Monday, May 22, 2017

For Olivia

She is my Olivia-girl. My sixteen year old first-born, my feminine comrade and companion, my daughter-friend.

And she is my most devoted blog reader, looking over past posts and pictures with regularity. She loves family tradition, documentation, and consistency, and she KNOWS I haven't posted her birthday pics yet! 

But I haven't forgotten. (Plus we still want to do a little photo shoot to commemorate this sweet year of life.) These are from a few celebrations she had with family and friends over the course of a few days. The last set were taken on a whim in the middle of a school day.  

So here you go, Liv...

You are loved and admired by your brothers...

...loved by your Auntie and Grandma,
by extended family in the North,

...loved, adored, and treasured by Dad and me.

And your friends, too... They cherish your friendship!

You are the best to venture with; you are always game for finding secret places, and for laughing over odd people doing odd things. You make the best impersonations, and have a way of making us relive the good times! 

(Won't we always remember how I almost got assaulted by a whiskered woman for taking this picture?! Wait, are you a Kennedy?)

You appreciate simplicity and find beauty in people and in relationships.
You make the world lovelier with your art and music, your tender heart, and respectful conduct.

You are devoted to the most important things in life, hard working and yet fun-loving.

You are at peace, and you strive to bring peace.

You are confident. 
You seek to understand true freedom, but display maturity with your consideration in that freedom.

You feel the allure of beautiful places and things, a common bond we share.
You partner with me and set aside obligation and responsibility to consume and create beauty.

If memories can be art, you've created 16 years of beautiful art with me.

Never give up your JOY in life, never let another steal your PEACE.
Never lose the IDENTITY you have in Christ...

... Because these just might be your secret weapons.

I have watched your faithful study of God's Word.
Keep searching for God in the pages of His Word; know that when you seek Him with all your heart, you will surely find Him.

Know that God is all around, near to you, never leaving.
He loves you with an everlasting love.

Live your life fully, Olivia, and chase hard after the dreams and the desires God has put in your heart for His glory. 

And yet, live your life with open hands of praise. Hold your ambitions with open hands, too. When life doesn't go as expected, know that His ways and His plans are higher than yours, and He can be trusted always.

Keep your eyes on eternity, fixed on Jesus Christ who is the author and perfecter of your faith.

My heart is big for you, Olivia. I want to be your most passionate cheerleader in life! You are remarkably gifted and you have so much potential, and we are incredibly proud of who you are and who you are becoming!

I will always cheer for the good things you have and do in life-- you can count on that. I want to remind you, though, that your worth far more than your accomplishments, far more than your talents. Your value is not defined by your beauty or your brains. It's more than what people think of you or how you build your reputation. 

I want to go deeper than just cheering and waving and smiling. There are difficult realities to life that await, and I would do you such harm by neglecting to warn and prepare you. There are battles that lay ahead, sometimes hidden behind unexpected corners. 

I already told you how I blurted out to a group of people a while ago that we need to be training up warrior women. Yes, warriors. Strong, resolute, and sometimes bloodied warrior women are desperately needed. We talked about it briefly in the car on the way to school. I told you how I wished I had bloodied my knuckles on some boys who harassed, disrespected, and regularly groped me in the crowded hallways of my high school. I let them and others convince me that things would get worse if I fought back, and I feared not being believed or being humiliated even further if nothing was done by others to protect me. The fear of getting in trouble or of embarrassing my family (I know, how twisted!) was greater than the respect I had for myself. Go ahead, Olivia, bloody your knuckles; kick and scream and make a scene. Run. Warrior style. 

Don't be overcome by lies. Be wise and savvy to the ways of the world, and know that you can be tough. There's no telling what your battles may be, but keep telling yourself that you are worth more than the evil or the lies some would want to harm you with. Know that you can always be stronger, braver, bolder. Know that you can learn anything, drive anything, conceal carry if you need to.

Sounds extreme? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Being tough and brave in the midst of fear is still not enough. God calls you to even stronger skills!

I think the church often trains up girls to fit a certain (faulty) definition of femininity that is soft and tender, "protected." This is not true femininity. You need to be suited up for battle with armor; you need to know the tricks of your enemy, and you need to know the battle plan of your Commander.

Much more than what you can see and feel and comprehend, the life we live is a battle fought in the spiritual realm. Let me tell you, it's a scary world and it's getting scarier all the time. Persecution and suffering is promised, and you need to be prepared. I don't know: your fight could be in the midst of armies, it could be against people or false teachers/leaders, it could be within the four walls of your house, or a battle in the crevices of your heart. 

But be confident in this: God gives you protection, and He is with you to the end.

You know about the armor of God, but please don't forget! The belt of truth will give you confident protection all around by KNOWING who your God is, and what He promises in Christ. Train hard for battle by knowing the Word. The breastplate of righteousness causes insecurity to vanish, so put it on in order to stand firm against the lies of the devil. When accusers come your way, or when the Accuser threatens to shake you and break you, wanting nothing more than to destroy your faith in God or convince you of unworthiness, scream back with full conviction that your God is greater still. 

"So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares you deserve death and hell, tell him this: 'I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is JESUS CHRIST, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!'" (Martin Luther)

Scream that into your dark battlefield, or your pillow, if you need to.

Then put on the shoes that God gives you. They will make you ready with the gospel of PEACE. You will need the gospel of peace in your life, and your shoes will enable you to bring it to others too. You can run with those shoes wherever God takes you, and you can hold up your shield as you run. Your shield is your faith, and it will extinguish all the fiery javelins which the devil throws your way to burn you up. Hold it tight in one hand, and in the other hold your sword. This is the Word of God, your ultimate power-tool.

Also, God gives you a special helmet, Olivia. It's an exceptional gift no one can take away. That helmet is salvation, and someday it will be exchanged for a crown.

Sweetheart, you may fight hard and you may get weary. Maybe you will one day see your hollow eyes looking back at you in the mirror, or maybe they will be swollen from tears. When you feel like giving up the fight, when you feel all is lost, remember this: God is always with you, he gathers your tears in His bottle, and He wraps you in His care. Go to him for comfort. Find your strength in Him, day by day, moment by moment. He gives you Himself. Walk with Him.

There are so many things in my heart to share with you. The task of raising a human being is seemingly too great at times. If there is only one thing I could impart to you, it is this: Jesus Christ is where we find our hope, satisfaction, and eternal life! He is enough. Though I fail as a mother, and we fail as human beings, we are perfected sisters at the foot of the cross till the day we are glorified princesses in heaven together with God! That's how good God is to us!

He is the redeemer of life. Your story may be one of a warrior girl who has seen hardship and pain. You may come to the finish line, the end of the battle, all bloodied and broken. That's OK. It will be worth it.

Take heart! The victory is already won! Your story, then, no matter what, is already a story of victory!

Love you, baby doll.


1 comment:

I'd love to hear from you...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...