Friday, February 22, 2019


I came across a document this week when I was sorting through our overstuffed filing cabinet. It is two xeroxed sheets of paper, stapled together and taken from the pages of a lined notebook, the words written in my dad’s half-cursive script. 

The papers came into my possession sometime this past year, along with a pile of old mail that had arrived at their address. My parents were sorting through their own files and I stored it away for safekeeping and subsequently forgot about it. This morning, I had the urge to pull it out and take a closer look. 

Without a doubt, my mom and dad did an incredible job as parents. This document is only a tiny piece of evidence toward that end. Graham and I often talk about how they are some of the most intentional people that we know, how they put so much energy and forethought into raising my siblings and I, and also into always bettering their own relationship and marriage. One of their practices that I really admire, was their commitment to get away twice a year together, just the two of them. The first trip was always a true vacation - a week away for the sole purpose of connecting and having fun. Their second annual trip was a “working” weekend, where they would step back and take the pulse of our family. They would look at their relationship as a couple, their parenting, and how each of us kids were doing. Then they would devise goals for the year that would promote growth in each of the areas they discussed. (See, did I not say that they are some of the most intentional people I know?!)

I’m quite sure the two pages I found in my filing cabinet were the result of one of the latter “working” weekends. The paragraphs below were likely written in response to prompts found in one of the many parenting books they were reading at the time. I can’t read them without tearing up. The words were penned when I was 9 ½ years old, which feels particularly significant since our oldest turns 9 ½ on Monday. Though the handwriting is my dad’s, and I believe the content is as well, I know he would be the first to give credit to my mom for her role as the driving force in making these “working” weekends, and the precious fruit of them like the words that follow, happen.

Feb 1993


Descriptive Phrases - quick to catch on, driven, leader, controller, manipulator, perfectionist, needing reassurance, motivated, self-paced, savor of momentos and junk, tough, can bear pain

In her free time Kelsie would choose to 1) read 2) play with one other person (as opposed to a group)

She doesn’t like to be told what to do or forced to do something she doesn’t want to do. She also doesn’t like to be ridiculed in public. She doesn’t like things that take time.

Kelsie’s special abilities include her memory and quick learning skills and her leader qualities. She has a quick wit. She is a natural swimmer.

Without a doubt, she is a leader

When she grows up she wants to be a mother, but beyond that I haven’t heard her talk much. She would make a strong business leader, a lawyer, or president

Her positive character traits include a love for making things for others, her drive.

Her negative character traits are an insensitivity to others when she has personal gain at risk. She can be cold and unforgiving, tough to break. Her self-pity and her nagging can be annoying

I am thankful for her strong leadership and her ability to quickly grasp a new subject. I am pleased she chooses to read and grow in her spare moments. She is creative in the number of crafts and activities she dreams up. I pray that she would be sensitive to the hearts of others as she leads, that she would learn to lead more by inspiration, less by dictation. Also that she would have patience. 

I want to continue to provide her with subjects to explore through her reading. I want to help show her by example, and other means, methods of leading that are uplifting. I also want to develop her athletic abilities that she had recessed. Her quick mental ability and alertness combined with some learned agility could result in athletic competence. 

I want to help develop her sensitivity toward others. I want to help her learn better ways of seeking to get her way and to help her to control her self pity. 

I also pray that God would keep her on the right track. I worry about her rebelling her parents teaching and going the opposite direction. She has the strength to make a go of it on her own and is capable of getting herself deeply into the wrong course. I pray I would be able to give her the love she needs so she would not seek it elsewhere. 

Is anyone else sobbing right now?? It is difficult to express all that these two pages communicate to me, even today as his thirty-four-year-old adult daughter. To think so many of the qualities that make me who I am were visible to my dad at the ripe young age of nine! I’m struck by just how known I was (and still am) by him, a fact that brings me to tears. It is a tender and necessary part of our humanity to be known and understood. My dad’s descriptions of me are soberingly accurate (embarrassingly so, in many instances). Yet, simply being known isn’t enough. One must also receive love and acceptance. Even when he calls out some of my not-so-great qualities, I find the love and acceptance my dad has for me bursting it’s way through each of the lines.

Just yesterday, I was shuttling the kids around town and listening to the radio when “Known” by Tauren Wells came on. I’ve heard the song many times before, but yesterday my circumstances were just so to allow the words to really seep in. I snapped out of my driving daze and called the kids’ attention to the music. 

“Listen to what he is singing,” I told them. I wanted them to absorb the message too.

If I could only impart one thing to my children, it would be for them to grasp the unfathomable love God has for each of them, in all of their strengths and in their imperfections. I don’t ever want them to feel the urge to hide or cower in shame, but rather to live in confidence that they are “fully known and loved,” exactly how they are.

I can’t say I was thinking of my dad at the time the song came on. But as I sit here, it is clear that this tangible love I feel reading these two pages written by him, provide me the best possible earthly picture of the relentless, ravishing wholly-accepting love that my Heavenly Father has for me. If my earthly father knows me and calls me out with such stunning accuracy and still loves me, how much MORE am I known and loved and accepted by God. Now that really makes me weep!  

So, thanks, Dad, twenty-six years later, for these precious words that you penned. They speak love in ways I’m sure you never imagined. 

PS - I might not be president (yet), but I hope I’ve made at least a little progress in some of the areas you prayed would develop. :)

PPS - I think if you had laminated this document and presented it to Graham for him to review and sign off on before we got married, perhaps you would have saved him a lot of trouble. ;)

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