Summer’s coming – keep those kids busy!

So, I guess since it’s almost the end of May (WHA?? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN ALREADY?), we should maybe start thinking about summer. Whenever I think about summertime and the new routine of kids being home and how it’s all going to shake out, I think of my friend, Kristen Mason. You guys are going to LOVE her if you don’t already.

I met Kristen back in the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) days pre-Bethany and Michael, when Becca was 3 or 4 and Lydia was 2ish. She was the leader of our group of Table Leaders, and was a huge encouragement to me as a mom of tiny people that life would continue at some point and my brain cells would (maybe) return. Her kids were just a couple of years older, but you could tell she wasn’t living in that perpetual state of sleep-deprivation that is evident on the faces of moms of babies and toddlers. She also didn’t have anyone in diapers, which felt to me like a Mecca I would never see.

Anyway, it was so great to be around someone who had survived toddlerhood, but who still remembered it, AND who had great tips for how we too could survive and then transition our kiddos into the next stages. I watched her continue to step out of her comfort zones and expand her crafting business, begin speaking at area MOPS meetings (If you’re anywhere in Northern Virginia and you attend a MOPS group, you’ve probably heard her speak), and eventually launch a website focused on parenting, learning, and purposeful living. She has been a personal inspiration – someone who’s had dreams and has chased after them well.

The reason I bring her up as we approach summer is because of her FABULOUS site called Busy Kids, Happy Mom. She has so much great stuff there; you really must check it out. One of my favorite things is her program of “Summer Points“. It’s basically a way to make (and keep!) a doable plan for your summer. You set up certain tasks/chores/accomplishments for your kids (or you) to achieve over the summer and assign them a point value. When the family/kid get to certain point values, there are rewards.

What I like about the Summer Points is that she has so many great ideas for helping the summer not just get to the “I’m bored” phase super quickly. She’s trained as a teacher, so she has great resources and idea on how to keep up summer learning. We’ve used summer points to encourage learning a new skill – like using the stove for cooking a meal. For that kind of thing, I highly recommend her Life Skills lists. These have been so helpful to me when figuring out what kids of jobs the kids can do around the house.  There are also great suggestions on there for when your kids developmentally can do certain things. Definitely check it out here – Life Skills List.

Through her inspiration, over past summers, my girls have planned the menu for dinners and dessert and then cooked/baked them, memorized scripture, read different genres of books, learned to mow the lawn, learned to ride their bikes, improve swim times, and more. We’ve “earned” family overnights in a hotel, trips to the movies or baseball games, family game nights, and downtown adventures.

I hope you check out Kristen’s resources – they really will inspire you and give you practical tools (that actually work!) to survive your summer and come out the other side having experienced some great things as a family.

My mom, part 2 – The Reverend

Last week ended up being too full to get this part 2 post wrapped up and sent out, but I didn’t forget about it! If you missed Part 1, check it out here – it’s a few snapshots of my relationship with my mom and is a great setup for today’s post.

I’ve been a pastor’s kid my whole life. Someone once asked me if it was strange that it was my dad up on the platform preaching, and my response was, “No, because it’s always been that way. It feels more strange when it’s NOT him.” When I moved away from home and those conversations came up about who we were and where we came from, I almost always answered that my parents were pastors. Many would exclaim, oh really?! They’re BOTH pastors?! And I would correct them and say, “well, technically, my dad is the pastor, but they’re both so integral to the running of the church that I see them as a unit, pastoring the church.”

IMG_8396This past week, my mom made it official – she is now an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God. In addition to her decades of real-life ministry experience, she took classes at night and over weekends to fulfill the requirements: classes on theology, biblical history, and leadership. She did this in addition to her full-time job and her role as worship leader at our church, all while still showing up as a wife, mother, and grandmother. My dad gave her the pulpit several Sundays to give her time to practice preaching and teaching and finding her own voice. Watching her pursue this goal and watching my dad support her in it has been life-giving to me as their daughter in innumerable ways.

I may write something a little later that fleshes out my thoughts in a more general manner regarding credentials and ordination of women and what it all means. There are interesting conversations happening around this subject, and I may dive in sometime.

But today – it’s really about my mom and my daughters. I’ve heard it said that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” It occurred to me last Monday that my daughters are seeing a woman step up into roles of leadership and pastoral authority and to them, it feels obvious. It is the next step. They won’t think it’s odd to hear their grandmother preach – they’re growing up with it. We adults all felt the gravity of the moment. There were tears through the smiles. In these days, in this society, with our history, my mom’s ordination MEANS something.

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Family row at the service – forgive the lighting

I tried to explain a little bit of the significance to my daughters but truly it was foreign to them that some would (and will continue to…) find this step offensive. They really didn’t get it – and for that I’m thankful. While I do want them to understand the history that we stand on, I’m grateful that this moment was one of simple celebration for them.

It was such a pleasure going to the ordination service. There were about 30 other people getting ordained that night and watching the diversity of age, gender, and race walk up to the podium was very meaningful. There were at least two married couples who had gone through the process together and were being ordained together. It is our network’s 100th year anniversary this year, so the service was extra special and drew national leaders to the stage. These new leaders were charged with some excellent (and challenging!) remarks by our General Superintendent Dr. George Wood. IMG_8390

As a participant in the service, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the future of at least our small corner of the church world. There is so much pain and brokenness going on in the church. Last week’s service didn’t change that and won’t heal the wounds overnight. But I couldn’t help but begin to see a rising tide of sound, strong leaders taking their place.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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Proud granddaughters. My little one wouldn’t stop hugging her! #allthefeelings

 

A two-part #WCW: My mom

The next two week’s #WCW will be dedicated to my mom. We’re coming up on Mother’s Day and she has a big professional milestone around the corner so I wanted to give some extra space for that!

Next week, my mom will be ordained as a minister in the Assemblies of God. She’s been working towards this step for several years and I couldn’t be prouder. I’m taking my big girls at least to the ordination service and next week’s #WCW will be much more about that side of things.  This week will be mainly about the mothering side – childhood memories and the ongoing relationship of an adult relationship with my mom, and next week I’ll brag on her other “outside the home” accomplishments. What follows are some snapshots – a few memories that try (and will fail) to capture a lifetime of moments.

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no bedhead pictures – but this smile is the one I think of while singing that song…

Childhood:  I’m sleeping and my mom pops in the bedroom and starts singing in a loud whisper voice – “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory! Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory” – then her voice increases to a regular tone and she almost shouts the last phrase – “RISE AND SHINE AND [clap] give God the glory, glory, children of the Lord!”  We didn’t use alarms – my mom preferred to greet we non-morning-loving people with overly cheerful and peppy songs! It makes me giggle remembering shuffling out to the breakfast table with eyes barely open with the soundtrack of my mom’s voice in the background.

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Senior Prom – the only teenager picture I could find of me and my mom…

Teenager: It was the weekend of my 16th birthday and my mom had driven me several hours away to a softball tournament.  In the middle of one of the games, my teammates stood up and started singing Happy Birthday to me and then my mom told me it was time to leave. I had no idea what was going on – I left in the middle of the game!! She told me she had already cleared it with the coach and that she just needed me to trust her.  We head out in to the parking lot and she throws me the keys to drive home. I’m in shock, as I’m still in the learning phase and wasn’t sure she quite trusted me. In the next 2 minutes, I gave her cause NOT to trust me driving, when I turned too much pulling out of the spot and slammed in to the car next to us. Yes, my first ‘accident’ was pulling out of a parking spot. I’m pretty sure my mom shrieked, but then just calmly came around to my side and switched places with me, leaving a note on the car that we hit to call us for any damages, and drove home. Fairly quickly her annoyed attitude shifted to excitement and she tried to draw me out of my ashamed sheepishness. Unbeknownst to me, my parents had invited several of my friends to the symphony playing at Constitution Hall downtown and we were going to be getting home just in time for me to shower and change into something nice. She was dropping all these little hints about what I should do when I got home – and I was so confused because none of them were related to my driving disaster! I actually still don’t even know what happened with that, because once we got home it was all party time. She graciously allowed me my moment and didn’t allow it to squelch the day’s fun.

 

Adulting – I had just had my first baby. We’d been home for a few days and my mom was about to leave to go back home. My husband came home, a bit shell-shocked, to tell me that his chain of command had decided that instead of remaining behind as the commander of the rear detachment, as had been the plan leading up to my delivery, he was now going to be deployed with the rest of his company to the Middle East for an indefinite number of months.  I remember vividly seeing my mom on the couch, hearing this devastating news, and then literally crawling into her lap. I for sure didn’t fit there any more, but it was the only place I could figure out to go. I just bawled there for a bit and she let me cry it out. Then, we started figuring out how we would handle it. It would be ok, we decided. We could do this. THANKFULLY, the powers that be came to their senses and changed their minds. We didn’t have to figure it out. But I’ll never forget that moment of crawling back in to my mom’s lap like a little kid and her letting me, and then helping me get back up on my feet.

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Mom and Becca admiring a fish I caught. Several months post-breakdown

These are such short moments in a lifetime of fun, surprising, and calming ones. Love you mom!

Local Business #WCW – Play, Work, or Dash

It’s been awhile since I highlighted an outstanding woman in my circle for #WCW.  I’ve got one for you today PLUS a teaser about some new things coming down the pipeline for me.

If you don’t already know this about me, I have four children with a large age gap between numbers 3 and 4. Just when I was beginning to think about starting back up a career again after being home (for the most part) with the kids for 12 years, I found out I was pregnant with baby number 4. One of the things that I remember my husband saying to me during those early weeks (okay months) of reeling with the news was that we didn’t have to do things the same way this time. He was supportive of me continuing the journey of what I’d already started – figuring out what I want to do when I grow up, pursuing opportunities, etc.

But, HOW??? For real? Well, when Michael was a few months old, I learned about a new place in our area, called Play, Work, or Dash that was offering a unique solution to moms like me.

The founder of PWD is Nicole Dash; she and her little community over there at PWD are my #WCW for today.  This spot is so wonderful and has been an incredible asset to my life these past several months. Here’s the basic concept – it’s a co-working space with childcare.  There’s a cute office suite over in Tysons – you walk in, drop your kids (ages 9 months up to 8 years old) in the lovely playroom that is staffed with great childcare workers, and head out in to the lounge area to do some work, or upstairs to the shared office space. Upstairs is a kitchen with snacks and coffee, multiple workstations with outlets, a printer, and miscellaneous office supplies. There’s also a conference room that you can book for meetings or just reserve to have even more quiet space to work.

If all of that wasn’t enough to radically open up the possibilities of pursuing my career options, Nicole also began offering workshops to her members. Each one of these that I have been able to attend have been very worthwhile. I’ve gained skills that helped me in some of my volunteer roles, my paid jobs, and also just overall with managing my life.

I’m so grateful to Nicole and to the other women entrepreneurs I’ve met at PWD for having the courage to pursue their dreams. It’s been such an inspiring thing to learn about all these people in my area pursuing very interesting careers in various industries.  I love the little community you’re building at Play, Work, or Dash – the sense of camaraderie and “me too” of young moms trying to do life around the chaos of toddlers and preschool, the environment of empowerment without competition.

That saying of a rising tide lifting all boats rings very true at Play, Work, or Dash – I see women being able to go ahead and take on that new client, get back to doing what they love, or start a new thing.

As for me – I am starting a new thing. I’ll talk more about it another day. There is lots of background as to why, how, and when I’m starting this new thing. But one very large reason I went ahead and took the plunge is because of the air I breathe at Play, Work, or Dash – parent-honoring, business-savvy, child-loving air.

Thank you Nicole!

 

Dismantling White Supremacy – One book at a time

Over the past couple of years, my heart has been tuning in more and more to the issue of race and our country’s particular struggle to reconcile with our past and with one another.

It’s not a topic that I’ve only recently been interested in; I was very affected by the Rodney King beating in the 90s and wrote a paper on racial hostility in middle school. But, for the most part, my attitude has been one of despair, frustration, helplessness, and ignorance.

Through multiple venues, I’ve been encouraged to not stay in that place, but to step out into getting myself educated and speaking out when appropriate. I’ve learned that the systems of White Supremacy are alive and well inside all of us – it’s just basically the air we breathe. At first, it seemed like I was doing literally nothing by just reading different authors and exposing myself to different voices, but I’m beginning to see a real change in my attitudes through this simple act of educating myself. I still have a long way to go, but I just wanted to go ahead and put this out there in case there are others who are feeling helpless and don’t know where to start. I’m going to list some of the things I’ve read or listened to that have broadened my understanding of the issues and that have encouraged me in the path ahead. I’d love to hear what’s helped you if you’re on this journey as well!

I’ve grouped these by kid/teen appropriate and adult appropriate. The further along the journey I go, I realize it’s important to expose our kids to these stories too since our public education system glosses over so much/doesn’t have the time to dive deep.

Children’s books:

  • Echo – by Pam Munoz Ryan; historical fiction (it takes place between 1930’s Germany and 1940’s USA with a bit of a flash forward at the end to a few decades later.) mixed with mystical elements. It’s character driven and is an expertly crafted story. I loved every bit of it and would read it again. I highly recommend the audio version; music plays a key role in the story and in the audio version all the pieces mentioned in the text are played. My daughters both read this and loved it.
  • The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis. Anything by this author is great. He writes attention grabbing fiction without being sensational or graphic. This book takes place during the Great Depression and chronicles the life of a young girl and her family in the Detroit area.
  • Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis. Similar era to The Mighty Miss Malone with a few crossover characters. Another enjoyable read!
  • The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson. This author has a few gorgeous picture books that you should definitely pick up. This one focuses on two girls who live close to each other but are prohibited by their parents to play with one another because of their differently colored skin. It’s beautifully written and illustrated with the perfect amount of tension for the youngest readers to grasp.

Older Kids and/or Teen Books:

  • Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson; A powerful, but painful, book. I haven’t had my olders read it yet, partly because it was so painful to me to read. This is my own fragility and they’ll be able to handle it – just saying you might want to pre-read for your tween or younger, especially if they’re sensitive.  Juxtaposing slavery with the freedom and liberty propaganda of the American Revolutionary era is a tough pill to swallow.  It’s written from a child’s perspective with easy to understand language and very little “dialect” that is inaccessible. I wanted the ending to have a more definitive positive outlook, but that is just my preference.  There is at least one more book in the series, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as this one.
  • One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia; A story about three girls and their (fairly incompetent to put it nicely) mother during the era of the Black Panthers. It’s not a story I’m familiar with at all so it all felt fresh and new to me. The hardest thing for me to read was the treatment of the girls by their mother (which is the main thing pushing it to the older kids/teen side of the list). But (without spoiling too much) the ending was better than expected and left me wanting more of these characters. I loved them all.
  • A House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros; “Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.” (from the Goodreads description)

Adult Books:

Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson; a challenging and sometimes heartbreaking read about our justice system and the ways it has been a tool for injustice way more often than it should. This one was really tough to read and I had to back off of doing any more reading in this genre for a while so I could process everything.

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi – a novel that (for me, anyway) illustrated in extremely effective fashion what the term institutional racism really is and how it affects life today for everyone. That term is never used in the book, but the characters experience it throughout. The structure of the book can throw you off a bit and keeping track of all the characters was sometimes difficult, but it was a book I had a hard time putting down.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, written as a letter to his son, this book is a highly personal account of one person’s path through the smog of racialized thinking that is America. It was tough to read much of this account – he does not shy away from sharing his anger at many events that have happened recently in our country. I usually throw up walls at that kind of language and had to try and just hear it as someone’s story and not someone being angry literally at me.

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss; the book follows the father of Alexandre Dumas, who wrote the Three Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo. His father was the son of a white French aristocrat and a black slave woman, born in Saint-Domingue (current day Haiti). It was a fascinating book. There was so much in it that I did not know about the French Revolution, the American Revolution and just how much whitewashing goes on in history and media. There were at least hundreds, if not thousands, of black soldiers fighting in the French Revolution, but that has never been represented anywhere that I can remember. I also had no idea that Napoleon’s rise to power was such a disaster for civil rights in France and its colonies.

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini; this one is just an excellent story that will keep you up at night. I loved that I got to understand Afghanistan outside the usual narrative of terrorism and war.

Good Faith, by Gabe Lyons and Dave Kinnaman; this is not a book specifically about race or racial reconciliation – it is about how the church can do a better job at interacting with the culture. They dedicated a chapter though to the church’s high rate of segregation and the divisions along racial lines in church and political thought as well. It was a helpful and informative read.

Other Resources/ Influencers I’m Following:

Be The Bridge Facebook Page; a non-profit dedicated to Inspire & Equip ambassadors of racial reconciliation; to Build a community of people who share a common goal of creating healthy dialogue about race.

LaTasha Morrison – Founder of Be The Bridge, an incredible leader who is leading great conversations about how to bring racial reconciliation to our churches and to our country.

Truths Table – a podcast by three black women that is just – wow.

Lecrae – a hip hop artist who is using his platform to challenge evangelicals in their thinking regarding race.

This is not an exhaustive list, just some that have helped me thus far.  I still have lots of books and movies on my list that I hope to get to soon.  I’d love to get more recommendations too; so share your favorites with me! I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes from Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy and encourage you to choose compassion:

“We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity.”

On Lent and Fasting – Goodbye Apathy and Keeping up Appearances

Today’s post is going to meander a bit. I hope you’ll bear with me as I work some things out in my Thinking Spot.

I’ve always loved history. Historical fiction is my favorite genre of book; history classes were always my favorite; movies based on actual events get me every time.  My usual wheelhouse is anything related to World War II. I’m inspired by the acts of heroism displayed by the people resisting Hitler’s march across Europe and mission to annihilate every human being who didn’t fall in line or match up with his requirements for belonging to The Reich.  I could read books about the resistance or the war effort or the people back home all day, every day.

But I’ve always hated learning about the American Civil War. The numbers of dead in the battles are staggering. The political machinations of the ones in charge were mind-boggling.  The issue of slavery too uncomfortable and disturbing to want to dwell on.  Lately I’ve been pondering my lack of interest in anything Civil War in contrast to my voracious appetite for anything WWII related.

Then, interrupt those ponderings with the season of Lent.  This year,our church has been reading (again) the wonderful book by Alicia Britt Chole, called 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. This book has a reading for every day, encouraging us to move beyond putting aside chocolate or red meat or caffeine during the season of Lent.  She hypothesizes that we don’t live fruitful, awake, alive lives of faith because we don’t allow ourselves to ponder the deep, uncomfortable questions that exist within our faith. Each day she suggests a “heart-fast” to try and weed out clutter from our faith walk. This week included apathy and keeping up appearances. Then she had to throw in revisionism… Ouch.

This week’s readings included a day about “appearances” and focused on one of the stranger stories in scripture of when Jesus curses a fig tree. Her conclusions about this incident are that Jesus “finds utter fruitlessness frustrating.” The fig tree in question was completely withered when it should have been at least showing signs of some fruit growing. He wasn’t concerned that the tree wasn’t dripping with ripe, luscious figs, but rather, that it wasn’t bearing fruit at all.

Her admonition to us from this story is to take to heart the warning that Jesus gives to the Pharisees about their hypocrisy – “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied against you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'” (Matthew 15:7-9)  At the end of the chapter, she says: “Our reality does not frustrate Jesus. Our hypocrisy does.” (p. 88)

After I finished reading that day, I flipped over to Facebook and read some posts in a group I’m in that encourages bridge-building as the path to racial reconciliation in our country. It’s a group that challenges me to think outside my cultural context and to see how my context may be filtering what I understand about our country’s history and about the Gospel. I read these words from a person of color who is involved in ministry in her local church (part of a longer post):

When they plead their cause, I’m there.
I care.
I give.
I sacrifice.
I cry.
I listen.

But every time I share an incident of personal discrimination or racism, when I ask to have a conversation or have support – silence, pushback, rebuke.

I’ve been told the church can’t single out one group, but it feels like every other group has been championed. There is room for all these ministries and concerns, but not for me.

It’s worse than invisibility.

I feel less than.

When I read these words, the line about our hypocrisy frustrating Jesus more than our reality from my Lent reading slammed back into my heart. Why do I hate learning about the Civil War? Why do I turn away? It’s a shameful, difficult history that IS my country’s reality. And I think I’ve been more interested in keeping up the appearance that MY country is somehow better because we’ve been the hero in so many other situations. But the problem with all of that is that it’s hypocrisy – I live in a country that declared “all men to be created equal,” while concurrently only giving rights to a few, and holding millions of their fellow human beings in slavery. Reveling in the heroic deeds of some while ignoring the heinous acts of others is hypocrisy.

Like this person who shared her hurt above said, we in the church have been happy to sacrifice for so many things, but when faced with the scars of our racial sin, we clam up and point to our own righteousness instead of listening with broken hearts.

I’m done with that. (or if I’m being honest, I WANT to be done with that.) I’m giving up on appearances and apathy. How will I do this? I start with opening my eyes and leaning in to the harder parts of our nation’s history. I’m also opening up my heart to be examined and cleaned out of ways and thoughts that do not align with what I say I believe. I’ll ask questions and try to look past the posturing emotions that so often appear on social media. I’ll stop being defensive.

If ever I’ve made someone feel invisible for by my unwillingness to listen and validate your story, I apologize and beg forgiveness. Your story matters and I want to hear it. You are not invisible to me.

#WCW – International Women’s Day Edition

Well, I haven’t written in almost a month! Things got busy around here. I was going to skip today too because my head is just spinning a bit from other things going on, but then I saw that today is International Women’s Day! I have to highlight someone on this day!

So, today I’ll tell you about my daughter, who is rapidly becoming a woman in her own right. She turned 14 last month and today she had quite the milestone of getting her braces off! Ugh, now she’s even more beautiful.

Parenting is such a funny experience. It all happens right in front of your nose so you don’t really see what’s happening. Then you look at a picture from a baby album, or remember how old you are, or write on the invitation to the birthday party the age of your kid and the reality smacks you upside the head. She is growing up! She is not a baby anymore! All the things they said when she was a toddler are true! “It goes so fast.” “The days are long but the years are short.” “This too shall pass.”

22431_301334152450_5771074_nYep, we conquered teething and sleeping through the night, potty training and not eating poisonous things from under the sink. She does NOT still use her binky (phew!)

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I no longer worry about her having separation anxiety or whether she’ll learn to tie her shoes. She’s spent the night away from me too many times to count. She eats her vegetables and makes her bed. We’ve moved on from Dora the Explorer to Harry Potter. The milestones just keep piling up.

She’s an amazing daughter and I’m so excited to watch her turn into a lovely young woman. Next year she heads to high school and while I simply cannot imagine time going any faster than it already does, I know that it, too, will ZOOM. So, I’ll share some hopes I have for your future while I have this moment. (Your baby brother is currently very happily banging on an empty coffee can. This could go on for MINUTES!)

I hope you always believe the TRUTH about yourself – that you are talented, intelligent, creative, beautiful, full of potential, worthy of love, and loved immensely by your family and by God.

I hope you continue to surround yourself with friends who support you and who you support. Girlfriends are life – treasure them! Bring them over for dinner – we love your friends and we love a home full of girls’ laughter.

I hope you take time to pursue your dreams and passions. Go to school. Travel (just always call me when you get there, ok??) Try something crazy. Enjoy the adventure of your life. We’ll always leave the light on for you.

I hope you know you are more than your GPA, your transcript, your list of activities and accomplishments, your eventual college acceptance. Your achievements will be so important, but they’re not everything.

I hope you’ll remember you come from a line of strong women. We support you and cheer you on. Your grandmothers and great grandma are women who have not always walked easy roads, but who have gained resilience from walking those roads with dignity. Their legacy is an amazing one and I’m so glad you get to know them. I hope you keep up your own relationship with them as you grow older.

I love you my sweet girl. You and your sisters and brother fill me with such hope for our future. Happy International Women’s Day!