bracelet or no bracelet! 

Ms. Julie and I shared a moment and a tear. And then she reminded me that it happened to be the last day of James Avery’s annual “buy two charms get a bracelet free” sale.

I got into the car and drove straight home eager to replace your stolen charm bracelet with a brand spankin’ new shiny one!

I will never forget the look of confusion on your face when I told you where we were going. I will never forget your insistence that you would pay me back no matter how many times I told you that it was a gift- that you owed me nothing- that it brought me such joy to do this for you.  And I will never forget the tear in your eye when you asked me why I was doing this for you?

It’s because you are my child Hallie, and I love you.  I’ve always loved you, and nothing you do is going to make me stop loving you.  I want what is best for you, and I delight in giving you good gifts, tending to your wounds, and meeting your needs.  I want you to trust me, and next time you face something hard I want you to come to me with it.

And may the tiny sterling silver cross that we added to your newest charm bracelet last week serve as a reminder that His grace is truly free and that He can always be trusted. And I pray that you will fully understand now (as a twelve year old girl) what it took you losing two charm bracelets for me to fully understand- because we are His children, He delights in giving us good gifts, tending to our wounds, and meeting our deepest needs.

Third times a charm!

Love,

Mom