Eight.

Dear Daughter who turns 8 this week,

I have very little original material to add to the canon of cliched things parents say when their kids turn another year.We hyperventilate How did this happen? and reminisce I swear we just brought her home from the hospital! Those are part of the theatrics of parenting. The powers of the human growth hormone are still amazing to us, apparently. As is the fact that you are no longer capable of being burrito-wrapped and carried in a bucket seat all day.

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But we feel those things, sincerely. We feel them in the depths of our being. They often mask even deeper feelings of great gratitude that one more candle has been added to your cake, and tinges of grief that you are growing into a more refined version of who you are–and in turn, growing farther away from us. You are still close in proximity but your being is further removed from our control. Your reflexes sometimes surprise us, your questions sometimes alarm us, but your smile still completely disarms us.

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The other day, you handed me a page you had torn out of your wordsearch book. It was an ad for a vinegar diet. The? You gave it to me like it was a recipe card for a smoothie that I might try, and then you kept asking me about it and asking me about it and finally you said, “I know. You think I’m saying you’re fat.” Which, okay. I must have mentioned buying a diet soda recently and it triggered you to offer me this poor man’s brochure for Jenny Craig. And you’ve probably absorbed lots of messaging around dieting and fat-shame from random tween room tours on YouTube. But I’m marking this as one of those odd milestones wherein we had a good reckoning. You brought up something not intending to hurt me but you could sense that this was one of those complicated life moments of loaded intentions and outcomes. And I shared that this had hurt my feelings and that no one in our family needed to go on a diet. Especially not a vinegar one. Please never a vinegar one.

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This is the beauty of your growth. You’ve emerged from the puppetry of being 1, 2, 3, when you echo our words, when your head turns and your mouth opens and your eyes close with the rhythms of your puppeteers. You are free-standing now, on a stage removed, with directions and an unwritten script. And we are so disgustingly proud of you.

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You are a thoughtful, conscientious, wonderfully inventive beauty of a girlchild. You are still wildly affectionate with an enthusiasm that we cannot harness. You do very well in school. Your bedroom walls are papered thick with pictures of horses. You still coach your dolls and stuffed animals in hushed tones and I imagine you are teaching them a progressive anti-bullying curriculum. You overhear me talking on the phone and chastise me for what you perceive as gossip. You amaze me. I love you and I like you.

But most importantly, you know Christ’s love for you, and I pray that He continues to take hold of your heart. I pray that you make Him your best friend and become even bolder for Him. You live your life in exclamation marks now. I pray that you will become eight times eight times eight times eight times even more exclamatory about Jesus, for whom you are still one of His best ideas yet.

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Love,

Mama

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How all of life is like a DJ Khaled snapchat

Because I interface with millennial students on the daily, I use phrases like “on the daily” and think I can hang. When really my students just humor me enough to answer my questions about the snapchat platform. In fact, that sentence I just wrote? Embarrassed them. They would never permit themselves to say that, The Snapchat Platform, which is why I’m apt to say it all the more.

It’s also the reason why I love me some DJ Khaled on snapchat because he posts on the daily and teaches me all sorts of meme-worthy expressions so that I can better hang. So I can win more. So I can show my fan luv.

If you are not acquainted with DJ Khaled and his place in the snapchatosphere, allow me to introduce you. Or if you are acquainted, tell me whether we the best.

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How DJ Khaled’s Snapchat is an Everyman Story

1. When you’re the hero, you’re DJ Khaled.

DJ K’s positude is irrepressible. He never goes negative. Every other snap is dedicated to a positive lifestyle (weekly mani-pedis, thinktime in the hammock) or a pep talk in which he appears to be coaching both his fans and himself on the keys to success. When you’re the champion of your own narrative, when you’re so convinced of your own comeuppance, you are DJ Khaled.

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2. When you’re the enemy, you’re the They.

DJ K knows They are always lurking. They don’t want you to enjoy your balanced breakfast (and of course, water). They think you’re fat. DJ K never thinks about that evil force, he says. His positive energy is so persuasive that you can almost forgive him for saying things like “Stay away from They,” (and printing a line of clothes with this motto to boot). We all know it should be “Stay away from them.” If you gravitate too close to the They, though, or you gaze too far into the eyes of They, then the abyss may become you. Stay away from They.

3. When you’re the accomplice in the story, you’re Chef Dee.

The script for DJ K’s personal chef, Chef Dee, does not shift too much. Her lines are fairly easy to memorize. Responding to the question, “Chef Dee, What’s good?” She simply recites the menu du’jour which always looks amazing and mostly healthy indeed. But you can tell this woman does not mess. She has no time for play. Her affect is pretty flat because she is the all-important hero sidekick. Hustling. Helping our hero win more.

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4. When you are the backdrop, you are Lion.

The garden statue, Lion, is iconic to the DJ Khaled snapchat featurette. Whenever DJ K needs to issue a lion order–which,…whatever–he visits upon this great cat of the garden. Everyman’s story needs a Lion. It needs a setting. A backdrop. A place where you can look over your dominion and consider how it is so verdant.

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5. When you reach the Everyman’s destination, you’ve blessed up.
Once again, I would otherwise be opposed to superfluous prepositions but DJ K just snatches me aboard on his proverbial jet ski (or literal jet ski would be fine, too) on the journey to success. He knows that our ultimate goal is to give glory to God, and to bless up. Even if that’s inviting all of your fans to cash mob a restaurant you own–which,…whatever–is part of blessing up.

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Show up.
Show fan luv.
Stay away from They.
Bless up.
Win more.
And of course, water.

Photos from Fusion Snapchat takeover by DJ Khaled, Chef Dee’s Twitter

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Why is Quiet so Loud?

Basically every single night of Little Man’s life, he has fallen asleep in the company of his parents. The voyage to dreamland is not a solo one for him. We went from co-sleeping to rocking him to sleep and, now, every single night for as long as he was too big for the rocking chair, we sit in his room, playing soft piano music until the boy is KOd.

Sometimes it is so annoying and I’m done with enabling this arrangement but mostly–it’s the best. It’s peaceful and bonding and meditative and there is something quite awe-inspiring about being there each night for the graceful drift another human makes from the conscious to the unconscious state. I notice it’s also a time when Baby Girl is engrossed in narrative play with her dolls, setting up micro-living rooms where they discuss the latest in American Girl Doll fashion, I assume. This time of quiet, it does something for our son to have one of us there and it does something for our daughter to have us both undisposed . I realize now as I am typing this: it does something for us as parents, too.

Which is to say that I am pretending to discover land that is already well-inhabited territory. I’ve stumbled upon a thing that is, for all intents and purposes, an element in the periodic table of life that everyone knows about already, that everyone has memorized and understands its usage. So why is the messaging around Quiet so loud?

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The magazines tell us how to structure our Me Time, as if it were a bureau dresser from IKEA. Spas tantalize with promises of peace for the price of an hour-long massage. Quiet has been commodified, luxurified. But oxygen is not a luxury, nor are clothes a fringe benefit. Quiet time should not be something that is reserved as in four-star dining. Quiet is a need, a necessary ingredient in wholeness. It is not simply the absence of noise but the intentionality around whatever creates a haven for reflection. So, again, why is the messaging around quiet so loud?

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Because we have allowed it to be so. We pretend to steal away private moments to pray, to meditate, to breathe, all the while worried that there might be a gaping hole in the universe we will have to replenish with our busy-ness and idle small talk.

I am here to say that Quietude does not affect our carbon footprint, my friends. The messaging will tell us that to seek a quiet life is a radical act of surrender and even selfishness. But it is one of the very things that we need more of, that we need to drink in and breathe out and become better and braver because we have been quiet.

What if the work to stay relevant was less prized than the work we must do to preserve ourselves in irrelevance? What if Donald Trump relaxed his face for a few minutes, what if Marissa  Mayer took a radically longer maternity leave? What if umpires and baseball managers, instead of squaring off on the mound in disagreement, took a full minute of silence before they tried to settle a dispute about a fly ball? What if we changed the expression “For crying out loud” to “For crying in my corner!” What if quiet were less of a library standard and more the atmosphere of our world?

Hartshorn's Baby Primer

One of the coolest things I heard a business woman say in the last year was “Sleep is an act of worship.” Ruth Simons, an entrepreneur and mother of six boys said that, as an exhortation about leaning in too much to the din of social media and online hyperactivity. Sleep, and in effect, quiet, are extraordinarily ordinary acts that glorify the Heavens for their providence — in spite of all that we fancy ourselves able to do here as mere mortals. I can tell you that I could use a few more nights of working the evening shift with my little man. While I am supposedly Waiting him out to fall asleep, I am also Becoming Quiet, committing a random and necessary act of worship.

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