Dear Emma,

I know how it must seem… I’m your mom and here I am leaning into my career and picking up travel days. I know your days at daycare aren’t perfect, as made evident by today’s bite mark on your cheek (although you could’ve fooled me with those smiling eyes when you ran to greet me – you’re so sweet!). I know that our weekly routine feels rushed sometimes and that it can be tiring for both us… That’s why I need to write you this letter. I need you to know why when the opportunity to add one more plate to my juggling act came around, I just couldn’t say “no.”

To be honest, my heart told me what my answer would be before the question was asked but that doesn’t mean I didn’t consider every minute I would have to spend away from you and what that might look like for us, for our family. We’re told that there’s a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  Well, I asked around and it seems that this time, these early months and years of your life, were given to me to give to you, Emma Jo. This is the time, while you’re so young and inquisitive and you soak up information like a sponge, that I need to pour into you.

So why would I agree to pour into a group of 9th grader girls I had yet to meet?

Because I had to.

I don’t know that there is any way to write this without sounding like a total quack to you but God put this on my heart. I think He planted this desire in me when I was in high school and He has been tending to me every year since, waiting for me to bloom.

You would think that I would’ve recognized it earlier. That I would know that my God, a God of grace and freedom, would be able to cultivate a desire in me to be the type of presence in these girls’ lives that I wished for myself when I was their age without actually forcing me into it. Would He let me make excuses year after year if it was so important? Would He let my desire to please others lead me into false service if He had called me somewhere else? Where is my whale?

He’s much more patient than some people would have you believe, Emma. Each year that I’ve made excuses or felt that someone else’s calling must be my own, He has waited. And each year He has asked, “Are you willing this time?”

So you see, I had to say “yes.” Because once you see the question laid bare for what it really is: “Will  you respond to my call?” (“Whom shall I send?” (Isaiah 6:8a)), I hope you see that’s it’s so much more than another plate to juggle. It’s about obedience.

Em, if this time away is too much, I am yours.

But we are His.

I’ve thought a lot about it. My delay in answering His call may mean that this year will simply be a lesson in obedience… but I have a feeling He has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). You don’t have to trust me in this; you can trust Him.

I love you, Emma Josephine.