A letter to my college kid

Dear daughter,

The leaves are falling fast here the past couple of weeks, as the trees in our backyard prepare for a different season. I wonder if the colors are changing for you in the Midwest. You’ve talked of heading to a pumpkin patch with friends this weekend, and I’m jealous. I feel as if we’ve been robbed of the beauty of fall in the Northwest this year with the freak September snow storm and rainy, windy October days. 

But so much more than the season has changed for our family since your departure for college. We talk to you over Facetime instead of over the dinner table. The people you share your meals and bathroom and TV time with aren’t your siblings anymore. We have different schedules in different time zones.

And that’s okay.

We knew your transition to college would bring about change. And you’ve navigated these past few months with such courage and class. You’ve secured a job and joined clubs and put yourself out there to build friendships. You’ve embarked on road trips and spent special time with your grandparents. You’ve discovered that football games can be fun and established yourself in a faith community and taken advantage of opportunities to travel. 

And I see you are doing more than okay.

Saying I’m proud of you doesn’t quite capture all the emotions in my heart. I’m inspired by you. As you know, your momma has not always had a great relationship with change. It’s been a trigger (not the cause, let me make that clear) of anxiety and worry in my life. Sure, there have been tears and moments of loneliness for both of us along the way. And there will be more. But I’m learning through your eyes of all the benefits and blessings that are brought about by change. 

And I’m confident we’re both going to be okay.

Be assured of this, though, you are missed. We miss your smile and your passion to do family activities, as well as your role as peacemaker in our home. I miss talking about books you’re reading for school and snuggling on the couch for viewings of “This Is Us.” Your sister misses rockin’ out during your car rides to school in the morning. Your dad misses talking current events and sharing pizza and movies on Friday nights. Your brother misses sharing the latest memes when you pick him up from school in Macky-Boi (his exact words and spelling). 

Even though your absence is deeply felt,  let me affirm you in something that I need to be reminded of daily… Change is okay

It’s okay to become a different person than you were before leaving for college.
It’s okay to take tough classes and be challenged and stretched and not get all As.
It’s okay to change your mind or political party or position on issues.
It’s okay to make friends from all walks of life and embrace them for their uniqueness.
It’s okay to spend some money on travel and making memories and bringing joy to others.
It’s okay to love with your whole heart, even if it means the chance it might break.
It’s okay to let the tears flow as you figure out how to make this transition to adulthood.
It’s okay to wrestle with your faith and ask questions and have doubts.
It’s okay to connect to God in different ways than your parents or your peers.
It’s okay to evolve into the person you were uniquely created to be.

Actually it’s more than okay. A positive attitude toward change is essential to your health and growth as an individual. It means you’re awake and alive and paying attention to how God is working in the world and people around you.

And about those trees in the yard that are losing their leaves – they are changing for sure. And they’re going to be okay. Their roots go deep in familiar soil, grounded by a loving Creator, always waiting to welcome you home.

Kid Lit favorites (Part 2)

I get such a thrill when someone asks me for a book recommendation. It’s a serious responsibility, considering that time is precious, attention spans are short, and competition with screens is fierce.

My 10-year-old niece recently asked for some book suggestions, so I jumped at the chance to rack my brain for the best Kid Lit I had encountered lately. In doing so, I noticed that many revolved around the theme of survival. How to get through adolescence and school years. How to survive literally in new and oftentimes untamed lands. How to cope with bad things that happen to us or those we love. Continue reading “Kid Lit favorites (Part 2)”

What’s Saving My Life This Summer [Part 2]

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”
– Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Between the resuming of jobs, back-to-school activities, and two family birthdays in September, summer break seems to be a distant memory. It was time well-spent with family, as well as days engrossed in memoirs and middle school literature, historical fiction and religious texts. I didn’t set out to read books along one particular idea this past season, but it seemed as if an overarching theme tied them together: understanding. Continue reading “What’s Saving My Life This Summer [Part 2]”

What’s saving my life this summer [Part 1]

Awwww, summer.

Long, leisurely days of plentiful sunshine, sweet tea, flip flops and afternoon naps.

Until last week. That’s when a haze took over the area due to multiple wildfires in our region. Smoky skies (and the dangerous air quality) forced most of us living in the Pacific Northwest inside the past few days.

For me, that’s meant more time to read, watch movies with the family and catch up on podcasts. The topic of “What’s Saving My Life” was discussed during one of these podcasts. And then a book I finished also mentioned this idea. It seemed to be no coincidence. Continue reading “What’s saving my life this summer [Part 1]”

A purposeful patchwork

This month I received an incredibly special gift, a quilt created by my 14-year-old daughter. I knew it was coming as Rachel and I picked out the fabric together, giving careful attention to color, style and texture. She provided me with weekly updates–from cutting to stitching to tying–during her school quilting class. There was literal blood (being stabbed by needles), sweat (meeting a deadline right before spring break ended) and tears (cutting fabric the wrong size) involved in the process.

When I was presented with this gift, Rachel was quick to point out that the end product was not perfect. But knowing the steps she went through to get it to this state made it even more meaningful. Continue reading “A purposeful patchwork”


For nearly 13 years, I’ve had in my possession a particular rock. Faded letters are written in silver on the smooth, gray surface – they spell the word, “Listen.”

Since receiving it at a conference years ago, the oval-shaped stone has traveled in my purse, sat on the kitchen window ledge, resided on my nightstand. It has survived spring cleanings, house purges and many moves. It currently is nestled in a bowl on my dresser, right next to where I place my wedding ring each evening. Continue reading “Listening”

On participation and celebration

The gym was loud and crowded and a bit chaotic. High school students of all shapes, sizes and skill levels took to the court to warm up and wave at those watching in the bleachers.

My oldest daughter was among the group on the floor as part of the Unified basketball league, a program that combines Special Olympics athletes with partners for competition against other high school teams. Continue reading “On participation and celebration”