A letter to my daughter while she is away…


First and foremost, you are God’s beloved. He formed you; He knows and numbers the hairs on your head. Each of your tears is precious to Him. He adores you in the way that an artist adores his best creation. He saw your beginning and He knows your end and He has ordained each step along the way. And most importantly, He is Jehovah Jirah (the LORD, the provider) and Jehovah Tsaba (the LORD, the warrior), and Jehovah Shalom (the LORD, peace). If you can come to know God in this way, as the perfect Father and Friend, as your protector and provider, as your comfort and peace, you will live a life of beauty and joy. I’m still learning!


Second, you are my beloved. Part me and part Daddy, you are nevertheless uniquely you and uniquely beautiful. I love discovering with you your talents and passions, your peeves and joys, the areas in which you excel easily and the areas where you have to struggle. I treasure our past together; even if I sometimes comment about “difficulties” in our past, I wouldn’t trade a single day. During our trip to Alaska, you often rested your head on my shoulder and fell asleep or at least dozed a bit. You’re a bit bigger than you were, but it still reminded me of our first years together when we dozed together a lot, when I was able to rest watching you sleep, when I might fall asleep telling you a story or when I watched you fall asleep while I read or sang or walked or rocked. Precious times! My precious daughter. If you believe that you are my beloved also, you will know that you can always come to me and that I will love you no matter what.


But I might disappoint, too. I am human. I will do my best to meet your needs, to be faithful and loving, to speak truth and not frustration, to react with love not anxiety. But I will fail. My failure won’t diminish my love for you, even though it may feel like it. My failure will speak more to my own shortcomings and not to any lack of love for you. I pray you grant me grace in those moments.


I pray you grant all people grace in their individual moments. All humans fail. Friends, as you know, can betray and hurt and make you question your worth. A) You are beloved by God. B) You are my beloved daughter. These two truths are more important than anything else you will hear from those around you. These two truths do not fail.


This morning, I went for a walk with the dogs and saw 4 deer — 2 doe and 2 bucks. Because God has sent deer to me as a reminder of His love and faithfulness, I view all deer as love letters from God. He loves lavishly! I pray that you are experiencing His lavish love at camp this week, that you feel His love letters to you daily, that you see His love letters often.


His biggest “love letter,” of course, came in the form of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, making us right with God, taking our sins on himself, loving us enough to save us from ourselves. There is no greater love letter, no larger love.


Here’s the rub. God is bigger than we are. He loves all people. While you are His beloved, so are the difficult people, the frustrating people, the people who don’t even recognize or know Him. He yearns for each one of His creations. He delights in His children who follow Him and seek His face, people like you. (Remember those sled-dog pups and how we went completely gaga over their sweet cuteness? You are God’s puppy, and He is just tickled with you!) He mourns those who turn their back on Him. But He walks alongside both alike. There is NOTHING that you can do to make Him love you less, to make Him take back Jesus from your life. Does that make sense?


This lavish love, this crazy good love, this faithful presence and love is yours and is your truth. And if this is your truth, can there be anything that overshadows this? We believe a lot of lies. We grow things out of proportion. We stew about outcomes and the future, about decisions we should or shouldn’t make, about gathering goods and storing up things. We listen to the words of the world that speak of discontent and worry and anxiety. Those words seem like truth; somehow they seem easier to believe. It comes from our need to control. If I work harder, I can change these words, we think. If I lose this amount of weight or wear this outfit, I can change these words, we think. If I have a well-paying job and secure a large house, I can change these words, we think. What a sham.


To quote my favorite preschool director, “The great big GOD of the universe loves little itty bitty me.” And if the great big GOD of the universe loves little itty bitty me, than the words and actions of the other itty bitty folks out there really have no control, no power, no weight over me. Only God.


And because the great big GOD of the universe loves little itty bitty me and you and you and you (as said preschool director likes to point out), than we are also called to love. Love looks like forgiveness, grace, and speaking out of love (not pettiness, not greed, not jealousy, not anger, not manipulation, not fear, not exhaustion, not hunger). We can train ourselves to respond to each other in loving ways. It takes a lot of practice and patience and self-forgiveness when we get it wrong, which we will.  


We’re back to the beginning. God loves us even when we fail, maybe especially because we fail. But He doesn’t fail. Ever. He does not abandon. He does not turn away. He waits for us, cheers for us, delights in us, disciplines us sometimes in a loving way, and matches us step for step. He even goes on ahead, preparing our way.


It took me 40 some years to figure this out. I pray you are a quicker study! Because the sooner and more fully you learn these truths, both in your head and in your heart, the sooner you can begin living freely and the sooner the daily trials of this life will become background static and not the overpowering noise of life for you.


Always and forever your mom….