For Clarke. Upon leaving for college

Today is the day. It is finally here and as you leave for college…………… there are approximately 7,648,322 things I want you to know. However these 15 I pray continually you will never forget.
1 – I will always love you. As in, you can’t get de-loved in this house — or in this life. Love isn’t earned; it is freely given. Agape love.

2 – You are brave. I love how you think big and believe in doing justice and how you believe every single one can make a difference. And you’re absolutely right. They can. They do!

3 – You are enough. The world will tell you there’s something better for your life — if you try harder, get cuter, make the Honor Roll, shrink into a smaller pair of jeans. You’ll face really big “Not Enoughs” in this life. These Not-Enoughs are fierce and stubborn. Be stubborn-er. Let’s show those “not enoughs” how big our brave is – and how big our God is. We’ve had enough of the not-enoughs.

4 – No one in this world is ever too far from grace. Remember that truth, when you want to write someone off. Remember it, when that “someone” is looking at you in the mirror.

5 – Take good notes. Keep a prayer journal. Tell your diary how you’re mad at the world, and how you’re mad at me. Fold up love letters in actual envelopes. Pen some really bad poetry and hand-write letters.

6 – You will want to give up. Don’t. There are worse things in life than failing. First on the list: Not trying. Important lessons are learned when things don’t turn out the way you hoped. As brave as you are, failure might make you even braver.

7 – It really is all about Jesus. Someone might say this one should be first on the list. But it is saved it for the middle. Why? Because that’s where you’ll need to remember it most–when you’re smack-dab in the middle. In the middle of life,
of the valley,
of the struggle,
of the dark,
in the middle of your crumb-covered kitchen floor
while you’re on your knees
begging for the good grace of God
to rescue you.
It’s all about Jesus – in the middle is where you need Him most. You will never regret it.

8 – Love people just as they are, not as you wish them to be. Not everyone believes that “it is all about Jesus.” Love them anyway.

9 – Revelations will freak you out. Keep reading. see #8.

10 – Always leave an empty seat at the table. Everyone wants to know they belong. Let them know they do. Keep a chair open at the table. There are a lot of love-hungry people in the world, left out of ever-tightening circles, and they just want to know that they matter to God, and that they matter to people. Be the kind of person who lets them know they do.

11 – Remember, I’m always here. You had no trouble letting me know that you needed me at 3 a.m. when you were my baby. Why change things up now? Look, you’ll always be my baby.

12 — Go to church. Yes, some of the people there will annoy you. But guess what? You will annoy some of the people there. Go anyway. It’s a crazy system, but you’ll find some of your best friends there. And they’ll be the ones at your kids’ weddings. And depending on how things turn out, they will be at your very own funeral.

13 – Be nice to old people. I say this somewhat selfishly, because I’m going to be an old person someday, God-willing. And come to think of it, so will you.

14 – Live outside of your comfort zone. That’s where a lot of really cool stuff happens. And you are cool people. I’d hate for you to miss out.

15 – It’s good to come home. We will forever love your texts and Facebook messages and phone calls and letters that we begged you for (see No. 5), but we will never tire of your sweet cheeks and your hugs and the way you make fun of us in the most endearing ways possible. We’ll be waiting in the drive. As in, hours before your headlights show up in the driveway.

As long as I live, I’ll be waiting in the drive for you… I Love you, Mama



For Clay. Upon leaving for college.

AUGUST 2013 upon leaving Clay at his first year of college.

For my ClayBo.
Today’s the day. As you leave for your first year of college;

1. You have your priorities in order. Every day should reflect those priorities. Re-evaluate regularly to stay on track.
2. Sleep at night. Do not stay up until 5am and expect to be at full capacity.
3. Mom does not (knowingly) subsidize your social life. Budget accordingly.
4. When you’re uncertain on how to proceed, remember: now that you’re eighteen, you’ll always be tried as an adult. wink emoticon
5. If you’re having trouble academically, say something. Do NOT wait until I receive a letter in the mail informing me you’ve lost a scholarship.
6. Everything is cheaper at Wal-Mart than at the campus bookstore.
7. Don’t be embarrassed if I cry when saying good-bye. Most of the other mothers (and not a few fathers) will, too. I promise to try to wait until I get to the car.
8. Remember that there’s always someone smarter than you, dumber than you, more confused than you, less lost than you, more secure, less confident, more sensitive, less reserved, more dysfunctional, etc. Feel the blessings in meeting some, and show grace and mercy for the others; tomorrow the roles may be reversed.
9. Know that home is always waiting for you, regardless of how little time you may spend here.
10. Pray. Daily and diligently. Study God’s word. You can’t know God if you don’t spend time with Him. You can’t get His direction & blessings without knowing Him.

I love you.

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:6-8


Believe it or not – I didn’t cry. Not in front of Clay.  About a week after he left, I got word back that he told another mom, “My mom was fine, she didn’t even cry”.  I decided maybe he needed to hear a little more from his mama. 

When you don’t see me cry as you leave, please don’t think I don’t care. It has been my life’s work to get you to these days. The courage you have in this new adventure gives you excitement and in that excitement I find success. You are a wonderful young man and I am honored to have had a front row seat to your life. My baby boy, “my Claybo”, you will always be, but you are your own man for sure. Again, in that I find success. I save the tears for when you aren’t looking so that you don’t worry about me and so that you won’t be sad. Please understand that as my heart does break when I see you walk away, my pride in all you have become and my desire for you to continue growing wipes my tears. Good Luck this first week of class. Here goes nothing, right?? I love you, Mama


Father’s Day from the girl without a dad.

June 2014

My life has been a struggle of wondering and wandering. Searching for acceptance, fighting rejection, asking myself why I wasn’t worthy enough for him to stick around. Even now at times I struggle. Watching my own kids, especially the girls, with their dads. I hear Clarke & Sarah call them daddy, and I have no ability to even begin to wrap my mind around what that feels like to call someone daddy or be daddy’s little girl. But oh so thankful that these girls do.

My dad checked in and out many times when I was young, then solidly, firmly, deliberately slammed the door on our relationship when I was 19. I have thought often of searching for my earthly dad. As I think of what more rejection might be like, my heavenly father has gently drawn me near to Him. The years of crying in my room, God was there, listening. The years of self-destruction as I longed to be loved, God’s was there comforting me. The moments I sacrificed my dignity to be accepted, God’s mercy rained–in fact, it flooded. When I found the man to spend the rest of my life with, God gave me tremendous love-a love that is patient with my pain, & understanding of my lifelong grief. A husband who is a loving very present father to all four of our collective children.

So to those who are like me and are fatherless on this father’s day, hold tight to hope. You indeed, my friend, are not truly fatherless. God has sent his love to you in some fashion–whether it’s your mother, your husband, your children. And even if not…even if you feel as if you are all alone & unwanted, God has never left you, abandoned you or rejected you.

The pain you feel for yourself is the pain God feels for you, with you. He never wanted this for you… He never wanted this for us.

I cannot answer why, or tell you when the pain will end…but I assure you, the depth of God’s love for you is immeasurable. He does what every father should do….
He listens.
He quickly forgives.
He comes to your rescue.
He is proud of you.
He is patient.
He willingly gave His life for you.
Because He loves you.

So happy father’s day to all the dads who have loved & the dads/grandpa’s who have passed & to the husbands who love their kids more than life.
Happy father’s day to MY husband who has taught me true love & gives our kids a better life than mine, & a love that I have never had for myself.

Jesus said: “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33