Dear Caleb, Josh, Michael, Naomi and Grace:
I write to you today in the wake of a tragedy in our country, when dozens of innocent children died because we live in a broken world. I write to you today in the midst of grief over the impending death of my grandfather–a man who was a “constant” for me growing up and whose presence gave me a sense of normalcy in a world where everything around me was anything but normal. And I write to you today amid new life on our farm–where brand new babies entered into our flock–giving hope of new life, new love and miracles.
My heart aches for you, even though you are here with me. You are growing up in a world nothing like it was. The days of dropping in on neighbors for a slice of pie, or sending a note to a friend “just because” are fading. The innocence of youth, the slow pace of life, the value of human relationships, family evenings by the fire, serving strangers in need…dissolving into the past as though they didn’t exist. The culture you live in values movie stars, famous politicians, money and material wealth. It suggests that true success comes from going to school all day, obediently completing hours of homework each night, participating in sports and extracurricular activities, only to grow up, go to college, get a job, and work hard to achieve affluence and influence in order to assure that a certain “comfort level” is achieved. Continue the cycle. Strive for happiness, only made possible by doing what feels good, living in the moment.
I am here to remind you that this is not true success. Accomplishment is not measured by how many sports you play, how smart you are, or eventually, what job you have or how much money you earn. True success is not achieved by working long hours so you can bring home more money to spend on more things that you really don’t need. True success is not measured in human standards.
Do you want to know the key to contentment? Serve others, and love them. Spend your time helping those in need, watching smiles form on the faces of those you influence by your deeds, and you will find yourself filled with an inexplicable joy that cannot be replicated by anything else.
I want you to know I am honored to be your mom. I am filled with joy spending time with you, striving to ensure you grow up with a solid head on your shoulders and a compassionate heart in your bosom. Yes, I yell at you. Yes, I have laid my head on my pillow many nights regretting how my day played out. Yes, I have failed you in countless ways. But I hope you grow up knowing that I cherish each of you as a special treasure, a gem worth far more than anything measured by material standards. You are created by God, adored by God, and are the apple of His eye. No matter what failures or disappointments you may have, remember that: you are the apple of His eye. Nothing you do (or fail to do) is going to change His love for you, and that goes for me as well. I anticipate pain in the future. You’re not perfect; neither am I. We are broken beings, striving to live better lives, but falling short of perfection. And that’s ok. My love for you surpasses all understanding. It is only made possible by my love for God and His influence in my life.
So, with that, I tell you: I don’t care what you do for a job when you grow up. I don’t care if you have a lot of money or you drive a nice car or you are a brilliant scientist or mathematician. I care that you love the Lord, that you live your life serving others, feeling others’ pain, and that you spend the most time with your families as possible. If I get to the end of my life, and you are all doing menial jobs but you are happy, content, loving, and serving God, I will be the most proud mother in the world. I promise you.
When I get to the other side, I will eagerly await your arrival. I will be waiting in heaven, that glorious place, with open arms, waiting for my priceless treasures to arrive. Make sure you get there. And if, by circumstances out of our control, you are there before me, just know…I am coming. Remember: this life is but a blink of an eye. Your real life starts the moment you pass from this life into the next. That is when true life begins.
I love each of you more than you will ever know!