Yes... this is Graduation week around these parts and this is the first and last time that this will happen in this home. We have an Only Girlie and she is all Grace and Light and Lovely. She has been a gift-- A GIFT --to us from the very beginning, and every breath in between! The happy sighs, the sleepy shallow inhale and exhales, and even the jagged hard, gasping for air breaths, she has taught us much as we learned how to love, how to raise up a life, a whole person - trying to always point her to the One who gives Life every day.
So - in the midst of friends' graduations and parties, and her own end of the year/end of an era banquets and celebrations, while there is laundry to do, and parties to plan, corners to clean and company to prepare for - I decided that today was a good day to sit down and write her a letter...
Sure. Because I am not overly emotional and I have plenty of time for All the Things...
Last night was the first Graduation ceremony we will attend this week. The first of three - the last being her own. Before that event, we went to her DECA Banquet. She was President of her club this year and was honored to be named the DECA Member of the State... she has been involved in DECA for three years and it has taught her much. Much more than she even knows or recognizes right now and she didn't expect the tears. She didn't really think it would hit her hard - this End. So by the time we got to her BFFs' graduation, well - she was already mascara-smeared and runny-nosed. I wrote about these two yesterday here... amazing friends.
As a photographer and scrapbooker - I tend to capture memories through my lens and I love this kind of art. But after last night, I remembered that my mother had a tendency even in the middle of mothering three and working two jobs and juggling way too much (as us Moms tend to do!) - she found time to write a note or a letter on the important days. My favorite, and the one I still have and pull out every year, is the one she wrote me (and one for my Honey as well!) on our wedding day! I made a mental note, way back then, that I wanted to do that too! As a writer - I journal and blog and 'write letters'
Easy Peasy, right?
Just jot down how proud we are and how much we love her, how we have faith in her and the future He has for her... but these are things she knows! Thank God - she KNOWS... because that tagline God gave me this year is more than a tagline in this home and in these hearts. This is how we have lived life and raised her up. As we have aimed to Be Love, to Speak Life, and to Shine On... she has watched and learned...
So - after the Congratulations and the reminiscing, after the We're-so-proud's and the We-tried-not-to-Blink's... came the revelation that This. Can't. Be. Done.
This letter... this Releasing and Imparting into her all that I know now... all that we love about her and have learned from her -and from Him, as we tried to raise her up... I sat down to pen this message to reach into her heart - as if one card, one letter... or even one library could hold all the words and all the love that we have for her... it felt silly to even try!
She has been my heart beating on the outside... and I have always felt so honored to be her Mom. We share a connection that runs deep and speaks truth and shares joy... secrets can't be held for long and one glance of knowing can bring forth whatever is needed in the moment: tears or laughter... both flow freely. We somehow skipped out on the Western Culture right of passage... the rolling of eyes, the glaring, the attempt at doors slamming, words cutting, and hate radiating off of walls built high. I know I am fortunate for this... but don't think for a moment that that means we have been spared some Eucharisteos of our own. No - there have been times when the air was heavy with heartbreak and the walls were being built unaware.
But when Grace is poured out and an atmosphere of Peace is created on purpose... anger and unforgiveness can't abide for long. God has been gracious... and through the ups and downs, through every season - the good and the
So the letter will have to be Part One of an ongoing series and much of it is private... for her eyes only. But I will press on and write down the summary of what I have learned in this season - during these last 13 years of her schooling:
You never stop learning, but it can be your choice how many lessons you will need in order to actually KNOW something...
Pay Attention and Live Out Loud...
Take notes... in class, in life, on all topics, through all seasons...
Study - books and people and Him and His ways...
Be Yourself -your TRUE self! If you don't know who you are... Study you and ask Him... and give yourself some Grace!
Find and Follow your Passion... no matter where it leads (gasp... for real though, baby!)
Take Risks - for you were made for adventure!
Live like you are a Gift... to us, to others, to Him
- because you are! Oh how you are!
Lastly - as you snapped that sad 'last school lunch ever' picture and Instagrammed it yesterday, I was remembering your first ever school lunch and how it was first grade and we packed a lunch together the night before... You were so unsure and shy - barely using your words in front of others and the thought of you being gone from me all day was almost too much to bare - for you and for me... I remembered that after I laid with you and prayed with you and tickled your back and sang you to sleep (Thank you, btw, for still asking me to do this from time to time... you just have no idea what it does to this Mama's heart!)...
...After you slipped off to sleep, sweetly breathing in and out, clinging hard to the safety of VanillaBear, with your curls all messy around your head like a crown of glory, I left the comfort of snuggling close and wrote a little note of letting go, and I slipped it into your lunch box.
I believe it to be true today... as much or more than it was on that day so long ago, and this is what it said:
"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." ~A. A. MilnePromise me, girlie... you'll always remember!
Be Love. Speak Life. Shine On.