Rich- Vision Letter
I confess that I was surprised to hear you say you were afraid that your baggage from your family of origin would somehow irrevocably damage us or our family. I can certainly understand that fear once I heard you articulate it, but it does surprise me because that is not how I see you at all. One of the things I love most about you is that you are always diligent to learn and grow, always looking for areas to work on and change, and you are quick to admit you are wrong and repent when you are convicted. Those qualities enable me to rest and not be afraid because God is faithful to show you what you need to know when you need to know it and you are faithful to respond to His work in your life. Because I know that your heart’s desire is to listen to God and walk in His ways, even when I don’t agree with you on something, I can be at rest and wait for God to work out the unity between us.
Because I have this great faith in your desire to hear God and follow him and because of the safety that provides me, I think sometimes I miss seeing you where you are at because I am seeing you for what you are. I am sorry for missing you and for my lack of patience with your struggles. I do think God desires for you to be more integrated, for the confidence and assurance that you project to the world around you to actually be a manifestation of the certain and unshakable state of your soul.
This letter is hard for me to write because it seems that God is taking you on a journey where he designates each step and I don’t have much of a say in it. But as I was reflecting on the last few years of the journey, it became apparent to me that He really is working to make you fearless.
A few years ago I was stunned to learn how this fear that was hidden from me for decades, had directed and shaped so much of our relationship and our lives. As I think about our last few years, I see God working to make you truly fearless. He says that the antidote to fear is perfect love, and you certainly haven’t experienced that much in your relationships. But I do see Him working that out in you, teaching you how to receive perfect love from Him, how to receive a poor reflection of His perfect love from me and others, and how to magnanimously give an ever more perfect love to the ones you are called to love.
I think you are right to say that you heal people through the unusually comprehensive and intrusive relationship that you offer. And yet, the fear taints it and erodes it around the edges, sometimes creeping into the very center. That is the vision I see of you, a glorious relating without even a blemish of fear.
Perpetual positive forward motion is one of your great gifts, but it can be wearying for those of us riding on that train with you. I see you learning to live in a more understanding way, learning how to just be and enjoy the place where you are at. There is growth in being, in the stillness, in the enjoyment of the place you are at on the journey. You will never be at this place again. God has something special and unique right here, and this is your only opportunity to gain and enjoy it. And because of your commitment to forward momentum, I never worry that we will become complacent or staid.
I think that is the vision I am starting to see for us, always growing and stretching, but actually enjoying the process with each other. Patiently waiting for God to initiate the next step and gratefully accepting whatever it is.
So that, my dear (the first man to capture my heart, in case you were wondering) is how I see you. Fearlessly confident in who God has made you and what He has asked you to do, extending a glorious, clean, complete and healing relationship to an amazing variety and number of people, but most importantly to me and our family, and finding life in every step of the journey, not in merely arriving at an elusive destination.
Thank you for choosing me to enjoy the journey with you. I love you.
I love you. I am grateful for the you that cannot die and is always beautiful. I count on you and trust you before our father. I am thankful for this opportunity to declare to others the passion in my heart for your indestructible beauty. I see with the kids a quiet, patient love emerging from you. God is with you and I see it.
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You were the second man to totally capture my heart. The last ten years of my life have contained more laughter, more adventure, more fun than the previous 30 years combined. I have about three good stories from my entire childhood, but you- you have three good stories every week or so. Living with you is like the books I loved to read as a child where everyday life is just fun and daring and exciting and important. Nick, you are truly a catalyst- things just happen when you are around.
I love you. You have so much energy for people, ideas, and life that I can't imagine what the world was like without Nick. You will be an influencer in this world. You can also be a great lover of people, even telling me when I'm being mean. You have the gospel in your heart - seeking to get along with everyone while yet helping everyone to move in a new direction.
When I look into you I see energy, life, influence, power, success, joy, hope, faithfulness, and loyalty. No wonder you have so many friends, who wouldn't want to be friends with someone like you. When channeled for the good of those around you, you do things that amaze and delight me. Whether it was my birthday gift of the simple statements to encourage me, or the way you went out with passion to sell bracelets, I often think of how proud I am of you.
I am also amazed at how the Father loves you and grants you influence with him. I remember the first lacrosse game where you scored a goal as God encouraged you along, and the special way he even made lacrosse possible for you. I think about our Duke game, or even how often we made it to school right on time. When the hand of God is on someone again, amazing things happen and you energize any group.
So Nick that is my vision of you - Nick the Amazing with the Father and I standing and enjoying you not for how you impact me and others, but the love - energy that allows you to keep impacting us to become better people. You are like a tree in a garden that produces multiple kinds of fruit from the same tree. It's just bizaare interesting and amazing all at once. When you've come and gone, it's hard to calculate the impact of being with you. You are engaging in many different ways and have love, energy, and compassion for people that far surpasses anything I was capable of as a 10 year old boy.
How can I and your mom help, pruning, providing opportunity, ensuring you understand your impact both good and bad and training in our faith in Jesus so that you don't start believing that you are great apart from God, but great because you are a tree firmly planted in his garden.
I am for you and ask God to give me strength to see how wide and deep his love can make a little boy with a BIG HEART. You are destined for greatness son, just measure it in God's terms and don't give up greatness before him for greatness in the world's eyes - they are always raising the bar.
I love you,
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My dear Zack,
When I think of you, I always smile because you always bring joy to my heart. For me, you personify kindness, goodness, generosity, encouragement and delight. You are easy to be with, you do not make demands or complain, you are cooperative and helpful, and you are generally happy and content. You were the baby who rarely cried and always smiled, and now you are the boy who loves from his whole heart and unabashedly blesses people with his presence.
You are so smart and such a hard worker. I have been amazed at how diligent you are and how little you complain about the work you have to do. You love to learn and you are always so enthusiastic about all of the new things you are encountering at school.
You sit in an awkward place in our family between two very strong brothers with pronounced personalities and gifts. I think God chose that place for you because your unfailing kindness reaches down to David as the youngest and your gracious generosity keeps you open and available to Nick.
The sensitive nature that makes you such an abundant lover of people also gives you a great sensitivity to the injustice all around you and that injustice often breeds resentment. However, I think God gave you a great capacity to defeat the resentment and anger that naturally follows injustice. I see you struggle with that every day and I love the way you strive to never give in and let the anger and resentment win. I also see you as someone who will one day fight great battles against injustice on behalf of others. In Micah 6:8, God tells us to, “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” That is what I see in you already at eight years old and I am privileged to watch those qualities grow and develop in you as you become a young man.
Zack, I think your great gift is that you have an uncanny ability to dispel someone else’s loneliness. When you are with someone, loneliness flees and you create a sense of togetherness and belonging. Even as a very little boy, you would enter into what I was doing, take my hand, and say, “let’s do togedder.” I see that as the genius behind your unique way of providing leadership. It is subtle and edifying and requires a Jesus-kind of strength.
I met an older gentleman this year who has become a lot of the things I see beginning in you. His name is Carl Wilhelm, and he has walked fearlessly into a terrifying and tragic situation, he has joined in with us and has been a true and trustworthy advocate, and he has provided wise and good council to help us stay the course and win the battle. All the while, he has been gentle and kind and fair and strong. That is the kind of man I think you will become. You already have a natural meekness, like Jesus, a humble, gentle and uncompromising strength.
My vision for you is that you would be so sure of your place, so certain of where you belong, so true to the unique strength God has given you, that you can be confident in who you are no matter who you are compared to, that you can stand under any injustice, that you can love under any circumstance, always maintaining that strong, sweet composure that is so dependable and attractive and delightful to those of us who live with you.
I love you.
I love you and am grateful to God for giving me you as a son. You are a warm, kind-hearted easy to be around kid who brings everyone "together". When I see you so proud of your family and friends and grateful for them, it warms my heart and makes me grateful for what I have in you.
You are putting forward a great deal of effort in school and with very little complaint and a tremendous amount of self-control. I see it in piano and in swimming as well. When you give your "heart" to something you can give it in a way that you can truly abandon how others think about you and just be "all in".
I also enjoy how you focus on truth and ensuring that we all understand the various rules that exist for our benefit - like filling the tank of gas when the light turns yellow or going the speed limit. You make me a better person and remind me of the truth.
My vision of you is someone who wants to help everyone get a long and makes the compromises necessary to make it happen. You win others over through kindness, generosity and friendship while yet being able to enjoy your time alone. I see you like a honeycrisp apple tree - you never get tired of eating the fruit and it is almost always sweet to the taste.
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Rich & Karlene wrote our "vision" for our daughter in 2012 as a part of the Soul Care Experience with Larry & Rachel Crabb
My dear Ivy,
I could write pages and pages about your many talents and accomplishments; I could talk about your brilliant and agile mind, your faultlessly consistent work ethic, your skilled athleticism in the water, your exotic and beautiful face and form, your avid penchant for music and drama and other creative pursuits; I could go on. Ivy, you are so versatile, confident, excellent and competent. I love all of things about you and I am so proud of the things you do and the way that you do them. And while all of that is an intrinsic and vital part of who you are, the outcome of all that effort is not where you will find life.
You see, when I sit still and ponder you for a little while, I think your essence is something more essential and substantial than all of the things that you do. Everything is just better when you are there. Your presence provides civility, beauty, direction, calm, laughter, companionship, comfort, relief, help, understanding, the assurance that everything is OK.
I find it ironic that your current three biggest fears and frustrations, awkwardness, boredom and annoyances, are all things you seem perfectly chosen to eradicate. Because when you are really with us and fully engaged in giving us all that you are, you dispel the awkwardness and turn it into belonging, you relieve the boredom and transform it into pleasure, and you distract and redirect the annoyances and change them to delights.
I think that is why God put your first in our family. You play a vital role in shaping our family and determining what we will be together. And when you are doing this without restriction or dread our family is beautiful and fun and solid and wholesome.
We really need you, and we need you to need us. I love your self-sufficiency. I depend on it. I couldn’t get through my day if you didn’t perform at such a high level and still have space left over to help me. But sometimes that self-sufficiency robs us of what we need and desire in you. When you hold back, we miss out, and I think you miss out too. You miss out on filling the place God prepared for you and you miss out on the fulfillment and satisfaction of being who you are instead of merely what you do. And yet, I see so much growth in you in this area this past year.
You are an effortless leader. You have command and influence because you are Ivy Cannon and God declared that you would be a fundamental creator of community and family in the places He gives you. I am so grateful that He chose to put you with me. In the places God designated for you, you are intrinsic. You bring rightness, shalom, and beauty to your relationships. And that is where you will find life, not always in meeting all of your goals, but in the living and the filling of the places God carved out for you.
You are very precious to my heart. I so enjoy looking at you and being with you to enjoy the young woman you are becoming. You have a great heart for God and others.
When I look into you I see a gracious and genuinely humble servant who is gifted with a mind blowing number of gifts talents and abilities. I see someone who thinks about others but isn't consumed by them, who can find grounds for compromise, someone who is not afraid to try things and enjoy them even when she is not the best and yet a fierce competitor. I see wisdom, honor, and beauty far beyond anyone I knew in high school. You are understanding, supportive and loving desiring to grow even if at times it means taking on "awkwardness" in the moment.
When not feeling defensive, your genuinely easy going style is attractive and inviting in a young woman. You make others feel at ease around you.
What I want for you is to see your heavenly father's love as the way to fill you and protect you through submission to his ways and embracing Jesus as your friend and savior providing the consistent praise and comfort your heart needs to be open to others. I desire you to see that God has placed in you his new heart which is eternally beautiful and gifts that are irrevocable and that you will get to steward your whole life. I want rest for your unique and amazing heart that brings others to rest when you are around. As you are at rest in it I believe you will have a very high tolerance for the ridicule that often comes to a Christian so that you can be you in whatever environment satan attempts to use to destroy you. You cannot be destroyed and I am confident of what I see in you that is real, beautiful and holy.
My vision of you is a princess, who is being prepared to come into a glorious kingdom and being properly resources with God's ways, heart for people and talents and abilities that mean those who will one day live in your kingdom will enjoy warmth, wisdom, kindness, and success because of their connection with you.
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