to my daughter on International Women's Day

You're so tiny now, but these are the things that I need you to know. The things that I hope I model and speak into you always.

First, don’t forget to be silly. We love it so. Laughter is the essence of your personality and you delight everyone around you with your big bright smile. Never become too self-conscious or too jaded to be your wonderfully silly self. Dance unashamedly, love deeply, and always find a reason to smile.

Eat cake if you want to. Also eat vegetables. Good ones, straight from the earth. Never get too busy to soak up sunshine or pick flowers or listen to the robins. When your emotions run over, make art. It doesn’t have to be pretty it just has to have soul. Listen to your brother, he’s wise and he loves you maybe more than he loves me. Be bold enough to think for yourself and smart enough to pick up the pebbles of wisdom lining your life’s path.

Be brave, love. And I don’t mean fearless, rather live your life from a place of unshakable faith in the God who called you worthy. Loving people is brave. Loving people who aren’t like you is braver. Loving yourself is the bravest. Choosing joy is brave. Forgiving is brave. Speaking up is brave. Staying quiet is brave. Ordinary is so incredibly brave when your ordinary is God-honoring. It is very much okay to be ordinary.

Also be kind. Above EVERY SINGLE OTHER THING just please be kind. Our world is hurting and aching and crying silent tears as we wait on Jesus. Kindness ushers the kingdom of Jesus into our right now world. I don’t care if you go to college. I don’t care if you travel the country in an Airstream or if you work in a cubicle or have one baby or a dozen babies or if you stay at home or go to work or if you love the land the way I do or if you move into the city and make your mark there. I don’t care about any of those things, but I do care that you wear kindness like a necklace.

Speaking of jobs and babies, your worth is not dependent on having them or not. Around the world, women work because they have no choice, they work because they want to, they stay home because they want to, and some even stay home because they have no choice. And every one of them matters. You matter with a husband and you matter without one. You alone are a treasure. But I do hope, Lord willing, that you get to be a bride and a mama. Doing life beside your daddy and watching you babies become independent and oh so grown up is the happiest piece of my life. I want that happiness for you, but I recognize that your experience will be entirely separate from mine.

Recognize your privilege, baby girl. You will probably never experience violence, discrimination, or silencing like many of your sisters around the world and like the ladies who fought for equality before you. But keep doing the work for equality, for justice here in our own country and around the globe. Use your privilege to be a voice for those that aren’t allowed to have one.

Lastly, remember that Jesus called you worthy. No one on this earth, not a government leader, not a church leader, not a single person you meet can take that away. Jesus didn’t treat women any differently and doesn’t expect anything less than honest gospel work from us. You can do more for the kingdom than bake casseroles and rock babies if that’s what the Lord tells you to do. Remember your Father’s love; relentless and everlasting and so tender for you. No one gets to dictate your relationship with Him.

And always, always, always remember that I love you. I used to be afraid that I wasn’t capable of raising a daughter. Now I know that I’m not capable of creating a human that won’t fail or won’t hurt, but I’ve learned that’s not the point. You might walk through every single same struggle that I have. You might have to relearn grace and love. You might have to have some of your idols stripped away to know Freedom. And I know now that’s okay. Failure and disappointment and truth and joy are what make a story. I’m so incredibly privileged to get to watch yours.