Isn't it funny how the body is willing, but the mind won't cooperate when it's time for sleep? Today was a hectic day at the ministry - many projects to finish and a few that needed to begin. My big project this week is writing a feasibility study and business plan for a start-up social enterprise catering business. You would think that after hours of executive summaries, market research, sales and forecasting, the mind would be ready to follow the body to bed.
As tired I was physically, I could hardly drag myself into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. But I just couldn't turn off my mind. Thoughts were tumbling around of my 17 year old daughter, Olivia. In less than one month, she will be graduating from high school. This weekend is her Senior Prom -- and you know how hectic (and expensive) that is. My mind was reeling with last-minute "to do's to prepare her -- Saturday will be one of our wildest days this Spring, with all the appointments for nails, makeup, hair and photos before the 'big night" - and let's not forget about that long night of waiting up until the wee hours to hear about all the dances, all the fun, all the memories that she will not soon forget.
But my mind kept going back to life with Olivia and how quickly the time has flown by. I really can't believe she will be in college this Fall. It seems like just last week she was wearing little pink dresses and big bows and smiling that sweet smile that would melt any Mothers' heart. I know that many folks think they have the perfect child. I haven't really ever thought of any of my children as perfect. But I truly believe that God put Olivia in the center of our family (middle child) as a balance, a peacemaker, a calm in the eye of the storm. She is darn near perfect in that regard. She is easy going, logical, caring and tender. And she cares deeply about things. Little things that others her age may have missed.
And then I remembered the letter. The letter that I had begun to write her about life. The letter that I was going to place in her Senior Yearbook, only later to find out that it would have cost me over $400 to place there. So I had stopped in mid-sentence and tucked it away on my laptop until I could figure out how to raise that dough only to discover it was near impossible right now.
So, with no sleep in sight for a while, I pulled up the letter on my laptop and I prayed. "God, please give me the words to say to Olivia. The words I would say if it was the very last thing I could ever express to this dear, sweet child of mine." And this is how it flowed:
We have attempted to provide you with insight into the important things in life, and we have been proud to see them take root, firmly planted deep within you; to be good, always helpful to other people; to be fair, always treating others equally; to have a positive attitude at all times; to always make things right when they are wrong; to know what talents God has given you, and then to use them for His glory. To set goals for yourself and to be not be afraid to work hard to achieve your goals; to choose friends wisely and then to honor those friendships; and to particularly respect and love your elders. To always put God first in all things.
And now begins the harder part of being parents - it is time for you to use those beautiful wings that have been developing all along the way. And so we offer these words of encouragement and advice as you move to the next stage of life; Know yourself well, listen to your emotions and adhere to your values. Don’t be afraid to stick to your beliefs, to not follow the majority when the majority is wrong. Enter into a relationship with someone worthy of yourself, and then love this person unconditionally. And always remember to seek God’s will for your life in all you choose to do and to be.
In what we hoped to accomplish in raising you, if any of these slipped by while we were all so busy, we have a deep belief that you somehow know them anyway. One thing we are sure of is that we have loved you every second of your life, we have supported you at all times, and we will continue to love everything about you every moment of every day.
Congratulations, sweet Olivia. We are so very proud to call you our daughter.
Mom and Dad