Dear Wren and Lydia,

I’ve been thinking about trust. I read somewhere lately about the reality that while  it maybe somewhat ‘easy’ to forgive it’s not easy to trust again.

While I would not say it’s ‘easy’ to forgive…I have realized that it’s far easier for me to say I forgive someone than for me to actually trust that person again.

The truth is…we shouldn’t trust everyone. Not everyone is trustworthy. And sometimes forgiveness happens without trust. We can release someone from the penalty of an offense but also acknowledge that they no longer have a place in our inner circle of trust.

Which is a scary truth…it means there are times when I ask for forgiveness and it might even be granted, but I’ve lost trust in the process.

Are you trustworthy? Who knows they can trust you?

We all hurt people. Literally everyone of us hurts people on a daily basis through intentional acts and also just plain ignorance or indifference. Even those we love the most.  Maybe especially those we love the most.

If you interact with other human beings you will experience hurt. You will hurt others and they will hurt you. It’s inevitable. Forgiveness will be necessary for you to live at peace with God and others.

And that’s a hard enough process in itself…but to trust others? Wow…now that’s a reality check.

I would venture to say that most of us have very few people we really trust.

I mean people we trust with our real, honest self. People who we believe are honestly interested in our best and have our backs when times are hard.

There are levels of trust. Most of us have people who we live in community with and we know they care about us, but I’m talking about a deeper connection than that.

This morning in our devotions we read about how the main purpose of Jesus and the Christian life overall is for reconciliation with God and reconciliation with one another. That requires an immense amount of trust.

When I don’t trust someone I’m not my natural self with them. I resort to small talk. I don’t share any struggles or pain. When I don’t trust someone I don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. I lean towards hurt rather than assuming the best. When I don’t trust someone I find every action…the words I say, where I look, etc. being something I have to think about. I can’t relax with people I don’t trust.

Trust is earned. I think we all realize over time that no one is perfect. We can allow for off days and moments. We know we need grace and surely others need it too. But trust is definitely earned over long periods of time and experience and quickly lost in moments when trust is broken.

I’ve experienced this. Oh you can say your sorry and ask forgiveness, but somehow you know the relationship will never be the same.

God can and does heal. But I want you to understand how important your words and actions are towards others, even your thoughts.

There’s not much worse than knowing you have broken trust with someone you love and knowing that it will not quickly be restored. Or if it will ever be restored.

It’s easy to see it when you look at other people’s lives. It’s so clear and you wonder how they don’t see it. But it’s not so easy to see the same in ourselves sometimes.

Blending families has been really tricky in this way especially. Family is all about trust. Sometimes it’s been hard to know how to take things and a variety of hurts have happened over the past two years. I want you to know that this is not just unique to blended families. All families experience broken trust and hurt. There is no perfect family. But I do think it is a special, unique situation for blended families to build trust with one another.

Sometimes apologies have been made and I think forgiveness has even occurred from time to time but trust has been hard to come by.

We are two years in now. It’s better than it was, which gives me great hope. But I know honestly if we all sat down with one another we couldn’t wholeheartedly say that we trust one another. It’s ok. We can be honest about this.

I’ve been praying, thinking and processing about how this can move forward, baby steps, so that more trust is built between us.

I’m an eternal optimist. Never realized this about myself until the past two years. I believe that when we all love Jesus that makes a difference and that He is always at work within all of us and leading us toward healing. Reconciliation is His main business.

I just wonder today…who do you trust? Who do you feel completely safe to be yourself with? Who do you feel has your back? Who can you give the benefit of the doubt to, even if they maybe send mixed signals sometimes?

I’m asking myself the same questions. And I asked Dane the same questions today too. I think you will probably find that you have a very short list of names that come to mind.

How could we grow in our trust of others? How could we be more trustworthy ourselves?

If we desire reconciliation…(and yes I hope we always do), than trust must be the foundation. Without trust no real reconciliation occurs.

I think this means an end to self protecting. An end to rehearsing old hurts. And end to clamming up and going on the defense. I think it means great vulnerability and openness. And I think it means most importantly a steady and amazing trust in Jesus.

Another post for another day…do we trust God? That’s probably where this whole conversation needs to start.

Love your momma who knows you can’t and shouldn’t trust just anyone, but surely wants you to have people in your life who you know you can trust…even when they’re imperfect. I hope you know you can trust me. And I hope you know you can trust Dane and each other.

(P.S. if trust needs to be rebuilt…the first step is realizing that it does and then being open and vulnerable to have those conversations with the person who you feel has broken trust. This requires an immense amount of love and grace, and honestly it can only happen through the miraculous healing of Jesus. And then I think it’s about baby steps…time…more love…more grace…time…=redemptive healing possible.)

Hang on to your youthful spirit

Dear Lydia,

Last night we put up your big pictures from the past all along our kitchen wall for your graduation party we’re having this weekend. And of course…all of a sudden it feels like time has rushed by. We’ve had so many days together. When I think of all the memories I couldn’t even recall everything we’ve done, the meals we’ve shared, the shows we’ve watched and the places we’ve gone. You’ve had a full childhood just as all children do I suppose.

Good days and bad. Hard times and times of fun and laughter. Times when we played hard and times when we worked hard. And lots of change. The changes in the 11 pictures I see hanging on my wall are incredible. I remember you at each phase. I don’t look at the old pictures much, but this week I’m glad they are hanging above the table where we eat because they are a reminder to me of the beautiful girl God made you to be.

These days you’re growing up fast. You’re in college, more independent it seems by the day. This is good and the way it should be. You’re headed to Ecuador to live for 3 months just a short 4 months from now. I’m so excited for you and yet realize that the day you leave will be really strange. It’s one thing to talk about adventures, dreams and plans and quite another to step on a plane by yourself to fly to another country! But I’m excited for you and pray and believe it will be life changing for you in a way that I could never give you back here at home.

As I look at your childhood pictures I see the spark in your eye, the smile and passion, life and energy of your youth. Ironically the pictures that are hanging are the ones that represent your life before your dad died. We have many good pictures of you from after that time as well, but I find it interesting that what I’m looking at is you before your greatest loss.

Loss has changed you. That’s how it works for everybody. You are not unique in this. Everyone will experience loss and everyone will be changed because of it.

I want to encourage you to remember the joy and spirit of your youth as you become a young adult. Yes you need to be responsible and get an education. Yes you will have bills to pay and eventually I hope and pray will have your own family to take care of. But in all of this growing up be sure to keep some of your youth with you.

Do you know what I feel when I go on a bike ride with Dane down the bike trail? I feel like a kid with my hair blowing in the wind. Do you know what I feel like when I take on any new adventure? I feel like a kid that is striking out into the great unknown wondering and excited about what I might do or experience. Yes I have adult responsibilities that I must fulfill…but I also still love to be outdoors, I still love to get wet, to ride my bike, to run, to notice flowers, to walk through the woods, to go new places and see new things.

The best way to not turn into an old grumpy person is to  hang on to your childhood in small ways all your life long. Never lose your wonder. Never lose your passion. Never lose your easy smile and expressive self. Never lose your sense of humor.

Take a long look at the older people in your life. You can tell real easily who has hung onto their childlike spirit and who hasn’t. Some people think that when you become an adult there is no longer room for child things. They’re wrong. Life can be very fun. Life can be full of adventure. Life is meant to be lived fully. When I look at your pictures I see fun, adventure and a little girl who was full of life.

Sometimes in the heaviness of life we lose this childlike part of ourselves. It’s only natural. Life can be very wearisome, a burden to bear at times. Real stuff happens and it hurts. There are some hard times and days when we wonder if we can even go on. There are tears to be shed and sorrow to be felt. It would be strange if we just glossed over that or acted like we didn’t feel any of that.

But ultimately…we all have a choice about where we choose to live. You can choose joy. You can always choose joy. Doesn’t depend one iota on your circumstances. It depends instead on a steady reliance in God and appreciating the beautiful life He has given you.

Remember the days when you were just grateful to play in the backyard no matter what the weather? Remember being caked in mud, or jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler on underneath? Remember swimming at Raging Rivers? Remember fires at Richard’s house? Remember watching videos in the car while we took long road trips? Or dancing around to videos you used to watch at home? Remember the shows you and Lauren used to make up and put on?

I have so many good memories of your childhood.

I hope you do too.

I have more pictures of you than of anyone on the face of the earth because I used to just snap pictures of you from moment to moment because your expressions could change and you were so photogenic.

I know in this season of life it may seem like all of that is a distant memory. It’s hard to transition from childhood to adulthood. Right now the adult part looks real enticing…independence, freedom, etc. Which is good by the way. But…in the transition don’t ever throw the baby out with the bath water. Hang on to the humor, the joy, the life, the fun, the good memories, the adventure and excitement of youth.

Just glance at your pictures this week as they hang on the wall. Look at that little girl’s eyes. I think you’ll see what I see.

I swear from the moment you were born you had a spark in your eye. And that red hair…well let’s just say you were never made to just blend in. You were made to shine.

Don’t you ever believe or act as if you don’t have value or allow yourself to be a wallflower. That’s not who you were created to be. You are not a dandelion my girlie…you are a beautiful sunflower. Stand tall and proud of who you are and shine.

Love your momma who feels a little misty eyed by a precious redheaded baby who has fast become a beautiful young woman. I can’t express strongly enough to you how behind you I am, no matter what, for always and forever. It’s almost your time to fly…I say spread those wings and soar baby girl.





summer 2009 335



Melissa, Lydia and Dad in the canoe



Lauren and Lydia jumping in the sprinkler





Ruth's camera July 2008 481




My Greatest Hurt

Dear Wren and Lydia,

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought today and would have to say at least for this day, the thing that has probably hurt me the most over the past 10 years and maybe even beyond are the times when I have felt judged by others.

It hurts to be misunderstood. To be talked badly about. Especially when those people are people you love.

I am not talking about something unusual to the human experience. I think it’s quite universal, sadly enough.

Often no apologies are made, but even if they are…the words have already been said and just kind of hang there.

I’m writing to you about this because…I am sure the apple never falls far from the tree and I know I’ve struggled with being judgmental my whole life. Maybe all of us do, I’m not sure. At least if we’re really honest with ourselves.

It was sobering for me to think this morning about the hurts I’ve felt over the past few years and to take an honest look at myself and realize that the stuff that I’ve felt done to me has also been stuff that I have surely done to others.

This is where grace begins. We see our own need for change, the reality that we can’t fix ourselves let alone anybody else. We ask God for help and somehow in the process we start to realize that others need grace too.

If you think about it, you probably make judgements about people all day long. How they look, what they eat, how they spend there time and money, how they talk, how they drive, on and on and on. We don’t even realize we are making judgments about other people it comes so naturally.

Is there a place for judgement? I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I grew up with a clear sense of right and wrong, rules and a high standard. Good…but also…tough, because it caused me to see everything in black and white terms, clear cut thinking, and real life isn’t like that at all.

We need space for gray areas. We need space for I don’t knows.

How many times do I wish someone who has hurt me would walk in my shoes for a bit and really see what my life is like or what I’ve been through? How many times do I wish that person would listen long enough to hear my story? And yet…I turn around and do the same to others.

The church is kind of known for being bad at this kind of thing. We are also hopefully known for love…but judgement is something that many have experienced in the church.

Whose place is it to make judgements about another? Do any of us have room to judge someone else? I wonder. I mean we can’t just check our brains at the door…but still I wonder.

God is our Judge. It seems to me from reading the bible that making judgements is something that is left in His court.

We also are told in the bible that the way we judge others is the way we will be judged. That thought alone should scare you to death! And it should cause you to want to excel in mercy and grace.

The only way I’ve found to get over the hurt of being judged is to pray for the person who judged me. This is not easy…but it is possible. In the process of praying I start to put myself in their shoes and see them from God’s view.

If we operate under the assumption that everyone is probably doing the best they can on any given day, we start to lower our expectations of perfection and see instead the beauty of redemption.

I have been challenged today to be more aware of the judgements I make about other people and to make efforts to stop. I’m asking God to help because I know good and well I can’t do that alone.

I’m also writing to you because as much as this kind of writing increases my vulnerability to being judged by others…I still believe that vulnerability and connection are more valuable than self protection.

When you are making choices about your life that fit with who you were made to be and you’re actively listening to the voice of God you can move forward with confidence no matter if other people think what you’re doing is the right thing or not.

There will always be naysayers. Most of the time…their naysaying is the layer over top of their jealousy. I know this because I’ve been there.

It’s important that we somehow train ourselves to encourage others, to lift them up, to rejoice with others, to love them and hope within us as strongly as possible that they will have the best they can have from God and that will take nothing away from us. There is no scarcity on God’s goodness.

I can’t change the hurts I’ve felt by being judged. They are real. But I can choose to take what I’ve learned from those hurts and make sure I pay forward kindness instead. I can take the high road. And in the process as I let go…God heals my heart and mind in ways that only He can.

Love your momma who knows you have and will face times when you are judged and misunderstood and it will hurt. And also knows that sometimes you will be the person who hurts others. Either way God’s grace is big enough to meet you at your point of need. Let Him be The Judge.