A Love Letter to my Babies (a.k.a. my youth group girls)

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Just a normal day: Strong women, covered in mud.

Warning: This love letter/post is TOTES long.

Dear Beloved,

HEY GIRL HEY!/Sup.

Let me begin by saying how proud I am of all of you. You all sparkle in your own way, and are making your marks on the world. I am so excited to see glimpses of the young women you are becoming; I know our world is and will continue to be a much better place because you are in it, and are intent on changing it for the better (in your own and unique ways)! Some of you have started your careers already (Oh Lord…I am ANCIENT), some of you are sweating it out in college, trying to figure out who you want to be when “you grow up”, and the rest of you are simply trying to survive high school and middle school, figuring out who you are in the midst of so many voices and influences on either side.

I want you to know that I love each and every one of you. You ladies are beautiful, and are my heart. God sent each and every one of you to me, and I will always be grateful for that. You ladies may also be the only babies I ever have, and if that turns out to be true, then that’s okay. I excitedly take part (for as much or as little as you want me too) in raising you, or at the very least, be a listening ear for whatever life throws at you (either happy or sad). Seriously, I brag on all of you, like 100% of the time to all of my family and friends.

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Yeah, I tend to not follow directions when taking group pictures. My bad.

Thank you for your faith in me, even as I have let you all down in some way or another. Y’all are constantly encouraging me, laughing at my dumb and nerdy jokes, and are always greeting me with warm smiles. Truthfully, I don’t understand what exactly you lovelies see in me that makes you want to keep hanging out with me (or befriending me on Facebook); however, it warms and fills my heart (kinda like the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, except I am not green and furry) whenever you beg me to eat dinner with you, sit with you at church, or insist that I come to a Chorus concert, soccer game, or just out to lunch/coffee/smoothies to hang out. You allow me to embarrass you by doing one (or all) of the following:

1. Praising all of your accomplishments out loud to anyone who’s listening
2. Doing the jump/clap thing I do when I celebrate your accomplishments
3. And, if you are feeling down, allowing me sing loudly to you any song of your choice, complete with a nerdy dance I made up OR my attempts at the latest new dance craze (is the Dougie still a thing?)

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You guys may not know this, but the picture is sooooooo love.

Thank you for also being cool in my group driving abilities, as I may or may not have side-swiped church vehicles against, let’s say, a parking garage pole, or the church van port. Or driven THE WRONG FREAKING WAY down a one-way street in, say, downtown Baltimore. Or pulled off a NASCAR turn in a church bus into a narrow farm driveway in Goochland, VA. I have appreciated all of the slow claps, the exaggerated prayers to Jesus for sparing your lives (lovelies, it was not that bad), and ultimately encouraging me and laughing at/with me about it later. Jerks. 🙂

Somehow, even with all of my flaws, you always see the best in me, and are ALWAYS planning out my future: me, being rich (I’m not sure how this always is a factor), with a husband (who is a GORGEOUS firefighter/Army guy/Doctor hybrid with a Southern accent), and 7 kids*.

*(I want to take a break for a second to discuss the kids part. WHERE IN THE HECK DID YOU GET THE IDEA THAT I WOULD HAVE 7 KIDS?! Lovelies, that’s a LOT of babies to carry and push out of my business-end-of-things. Yes, I know you ALL told me that I could have them in “batches”…but listen here sweetsies: Having babies is NOT like baking cookies, or having puppies. That much I do know.) Thank you for having faith in me and my future mothering skills, but please stop discussing my “womb of fire” (adorably/disturbingly your phrase and not mine. I love you for it, but let’s talk about LITERALLY anything else next time, mmmkay?)

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Adorable. Or, as my girls would say, this pic is totes adorbs.

I want you to know that whilst my many reasons for creating this blog are varied and full of meaning (as some of you have already read), one BIG reason that unites them all is this: I am doing this for you. I want to be the woman you (and God) see me to be, and I want to live honestly and healthfully, so that I can continue to be there for all of you many moons from now. You demand (in your own quiet ways) honesty and “realness” from me, and I love you all enough to finally put aside facades to show my scars, as well as my smiles.  As I have told some of you before (but it bears repeating to all of you): In the very wise words from Sir Justin Timberlake: you guys are my mirror, (oh oh), my mirror staring back at me (oh oh)…I see how God sees me in your faces, and I want to fight this fight so that someday, you may not have to.

Let me expound (big word alert) on that last sentence: I don’t want you to be like me, my sweet chickadees. I don’t want to grow up hearing that you are too much (too fat, too nerdy, too weird, too smart) and not enough (not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not cool enough). I don’t want you all to be scared of your own shadows or hold yourself back in life, all because some pretty crappy people told you some ugly un-truths and in doing so, broke your heart so deeply that it takes you 30 years to try to put it back together. I don’t want you to build walls around yourselves because of all of the pain you have felt in just trying to live your life, all of the crappy things that you have experienced that makes you feel like you are simply trying to survive. I don’t want you to EVER question who you are because someone or something told you that you just aren’t good enough and are too WHATEVER to fit into a mold.

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Lovelies, life is a gift, and it is meant to be lived with a brave and open heart. Let me share with you a lesson that it has taken me 30 years to learn (and am still learning): Whilst it’s totes safer to close yourself off from and build walls around yourself so that you don’t have to feel pain and hurt, these walls can also box you in your own prison, “protecting” you from yourself. These walls you made can trap you within yourself, and in turn the words that you tried to block are trapped in with you. They echo off of the walls, and you can’t escape it. It’s only in reaching out in honesty and asking for strength and help that you are able to knock down these walls; it’s only in being brave enough to be vulnerable to learn the truth about yourself that you can move on from the prison (and live a free life).

I want you to remember something I learned from a favorite book and movie of mine (and no, this is not from The Hunger Games, even though I have talked about them AT LENGTH with all of you and how much I love them so):

You are kind. You are smart. You are important. (from The Help)

Anytime someone tells you something about you that you just freakin’ KNOW is not true, repeat these words to yourself, over and over. Eventually, you will believe it, because it’s true; I know it to be true. Don’t EVER let anyone tell you that you are “too much” or “not enough”; you. Are. Enough. You are all so beautiful, and you all bring so much light into the world. Don’t associate with ANYONE who is trying to bring you down and extinguish your life.  NEVER forget that you have in your possession a heart with a HUGE capacity to love, a brain made for all of your smart thoughts, a voice to use to speak up, and smile to show the world that NO ONE can take away your light (no matter how hard it may try). You matter. Always know that for as many who may “hate” you or just not like you, there are many more who love you all to bits and pieces, and think the world of you. I don’t want you to ponder what life would be like if you didn’t exist, because guess what: it would suck.

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I taught her everything she knows. BWAHAHAHAHA

Lovelies, live your lives knowing these truths: You are kind. You are smart. You are important. You matter. You are beautiful. (God doesn’t do ugly.) You all have something to bring to the world, and each and every one of you have the capacity to change it for the better. Your very existence brings GINORMOUS blessings upon the world around you, and I can’t wait to see what you make of it. Your very BEING is so bright that it makes me (and everyone around you who loves you) smile so freakin’ big. Don’t let the walls, moats, prisons, towers, etc. overcome you and guard who you are from the rest of the world. This is no way to live. Be brave!

My beautiful babies, I love you. Thank you for being my mirror. From the here and the now, I want to make you this promise (with God on my side, of course): Just as all of you have so valiantly fought for me (whether you knew it or not), I promise I will do the same for you. I REFUSE and WILL NOT allow you to believe anything about yourself that is NOT the truth, and I will not let you create walls around your heart to protect the world from yourself. The world make not always greet you with open arms, but guess what: I will. So will your loved ones, aka the ones who matter most to you. We WANT to see and celebrate who you are. We love you! I promise that when the walls start laying themselves back up, I will look into my mirrors, and knock them down; I also promise that I will do the same for you. I promise to always be there for you, no matter what. When life knocks you down, I will be there to remind you to keeping swimming through the storm (and to swim it with you); when life lifts you to the craziest highs, I will also be there to do my happy jump/clap thing, complete with squeals and giggles. (You gals know you love this.) God brought you all to me, and why would I want to throw away such a cool gift?

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Thank you for being my heart, and for always believing in me, no matter what. Thank you for being my light. Thank you for giving me strength to be honest and brave (and encouraging me to write this blog). Thank you for loving me with all my quirks and flaws, and never allowing me to justify these quirks and flaws for when things are not so awesome in my life. I hope to make you all proud, and I promise I will continue on this journey and give it all that I got.

Remember (this bears repeating): You are kind. You are smart. You are important. You matter. You are beautiful.

I love you!

Ashley

Thank you for being my light.

Thank you, God, for giving me my babies. They are the lights of my life. 🙂

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One thought on “A Love Letter to my Babies (a.k.a. my youth group girls)

  1. Stephanie Warner says:

    You’re capacity to love will help your beautiful inside break through the outside walls you’ve created to protect your heart. You are extremely beautiful Ashley, you always have been. I hope through this journey you will finally see the beauty we have seen in you all along.

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