happy birthday Mama | October 2014
I’m convinced you’re pure gold.
23 years ago | I was nonexistent
You straight defied a doctor’s millionth “no” —and prayed to the Life-giver with desperation yet belief—and welcomed your “miracle twins” into this world. You believed in us before we existed—and never let me forget I’m a rare and beautiful and almost-didn’t-happen thing. You shared me with your people. You celebrated every first imaginable. You raised me gap-toothed and bubbly, to crawl quick and touch just about anything and push a baby stroller like it was already my job. You taught me the Longhorn hand sign early, how to smile Layne big, how to bear hug and butterfly kiss. You never stopped praying, holding your Isaac babies with open hands, praying for lots of days, for strength, for bravery, for a someday husband, mostly for us to know and delight in and one day meet our Maker.
17 years ago | I was 5
I was stuck clinging to your leg because I’m a mama’s girl and elementary school’s for the bigger kids. You said I’d love it, and you were so so right—and you showed up for surprise lunch dates or storytime or with class cupcakes from kindergarten to senior year. Of college!!!!! You taught me to think big and maybe too much. To befriend the masses. Girls and boys, few years up or down. To talk a lot, at recess and during arithmetic, to see no setting as silence-worthy—until the teacher I just wanted to win over cried about it. To learn, to be inspired—to start filling composition notebooks with teaching practices the someday Miss Hutcheson might implement. To read fast, and read plenty. To lead, that I was made for it—to be brave and go wild chasing the dreams apparently not every kid was dreaming. To smile just because, to delight in sunshine and color and strangers’ hello’s. You taught me about the One that made me—said He loved me, and made me little and lovely—told me He keeps big big things in the tiniest packages. You said He had happy plans in store for me. So I kept a kid-friendly picture Bible bedside. You read it to me, and prayed with me—and you’d turn the lights out and kiss me goodnight. But once you left, I’d pray just like Mommy did. And I began to believe He heard me, that my little shaky scripted prayers were symphonies to Him. That He was big but He loved me bigger that I could dare imagine.
10 years ago | I was 12
You were the halftime snack-provider, the backyard backflip-spotter, the mom-spectacle who balanced rambunctious twins and PTA and a small business and the hundreds of people you invested richly & consistently in. You (still!) wrote lunchbox notes in pretty cursive, and let me wear only blue and orange athletic clothes because it was comfy and I just didn’t care. Paid for two rounds of braces and fancy white coronation dresses and all my one-size-up shoes we prayed I’d grow into. You taught me to time-manage, to say “yes” to soccer and cheerleading and student council and volleyball and fiesta committees and youth group—and back then you were schedule-keeper and schedule keep-upper, and chauffeur while I scribbled homework or fell asleep front seat. You taught me to know people, that platforms are God-given. That all His creatures deserve a friend who sees them as such. That school mattered, that my drive might take me far. That I had to stop faking healthy and perfectly all right, that I was just 75 pounds, pale, at only a third of blood volume—that didn’t have to pretend strong. You stayed beside me in a hospital room, and hid the cookie bouquets and Dr. Peppers and cupcakes I wasn’t allowed to eat. You held my jittery hand, you knew I was scared even when I was too stubborn to ever say so. You played with my hair like I like, and promised me we’d make it through this—that I’d come out of it a fighter, you just knew it. You never ever ever left my side or fell asleep before me, or cried in fear in front of me. You kept telling me I was brave. You still do. You taught me “yes ma’am” and “yes, Lord”. You taught me about Jesus, and made what church delivered dull just sparkle. And I really wanted it! I learned what He did for me, and I couldn’t dare keep it secret. So I made Him mine, and proclaimed doing so to the whole church body. And He washed me new and named me Daughter and I started to see the world and the Word way different.
5 years ago | I was 17
You were my loudest off-beat cheerleader. You stacked my all-over mess into neat little piles and hung my car keys on the hook even though I prefer them mid-hallway so I couldn’t miss them. You always kept up with my scurrying and re-heated 9pm dinner when I was home from it all. You’d walk alongside me into the high school and every kid would race up to you for your famous bear hug, authentic “good to see you!”; you’d call them by name and ask about the girlfriends or football wins or college acceptance letters. You pulled all-nighters with me, simply to keep me company and patch up what I’d procrastinated on. You were essay-editor, back-scratcher, signature-forger when I pretended cheer practices were doctor’s appointments. I forgot to thank you, to really appreciate you. I was too busy running this Layne show, I stopped noticing you. I forgot to love you. You never acknowledged it or loved me less. You oversaid you were proud of me, that you loved me and I better not forget that. You taught me to invite people, to love people, to refuse to be too busy for people. You opened our front door to the anyones, and taught us Jesus and scripture and how to live like we were created to. You promised I was influential, and listened to. You told me to leave a legacy—a good one—and really leave it there as Christ’s love, instead of accolades and applause or anything moth and rust will weather away into nothing. That queen crowns and superlatives ought to give Him the glory. You taught me to love Him. Not to just know Him or labor for Him or impress Him, but to fall in absolute Love with Him. The kind of love I ran away from and looked down upon—that kind of Love, times infinity. You taught me to wait. So I promised I was His and His alone, that He was the real Somebody my heart longed for. You believed in my standards, in my steadfastness. You never stopped learning about Him—so I started to hunt for gold in scripture, store it inside of me, let it rule my thoughts and my efforts. I started to chase Him and work for Him, and ask my up-There Daddy what He’d like me to do for Him today.
today, happy birthday! | I am 22
Still you’re sending long-distance love through the mailbox, in forms of tooth-fairy Halloween costumes or twirly dresses you know I refuse to shop for, or a just-because letter I didn’t even know I needed. Still you’re my in-home tailor, our Young Life team mom; still you’re a keeper, of memorized details and long-ago friendship and my sanity. Still you always tell visitors they’re welcome—to please make yourself at home!—even when it bugs me and it’s the thousandth time I’ve heard you state the house rules, our house an open invitation for anyone who wants in. Still you make an hour drive like it’s not out of the way—to hug your little girl and yank out tears your Mom radar says I’m cooping up. I’m 22 years old and still I can’t help but speed home any chance I get, just to sit with you and eat your chocolate chip cookies and your guacamole that’s something special. And when I’m there, still you (attempt to) force manicures and mall escapades, and love me when I’m too bratty to shop long or try anything on. Still you serve, spur on, and celebrate really anything. Still I find new ways you’ve rubbed off on me: Like the way I say “okay” or describe Grace. Like stealing your graphic design ideas, or really any instance I create. Like after all those years of posing grudgingly for your pictures, I can’t help but have every moment camera-captured. Like the way I pick up kiddos or interior design, or dissect Scripture. Still you’re the queen of power naps and puppy corralling, full of nonstop surprises and the Holy Spirit. Still you make disciples out of preschool mamas and preschoolers and make our Jesus appealing to the most disinterested. Still you love with the selfless kind—that sometimes runs you ragged because you gave every bit of your love away today. Still you’re everyone’s mama. Still you’re my best best best friend, and you know my heart by heart. You detect off-ness before I do, and don’t buy the performance that everybody else fell for. You supply just the words I need, you say the tough stuff—that no one else will. Still you’re my most faithful fan, and loudest cheerleader. And surely, you’re still the only one I’m convinced reads this thing.
But still: You teach me about Jesus. As lover, as Light, as the perfect sacrifice. You grind iron and iron to pretty me up, to make me increasingly more radiant and Christlike. You fight the enemy for me, when I’ve been trusting his words over the Word. You challenge me to keep these hands wide open, adventurous & expectant. You push me towards ministry, and tell me I’m doing a very good thing—regardless of income or prestige, and you stood by me when no one seemed to get it. You love my people simply because they’re my people. You pray wisdom and Truth and glory over me; You long for heaven with me, and remind me that the way He’s kept me childlike is rare—life’s more fun this way. That I am forever your little girl, that I am a beautiful handmade thing. I’ll say it straight up: I want to be you when I grow up. You are my (2nd) favorite Rabbi, and I’ll trail behind you forever Mamacita. I love you best friend.