I've never met Kara, but I was introduced to her story by my sister-in-law, who happens to be Kara's youngest daughter's teacher. I clicked on the post my sister shared, and was immediately taken in. Kara has walked a path that many women are called to walk, yet has done it with a grace and faith that is rarely seen and shared so vulnerably. I encourage you to take some time to read Kara's story. (Note: Have tissues nearby!)
This week's challenge from Kara is this: "I want to you write a letter of grace to yourself 10 years from today. Include pictures of your life now, but hopes and dreams and fears you have for yourself, your loves, your life in ten years. Speak hopes for love, growth, hopes, and fears. Do what you do best. Write from your heart to the hearts of your loves."
Obviously, I don't know what the future holds. Any member of my immediate family may not be here ten years from now. But it is my hope that we are still together, living this life God has given us, and hopefully, doing it well. Here is my letter to 2024...
When I was a kid, this year seemed impossibly far away. Wasn’t that science-fiction material? Surely we wouldn’t still be around, and if we were, we’d be beaming ourselves everywhere we wanted to go, right? I have no idea what God has in store for my future, but I’d like to talk to those who mean the most to me for a moment.
Luke, my first-born, you are twenty-four. Yikes. When I was 24, I was in my second year as a wife and a brand new mama to you. I knew everything and I knew nothing. You have always been quick to remind me that you will probably be married by now. The fact that you wanted to marry ‘young’ made me smile, grateful that the mistakes your Dad and I have made didn’t ruin it for you. I pray that the woman you choose to spend your life with loves Jesus more than anything (yes, even you!), and that you love, serve and protect her the way your Dad so faithfully has demonstrated in his love for me. I pray that the vocation you are pursuing is in line with the gifts and abilities God has granted you. I hope it is something you are passionate about, and that you have the same work ethic your Dad has. Do the job God has put before you, and do it well. Have integrity and don’t be afraid to stand for what is right. Use the brilliant mind He has given you to create, figure things out, and continue to learn no matter how old you are. And if God makes you a father this year at the same age he did your Dad…I will be a very young grandma. J I pray I am here to see you experience the unexplainable feelings you will have as you start that journey. You’ll understand us a lot better.
Annaliese, you are 22. The age I was when your Dad and I were married. From the early days of your life, you’ve been a fighter. You fought to stay with us when you were just two weeks old, and I will never forget the sound of the machines beeping like crazy as your breathing stopped. I thank God that we got to bring you home and see you grow. You endured so much in your young life. Hospital visits, the first broken bone in our family (ouch!), countless breathing treatments, x-rays, and IVs. It all made you stronger. Your tenacity has been a hard thing to balance out at times as you grew…knowing when it was appropriate to stand your ground, knowing when to let go. I’ve always felt that God would use this part of your personality in a big way, for His purposes. When you were young, though, it sure was hard to rein in and kept your Dad and me on our knees. J I pray that if God has marriage in His plan for you, that the boy he brings to you loves you the way your Dad loves me. Don’t be afraid to be tender, to allow yourself to be cared for and protected. Your independent nature may make that hard, but I pray that your heart is open. You’ve likely finished college by now and are pursuing a career. I pray that no matter where God puts you, you fight for others, however that looks. And always, depend on HIM for the strength to keep fighting.
Adam, this year finds you at 20, likely right in the middle of your college years. You may be trying to figure out where God wants you to focus your energies and gifts, and we will be praying for clarity right along with you. You are quiet, a thinker who surprises us with your observations and insights at times. We pray that your faith in God is what guides your decisions and pursuits. We pray that the temptations that you face in your daily life will not overtake you, that you will be strong in your convictions and do what is right. I hope you still love music and are able to express yourself through whatever instrument(s) you have learned. I also hope you still have your crazy sense of humor and that you have fun, enjoying these years of ‘freedom’ before the real world calls. Be kind, be compassionate and love those God places in your path well. And don’t forget to call your mama…she misses you. J
Sam, my boy…you’re 17 and in your Junior year of High School. You’ve probably become the ‘go-to driver’, as your older siblings are gone and you and your sister need to go places, and well, your mom is weary after being a taxi-driver for the past twenty-four years. J Samuel, you are such a sensitive boy. You recognize hurts in others and seek to comfort them. Your dad has always called you ‘Pastor Sam’ as his nickname for you. We don’t know if God has shepherding a flock in your future, but we pray that you are open to using this gift in whatever way He wants you to. You are bright and you love to learn. Soak up all the knowledge you can, and don’t be afraid to take chances. Love God, love people, and enjoy being the oldest kid at home for a while.
Tessa Beth. Fifteen. *sigh* The baby of the family, yet not a baby anymore. Your first year of high school may be a little scary, but I’m confident we don’t need to draw hearts on your hand before you get on the bus anymore to remind you that I love you throughout the day. I pray that this year finds you learning more about yourself and the gifts God has given you. There will be so many opportunities to try new things this year, and I hope you continue to be brave and push yourself beyond what might be comfortable for you. Please keep singing. Your voice is precious, and since you were just a little thing, you’ve been using it to sing to Jesus (that and “Let It Go” in 2014…over.and.over). J We look forward to seeing you continue to grow and mature over these next few years of high school. And I promise to try not to cry every time we experience another ‘last’ with you.
And You. My love. Thank you for not giving up on me when I was ready to give up on myself. The years the locusts stole from us have been redeemed in some beautiful ways. I continue to be amazed that you chose me. You are a constant steadying hand in my life and I love the way you love me and continue to point me to Jesus in the way you live your life. It’s been a wild (and loud!) ride with the five God entrusted to us. We are down to two at home, and I probably still worry that we are messing it up. You’ve been the best Dad to our kids and I appreciate your gentleness and patience with them. Thanks for working hard to provide for us, and for the sacrifices you’ve made to do so. It does not go unnoticed by me. I don’t anticipate we’ll have much extra money in the near future, as we still have two more to put through college and grandchildren (hopefully) in the not-too-distant future. Forgive the credit card bills when that first one comes…I’m sorry. Those tiny little clothes are still hard for me to pass by. J
Check back next week for my next Tuesday Grace Letter. The next assignment: Next weeks Grace Letter will be a love and gratitude letter to someone who has made a difference in your story. A letter of thanks to someone from your past that has changed your tomorrows. Someone who has loved you well and taught you about life. Write them a letter of love and grace.
Be sure to click the link below to be connected to Kara's post and to read other entries.