November 27, 2016

Dear Hattie, Month 24, er . . . 27 . . . or whatever

Dear Hattie,

I've prayed with you almost every night of your life. When you were brand new, you'd sometimes already be asleep when I laid you down, but I'd still sing the doxology and pray with you. I wanted to make sure you never knew any different. I want to make sure that talking to Jesus is as natural for you as talking to me or Dad.

You're hitting that age now where you're beginning to try and sing along with the hymns and choruses I've been singing you for the last 2 years. You  have no idea what the words mean, but that doesn't really matter. I just want them lodged in your brain (alongside the complete soundtrack of Frozen and various Taylor Swift lyrics) so they'll be there when you are old enough to understand them.

At bedtime, we thank God for all of the good things He gives us. We pray that you'll come to know who Jesus is at an early age. We pray that He'll make you kind and compassionate and that He'll make you brave. I always pray that He'll make me equal to the task . . . that I'll be the kind of mother you need in order to become all of these things.

A couple of weeks ago, I taught you the prayer that I taught your brothers and sister when they first started talking: "Jesus, Thank you. I love you. Amen."

Shortly after that, I went upstairs to check on you guys. Claire was fast asleep, but I was standing outside your door and could hear you in your bed saying over and over, "Sesus, Ank ou. Lol ou."

Jesus, Thank you. I love you.
Thank you. I love you.
Thank you. I love you.

I thank Jesus for YOU every day, my sweet girl.


November 11, 2016

I don't know {about the morning after}

The morning after the election, Jack came downstairs and found me in the laundry room and just stared at me. He didn't even need to ask. "He won," I said.

"Really? Even Michigan?"

"I don't know yet."

"Did he win both the electoral and popular votes?"

"It's close. I don't know."

"I don't know." That was my answer a lot over the last few days. This week was filled with fielding tough questions from my kids that I wasn't prepared to handle. Talking through privilege and responsibility with them. Being thankful they aren't old enough to be on Facebook, so that I can preserve the innocence with which they view some of the people we know . . . from both sides. We had countless conversations to try and help them empathize with voters who feel and believe differently than we do. It's just been heavy.

We watched his acceptance speech, which was uncharacteristically humble. That afternoon, we watched her concession speech and she nailed it.

The me from 2012 would be telling 2016 me to get a grip. The candidate I voted for in 2012 didn't win either. It's JUST an election and we'll have another one in 4 years. But 2016 me is trying to shape older, more perceptive hearts than the 2012 me was. And this loss just felt different.

Thank you, God, for the opportunity to advocate for those who need a voice and the chance to help my kids develop empathy and compassion.

November 8, 2016

On the Importance of Voting

We just got back from our polling place, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it went. It took less than 10 minutes to vote - start to finish. I might actually have a productive morning! (Edited to add: I did NOT have a productive morning.)

Choosing a candidate this year wasn't hard for me. I know a lot of people who have been burdened by this decision, and even this morning were still trying to determine how they would cast their vote. I wasn't one of those people. 

I've known how I would vote since the candidates for both major parties were officially nominated. There's been a general sentiment in my social circles of "choosing between the lesser of two evils" but that was never the case for me. I knew who I thought was best suited for the job and ran the best campaign (or as I like to refer to it: job interview) and I was a tiny bit excited to fill out my ballot. This candidate and I definitely don't see eye to eye on every issue, but I didn't lose a minute of sleep over my decision.

On the way home, despite my enthusiasm about voting (and greater enthusiasm over the end of the rhetoric surrounding this election cycle), I was filled with this sense that the act of voting really didn't make a difference. I said to Kyle, "If we hadn't just done that, the outcome of today's election wouldn't be any different than it will be." And you guys . . . I am right. The election won't come down to a single vote. And he responded exactly as you would expect: "But what if millions of people felt that way?"

Of course I know that, but I've been thinking a lot more about it since then. Why is it important to vote?

Here's what I've decided: It's important for me to vote because we're all in this together, and if I'm not voting, I'm not holding up my end of the bargain. When I filled in the bubble on the ballot (with a wiggly two-year-old in my arms), I'm telling my fellow Americans that if you show up to have your say then I will, too. Our individual votes are worthless. Our combined votes will steer a nation.

My vote this morning was because I feel that one particular person is best suited for the presidency, but it was also for you. I voted because you're going to vote too, and I don't want it to go to waste. I think voting is the ultimate act of solidarity, even if we're voting for different candidates. If we don't all do it, we're dropping the ball. We're letting each other down.  It's somewhat paradoxical, but the truth is that our individual voices can't be heard unless we're all speaking out.

There are dozens of other reasons to vote, and I'm certainly not saying that this is the only reason. But for me, not letting you all down is the most important.