The holidays represent a season of reflection. A time to recap the events of the year and connect with loved ones that are far off. A welcomed opportunity to look in the faces of those near to me and communicate my love and gratitude.
Tradition holds a prominent place this time of year. I caution falling into familiar patterns without connecting to their purpose and meaning. Tradition, done strictly for tradition sake is meaningless. Connecting to the roots of tradition can breathe life to something that may otherwise have been relegated to old and distant.
Exercising love and gratitude are practices worth doing whether one is well acquainted with them or not. They are as necessary and nourishing as food and water. When I stop, and with intention, reflect on the good gifts generously given to me, it helps to silence the despair and disappointment that is baiting me with its seemingly urgent lie - that evil outweighs good.
Fight with hope and thankfulness. Wield your weapons of joy and love to dismantle cynicism and fear. Celebrate the life you have right now. Speak what is true and cling to what is good. Christmas commemorates the beautiful beginning of the greatest love story of all time. That story belongs to me and it belongs to you. Hold it closely.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Writing is enjoyable for me. The process can be arduous, but the refining is meaningful. My aim is to get the reconciled words of my heart and mind down on the page to be communicated to those who walk beside me and go behind me, specifically my children. Our lives and actions are constantly communicating. Writing is a discipline to communicate what exists in the deep places that often does not make its way to the surface.
Consistently I am moved when reading a letter from one person written to another. I'll weep as I read the penned love letters between spouses distanced by continents and wars. Pages filled with affection and wisdom from fathers and mothers to their children, cause me to catch my breath.
The memories of the emotions I've felt while observing these tender moments has moved me to action. I've penned letters to my precious people. I laughed and I cried as I struggled to communicate what was inside of me. Searching for the words and the phrases was a process infused with love.
Your people need to know what you think about them and how deeply they are treasured.
Have you told them?
And, maybe as equally important as delivering it, is hearing yourself say it. It softens the edges that we often work so hard to avoid. Speak your truth and see how your words open up the most beautiful of spaces.
I love the light sprinkle of freckles that have begun to show up on your nose. Your skin has kept its soft, smooth texture even as you have gotten older. When I snuggle you in my arms I feel your skin, and I close my eyes and imagine holding your small, newborn body in my arms.
You are a delight to me. I look into your eyes and I see that they are full of wonder and imagination. You have always been an observer. You watch and drink in what is going on around you. I love to see an idea begin to take root in your mind. Your scurry around gathering the people and things needed to execute your plan. You are a leader and a visionary. I’m anticipating seeing you carry out the visions and dreams that are entrusted into your hands.
Thank you for being a loving and caring sister. I love watching how you have taken Lucy under your wing and how you look out for her. Hudson is always up to challenge you to a duel. When you aren’t hurting each other, you are pushing each other to be excellent, to not give up and to keep at it. Your relationship with Ryken is unique and beautiful. You have learned to navigate life side by side, while making room for the other. You rejoice in the different gifts you each possess. As your mother I love seeing your relationship unfold.
I thank God for the gift that you are to me and our family. He has great plans for your life. My prayer is that you will have a deep love for the one who created you. That you will delight in His ways and be lead by His voice. I’m sincerely looking forward to getting to know you as you continue to grow and change. I love you very much.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of you is your laughter. When you laugh you crinkle your nose and throw back your head. You are carefree and uninhibited. You carry compassion with you and easily disperse it. You fulfill the role of daughter, sister and friend with thoughtfulness and care. You engage with the world around you. You linger and you listen. I catch you repeating bits of information that you have stored away from an overheard conversation from days earlier. You are curious and want to learn. You seek the Truth, and I am confident that you will find it and never let it go.
The party starts with you. Celebrating is an innate quality you possess. I love that you set the table for breakfast, or just an afternoon snack, with fancy dishes and a centerpiece. You look around you to find beauty and are bubbling over with excitement to share it with everyone you know.
I see that God has given you a generous heart. Whenever you have money you are so quick to give it away. You share quickly and with joy. It is an example to me. I love that you give so freely without expecting anything in return.
You furrow your brow when you forming a question or wrestling with an idea. I always hope that you will share it with me. You always do. You are an open book and you wear your feelings on your sleeve. I treasure this. I want you to share honestly about your life and not feel the need to edit or hide things. You are quick to repent when you have made a mistake. You desire to live a life of reconciled relationships. To know you is to love you. You are confident in who you are and I love the quirkiness that you possess. I have thought to myself often that if I was your same age that I would choose you to be my friend. I’m looking forward to watching you grow and change into a young woman. You are beautiful Ryken, starting from the inside out.
My son. You are strong and you are tender. I could not have picked a better combination. You love big and you fight hard. You want justice and you extend mercy. As you continue to grow older, I’ve wondered when you will grow out of wanting more swords and weapons for your birthday. Your room is full of them and you dream of having more. You were made to stand up and defend. You were made to fight for noble causes.
You are the only boy in the midst of three girls, but you feel big feelings and don’t lack in emotion. You are a person made to enjoy other people and people enjoy you. Your eyes smile just a few moments before your mouth does. You already know how to love well. You pursue and you give without restraint. Those around you never question how you feel about them.
Since you were little you would spot a stranger at the park and leave with them as your friend. You have influence even at the young age of 5. People look to you to lead and direct. My prayer is that you would live a life worthy to be followed.
There are so many things that I love about you, but right now my favorite thing is how you so easily encourage others. You truly rejoice when others succeed and root them on in all their endeavors. Watching you as a teammate on your sports teams makes me so proud. You are always quick to put your arm around a friend and tell them to keep trying and not give up. You are the loudest fan from the sidelines when your buddies are in the game. That is such a significant sign of a leader. You want others to succeed and be their best. It isn't about you. It is about them.
I know we go head to head often. I think you and I are alike in many ways. I’m working on not reacting to you and to parent with patience and grace. I’m glad we have learned to hug it out. Let’s never stop doing that. I love you Hudson.
You are the light of our family. You bring joy wherever you go. You have a sense of humor that surpasses your age and you are adaptable in many different situations. You are independent and strong and courageously try new things such as onions and diving boards. You like both.
When I was pregnant with you I imagined a sweet, precious baby girl, which you are. You are also so much more than that. You have so much life and curiosity inside of you and you are so quick to extend love to those around you.
You find your way into the bed between Dad and I almost every night. Your soft squishy skin presses up against mine and you stroke my cheek with your little stubby hands. I treasure that you want to be so close and want to comfort and love me in the ways I have loved you. It is a sweet gift that I treasure.
I’ve let you stay a “baby” longer than any of the other kids. There are behaviors and habits that you exhibit that are no longer age appropriate, but I am so very aware that this is the last go around. I hope that I am not psychologically stunting your growth by my sentimental tactics. If I am, I will pay for your therapy sessions.
I can already tell that you have a self assurance and confidence that will not easily be shaken. You move forward knowing where you are headed and what you want. You play hard and laugh a lot. Having dinner with you at the table is a guarantee for jokes and silly antics. It is medicine to our family. Don’t ever lose the joy.
You notice the small things and are so thankful for them, A week has passed since a mechanical horse ride at the store and you still thank me for it three times a day. This combination of joy, gratitude and strength is exceptionally beautiful. God has marked you and set you apart. The light He has put inside of you is bright and has already been far reaching in these three short years. I love watching you shine. It is what you were made to do.