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Before I left for my trip to Haiti in February 2014, I grabbed the ridiculously overpriced “Penny For Your Thoughts” journal my husband received at work somewhere along the way. We’d kept it safe in its original packaging on a shelf in our entryway closet for months. Perhaps we’d donate it to a silent auction. Perhaps we’d give it as a gift someday. After all, the price tag said something like $54. Even I, a lover of words, couldn’t imagine why ANY person would pay $54 for a journal. Yes, I grossly underestimated the worth of that journal. When I got to Haiti, I randomly scrawled notes here and there as the mission necessitated. Prayer requests from our two sponsored children. Info about another child we began sponsoring nine months later. An inspiring quote about Compassion International beneficiaries being “sleeping giants.” Notes here and there. As IF I was never going to use that journal again. As IF it was only good for its paper.

One month after I returned from Haiti, I opened that journal back up, turned to the first page, and began by writing insights I gleaned from rereading journals from my past. I was on a blogging break, and desperately needed to figure out where I’d been and where I was going. Nine months later, I stopped working as a speech-language pathologist to focus on writing and photography, and take advantage of time home with my children while they’re still somewhat young. Today, there’s only ONE blank page in that “A Penny For Your Thoughts” journal. I’ve carried it around everywhere, through everything, for the past 2 1/2 years. Who knew?!

I’ve adored that journal. It’s been my companion through days of transition, days of unknown, days of heartache and chaos, and days of dreaming. But the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s time for a new journal!

Knowing I was going to be purchasing a new journal soon, I took time to page through my “A Penny For Your Thoughts” journal last week. I’m compelled to share something significant I learned from rereading one of the pages.

Listen, and listen closely because this is profound.

Over the course of the past 4 1/2 years, I’ve learned to dream. I’ve learned to dream BIG DREAMS. 

In all honesty, it’s crossed my mind that I’ve gone mad, or that maybe I’m losing my mind bit by bit. But the truth is, I didn’t dream BIG enough. 

Yes, you heard me right.

I didn’t dream big enough.

The first quarter of that “Penny For Your Thoughts” journal is filled to the brim with dreaming. I allowed myself to go there. In fact, the ultimate purpose of those first pages was to put all my hopes and dreams down on paper. I looked back through the past, tried to piece together the bigger storyline of my life, and used that as a foundation to dream about what the second half of my life could look like. This was an intentional exercise. Nobody was judging me. Nobody was silently critiquing. I didn’t care if my dreams were totally out of line or totally achievable. I just wrote them down as they came to me. Yes, I allowed myself to dream big all over those pages.

Yet even in my grandest and freest state of dreaming, I didn’t dream big enough.

On one side of the journal page, I wrote down my “Big Picture” vision. It’s fairly vague to the naked eye, but still spot on. The vision I have for the second half of my life has never wavered.

Here’s the kicker. I didn’t dream big enough in the details.

On the other side of the journal page, I wrote down all the details of my dream as concisely as I could. There were 10 points. Keep in mind, I thought these were long-term goals, goals I could reach or see the “beginnings of…within the next 4-8 years” if everything went perfectly as planned. As of today, I have already achieved 5 out of 10 of those detailed dreams. I’m working on #6. And I was seriously close to achieving #7, but the outcome was largely out of my control.

Needless to say, reviewing my journal was an incredibly eye-opening exercise.

I didn’t dream big enough!

I didn’t dream big enough.


So what’s the point of sharing this with you today?

The likelihood is that none of us have ever DREAMED big enough! The likelihood is that none of us have ever BELIEVED enough.

So how do we move from disbelief to belief? How do we get from here to there? How do we move from today to tomorrow? How do we move purposefully and intentionally towards the ultimate vision we have for life? How do we fulfill our God-given purpose here on earth?

Take time.

Sit down.

Get quiet.

Listen to the still small voice.

Think long and hard about WHAT we love, HOW we can best help others, and WHY we’re here.


Get quiet again.


Dream even BIGGER.

Pray again.

Then mark it all down. Write it. Speak it. Share it. Remember it. Revise as needed. And don’t ever forget.

In the meantime, trust that God works ALL things together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.


There’s a reason we’re here. Let’s live out every detail, every dream we have for ourselves and best yet, every dream God has planned for us.

I don’t know about you, but I have some work to do. In the next three weeks, I’m going to purchase a new journal. I’m also going to buy a planner. My goal is to write down that vague, but spot on lifelong vision all over again, but this time, I’m dreaming WAY bigger about the details. I’m going over every area of my life, I’m getting still and praying over everything, and I’m not holding back. I’ve dreamed MANY dreams in the past 2 1/2 years that have never been documented anywhere. In the next three weeks, all those great big dreams are going to be written down. I don’t care if they’re crazy or impossible or if everyone would say “Whatever, that’s totally dreaming and never happening.” Then I’m going to take that planner and I’m going to map out my days more intentionally to ensure I’m prioritizing the things I want and need to prioritize.

I’m 40. But If I live as long as my grandfather, I could have another 56+ years of life on earth. It’s time to dig deep and dream bigger. There’s a reason I’m still here. There’s a reason you’re still here.

So how about you?

Do you need to dream a little?

Do you need to dream a little bigger?

Perhaps you need to sit still long enough to hear…

You’re here for a reason.

There’s more in store for you, beloved.

What will it be?


Three or four years ago, I started threatening my husband that I was going to cut my hair off super short and dye it blonde. I casually threatened and joked because I knew I wasn’t brave or bold enough to cut it all off. I casually threatened and joked because I knew my husband strongly prefers me and his girls to have long hair. That is, until one year ago when my husband shaved his head. He began to understand where I was coming from, and granted me complete freedom to go ahead and cut and color my hair however I wanted.

Okay. I know you’re going to roll your eyes, puke in your mouth a bit (if you’re my husband), or maybe even wonder “What in the WORLD is Amy thinking? Has she gone mad?” But think Miley Cyrus. Yes, this is the haircut I envisioned in my mind all those years. No need to go into details, but you know this cut has an even edgier styling option, right?


Why am I talking about haircuts and sharing photos of celebrities today, anyway? Because this seemingly random story about hair has a real-life application. There’s a bigger lesson to be learned here, and I didn’t realize it until I cut my hair.

So let’s go back in time a bit. I promise, this won’t take long.

I’m super low maintenance when it comes to my hair. When I say SUPER low maintenance, I mean it. I get my haircut twice a year AT MOST. I don’t make appointments ahead of time. I pretty much get to the point of emergency and take an appointment wherever I can get in. Hence, the longest amount of time I’ve stayed with one stylist in my adult life is maybe a year or two. I’ve only highlighted my hair a couple times, and have never had a full color job. Garnier Fructis is my shampoo of choice ($3 or less with coupon). Typically, I have ONE high-end smoothing product to help manage my frizzy hair, and that lasts me for several years because I use it so sparingly. Five minutes is the perfect amount of time for styling; anything beyond that is annoying and crosses into high maintenance. And anyone who knows me in real life knows that I love, love, LOVE ponytails. Ponytails are the best, especially when you’ve had the lovely experience of lice through your house twice in one year. Yeah, ever since that, I’ve worn the ponytail 5-6 days a week.

Moving on.

I’d last gotten a haircut in early September 2015. I wore my hair in a bun while I was in Kenya, and kept the spirit of Kenya alive by wearing my hair in a bun EVERY SINGLE DAY from November 26, 2015 through April 26, 2016 when I finally got my haircut. That’s five months, people! I thought the bun was totally working until my former neighbor’s mom saw me in the store and said she barely recognized me because my hair was “so slicked back.” (I wasn’t sure her words were meant as a compliment. I, for one, loved the bun, but knew it was another trap.)

Time to get that haircut.

I’d been thinking and talking about that short haircut for SO long, that I knew this haircut was going to be TOTALLY SHORT or SAFE AND BORING (think ponytail).

Research phase began.

Maybe I should get something dark and edgy, like rocker Demi Lovato?


Maybe I should get something chic and sophisticated, like my one and only television role model, Megyn Kelly?


Ultimately, I narrowed my selection to two realistic favorites which I shared on my Facebook page so people could give me their opinions on the cuts. Julianne Hough rocking the short, but not TOO short hair.


Or Emma Watson rocking the safe, but definitely short style.


The rubber hit the road. It was time to decide. Money was budgeted. The appointment was booked. My decision was SAFE or SHORT, and I was going SHORT. I wasn’t 100% sure about the decision, but I was hovering around 97%.

This is me the night before the haircut. No makeup. Hair just washed and air dried. No products. No styling. My thick, frizzy inherited hair is a challenge to manage. Can you imagine how long it takes to tame this into something presentable everyday (besides a ponytail)?


This is me the morning of the haircut. Slicked back into a bun. The same way I’d worn it every day for the past five months.


Haircut time!

I went to a new salon and booked with a stylist I’d never met. Thank goodness I had a solid referral from a former patient’s mom I trust whole-heartedly when it comes to matters of the hair!

I showed the stylist all the short hair photos I’d pinned. She didn’t want to cut my hair quite that short since it was the first time she’d EVER cut my hair and didn’t know how it was going to respond. So we agreed on a slightly longer version, Carrie Underwood’s 2016 Grammy’s cut. I knew the cut was longer than anything I’d envisioned, but it was still MUCH shorter than any style I’d had since 5th grade, so I agreed.


“All this hair is weighing you down,” she said.

So off went the hair.

I didn’t bat an eye.

This haircut was long, long overdue.

It was freeing. A weight literally lifted off my shoulders.


I had a few errands to do, but knew my husband was eagerly awaiting the results of my big haircut. All the friends and family who’d weighed in on my haircut on Facebook would appreciate an “after” picture, right? So I tried a couple selfies in the car, but that didn’t work out very well. (Selfies are the worst thing ever. SO awkward!)

After the failed selfie attempt, I went into the mall to do my errands.

As I walked the aisles, I remembered that if there’s one vanity item I really do love and appreciate, it’s clothing. With the exception of a sports bra, I haven’t requested a clothing budget in forever and a day. I glanced at myself in mirrors, trying to determine if I liked this haircut or not, whether I looked good in it or not. Was I crazy for thinking this was a good idea? What’s more, I looked deep in my eyes and noticed they didn’t sparkle any more or less after the haircut.

That’s when I started noticing a difference. Right there in the mall. Right after my big haircut. That’s when I started feeling and SEEING a difference.

This wasn’t really about a short haircut. This was about proving to myself that it was okay to take a risk. This was about proving to myself that it would turn out okay even if it wasn’t perfect. This was aligning my outsides more closely to my transformed insides. This was about seeing myself differently. This was about seeing the world differently. This, in fact, had very little to do with my outward physical appearance and very much to do with my wellness, wholeness and perspective on life. This was about me learning to say no AND yes to what’s me AND what’s not me. This was about embracing my life and taking responsibility for how I choose to live it.

I needed to think, believe and behave differently than I had before.

I needed to see myself differently. 

I needed to see differently.

And that’s exactly what began to happen when I got my haircut.



I tried some more selfies that afternoon and again the next morning, but I never did share an “after” picture on my Facebook page. Guess it’s all here today, right?

Here’s the truth. The haircut wasn’t about everyone else, anyway. I didn’t need anyone’s approval or disapproval. In the end, the haircut was about taking the RISK I knew I needed to take.

Maybe I’m taking this too far. Maybe I’m overanalyzing this haircut. But what if I’m not?

What’s on your heart? What small or big decision’s been weighing on your mind for days, weeks, months or years? What risk have you been longing to take, but fear has stopped you for some reason? What do you KNOW you need to do, but can’t bring yourself to do it for any reason at all?

Here’s the secret. Nobody knows but me, but I’ve been saying YES to a lot of little things since I got that haircut six weeks ago. Saying YES to the haircut helped me see myself and the world differently, which gave me confidence to say YES to a bunch of things I wanted and needed to say YES to.

So what’s your YES today? What risk do you need to take – small or big – to propel yourself forward in life? Perhaps you need a haircut, too? Or perhaps it’s something else, anything else. I’m believing somebody’s out there, somebody’s listening, somebody needs to hear this.


Do it.

See your life differently.

See life differently.

See differently.



Mama had significant concerns. Her daughter was barely speaking when we first met. We worked together for a year and a half. Two times a week, we sat on the living room floor, then at the dining room table, for intense speech-language therapy. A year and a half later, after all that therapy, after all that working together, mama’s baby girl was speaking like everyone else. I had the rare opportunity to discharge that sweet girl from speech-language therapy, no qualms, no second guessing about it.

It was beautiful. Incredibly beautiful. To bring a child from barely speaking at all, to testing “within normal limits” and speaking like all the other children her age is a true honor and pleasure.

But there was something else extraordinary about the year and a half I spent working with that mama and daughter.

My relationship with mama was special. Unique.

We clicked.

We got each other.

We totally understood each other.

Can I say it any other way?

I adored mama. Adored her.

She was smart, witty and quirky, full of little faults like everyone else. She was passionate and opinionated, strong-willed, fierce, motivated and determined. She knew what she liked in life, and she knew what she didn’t like. She knew what she needed as a mom and a wife, and wasn’t afraid to gift it to herself if necessary. She wasn’t like most of women I knew, and I loved that. I loved ALL those things about mama. But here’s what I absolutely adored about her. She had a soft side she barely, rarely let out. I saw it peek out here and there and it was so incredibly tender. I wondered if she’d been misunderstood more than once. I wondered if people didn’t always “get” her. I TOTALLY “got” her. And I’m pretty sure she TOTALLY “got” me, too.

It was beautiful.

I loved every bit of that mama.

Still do.

When we stood at the door that last day of therapy, when I’d reviewed the standardized test results that proved her daughter’s speech and language was now “within normal limits,” mama thanked me for all I’d done. She thanked me for how far I’d brought her daughter. She thanked me for all the therapy, for bringing her and her daughter through some really rough and uncertain times.

It was humbling, of course.

But then she said something else I’ll never, ever forget.

It was much, much more personal than speech-language therapy. And it meant the world to me.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.”

No doubt about it. That was the greatest compliment I’d ever received. Two years later, it’s STILL the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.” 

I’ve always perceived myself as a little mysterious, a little hard to read, a little hard to fully understand. I get that about myself. Just 1% of the general population has my personality type, so sometimes I’m not sure if I’m really jiving with everyone else’s more popular personalities.

So when that mama told me she “[doesn’t] usually like people,” but she likes me?!

Oh my goodness.

I totally knew her. I totally know myself. And I totally knew what she meant. So I totally took it as a HUGE compliment.

To be completely honest, I don’t really WANT to be like all the other people. I don’t really FEEL like all the other people. So the fact that she recognized that, the fact that she subconsciously felt that from me, and the fact that she was able to articulate it in a way that really meant something to me, was absolutely an honor.

So I’ve been pondering mama’s compliment – the best compliment I’ve EVER received – and have been wondering if there’s a take-away.

How can we compliment people in ways that mean something to them?

How can we compliment people in ways that build them up?

How can we move FROM “I love your haircut,” and “I love those boots,” TO “It seems like you always know when people need encouragement,” and “Did you that you’re the most generous person I know?”

How can we compliment people in ways that feel sincere and authentic?

How can we compliment people in ways that make them realize we’ve actually paid attention to WHO they are, HOW they operate, and WHAT makes them tick?

How can we compliment people in ways that really stick and stay with them?

How can we compliment people in ways that change they way they do life?

How can we compliment people in ways that bring out the best in them, not just for today, but for long-term always?

So many questions to ponder, but I think you get the point.

“I don’t usually like people, but I like you.”

It’s the best compliment I ever received.

Who can you compliment today? For real?

And if not today, who are you noticing so you can compliment them tomorrow or down the road when your words will mean even more?

Just asking.

Because honestly, I need to do the same.

Those words, those compliments, they’re a true gift if given wisely.




Six months from now, I’ll be 40.

Finally…the decade I’ve been waiting for.

I know. Crazy, right? Who WANTS to turn 40?

Me. I do, please.

My 20s? They were good. Finished college. Got married. Went to graduate school. Moved a handful of times. Bought our first house. Bought a lot of stuff for the house. Had two babies. Worked and worked some more. Found a church. Made some friends. Lost touch with some friends. Went to a lot of weddings. Visited a lot of babies. Had some fun times. Went through some bad times. Began dreaming. Grew in my faith.

My 30s? They were good. Sold a house. Built a house. Worked. Worked some more. Then decided to take a break from paid work and work on a hobby, a passion, a calling, whatever you want to call it. Worked out a lot. Had another baby. Did lots of kid stuff. Spent lots of time with other peoples’ kids. Got some date nights and a couple vacations with my hubby. Didn’t get nearly enough date nights and time with my hubby. Left a church. Found another church. Made a few friends and a lot of acquaintances. Lost touch with more friends. Had some great times. Went through some very bad times. Received and processed diagnoses. Read a ton of blogs. Began a blog. Felt sure. Felt totally unsure. Had dreams come true. Continued dreaming. Grew in my faith.

And now…I’m less than six months out from my 40s.

Yes, it’s 2016, the year of my 40th birthday.

40 is first and foremost, totally respectable.

40 is much wiser.

40 is aging very well, thank you.

40 is been there, done that.

40 is I’m done playing games, I’m living now.

40 is prime.

40 is golden.

40 is no longer naive.

40 is (pretty much) half-way there.

40 is time to begin again.

40 is mid-life awakening.

40 is life.

40 is me being me.

40 is let’s settle into this.

40 is I’m tired of playing games.

40 is I don’t (want to) care what you think anymore.

40 is let’s do this.

40 is it’s time to get real.

40 is let’s rock this.


Three years ago, I was mistaken for a 13 year old when I was in the elevator with my husband on a cruise ship. I’m not. even. kidding. I was wearing a swimsuit and coverup. I wasn’t wearing makeup. Still…I hope I acted older than a 13 year old.

Two months ago, I was mistaken for an undergraduate student at a speech-language convention. Then I was mistaken for a graduate student more than once. For the most part, I looked like all the grad students I met there. Still…I hope I acted older than 18-23 years old.

I know I LOOK much younger than I am. But I’ve always FELT much older than I am. The discrepancy still bothers me. 

This year, I might be mistaken for a 13 year old, an 18 year old, a 22 year old, a 26 year old, or even a 35 year old. But make no mistake, whether I’m 39 1/2, 39 2/3, 39 3/4 or 40, I’m rocking 40 the whole year through.

40 is me being me.

40 is it’s time to get real.

40 is golden.

Eight days ago, I woke up and got dressed in a black and white work outfit with tall black boots, and put my computer in my black and white polka dotted Thirty-One bag. My husband asked why I was all dressed up. My kids did too.

“I’m leaving the house and I’m going to write. All day. And I’m going to write for six hours every Tuesday and Thursday for the next three, four or five months unless there’s a really good reason not to.”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing. I don’t remember the exact words I said. But basically, that’s what I said. That’s exactly what I meant to say, at least.


I spent five to six hours writing on January 5th.

I spent five to six hours writing on January 7th.

On January 9th, I finished Mark Batterson’s book, “The Circle Maker.” I haven’t been praying nearly enough. I haven’t been praying nearly big enough. And I haven’t been trusting myself, anyone or God Himself nearly enough. God made TWO of my lifelong dreams come true in 2015, and I wasn’t even actively praying for them to come true. I was just walking this dusty, narrow, totally unknown path called…

“I’m following my dreams.”

“I’m pursuing my calling.”

“I’m following Jesus?

What does any of this mean, anyway?

Seriously, is this work or is this not work? Am I living in reality or am I not? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing or am I not? Because I’m confused, but I’m totally NOT confused all at once.

So yeah…


40 is much wiser.

On January 12th, I spent 1 hour 40 minutes in Barnes & Noble bookstore and 1 hour in LifeWay Christian Bookstore. I prayed. I perused. I looked. I examined. I analyzed. I wondered HOW I fit, WHERE I fit, and mostly IF I fit. I imagined. I dreamed. I took a lot of notes. And I very intentionally decided to begin dreaming bigger. Because I’m praying bigger. I’m believing bigger. I’m believing that God has more. I’m believing that God has more than I’ve visioned, more than I’ve imagined, more than I’ve allowed myself to dream.

It has to be true.


Then I remembered the dream I’d forgotten until recently, the dream I held long ago to own an Amy’s Hallmark store. I don’t want to own an Amy’s Hallmark anymore. But I have been thinking about that forgotten dream. I have been wondering if it’s more about the cards, if it’s about the words and simple, intentional, and meaningful connections with human beings in old-fashioned pen and paper form. The truth is, I still LOVE cards. A beautifully-designed and well-written card still ROCKS my WORLD. I’m still compelled to buy and send cards. I still find myself at complete peace when I’m alone (aka without kids) in a Hallmark store. Geeky AND cheesy, I know. So I’ve begun dreaming a silly little dream…what if I could land a job writing cards someday? Maybe I could fill a card niche that doesn’t currently exist? Wouldn’t that be an awesome little dream come true?

It’s a new dream.

Perhaps it’s old made new?

Perhaps it’ll come true.

Perhaps it’ll never come true.

Perhaps it’ll forever be a silly little far-off dreamy dream I shared with a few people who happened to read my January 14, 2016 blog post?

Perhaps it’s something.

Perhaps it’s nothing.

I’m open.

So I made my way over to LifeWay Bookstore’s card section and didn’t waste a second looking at anything but Karen Kingsbury’s STUNNING card collection I’ve been swooning over since it released. The collection is noteworthy, but small, so I allowed myself to handle and read EVERY. CARD. EVERY. ONE. It felt indulgent, this stopping to read a bunch of greeting cards on my third official writing “work day,” but it was necessary for my heart. It was necessary for my acknowledgement that WORDS MATTER, that WORDS MATTER to me, that MY words matter.

By the end of all that looking, I’d gathered three cards in my hand, three cards that spoke to my heart, three cards I LOVED. You know what I did next? I decided I’d buy them all as a 40th birthday gift to myself…6 months early.


40 is trusting and believing that all things work together for good, even when I feel stupid, silly, dreamy, discouraged, worthless, out of place, or totally off course.

40 is giving grace.

40 is knowing myself better than before.

40 is loving myself.

40 is giving myself what I need, so I’m better equipped to give others what they need.





In 14 days of 2016, I’ve condemned myself, I’ve disqualified myself, I’ve had disarming and disturbing dreams, I’ve had a whole lot of dreams about broken glass and ceramic, and I’ve been awake in the middle of the night praying “Jesus” because I felt my brain swirling with fear and darkness drawing near.

40 is NOT foolproof, friends.

But make no mistake, I’m rocking 40 the whole year through.


40 is braver.

40 is bolder.

40 is KNOWING there’s a reason we’ve been here, TRUSTING there’s a reason we’re still here, LIVING like we’re worth more than a passing glance, PRAYING that God can and will do all things, and BELIEVING our best days are still ahead.

40 is knowing with 100% certainty that I DON’T want a 40th birthday bash. It’s not me. It’s simply not me. But make no mistake. I bought those cards for a reason. This 40th is momentous. This 40 means something to me. I’m dreaming big for one thing, I’m working hard for another, and I’m praying hard for both. This year of 40.

40 is…



Dear Elsa,

You started middle school this week. 5th grade to be exact. I’m not sure where the years went, but here we are. You’re 10 1/2 and minutes away from completing your first week of 5th grade.

I have some things I’d like to discuss with you before you get any bigger, before you go any further in life. These things I want to talk about are important. Really important. They’ll impact your life potentially forever, so it’s best we address them now. (I know, I’m such a mom.)

First off, you started talking about being the “middle child” last spring. Enough of that. Okay? Can we be done with all that “middle child” talk before it goes any further? I want you to know with all of my heart, with every ounce of my being, that we were 1,000% aware of this so-called “middle child syndrome” before we decided to have a third child. We knew that having a third child would mean you’d be in the middle. But we reread the birth order book and asked the experts, and according to them, any gap between the second and third child that’s more than 5 years messes up the whole birth order business. Do you remember there’s almost 7 years between you and your baby sister? That means that we see YOU as our first baby girl. And while your sister is the third child (the baby of the family) she also acts as a functional only child because of the large gap between the two of you. We never, ever want you to feel like a slighted, less than, overlooked “middle child.” A parent never intends that for their child, and we certainly thought and overthought that a million ways before we had you. So please, before we go any deeper with these “middle child” references, can we just stop? If it’s our favorite “The Middle” TV show that’s influenced you wrongly, please don’t let them talk you into this “middle child” business. Your place in our family is unique. We thought of you most extensively before we brought your baby sister into the world. And we love you as our daughter. You are your own person with your own set of beautiful gifts and talents. So please rest assured in who you are, your unique place in our family, and your unique place in this world. There’s only one you.


On a similar note, I noticed that a deadly word started creeping into your vocabulary this summer. Perfect. Ugh. You know how much I hate that word. You must know now. There is no such thing as perfect. No human being, no circumstance, no place or thing is perfect. You’ve referenced the fact that you like your clothes to be perfect, that you want to make sure your hair is perfect. I just want you to know that seeking perfect, that striving for perfect will get you nowhere fast. Your longing for perfection will only be found in heaven. I’ve called you on your perfect references, and I’ve explained why it’s not a goal I want you striving for. Let me tell you something. I’ve been there done that. Perfect? It’s been my goal, the thing I’ve been striving for, the thing I’ve been longing to be, the thing I’ve been trying for so long, the thing I’m dying a slow death over. SO done with that. SO not attainable. I’m still working it out at 39+ years old. So sweetie, just let go of perfect now. Okay? Right now. Before its snares grab ahold of you tighter. Let it go. Let go of any and all notions of perfection.

I have some more things to say, if you don’t mind. This is sounding more like a preaching session, so before I go any further, please accept my apologies and acknowledgement that I am being sort of preachy. I want what’s best for you and I do believe these items are critical for a girl in middle school who will soon be a young lady.

Now let’s move on to some things that are amazing about you!

I love that you’re SO confident in your skin. Body image isn’t a concern of yours one bit. I’m so grateful. I’m so glad. I’m elated beyond words. Can we keep it that way? Because as far as I’m concerned, the more years we can squeak by with you feeling completely confident in your own skin, in your own body, the better! Odds are, there’ll come a time when you’ll wake up to the world of fashion models and movie stars and how you’re “supposed to look” and you’ll turn that ugly corner. But for now, I’m LOVING that you’re LOVING yourself and that body of yours. Don’t let your friends, boys, TV or YouTube videos sway your opinion about yourself. Be confident. Rest assured that you are awesome! You are cute! You are beautiful. You are sweet, smart, social and hard working.

Keep being yourself. You have a crazy-good, fierce blend of my sensitivity and your dad’s extroversion. That’s a powerful blend for you, girl. You’re going places. You love people. You love socializing. You love being in the center of the action. You love to know what’s happening and where it’s happening and how long before we can get there and go there. Am I right, or what?! You love fashion, and you love style. You love styling hair, and you love doing nails. (Where in the world did that come from? I hate painting my nails!) You’re sensitive. Empathetic. So much so that you cry when I cry. Maybe it’s a curse. Maybe it’s a blessing. It’s all good. You’re a sweet soul. Keep being who you are. I’m not here to stop you. Sure, I don’t like socializing or hair or nails nearly as much as you, but I’m in. I’m fully in to whoever you are, whoever you want to be, wherever you are. I’m in. All in. So go, girl. Be yourself. Do your thing.

Last, but most certainly, not least. Don’t stop asking questions. Like “Why do the clouds get dark when it’s going to rain?” “Why do I have everything I need and want, and they don’t have anything?” about children living in extreme poverty. And “Are God and Jesus the same?” It’s good to have questions. It’s good to ask questions. You will continue to have questions as you grow up. Keep asking. As human beings, we must keep asking the hard questions. We must keep allowing ourselves to wonder WHY. Don’t stop asking. Keep that curiosity. Keep that open mind. Keep questioning status quo. Keep wondering why and how and why not? Those questions will bring you far. Those questions will set you apart from those who choose to look away, from those who choose to stop asking, from those who just don’t care to ask anymore. Those questions will help you see things others don’t see. And eventually, those questions will make you wise beyond your years.

With those deep thoughts in mind, I guess that’s about all I have to say today.

I’m proud of you. You’re awesome. You’re a sweet surprise. And a beautiful delight.

Keep being you, just as you are.

We love you,


This letter to my 10-year-old daughter, Elsa, is second of a three-part letters series I’m writing to my children as we’re entering major transitions for each of them. I wanted to capture my thoughts and feelings before the moment passed. If you want to read my letter to my near 13-year old son, Cooper, click here. If you want to read my letter to my 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Maisie, click here.

  1. mike says:

    what a sweet daughter you have, you are so proud , i am too. i like tontake her out to dinner and have her for desert

  2. Kate Morgan Perry says:


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