A Dream for Kitty (on her High School Graduation)

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Kitty,

I know you don’t like to be called Kitty any more. You have grown into a young woman who has the world in front of her. A sea of expectations, hopes, fears, and dreams. A commander of your destiny who will choose to battle the storms and find a new country for herself. Bold, curious, and determined, you have a bright future.

Such a person really shouldn’t be call Kitty.

But I don’t see you that way. To me, you will always be, to some degree, that little girl sitting in that van with a ridiculous number of pets in it. With brown hair and tender eyes, that little girl’s sweet disposition shined through. A tender soul who looked at life with curiosity and a healthy dose of caution.

That little girl visited us often. I remember when she visited us in our apartment in Knoxville. I remember when she lived in our basement, when she drove a car for the first time, when she pursued her first job. Soon, I will remember when she graduated High School and moved into a strange and exciting world.

Please permit and old man like me to see you as a little girl and, because I love the name, to call you Kitty.

What should I say to you? How do I encapsulate all of the hopes, fears, and joys I feel for you in a single letter? Even for an old man like me, this is too grand a task. Your life cannot be wrapped up in a few fumbling words, even if I wish it could. The tender affections I feel for you and the deep hopes I hold for you could fill volumes and yet would not fully describe them.

When God sat down to create the world, he had many things on his mind. The molding of atoms and galaxies. He hand-carved the Earth and threw it gently into its orbit. He formed the first seeds and scattered them over the whole Earth. He then worked on men and women. Even as he gathered the dust up to make Adam he pondered the people who would come from what he was doing. God has a nostalgic side.

He thought of you. Deep in his enormous heart a fountain of joys poured out as he considered the way you would walk and the funny things you would say. He cried quietly about your hurts and laughed with you at the joys you would have. He chose to love you deeply and to hold you close to his heart.

He also took a bit of that affection and was kind enough to give it to me. What a sweet gift!

From that tender place in my heart, I see a future for you. That future has not happened, but I pray for it. Allow an old man like me to show you what I hope for you.

Love Jesus (Choose your God Well)

Kitty, give your heart wholly to Jesus. My affection for you is a tiny spark that was flung from the inferno of his affection. He walked through a dark and painful world out of his love for you. He died for you. One of the stunning revelations we will experience on crossing into Heaven will be the deep and tender care he has for us. Love him!

Love Your Husband (Choose your Husband Well)

God knows I am very pro-marriage. There are few more beautiful things in the world than a sweet marriage. But there also few uglier things than terrible marriage. Most awful marriages could have been prevented while only a few of them can be fixed.

The fact is, most people don’t change. I mean the core of them. Sure some surface things are refined in life, but most of the deepest parts of us are fixed and we cannot change them, even when we want to. Most people do mean to be faithful when they marry, but they are then are unwilling to deeply and truly love when the challenge is put to them.

Kitty, one day soon a young man will walk into your life and will see you and see a glimpse of how precious you are. He will honestly and deeply desire you. This is a good thing! He will pour his creativity and heart into winning you. This too is good! He will be sincere and it will feel really good that he wants you that passionately. This is wonderful as well!

But his sincerity and desire are not good enough. It takes more than good intentions to be a good husband. Please be careful. Take your time. Bring in trusted adults with stable marriages to look him over and to see what substance there is to him. It will be so wonderful to see you happily in love. I want that to last a lifetime. Be careful.

Love Your Life

Soon you will have the wonderful privilege of making big decisions. As you stand at the crossroad you will realize that when you choose one path, you are choosing not to go down another. If you want to become a doctor you can’t simultaneously become an interior designer. God gave you a limited life in this world and you will have to let things go to fully embrace what is good.

Don’t be afraid. We have all faced this.

When you choose, throw your heart into that choice. None of the choices are wrong, but give yourself to your choice and pursue it with passion. Pray about it. God gives wisdom to those who ask.

Holiness and Joy are the Same Thing

You will be presented choices that will look like God is holding a joy away from you: that if you do the right thing you will be choosing misery.

That is a lie.

Certainly you will suffer for doing the right thing. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hung from a gallows naked for his choices. The Apostle Peter was crucified upside down for his choices. Were they fools?

No, they suffered because they believe that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Jesus commended us to not “store up treasure on Earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but to store up treasures in Heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal.”

The fact is, your God loves you and the rules he has placed are there because he loves you. The guard rails at the Grand Canyon are not limitations for you, they are guides to keep you safe. Remember, holiness and joy are the same thing.

In Closing

Well, I seem to be rambling a bit. Kitty, you have a bright future that is full of joys and sorrows that you cannot imagine. I don’t know what they will be but I promise you this: as long as I am able to, I will walk them with you. To the extent I am able to support you and care for you as you strike out in this world, I will do it.

In this way, I am acting like my Father. He too will walk with you. Unlike me, he knows what is coming and is already preparing you for it. Unlike me, he is never out of resources to help you. Unlike me, he will not die and cannot be stopped. He will never be sick and he will never sin against you. Trust me a little bit. Trust him a lot.

Kitty, I am so excited to see what this life has for you. Permit me to take part in your journey.

-Chip

The lovely image above is courtesy of Ephriam Ragasa and is used with permission

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How to Write a Great Mother’s Day Blog Post

4588373098_13a274e509_bI have the best mom in the world. Nothing makes me happier than to write a nice blog post discussing how wonderful she is. Yet many a blogger will spend the next week wondering, pondering, and agonizing over this difficult question: What do I write for Mother’s Day? One of the most precious and nuanced holidays of them all.

And nuanced is not really a blogger’s thing.

You see, we like flashy and attention getting. You don’t get followers for being right, but for being interesting. Keeping things interesting on Mother’s Day is a challenge.

The cynical approach is very flashy. Lambast motherhood as an institution and hang out all of the dirty laundry from your childhood. Tell all those things that your mom failed you in and then exaggerate (we are blogging after all) the impact. By the end of that post the UN will be voting on human rights violations against your mother. I hope she likes the Hague.

While this approach may get you followers, it presents the very real difficulty that your own mother probably reads your blog occasionally. She will certainly read it when reporters start calling her about her recent human rights violations. Let’s face it, your life gets pretty rough after your mom sees that blog post.

So you decide to go with the more sentimental approach. Besides, you like your mom and unless you write a recipe blog, she cooks better than you do. Yes, you will write the sweetest, sappiest, lovey-dovey blog post ever.

But you run into trouble right from the start. First, you realize that you became a blogger because you are a cynical malcontent and this temperament does not lend itself to sweetness. Second, because of your previous work, everyone will know that this sappy post is simply an attempt to remain invited to Thanksgiving (this charge is difficult to resist because it is true). Third, you are still a cynical malcontent. Fourth, all of the arts that lend themselves to happy feelings like poetry and music are not generally practiced by bloggers. Fifth, you actually are more interested in the upcoming Godzilla movie than you are in Mother’s Day.

Thus, your dilemma. What should you say? Never fear, my friend.

First, let us reverse engineer Mother’s Day. Stop asking what your mother wants out of Mother’s Day and ask what it is YOU want out of Mother’s Day. Let’s be real, you want to maintain your relationship with your mom. The process of maintenance was going just fine until a day with these….expectations…arrived. Suddenly, you know she wants special treatment. So to maintain your relationship with her means putting extra effort into that day.

But you would have become a reporter or an author if you wanted to actually WORK HARD on writing. No, you want to put the minimum effort in. The trick lies in finding an appropriate tone for your blog post that doesn’t feel insincere and yet allows you to say something nice to your mom. Remember, Thanksgiving may be on the line.

The post will need to be sufficiently long. People (and by people, I mean your mom) often feel that length means you put more effort in and thus, have made a more meaningful post for her. You can probably fill that length with the usual meaningless banter that you fill most other blog posts with, just make a reference to motherhood every few sentences. She probably doesn’t like your blog anyway so hopefully she will skim.

Remember that she will read the opening sentence, so be careful that it is appropriately sweet (I know it’s hard, just do it). Try to avoid references throughout to plagues, death, terrorism, wars, and your hygiene habits. It is difficult to even pretend you have a sweet blog post for your mother with content like that.

Finally, the most important part. Work hard to make the last line count. It is safer to keep it generic, but not too generic. For this, I think you will need to know your mom and tailor the final line specifically for her. Remember that for the effort you are putting into this post, you can avoid spending actual money on something for your mom. You’re a blogger so you are cheap, poor, or both. Think of this as a chance to save serious money and then you can write a whole post later about those wimps that covered their lack of sentiment up with an enormous amount of flowers. What losers!

And that is all you need. Keep it simple. Keep it cynical. Keep your ending good.

Thanks Mom! I love you and I’m so glad you’re my mom!

-Chip

P.S. All joking aside. I do love my mom very much and remain hopeful that I am still invited to Thanksgiving.