Tag: Daughters

Dear America

Dear America,

Up until the early hours of Wednesday morning, I thought I was going to address this letter to Madam President.

Oh, from what lofty heights we fall.

I don’t know what to say, my friends. And yet, I don’t know how to stay silent. The words spill from the overflow of my heart.

Fear. That is the word I hear being repeated over and over today, as we transition to a new presidency. People have come into work crying. Some are questioning whether the things that define them have now made it unsafe to live in this country.

And it seems that a good chunk of the Christian community is a little too quick to brush off such sentiment with hurried reassurances that as long as God sits on His throne, we have nothing to fear.

This is true. He is still King and He is still Lord of my broken heart.

But, America.

Jesus wept.

Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.

John 11: 30-35 (NASB)

As a witness to the unspeakable grief of friends and family, Jesus wept. Jesus wept despite knowing, more certainly than anyone else ever has, that this story, that no story, ends in death. So perhaps grief and fear are not one and the same but ultimately, the tears of Christ remind me that we are entitled to sadness.

Remember that, America. It’s okay to be sad. We can take a moment to mourn the future we had planned and process the reality of the present.

And because He is our perfect example, we can turn to Jesus to show us what to do in the midst of our tears.

So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.”

John 11: 41 (NASB)

I wonder if I’ve been staring at this glass ceiling for so long that I have neglected to look heavenward. Maybe we all have. But if we look to the Lord in prayer, we can say with full confidence that He hears us.

America. Land that I love. God hears us.

And since He hears us, we can go forth and do. Because after Jesus prays, He calls Lazarus from the dead.

Death is not the end of our story.

I do not pretend to have the wisdom to know what will heal the divisive wounds left on this nation but I remember what Scripture tells us: There is no fear in love.

Some of us wonder what exactly people are so scared of today. And of course, much of it centers on policies and promises and potential reforms. But as I watched the numbers pour in last night, the thing I was most afraid of was an environment of hatred. A pervasive and debilitating allowance for intolerance.

But love is a choice, America. And no matter who is in office, we can choose to love.

They say love is blind but I don’t know if that’s true. I think love sees full well the faults and flaws of its beloved. But it chooses to love anyway.

Which is why I think we’re called to love our neighbors, America, even if we don’t agree with them. Our neighbors of color who are afraid of having years of progress erased. Our Muslim neighbors who maybe thought twice before donning a hijab today. Our LGBT neighbors who don’t know if there is enough grace left in this country for them. Our neighbors across party lines. Our neighbors who hate us and what we stand for.

Oh yes, America, even them. It is perhaps the hardest choice we will have to make but if Jesus chose love on the cross for us while we were yet sinners, I think we need to do the same.

And maybe this is too much to include in an open letter to the United States but to the daughters I hope to one day mother. My precious girls. In this life you will see unthinkable evil and experience grave injustice. Fight against it. Stand in the gap with the unwavering conviction that you are dearly loved and uniquely capable. And while I pray that I will be someone you can look to in uncertain times, I know the better bet is Jesus. Fix your gaze on the one who sits at the right hand of your Father in Heaven.

Because there are no ceilings in the kingdom of heaven, my dears.

There are people who want to leave you, America. I will not. I pledge my allegiance to this flag.

But it is God in whom I trust.

God bless you, America.

Love always,


I Get It From My Mama

I come from a long line of strong women.

And for the longest time, I thought that was because of my dad.

I grew up halfway across the world from all four of my grandparents but my dad’s mom came to live with us twice when I was little. She’s the center of some of my favorite childhood memories. I used to sneak into her room as she was napping and beg her to wake up and come sit outside on the stoop with me. I can’t remember her ever saying no. And even though my time with her on this earth was much too short, she has visited me in dreams to remind me that the ones we love never truly leave us.

She raised eight babies of her own and somehow kept them all healthy and happy. And she always had food for anyone who came to her door hungry. She had an impressive resilience and independence, in a time and place where women were never described as such.

So as I got older and forged my own way in the world, I prided myself in thinking that I was strong because I was her grandbaby.

And then my mom got sick.

I don’t think I would have ever said my mom and I were close. All our lives, my brother was clearly her favorite, which sounds unfair but it’s true and I’m okay with it. And it’s not like my mom and I fought all the time. Most of the time we got along just fine. But I never thought of her as my best friend. We just didn’t have that kind of relationship.

But there is something about cancer that makes you rethink everything.

The day we found out about her diagnosis, I climbed into her bed and wept. She held me as I choked out great big tears and heaved until I couldn’t talk without gasping for air, that little girl cry. She told me it would be alright; she’d make it through. I couldn’t sleep that night so I got back into her bed while it was still dark out and she stroked my hair until the sun came up.

It doesn’t matter that you’re nearly twenty-one years old. It doesn’t matter that her body is betraying her. A mama is always gonna act like a mama.

In the months that followed, my mother faced her diagnosis with an unrelenting determination. Never one to draw attention to herself, she reached out to just a few close friends and family to pray for her as she readied her mind for the daunting road ahead. Surgery. Weekly chemotherapy. Daily radiation.

I sat behind her in the salon as they chopped her mid-length hair into a pixie cut. I nodded my approval as she tried on wigs. I swept the locks off the kitchen floor when my dad finally shaved her head bald.

My mom is a really good looking lady. Honestly. She’s tall and has great skin and the most impeccable sense of style that I’ve ever seen. And everyone knows it. Even if she’s just putting on a pair of scrubs for work, my mom will be sure that her clothes are neatly ironed with a perfect crease down her pants.

Which is great for her but it’s caused me much grief over the years. Because as the attractive woman she is, she takes a lot of pride in making sure her kids look nice. And being her daughter, that leaves a lot of pressure on me. She didn’t let me pick out my own clothes until almost middle school so most of my elementary school pictures show my friends wearing mismatched socks and multicolored t-shirts of their own choosing while I’m donned in my Sunday best.

She lets me pick out what I want to wear now but she’s always got an opinion to share before I leave the house. My mom’s not one of many words but when she talks to me, she’s brutally honest. Even when the truth hurts.

So for most of my life, I felt this unshakable need to look as pretty as my mom. And while I’ve slowly grown in confidence and self-esteem over the years, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every time I buy new clothes, my first question to myself is, “Would Mom like me in this?”

I was still chasing those lofty and misguided notions of beauty when she was diagnosed. But one night, we were having some prayer time together in the living room. My mom began to pray out loud and as the words tumbled from her mouth, I opened my eyes to look at her. (Don’t judge. We’ve all done it.)

She was in a threadbare nightgown, misshapen and baggy, but the only thing she could wear without irritating her surgery scars. Not only was all her hair gone, but her eyebrows were starting to thin out too. She had lost the glow in her skin.

But as she sat on the floor, humbled and vulnerable before the God of her foremothers, I could only think one thing.

Oh, Ma. You are so very beautiful.

My maternal grandmother passed away before my mom got sick. Unfortunately, I didn’t know her very well. But when I picture her, I see her standing at the doorway of my mother’s childhood home, waiting to welcome me with a tremble in her hands as she pulls me close and breathes me in.

My grandmother suffered a stroke about a year before she passed. It left her confused and disoriented and it stole some of her most precious memories. She didn’t always recognize her children.

And yet.

And yet, when the clock struck five each evening, she would lift herself from her chair to make her husband a cup of tea, as she had done every day of their marriage.

And my mama, as the cancer and the chemo flooded her body, did the very same thing.

I like to think I’ve learned a lot about of love in my quarter century of life. But it was in their sickness that my mother and grandmother taught me the truth about marriage. Maybe love, the kind of love that lasts, isn’t about grand gestures and bold proclamations. Maybe it’s in the little things. The everyday things.

What if love unconditional is found in a cup of tea?

I had always believed I was strong willed and opinionated because of my dad and his side of the family. Growing up, he was the one to encourage me to stay informed and debated with me about my stance while my mom nervously asked us to talk about something else. And as in all things, I’m sure my dad has influenced the woman I am today.

But I know enough now to realize that my mom, who I underestimated for most of my life, has shaped me in ways I may never fully grasp. I will always use my words to show how I feel, what I think. But there is equal strength in the quiet poise and grace my mother exudes.

Last month, my mom hit five years since she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. It’s been a crazy journey but she’s in remission and the future is looking bright and healthy. It’s a future I wasn’t sure I would ever get with my mom. But I am the grateful daughter of a fierce survivor and a Good Father.

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma. I love you.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” -Unknown