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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Dear Audrey

DSC_0293 Dear Audrey,

We leave for Rwanda in three days, and I am thrilled to be taking this trip with you. There are so many reasons for gratitude to God as I reflect in preparation. You are fourteen, and it seems so suddenly that you have become a young woman. Where is the wispy blond-haired girl who sang the alphabet song, twirled in princess dresses, and curled in my lap, begging for another book?  I regret the blur of the years and wish now I could have slowed the frames of your childhood. Given another chance, I would keep a firmer grip on time. Because for all the early maturity that was, by necessity, handed to you as the oldest of five, now that you are fourteen, the irony is that I want you young.

I know the years ahead - the process of you becoming you - will put inevitable distance to us. Individuation, I think they call it, assuring parents it is natural and normal. But that doesn't prevent the intense longing to hold on tighter. And as you've mentioned a time (or three hundred), there are only four more years at home with us before you leave for college. I can't help but hope that in the four years ahead, I will be a better mother to you that I have been in the fourteen years past. Forgive, won't you, all that wrong I have done to you? Someday you might also know that pain of parental regret, of knowing the terrible grief your own brokenness has caused your child. For that regret, for those griefs, I trust the tender, perpetually renewing mercies of God. I believe that by his grace, he is accomplishing a good work in you - despite all the wrong we have done as your parents.

Audrey, I want you to know how proud we are of you. It's not about your academic accomplishments, although we are thankful that you have worked hard. It's not about your musical achievements, although we marvel at the gifts God has given you. Rather, we simply delight in the person you are becoming - most of all, that you are a young woman longing to follow Jesus. When I find you in the basement, seated at your desk, hunched over your Bible, I thank God. When you share with me how you stayed up late explaining the gospel to a friend, I give him praise. When you hug your little brothers, taking such evident delight in them, I marvel at God's plan for our family. (I'll keep praying that you'll develop, over the years, an equal measure of love for your sister and other brother!) Even at the young age of fourteen, I see that you are becoming a woman of noble character: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised," (Prov. 31:30). Certainly there will be mistakes ahead - because that is a part of growing up! I trust that as you make those mistakes, you'll sense the sure and steady hand of grace beneath you.

What gifts I am learning to cherish from God, not least that I simply enjoy being with you, Audrey. And to think that your heart is like a plowed field in springtime, ready to receive whatever God has to give. My prayers for you on this trip are many. May you see, with the eyes of Christ, the people of Rwanda, growing in your capacity for loving the world God loves. Maybe you begin to discover some of the good works God has prepared in advance for your life. May you grow in generosity and simplicity, remembering that you have been given much and much will be required of you. Most of all, may you encounter the living Christ, as Peter did (cf. Matt. 15:13-20). And as you declare your faith in him - "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," may you hear him call you out: You are Audrey.

May our relationship deepen - as you confide (and I learn to listen better).

And may we each be formed into the image of Christ, growing in obedience, in willing self-sacrifice, in compassion and courage. Let us learn to love the things he loves and hate what he despises.

I bless you, Audrey, and speak over you the words spoken over your father and I when we married 19 years ago:

May God be gracious to you and bless you and make his face to shine upon you, that his way may be known on earth, his saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for God judges the peoples with equity and guides the nations upon earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him! (Psalm 67)

I love you, Mom