May 27, 2013

Dear Donna

Dear Donna,

We had a rocky beginning; I was young and stubborn and thought I knew everything.  I'm so glad that we have repaired our relationship and I want you to know that I am fortunate that we have you in our lives.

You are such a giving woman; always thinking about ways you can make others' lives better.  You're always more than willing to help with church activities like VBS, serving on mission trips, and the LOVE committee.

You're also one of the most outgoing and friendly women I know and I look up to the way you have a knack for making friends with a complete stranger.  (Even if it does drive Montana crazy that you're always talking to random people... haha).

I love how you're always teaching Lucas manners and lessons; thank you for helping us prepare him for life by teaching him valuable skills!  He loves spending time with you and the cat cats!  :-)

Travis and I are glad that you're a huge part of our lives!  Thank you for being such a giving, compassionate woman!

With love,

May 17, 2013

Dear Anna

Dear Anna,

Although you will never read this letter, I pray that God read it aloud to you in Heaven so that you know how much of a difference you made in my life.  We moved into that dumpy, torn up house right beside you when I was just 7 years old.  I will never forget the first time I remember seeing you; you were out raking leaves and had a fun bandanna wrapped around your head.  You invited me to come over and jump in your leaf pile, a fun event that would soon become a tradition every time you raked your leaves.  Then you would rake them all in a long line in the ditch and would let me stand with you and watch as you burned those leaves to dust.

You probably didn't think much of those days spent in our front yards.  But those moments meant the world to me as a young child from a dysfunctional family.  Our shared yard served as my retreat at times.  You were my calm, peace and I loved spending time with you.  Despite our age difference, I considered you a dear friend.

Anna, I want to thank you for introducing me to our church.  Without your invitation, I would have never spent weeks at VBS learning about Jesus, becoming close friends with those who would later lead me to a personal relationship with Him.  I credit you for planting a seed in me, through your sincere love for me.  You took the time to talk with me, teach me, and love me.  Thank you so much!

I will never forget your last few months of life on this earth.  My heart ached deeply when you became ill.  By that point, you were family to Mom and I.  We had spent many hot days raking leaves and many cold winters jumping in snow piles together.  I knew you on a deep, personal level.  You had told me stories of your difficulties, in losing your husband and son, and your joys; your children, grandchildren, successes, and love for Jesus.  Those nights where I would bring you leftovers from our supper meant the world to me.  Although you were frail and weak, you always invited me in and let me share my happenings of the day.  I hope that those moments were as special to you as they were for me.

I know that I will see you again one day, when God calls me to my forever home.  I hope God built our mansions side-by-side, so that we can catch up on lost time.  You will always hold a special spot in my heart, Anna.  Thank you for making such a difference in the life of a small neighbor girl!

With love,

May 16, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

Today Danielle and I made my second batch of homemade laundry soap.  It is such a wonderful and easy recipe that I wanted to share with you.  I found it last year on the Duggar Family website and we haven't paid for laundry soap in over a year!  Feel free to whip up your own batch!  Here's the recipe: 

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

*Just a tip: Walmart bakery has 5 gallon buckets that their frosting comes in and if you ask them nicely, they will give you one for FREE!  

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

To say it bluntly, you have made an absolute mess of your life.  Your selfishness and addictive personality have gotten you into some terrible situations and I fear that you don't even realize how awful the life you're living really is.  I remember a time in your life where you were successful; you had a beautiful wife and young daughter, a thriving carpet business, and life was good.  Because of your addiction and pride, all of those good things are gone.

You are not invincible!  One day, the way you're living will catch up to you.  Death is inevitable, but the way you are living is encouraging it to come sooner.  All of us have an option on where we would like to spend eternity.  I pray that you change your life and learn to rely on Christ before your time comes to cross over into the other side of eternity.

Dad, you will never be able to overcome your addictions and life issues on your own.  You simply aren't strong enough.  None of us have the strength to change our sinful ways of living on our own.  The only way you can have hope to overcome your disease is through giving up control; allow Jesus to truly work in you and develop a personal relationship with the only true Savior.  Drugs and alcohol won't save you.  Sex and women won't save you.  Religion and rule following won't save you. The only thing that can bring you out of the mess you're in is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Dad, seek Him out.  TRULY search for Him; not just to gain good behavior points in prison, but in order to really develop a friendship with Him!

Dad, I want you to know that I have forgiven you.  I've forgiven you for the time you called me a loser and told me that 'I would amount to nothing in my life, just like my loser mom.'  I have forgiven you for not being there for me; at my graduations, my wedding, and to see Lucas being born.  I have forgiven you for causing years of sleepless nights due to screaming matches in the living room, and for the many times I witnessed you beating Mom until she was black and blue.  I forgive you, not because you deserve forgiveness; rather, I forgive you because I myself have been forgiven.  Christ died for me, and He died for even you. He died for us when we were still sinners.  I have been forgiven and now I am doing the same for you.

More than forgiving you, I thank you; I thank you for making me strong.  I thank you for me having to learn early on in my life to rely on my Heavenly Father who was always present. And I thank you for bringing Mom and I close.

I pray daily for you, Dad.  It's not too late to change. God loves you just as much as He loves me and if you were willing, He would walk you through your struggles until you were clean and sober.  You just need a willing heart and need to rely on good, Godly mentors and God himself to pull you through.

Please know that despite all you have put me through, I will always have room for you in my heart.  I must protect my heart and my family, though.  That's why I can't get too close to you right now.  As I have told you many times before, I would gladly accept you back into my life if you could come to me with your NA/AA sponsors and tell me that you've been clean and sober for 3 or 5 years.  Until then though, I must keep my distance.  For now, I will continue to pray that God stir and soften your heart, in order that He may enter in.

Many blessings,

May 14, 2013

Dear Montana

Dear Montana,

It's perfect timing to write this letter to you the week before you graduate from high school.  I have been a part of your life now for over eight years, and it's been such a joy to see you develop into the young woman you are today.  I am so proud to call you my sister and my friend!

You're everything I wish I would have been my senior year of high school.  While many of your friends are 'living it up' and partying, you have maintained a level head and have focused on school, meaningful friendships, and forming lasting memories in a good, wholesome way.  Montana, I can't tell you enough how proud I am of the choices you are making!  Keep that focus as you head into college and you will do wonderfully.

Make sure to pick your friends wisely as you head into the next chapter of your life.  Seek out trustworthy, Christian friends from the beginning and your college life will be way more enjoyable.  And make sure to keep your beautiful smile and positive attitude.  Most of all, make sure to hang onto Jesus for strength during this busy time of your life.  Keep Him as your rock and make Him a priority and He will help you do great things!

Know that I'm only a phone call away and that I'm always up to hearing from you.  I'm going to miss you like crazy girl! Travis, Lucas, and I will have to get used to making the trip through Iowa to see you, because Lucas will be missing his Aunt Tana!  But until Fall, we will definitely have to make some awesome summer memories!!!  :-)

Much love,

May 12, 2013

Dear Danielle

Dear Danielle,

I truly feel like God brought you to the middle of nowhere so you could find not only your husband, but also your best friend.  Our friendship was definitely crafted in Heaven and God was probably laughing hysterically as He directed our lives to find each other.   You know, He has that sort of sense of humor.  I know that because He created people like you and I!  :-)

I am so thankful that I have you in my life!  We've weathered many storms together and I love knowing that I always have a trusted friend to vent to, a shoulder to cry on, and a pal to laugh hysterically with.  You are one of the most loving, compassionate people I know; you're always thinking of and doing nice things for others and I truly admire this quality in you.  You challenge me to be a better woman; challenging me in my weaknesses and holding me accountable when I need.

You are a wonderful mother, wife, and friend and I am so proud to call you my best friend!!  I look forward to many more years of laughter, tears, and love!  May God continue to bless our friendship!

Much love,

May 10, 2013

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I'm sure you've heard the saying before: "The only thing better than having you for a Mom is my children having you for a Grandma."  Let me tell you how true this statement is!

I am so proud to be your daughter; you've taught me the value of hard work, caring for those around me, and enjoying each God-given day.  You've always encouraged me to reach for the moon and to try my hardest in everything; my hard work ethic most certainly comes from you modeling it for me!  You've always encouraged me to love and serve those around me, always putting others first.  Thank you for instilling this value in me from a young age!  I love being able to serve our community with you.  And you have always encouraged me to stay positive and keep smiling, even when life hands you lemons.  You have persevered through so much in your life and each trial made you stronger and I remember you always maintained your loving, positive attitude.  That's why I'm able to face the challenges of my life now; My amazing Mom modeled for me how to persevere and grow through struggles.

Mom, we are so blessed to have you in our lives.  I thank God each day for you!  Please always know how special you are to us!  I love you!

Much love and many hugs and kisses,

May 6, 2013

Dear Lucas

Dear Lucas,

I am so proud to be your Mommy!  You are the most handsome, energetic, and curious little boy I have ever met!  Even though your adventurous spirit sometimes wears me out, it is so neat to see you learn and develop into a smart young boy.

Right now, you're learning to be independent, so you're challenging everything that Mommy and Daddy say.  But it's important for you to learn that we are just giving you guidelines and boundaries in order for you to stay safe and to set a standard for the future.

We are trying our best to teach you to be a good boy and to love God.  I want you to learn to be respectful to those you're around and to have a big heart for others.  Most of all, though, I want you to love Jesus passionately.  I don't want you to just go through the motions of Christianity; I want you to have a personal relationship with God when you get older.  If you ever have questions about your faith, know that you can come to us and we will try our best to answer them.

Lucas, I pray often for your future; for the friends you will have, the girl you will marry, and the career you will choose.  I know that God has great things in store for your future.  Please lean on Him to guide you.  Choose your friends wisely, and ask God to provide you the proper wife.  I'm not sure what career you will choose, but I know if you keep your outgoing and fun personality and rely on God to lead you, you will surely succeed.  Work hard at whatever you do, as though you're doing it all for God.  Be a man of your word and always be an encouragement to those around you.

Please know that your Mommy loves you so much!  No matter what mistakes or bad choices you may make in your life, I will love you the same.  Everyday until I take my last breathe, I will be here to listen, hug, encourage, and love you.

I love you sweet child,

May 4, 2013

Dear Travis

Dear Travis,

I am so glad that God brought us together, over eight years ago!  We've been through so much since you asked me back in 2005 if I would "go to prom and maybe, uh, date."  I am so proud to be married to you; I truly admire your loyalty, strength, and humor.  You are able to weather even the worst of storms like a rock, holding your composure and patience.  I am so proud of how you have handled my health difficulties.  You've been right by my side the whole time, nursing me back to health.  When we took our vows three years ago, I know that you truly meant the "in sickness and health" part of them!  I want to thank you for being so loyal and strong!  You work so hard to provide for our family.  And even though I often complain about you not spending as much uninterrupted time with Lucas and I as I would prefer, I am so fortunate that you are such a hard worker!  You also have an amazing way of making me laugh, even when I'm trying hard to have a lousy day.  Your wittiness and crazy sense of humor brighten each day.  You're also the best daddy in the world.  You have such patience and grace with Lucas and I love how you are teaching him to treat me with respect.  I know this will carry over into his dating relationships.  I'm proud that you are so excited to teach him how to fix things, handle money, and love Jesus.  I know that with him having a dad so involved and loving, Lucas will turn out wonderfully.  I just hope one day he becomes as great of a man as you are!

Thank you for loving me, Travis.  I thank God daily for placing you in my life.  I love you!


May 1, 2013

10 Letters

Over the next ten posts, I will be sharing letters written to special people in my life.  I think it's so important to tell people how much they mean to you while you still have an opportunity, so that's my goal.  I will write the letter to many people that I care about; they've either inspired me, shaped me, encouraged me, or I've looked up to them.  After writing the letter, it's my desire to share it with them, if I'm able.  Here is the list of whom I will write each letter to:

  1. Dear Travis
  2. Dear Lucas
  3. Dear Mom
  4. Dear Danielle
  5. Dear Montana
  6. Dear Dad
  7. Dear Anna
  8. Dear Donna
  9. Dear Tony
  10. Dear Bev