Ann Voskamp
About the Author

Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times 60 week bestseller. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions


  1. I’m going to cry even more than what I expect to on my son’s first day of school….and he’s only going to Kindergarten! Thanks so much for a lovely post. Blessings!

  2. Our kids are adults long out on their own now.
    One walking joyously with the Lord
    three stumbling, not really seeing Him
    My biggest regret is that I did not do something about my anger much sooner. They were 6 and up when I began acknowledging it. I harmed them by it.
    My oldest brother reassures me that God is the ultimate Parent, He parents us where we were not parented properly and He parents our children where they need it too. I have experienced this myself and I know it is true.
    What I want for our kids, all kids to know; is how much God longs to have a relationship with them, how He loves them.
    that when we love Him back and get the priviledge to know Him it is the Best Best thing
    Pray that we will know what it means to walk in love to our children.
    Thanks for writing Ann

    • Jill…. You mentor and minister to us all with these words.
      Nodding and reaching over to squeeze your hand. You said beautifully the realest truth.


      • my kids, too, are grown and out of the house…but they bear the scars of many angry outbursts…how could the miracle of Jesus, God with us, be real if there is no evidence of the miracle of Jesus with mama when she is angry? now I wait and love and pray as God heals their wounds and changes their hearts….

        • I, too, have struggled with this. How can I love them so fiercely and hurt them so? I had to forgive myself, accept God’s grace and let go of the chains that held me in that dark place. I had to accept my mistakes and focus on being a better mom in the now. I will pray for you and your kids to feel the healing and hope that can come.

          • Me too… so what to do? I have 4 children, the oldest is 8. I know I often don’t model how I want them to behave. But when I’ve tried everything I know to do to deal with my own anger and it doesn’t help, then what? I know it’s often related to hormonal cycles. I’ve thought sometimes of trying outside help, and I think it’s the shame that stops me. I’m a christian, therefore I’m supposed to be able to overcome these things and be living a victorious, joy-filled testimonious (is there such a word? Lol…) life, and here I am having to go to non-Christians for help.
            And having people tell you how bad what you’re doing is and to just not do it really isn’t any help – I need actual stratagies for when the stomach knots up and the voices shriek guilt and blame in my mind as I try to deal with whatever drama or tell-tale-ing or niggling my darlings are presenting me with right now!

          • Friends may I suggest the Kirk Martin celebrate calm site. I’ve heard him speak and own his cd series. Wonderful! And he is Christian!

          • Thankyou, Ann, for sharing such beautiful thoughts on your son’s leaving home. I just facebooked the link to my 15 yr old daughter, who recently began staying most of the time with her Dad (not far from me). My prayer is that she continues to grow in her love for our Lord till she, and as many others as possible, gets to be with Him forever.
            Dear Sarah, Jill and all others who can relate to the anger we dump/have dumped on our kids, so can I. Thanks to God, after years of battlling hormonal anger that has wounded our family, a wonderful herbalist finally diagnosed a hormonal imbalance (not detected by a gynaecologist I’d seen just a little before) that has been easily treated with herbal medicine, supplements and herbal teas (for probably 4 years or so now). Always pray to God for all we need, but perhaps you too may find help from someone who may be able to diagnose and treat some subtle or more major hormonal imbalances.

    • “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ~ C.S. Lewis
      What a gift, to read of those that struggle. . . how often do the pangs of guilt overtake me when I hear someone say, “My kids are amazing” (I criticize) or my teacher the other day said, “We all think our own kids are the best.” (Do we?) What happened to the profound joy I experienced when she was first born. The realization that occurred when I was pregnant that this life growing inside of me was nothing less then monumental! I think what I’ve been learning is that all is a mirror. How I respond and react and my innermost feelings are a direct result of how I view and feel about me. The idea that I am SO responsible for this life, my child overwhelms me . . I am SO inadequate!! That is all I can see. So no wonder I resent it . . and hate myself.
      My prayer has been that God would restore in me the excitement that I once knew. That I would delight in her, always. Smile. Encourage, Cheer for her. Love her unconditionally; the way that she needs to be loved.

      • There is no such thing as perfect parents, only repentant ones – a wise friend once told me. It is our lack, our inadequacy that shows us our need for grace. We are all so needy.

    • Jill:
      would you be willing to email privately back and forth about this issue? I, too, could benefit from speaking to someone with the same experiences in parenting.
      It is eating away at my heart.
      Thank you.

      • Ladies may I suggest Kirk Martin and his celebrate calm or calm Christian parenting site. I’ve heard him in person And own his cd series. Fantastic! And real life practical solutions

        • Please excuse the duplicate posts friends . My screen went blank must have hit send by mistake

  3. Oh Anne,

    So beautiful. My only just turned 8. Your words have given so much to think about and pray over my boy that will too soon be a man. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am grateful for you. (Yep, your words are on my list of gifts). 🙂

  4. With a four year old, a two year old and one on the way, I am constantly trying to cope with my inadequecy as a parent. There is so much I just don’t know how to handle.

    • Yes, yes, yes, Karen. We’re right there with you and you are not alone. I’m a mess and inadequate and I have to pray out loud through out the day. Our help comes from the Maker of heaven and earth and when we’re inadequate and weak, we lean hard into Him and He’s all our strength.

      I struggle with fears and anger and being overwhelmed everyday — and it makes me run hard to Father and murmur: “I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live but Jesus Christ lives in me.” So we pray that His grace covers the gaps.

      There is much wisdom here in this comment box and community — and we walk with you, Karen, with Him. You are loved friend… by Father — and all these grace-clinging daughters.

      • Karen, I had 3 the same age differences. Those days seem like such a blur but looking back now (our sweet ones are 11, 9, 7 and we have a 2 year old!) my prayer for you…play, cherish, rest 🙂 These sweet ones, in their playfulness, their rebelliousness and their gentleness…they’re just little ones who see their mama-their favorite person to see in the morning! You are their all and they give you their all (both good and bad!) Teach them to love Jesus with their whole heart. Teach them to love their daddy. Teach them to love each other. Lead by example. Most importantly, rest at the Savior’s feet. Give Him your motherhood journey, your life journey, entrusting Him with the blessings He has given you. He will equip you for this amazing, wonderful, sometimes stressful, and yes, short season of life. So thankful there is fruit in the blessings and grace in the walk. Praying for you as well!

    • Ann is right, Karen. We all need to keep running to our Heavenly Father. He can take all our mistakes and turn them around and make something good out of them.
      Take it from a 70 yr. old grandmother who raised 3 boys all born w/in 40 months! I used to go into their bedrooms at night after they were asleep and pray over them. After they went to school, I would go and pray at their beds for them, during the day, and before they came home, I would take my Bible and walk all over the house reading it. I praise God for His faithfulness, grace and mercy. May 3 sons each know the LORD and are living for Him in spite of me! Beacause HE has been faithful. Praise His name.

  5. Oh Ann, I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. Two of my girls are just a little older–one in college, one headed there next year–and you have so captured the essence of what being a parent is all about. The letting go.

    If there’s one thing I’ve tried to tell them over and over is that life with Jesus is the most fulfilling life they will ever find. There’s just no better way to live.

    Thank you for this gift this morning.

  6. Ann Voskamp, oh friend. Yes. What an anthem that I want to start singing right now. As I read this, my boys walked down to a crying mother, and I had to apologize for the horrible attitude with which I put them to bed last night.

    How humbling it is to fumble through life with our children, how wonderful, too. I love you, sister. So grateful to God that you go a little ways before me. One friend holding up the lamp for another’s feet.

    • Amber, my children have flown now, and they have told me that one of the best things my husband and I did was model for them, not just preaching. When you apologized for last night’s lack, you are showing them the way to live authentically and humbly before Him. This is one way that He uses all things to our good… He redeems our mistakes!

      I am so grateful for Ann, but also for the many like you, because we do hold the lamp out for one another and encourage one another to love and good deeds. We are gifts to one another that He sends… more to put down on the gratitude list!

  7. Soon, too very soon, my boy will walk out the farmhouse door and put to the test all the truth Weekend Farmer Husband and I have shared with him, and grace has made his own. It’s a matter of weeks now…
    Yes, yes, yes, this is the mother’s song -loving, losing, gaining, and by mercy all becoming grace.
    Thank you, dear Ann, for letting us join in this first flight with you.
    And, when I’m on my knees for my firstborn, (only a little bit older than yours), I’ll remember mama’s and sons, (including you), and pray radical prayers all for Christ.

  8. Thank you, Ann. A great reminder of so much important stuff for our children (and as mama’s — what’s important).

  9. This is so beautiful Ann. I have four boys and the oldest is six. It makes me realize that I need to treasure every moment and not waste time. Praying for you as a mama as you take these big steps.

  10. I need help learning to let go of my own life before I can even train my children to let go of their’s. And I’ve been struggling awful in recent weeks. Please pray that nothing but His Spirit would dwell in this body of flesh. Because the flesh has more home here than it ought to, and I’m really uncomfortable with it all.
    I’m uncomfortable with too much flesh and I’m fearful of what He might ask of me. Neither is good. Please pray for this struggling wife and mother — unworthy daughter of God. Thank you.

    • Ann,
      Please help me understand. Please. When your eyes were opened to the poor and suffering, how do you cope with not feeling guilty for what you have? Have you ever had to deal with that? Oh I am a struggling mess these last weeks and I feel so alone–like no one can understand the messy state my heart is in right now.

      • Hi Christin…I’m not Ann but I hope I can be an encouragement! I have been struggling recently as well, and disappointed with myself so often. So much so that I double booked myself tonight without realizing it (for my family to have dinner with some friends and to go to a conference with my Mom) and I started crying after I called to make an apology and reschedule the dinner! Sometimes I think I’m not willing to embrace my own sinful nature and just receive the grace and forgiveness of God. I want to beat myself up instead of just receiving that bought and paid for forgiveness and letting it go. Repent quickly, let it go, believe it’s gone, and trust Him to help you the next time. {And repeat, and repeat…}

        I recently discovered the root of a lot of my struggles of late was that I’d been disappointed , and hurt by some disappointing circumstances that were really no one’s fault, but I didn’t want to admit it. Especially not to the Lord. I was hiding and sewing fig leaves, but when I realized it and turned and got “most honest” I was met with that grace amazing that reminded me how loved and precious I am, and that all these failings are okay because He is, and He is on the throne.

        I’ll be praying for you, and I’d be glad to email back and forth if you need a friend. {cedcollie at gmail dot com}

    • Dear Christin, I hear your pain and I too have had questions about having things and the comfort things we have, and if its okay; I fear what God may ask of me too. I do believe Anne must have pondered the question you posed to her. Not easy to navigate through these waters.

  11. Ann,
    Thanks so much for being just so
    authentic. Oldest daughter calls from college
    yesterday to say she is having panic attacks….
    ohhh and this mother love is overwhelming.
    Ah…and I want to say sweet baby, just run straight
    to Jesus…but do 20 year olds hear this?
    I cover her in prayer and beg God to send her
    sight and someone to encourage her….like you
    encourage me. Sending up thanks to heaven today
    for beautiful you!

  12. I’ve been pondering these very things lately.

    And my miracles are only 5, 2, and 3 weeks 🙂

    My prayer, my cry really, is that the Lord helps me with the discontentment. The hurry. The rush.

    I think He’s after me on it….
    Just this morning I soaked this in:
    “I recognized that by rushing through life, I’d been subtly devaluing those around me and the experiences I was involved in, not appreciating the importance and significance they bring to my life at this very moment, not grasping my responsibility for holding dear and treating well these gifts God has entrusted to me.”
    – from The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer (pg.14)

    Lord, let me live in the now. And let me take hold of my current season and bless all those I encounter while I’m here. Especially my miracles!

  13. “This parenting gig’s an experiment in radical grace and the work of every parent is to fully give to the child. And it’s the work of every child to fully forgive the parents. This is how it turns, the torch passing from one to the next.”
    Oh yes…grace to give…grace to forgive…I wish I would have known how much I am LOVED by God…only then can I love well…I was young in the Lord when I got married…so much to learn…but God’s Grace and Love have covered the mutlitudes of wrong ways I had loved my kids…He does redeem…I do so enjoy a sweet relationship with my adult children…I feel so very blessed…you Ann…have learned to much ….so young…such a blessing…
    Blessings to you…

  14. Good morning Ann,

    We have never met, but for several days now, and at just after 5.00am here this morning, a whole hour/half before my rising time, I woke with you on my heart – not knowing any of this, but feeling called to be praying for you in the growing up, and moving on of your eldest, but wondering why now, when next September seemed a more likely time for changes. The Lord, He knew your family had particular need at this time.

    Just a few months ago, I wrote (not so eloquently, I am sure) my own version of this letter to my son, just turned eighteen and sensing the Lord’s leading to a university far away (in Ottawa). Though there are days when my heart aches for his happy presence here, for the light and energy he brings to a room, his experiences these past few months, are testament to the hand of God being upon him. He has blessed him with the friendship of a group of young men, keen for the Lord – meeting early mornings to pray, and actively involved in evangelism. Increasingly, I am aware that the children God entrusted to us, imperfect parents, have a perfectly loving Father holding them, guiding them, providing for when we cannot; He holds your son and goes with with him.

    Praying for safety in travel, and that the peace and comfort of Christ will be yours today and in the days to come.


  15. These words are flooding my soul. The grace, pouring out, and in and being thrown out wildly. Thank you for sharing, for being vulnerable, for offering a tether, Christ, the Only One.

  16. I have four boys. Not quite teens. My concern? That they will be sucked into the vortex of the idolatry available in this world. Regret? Distraction!!!! To-do lists, that took priority over my boys. Trying, in His strength, to change that. Want my boys to know? That they are loved. By Him. By me. And that there are good works prepared in advance for them to do. Thank you Ann.

  17. Beautiful! From a mama of 4 grown children. Your post brought back so many memories. Paradoxes of joy and saddness. Blessings to you.

  18. Once again your words are profound and wise – so genuine and open. What wonderful messages for our children. I will definitely print this and keep close. Will pray for you and your traveling son. Know that your posts are a daily blessing as was (is) your book.

  19. Ann <3 you said it so perfectly – I have an 18-year-old son that I sent a copy of what you wrote – Oh, the time goes so fast, and there is so much to teach, and I feel like I wasted too many precious days – but I am still learning, and God is so gracious. Thank you for pouring out your heart and sharing it with all of us – you are truly making a difference!

  20. Oh Ann. I have three daughters and no words. You voiced the burden of my heart … and the years so fleeting. Thank you. Thank you.

  21. Ann ~ hope-giving, mama-beautiful Ann! I’m only a small handful of years behind you in this parenting gig, and I praise our graceful God for your presence in my life. You and your words make me a better mama. *You* bless! And I love you. xo

  22. I knew this was Ann before I was at the end of the story. Don’t we love our man-cubs? How amazing it is for a woman to bring forth a man. Thank you for sharing and stirring my heart for my own man-child. Blessings on you!

  23. What’s one regret I have as a parent?

    I’m pretty sure my daughter doesn’t know how much I like her.

    She knows I love her, I tell her all the time and she sees the sacrifices we make.

    But I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know how much we *like* her. I’ve been very convicted of that this week. I need to focus on that in this new stage of parenting… the almost-teen-years.

    I know it’s important because how many of us know that God loves us, but struggle with knowing if he “likes” us? I do. Maybe my heart will be shaped in the process? ♥

  24. I pray almost daily that our Lord will fill the gaps and holes where I fall short. As a single mama to three, there is just no way I can provide and be all that they need. I ache for their lack, and even now must release them to the greater care of our Father.

  25. Ann, thank you for this! I have four boys one of whom is sixteen and starting to spread his wings. This was so beautiful and put into words how I feel in my heart! Blessings to you and your wonderful gifts of eloquence and beauty through writing!

    Kimme l

  26. Thank you for sharing such beautiful honest thoughts. So timely for me as my only son leaves this weekend for boot camp. Since leaving the nest for college, returning home again his child like faith has been challenged. I have welcomed questions, one thing age is teaching me, remembering my own at his age before finding truth as my own. Sending him out with prayer that he probably doesn’t think he needs now. But God knows his deepest needs. Thank you for your prayers for him and this reluctant to let go Mom.

  27. Wow! I can’t stop sobbing. This is so beautifully written and so very true. What a wonderful Mom you are. My prayers are with you and your son on his radical journey.

  28. WOW ! That is breathtakingly beautiful. My boy child is 10 and it is going too fast.
    Thank you for sharing your heart for your boy child with all of us.

  29. Dear Ann,
    You truly write straight to the heart………… and write down words that are so hard for me to articulate……

    I so regret not living fully in the moment, mostly running along behind, trying to keep everything in order, caught up, etc. I am SO blessed that my kids, now grown with kids of their own, have forgiven so much and love us anyways…….. that is truly GRACE BESTOWED.

    Praying for you and the Farmer at this wonderful/hard season of your family……..

  30. Ann,
    So beautifully written, the tears pouring down. I’m mama to four sons, and the years went by too fast. Three are adults now, the middle two finding their way in college and doing well. The youngest just at that challenging age of adolescence; the oldest is where we need prayer. He is caught in a world of pain and addiction and I reach out to you for prayer. I don’t tell anyone our troubles, but today he said he would go for help. Let this be the road to a new life for him, I pray, my Lord and Savior. He has so much promise yet he sees only darkness. I see all that he can be. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Praying for you and your son. We’ve traveled that road, too, and God met us and brought us through.

  31. I want to NOTICE just like you. Never, never, never stop writing.
    You bless my soul! My soul!

    “For it is now that God favors what you do…”
    (Favors? He’s turning carwheels!)

  32. My younger son moved out a week and a half ago, at age 19. He’s getting married to a wonderful young woman in 44 days and he has moved into “their” place to wait for her. He moved out almost exactly 24 years from when I became pregnant with our first. Where did the years go? We packed them full. They were both born on the mission field. We lost their dad 11 years ago, but gained a new relationship with their Heavenly Dad. My goal during that first pregnancy was to rear my sons to be men of God. That was my focus all these years. I know I failed many times to model this, but God has given me sons who know Him, love Him, and serve Him in their homes and in their worlds. I’ve seen them fly off to Asia, Africa, and Europe in His name. I am blessed! My advice: Have a goal. Hold on to it by His grace. Strive for that goal. He enables us to all that He has called us to…even when it might not seem like it. He is El Shaddai…the God Who is Enough!

  33. Dearest Ann,
    I am not sure if I can even type or put words together but I NEED to thank you for sharing this bitter-sweet most beautiful post. As a Mama of three sons 14 ,12 & 9 this hits so close to home. It pulls on my heart strings like nothing else I have ever read.
    Thank you…thank you so very much for expressing in words what I feel in my heart. I needed this so much today, so very much…
    All I can say is, we as a family, NEED to SLOW down because we are missing so much of life just trying to keep up….
    Thank you for building me up in Christ Jesus.

    Because of His Love,

  34. my 19 year old daughter is a missionary with YWAM in australia. always our deepest desire was for our children to God, love others, and listen to his call on their life. but dang, i wish he would have called her a little closer to home! the hardest words to hear were, “mom, i feel like this is home.” but they too are a blessing. the child has a new tribe.

    i think sometimes i’d be happier if she never left? but i’m holier with her gone because i’m leaning into Him.

    thanks as always ann, for speaking a truth with such grace and beauty.

  35. Breathtaking! I am consistently awed by the blessings of motherhood. What a remarkable testimony to love and faith and being fearless, despite it all,
    Peace and good,

  36. Beautiful words.
    Letting go. One is 6 hours away at college-the other works FT off on his own, making there way. As hard as it is to let go, my heart resonates with thanksgiving through all my mistakes and love they carry the seed of their Christian upbringing and touch the world. That is what parenting is: doing your best and letting them fly to conquer the world with our Lord as their friend and guide. Blessings!!!

  37. Oh, Ann, your words touch to the heart. . . . finding the grace in parenting. Grace to be radical, and still have boundaries, to draw my children closer to Christ, to stay in His presence myself, to love them so much to let them go, to teach them all those things. . . .the right socks, the right words, the right shirt, the right way with a woman. . . .I have a daughter delivering babies in Haiti who fell off a tap-tap yesterday while helping a new mom of twins to get them home-she saved the baby she was holding from harm, but not her knee. . . . . .and soon 4 others to be on their way out into the world. Thank you for your sweet encouraging words.

  38. WOW!!! That was pretty much my heart spilled out but so much more eloquently than I would have ever been able to say. Thank you.

  39. So beautiful. My twins are turning two in a couple of months and it amazes me how fast time had already flown. As their mother,, I just try to embrace the girl moments: them playing with my makeup, or wearing their play jewelry, toting around a purse…i want them to remember these moments that we shared as they grow.


  40. Oh wow! You are so right about this parenting gig! I think that is fantastic that your son is traveling to Indonesia with Compassion. I did not know that there were service opportunities for teenagers.

    Regrets…quite a few. Too many to think about or I would be overwhelmed. I really question if my decision to chuck the career 15 years ago was a wise one, as both my children view it as wasting my life. In spite of being active in the community and in their lives. They only see right now what they do not have. Sigh. Concerns…that anything I say or do will matter to my kids. They are 13 and 15, and both struggling in different ways. Both have walked away from the church, for different reasons. I think they both have good hearts, but are so sucked into the culture that surrounds us, and questioning why we (parents) have chosen the life we have (simplicity, service). My daughter struggles with similar issues to those you yourself struggled with as a result of being bullied and her own internal “voices”. I want my kids to know that I love them, will always be there for them, and I hope for them to find true meaning in their lives. Pray for them to find their way back to God, for me to find meaning in my life again, and for peace for all of us.

    • Debbie
      We’ve raised our kids and now have 4 young grandsons. I went through a lot of regret when the kids left the nest.
      The regret will eat us alive…praying for you!
      I blogged on the subject of regret at the end of the year…take a look if you feel led:
      May the Lord bring peace and comfort
      Jan Loyd

  41. I love this!! Teenage years are defintely emotional for parents and kids. Please pray for my son as he has seemed to stray from God a little. He is such a good kid but has just gotten a little mixed up with some of the wrong people. I know God has something great in store for him, if he will just open his heart to what He has to say. Also, pray for us as his parents that we will know what to do as to not get in the way of God’s work.

  42. Ann, this was amazingly beautiful!:) Thank you for being so transparent w/ how your heart is feeling…letting go…inevitable and so poignant in it’s reality. I will treasure this post; rereading it often in order to prepare my own heart for my daughter’s solo flight…only a few precious years away.. It’s all doable because of GRACE!:) U continually inspire! God bless you!!

  43. Oh Ann, How the tears are flowing. My oldest, a daughter, turned 17 this week. I have felt the same tug and questions as I watch her grow. The mistakes I’ve made, the struggle we’ve shared, the joy of seeing her be a blessing, to see her bravely face her life, oh the questions of have I taught her enough? I will print this and tuck it in her room at just the right time. The words tell what is on my heart. It will be one short year and her time to fly will have arrived. My prayers over her will change and increase. Thanks for the honest look at a Mother’s heart. The joy, the aches, what a job we have been blessed with having.

  44. Dearest Ann,
    How this very thing has been on my heart, as this year, with the turning of the earth, I become the age of my sister when she went home to our heavenly Father, leaving behind 3 children, two of which where the same age as mine are now…constant wonder in it all really. Being fully aware that my children are not really mine but HIS and that my time pouring my love into them is quite short and getting shorter all the time…hoping to give them a radical love of Jesus and a legacy of following HIM…
    Thank you for putting into words what so many of us so desperately want to say!

  45. Ann,

    How beautiful, eloquent, heart-warming and heart wrenching all rolled into one. I have been blessed with a beautiful son – a son on the verge of turning 16. He’s loving, he’s compassionate, he is a follower of Christ. And, he’s a boy. Which is a blessing at a times a challenge, but I can’t imagine life without him.

    He’s been through his share of grief – I feel more than his share as he lost his “big” sister, Emily, when she was 17 and he was merely 12 years old – a short three years ago. He is following in her footsteps at school and the legacy that she created is huge. He has some very big shoes to fill and at times I know it’s so difficult. He’s had to face the reality of the fragileness that life brings. He’s now an only child……and I treasure and cherish each and every moment that God has given me with this precious, crazy, funny and loving boy that I only get to have for a little while.

    God bless your son and you on this new journey.

  46. Oh Ann, I have messed up terribly as a Mother. I have been angry and impatient and through your book God has taught mme so much. He is helping me turn my anger into pure joy. My little guy has AD/HD, sensory integration disorder, and O.C.D. . It has been a real struggle to parent him. I love him so much and when I blog about him I refer to him as my good and perfect gift. This is how God has turned my thinking upside down in his Kingdom. The enemy has whispered so many times that God gave me a messed up child. He didn’t! He gifted him with these things. Yes, they are challenges. These are the thngs that God is using to make me look more like his Son! Through my moments of anger, I’m learning to apologize to my good and perfect gift. He’s showing me what the Father’s unconditional love looks like. He’s learning what the Father’s forgiveness looks like. We immediately go to the Father and apologize to him and ask his forgiveness too. Through this and only this are we seeing God cover these mistakes with his wonderful , beautiful, abounding , grace! How I praise God every day for the hard eucharisteo, the messy grace, that you have endured, to reach so many of us that needed to know the way to find joy in him and in this life. I thank god for all the ways he parents me as we go through each day. He teaches me something every day! Love to you sweet, sweet, Ann. Grace upon wonderful Grace, ~ Lori

  47. Ann, gracias.
    I’m so glad I have to privilege to be the mom of a beautiful four year old, who “can’t wait to be five.”
    God has used you to help me treasure her more, and to relie on Him to be her mom.
    Prayers for you as you let go.

  48. tears. thank you.
    i have been so aware this week of the men my little boys are becoming. they are only 7 and 4 but i get these glimpses into the future. but i also feel such incredible guilt at what i am not doing right.
    thank you for putting it into words, this letting go. this recognizing that all is grace, even my mistakes and failures.

  49. I cried through most of that, keeping my tears tucked away so my daughter doesn’t see me. Not that her seeing me would stop me. I have two daughters 30 and 18 and 4 grandchildren…I went through a time last summer where I couldn’t stop thinking about empty-nesting and I was sad and torn; broken and miserably feeling alone. I decided that I should just live for one day and not count too far ahead and lose what time is before me right now…the moments.

  50. My heart sings praises for the talents God has blessed you with and your willingness to share. Our journeys are not the same, but yet I feel as though you’ve walked in my shoes…. This past year has been crazy hard. Actually, many years leading up to it… kind of like being able to see a train wreck before it happens…. Years spent fearing and fighting … trying to control. What you’ve helped me discover is it’s O.K. to be happy… to celebrate the moments. I’m not in control, God is and the story is not over. As long as a new morning dawns, there is hope. God blessed us with a beautiful daughter 23 years ago when we were not able to have our own and has blessed us with 2 precious grandbabies. Though they have no daddies to tuck them at night, they are the most beautiful gifts…. The love our daughter found impossible to accept as a child herself, she cherishes as she sees it lavished on her own.

  51. My husband challenged us in church on Sunday: what legacy do we want to leave? What do we want for our children and their future? Because we all leave a legacy. Be intentional. In a flash I knew he would call on me to share. My response?
    “I want my daughters to see in me a woman who is not perfect, but who, in her imperfection calls out to Christ and strives to have a heart like His. I want my girls to seek the Lord’s will in all things for their lives and I want them to SEE the Lord in all things; the beauty of His creation, the details in the stitches that create the quilt of their life’s story. I want my girls to live a life of thankfulness to the One and Only.”
    My girls are 9.5 and almost 8. I have some time….but time is so fleeting and I feel the moments passing me by. I grip on tight and squeeze, at the same time, though, letting them go little by little. It’s a struggle, this mothering, this trying to hold and release all at the same time. Keep them close to train them up……but one day, I, too, shall let them fly on wings like eagles. And I will weep tears of sadness and tears of joy. And I will give thanks for the grace.

  52. Gods soooo knew i needed this message today, as i sit here reading this through many tears, i am faced with many regrets of not teaching my son more about biblical truths and so many other things like Ann mentioned. praying deeply about his safety, his spiritual safety as he is preparing to leave home in March, he wont even be 18 yet. It is VERY hard for my heart to let him go and be out in a world where there will be a lot of very rough men, working in the oil fields, it is a rough place for a young Christian man to go, and it is a full test for my prayer life and complete trust in the Lord. I know i have to release him, but i hate it. Parenting was so much easier when they were little, well…… hard in different ways. Thank you Ann you have been an amazing light in my life, God has used you for my life in some incredible ways, mostly pulling me out of a depression when i read your book, keep up the amazing work, i hope dearly to meet you some day, God bless. 🙂

  53. It’s just so….big. What we do is so tiny and so vast all at the same time. God bless you, Ann, and I prayed for your boy this morning. Just the other day I remembered again to “call those things which are not (yet) as though they are,” and call out the holy, God given, right things in my children. “Little girl- you are such a good writer, you are such a kind sister, you are so good with numbers…son- you are a strong and gentle brother- good men are always strong and brave and gentle.” And a thousand other good things.

  54. Hi Ann,

    What a beautiful letter, you made me cry, I am not a mother yet, not even a wife but this post is one I’ll surely print and keep for when I get the privilege of being a mom and what you say is something we should all follow and teach to others.

    Beautiful post! God bless you!

  55. Such timely words as my firstborn turns nine tomorrow and my heart has already been pondering how he’s “halfway to gone.” I know the days to come will pass even faster than the days behind and there is so much I want to pour into–and squeeze out of–these few moments.

    I’ll take your words today and use them to help me consider what my sons will take with them when they “go.” And be grateful every day that their “going” is at a point beyond what I can see today.

    Mary Hampton

  56. What an amazing post! I have a little boy (only 19 months old) and a little man on-the-way (due in April).

    I can so relate to this. Growing up with a (mostly) absent father; just a mom and a sister, I often wonder if I “have what it takes” to grow a strong man in the Lord.

    Being a working mamma dollaps another scoop of occasional guilt onto the heap.

    This is a great reminder to cherish those moments with them and to HUG HUG HUG.

    One of my rules as a parent is that if my son wants a hug, no matter how busy or dirty he is, I have to give in.

    I’ve ruined many work outfits in the morning and bathtime is always me covered from head to toe in bubbles, but I doubt it’s a “rule” I’ll regret.

  57. My children are older, teens and twenties, with one foot in and one foot out of the nest. The one thing I most want my children to know and remember is that they must cling to God with both hands, every day, every moment. Everything around them is eager to tear them away from the only essential thing in life – God.

  58. Oh, Ann, you have so much here to read. What a wealth of love in this place. Of understanding and faith. I’m greatly encouraged by this wisdom and this grace. I’m printing off your words Ann to share at my sons blessing ceremony coming in only a few weeks. The timing of course is Gods perfect. Thank you for being so willing to be used by Him. Thank you all, for pouring, aching pained hearts, mother hearts on a ‘page’ so we can all journey closer as sisters and daugthers to the One who calls us close. Regrets that Abba Daddy washes clean, left behind and wisdom gained…this is parenting.

  59. Thank you for this. I saw my son off to Marine boot camp in September. Then we got to see him graduate a Marine in December. He now is at combat training in California, where he graduates from Tues and then will go for his specific job training, then stationed or deployed. It was so awesome to see him come home for those 3 weeks a man. At just 18 he is prepared for life not only because of what the marines taught him, but because his father prepared him for manhood. Bootcamp was much easier for him than the other boys because of this. The short time of 18 yrs that I had with him, flew way too quickly. I absolutely cherish those times. He was a robust boy with spunk so challenging at times, but is now prepared to serve his country and it was all of those few minutes at a time where we were able to impart wisdom into him. Those moments of watching movies, pausing and explaining why people did what they did, or asking questions and having him think critically instead of just taking in the world. Moms and dads, take those teachable moments and don’t let them pass by. Those are what turn our boys to men and girls to women…learning from mom and dad what it means to be a spouse, a parent, a citizen, etc..they need to learn these things from us.

  60. Oh, Ann, your words brought tears to my eyes (again!) As the mother of 2 grown sons, one celebrating his one-year wedding anniversary and 27th birthday all in the same week, and the other fresh out of High School and about to leave for parts unknown with the Air Force, your words resonated deep within me! Did I do enough for them or did I do too much? Will they remember the teachable moments and the lessons I tried to instill or the “mom’s in melt-down mode again” moments? Did I pray for them enough? Did I pray the right things for them? Did I walk the walk enough or just talk the talk too often? Will I remember that as much as their father & I love them, their Heavenly Father loves them more and they are safe with Him wherever they go? Will they remember? Do they know they have a part of my heart with them wherever they? Do they know that the first time I saw them and fell in love with them are pictures forever burned within me? Go with God, my men!

  61. My boy will be twelve next week, and every word you wrote resonates within me! I am in awe when I look into his eyes and realize I don’t have to look down anymore. My baby boy has unfolded into this man-child, eye-to-eye with his mama, although not for long. Soon he’ll tower over me and I’ll cherish the occassional glimpses of his baby-ness, and wonder if I’ve taught him enough. I plan to keep this and share it with him, just as I’ve shared so many of the words I read in your book these past few months. We are counting graces together, along with his dad and his sister, and it has changed all of us. Thank you so much for making an impact on our little family!

  62. These words just break me wide open today. So many fears lately. Did I DO enough? Read more books, yes; go offline, yes…but what did my mamma eyes not see that they should have? And I know, it’s all grace, and I need to trust…but still. Praying, bending low today.

  63. Mother to six also, some born of my body and some of heart. From two months to, gasp…14! Like you I wonder, when did it happen? Life happens as we live it, and goes by too soon, no matter how tightly we grasp. My biggest regret? Not cherishing it all, losing my temper, losing my patience…ugh, so many for this tarnished soul to recall. What do I want them to learn? That all is Grace, my beloved Ann…All is grace and that you are only free in His Love. Traveling mercies for your beloved son, may God keep him close.

  64. Wow ~ that was just exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I have 4 gifts that I am extremely thankful for and, at the same time life is difficult… Necesary to remember what I really want to teach… them

  65. My son is 17 now. In my mind thoughts have been overwhelming me about this very thing. I am not done with him! I have made so many mistakes and don’t feel like I have done enough good to overcome the bad. I am still trying to figure this journey out, how can I equip him with the tools needed when I am not fully equipped? Grace…grace is what I need to cling to. God’s huge warm arms, protecting and comforting. Breathing in the Holy Spirit and feeling the calm He bring me. My son is first and most importantly God’s son. I take pride in knowing that God trusted me with my son’s precious life, so in return I trust God with my son’s precious life also.

  66. My oldest, my son, is 17 and a senior in high school. I thought he would live at home and go to college and I would have a few more years to prepare myself to send him off on his own. But he leaves for boot camp in a little over 7 months. After boot camp he will go to Florida for a year for his job schooling. So my firstborn is leaving way before I was ready. I wish I had shared more of God’s truths with him, played more games with him…I am so not ready to watch him fly. But from another view, he is going to be an amazing man. He is affected by peer pressure, he thinks things through before he makes a decision, he is loyal, a good friend, funny and cares for others. So if anyone is ready for this new adventure, he is. I just wish I was!!

  67. ” I will never stop loving and letting you go. A mother and child live the first great love story and there is no love story without loss, and this is always gain.”

    I needed this post. My boy-child is 12, on the brink of many things and I feel so insufficient. I know I need to give him away every day, and some days I forget. There were many little jewels that I can pluck from this.

  68. Oh, Ann! This made me lay my head down and cry. My boy leaves today for a 4 day trip to the southern end of our “long” state. It is only 7 hours away and it is only for 4 days, but I will miss him. And I will worry about him. Learning to let go is soo hard. I will pray for safe travels for him and I will pray for myself to let go and let God. Thank you for a timely post for me, for today.

  69. Oh Ann, the regrets, the failures – they often seem to outweigh the good. Yet, that grace that transcends everything else shifts the scales. I read your words as though to myself – for it seems we never truly outgrow the need for more wisdom.
    It is a miraculous gift – those days when your sons and daughters are adult men and women and they teach you things you never knew. And it is so good.

  70. My kids haven’t embarked except to Kindergarten and daycare, and oh, those two worlds seem too big for them to have embarked to some days–however, my concerns are that the world will gobble them up and eat them alive and that I will be able to do nothing to stop it. My prayers are that they always remember what we have taught them at home and what they have been taught at church and in Awana about God and keep their focus on Him, loving Him more than anything else, no matter what anyone else says about it, and being willing to stand up for Him, no matter what.
    The one thing I regret are the dark days when I have fallen and repeated some of the same mistakes that my parents made with me–those that I swore I would never do. I want them to really know that God is there when no one else is and His love is better than anything. Please pray for us to be the Biblical parents that God commands us to be, that we live out loud His Radical love, service, prayer life, all that God wants us to do to worship, honor and glorify Him. Thank you for praying for us–and for what you have written and posted today–it was much needed!!

  71. Thank you Ann. My children Liam, Andrew, and Ceili happen to be triplets and have recently turned 16. My husband and I are getting tastes of saying good-bye as they venture out in the world more frequently without us. It is so bittersweet , but we are so amazed at God’s work in them. They are great kids with hopeful futures which makes the good-byes sad yet fulfilling. I guess as praying moms we need to believe that the next stage of our relationships with our children will be as wonderful as the past. I thank God for you everyday Ann and the gift of writing He has blessed you with.

  72. Since her daddy left when she was 2, my daughter and I have grown up together in our dependence on God. In college, she traveled 1,000 miles away for 2 summers for internships. Then finally she traveled to China to minister for another summer. I thought I would die. Now she lives 1,000 miles away, all grown and beautiful and living her life. I’m still learning to let go, but I know I am not alone. Neither is she. No matter where we hang our hats, we will always be close in our service, our love, and our passion for Christ. Thank you, Ann, for reminding me my struggles are not mine alone.

  73. I had a rare sleepless night. It was one of those sleepless, full of regrets, night. The Lord stood by me, while I repented again and again. I have four beautiful children two I raised and two I did not. The two I raised know and love God. They love His body and all people. They love me and forgive me again and again. For many years while I was raising them I stood at the edge of an abyss and almost jumped. Always to broken over the loss of the other two. Today, all I know is Christ. I have nothing else to offer and He is enough. This is what I want for my children all of them: that they would know and love Him, His body and all people. My regret is I did not think I was good enough for my other two, the first ones, the older ones. I wish I had known how I am not enough that ONLY HE IS. He is the one who makes us all enough for our children. I know this now and cling to this knowledge of Him. The two blessings I raised know this and we are all full of Him and His grace towards each other. They will go to Mexico this spring to build homes for the poor. My children are grown but still so young. The two will come back home to me, they work, serve and go to University here from our home. And they know the poorest one they ever served was me, their very own mother. They are all I hoped for all I prayed for, He answered, YES, to all my prayers.

  74. WOW! I have 3 boys…and lately I have questioned so many times…am I doing this right.? Where did I go wrong? How will you live? Will you make not just good choices, but the right ones? This is my heart…thank you for so eloquently penning the words!

  75. Oh the things I want my children to know, the one thing? The one thing I want them to know without question is only that God loves them forever and always. That no matter where they fail and fall, no matter what mistakes they make, and despite the thousands I have made in raising them, that God in heaven and on earth loves them from the inside out. I pray that they embrace this simple, yet difficult truth forever in their hearts and live like they are loved, and pour it out on all they meet…. This was, as always, beautiful, Ann.

  76. As the mother of a soon to be 21 year old man, I was thinking “yes” and “yes” again reading this post. We wish we had done more…and yet let’s not forget that Jesus multiplied fish and loaves and can and will fill in the gaps and multiply that which we have neglected, forgotten or not done enough of…GRACE.

  77. Ann, I love your writings. You remind me of Annie Dillard. One of my favorite books ever is ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’ which she wrote. God has given you great empathy and talent for putting life on paper. May His love continue to flow in and out of your life. Anita

  78. I had to quote you today on my Tumblr “You’ll see your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls not the glare of screens.” Such a profound truth in your words. You touched my heart and gave me much to reflect on.

  79. oh Ann, God is so good to me. I found your blog about 2 years ago when i first homeschooled our children. It has and still is such an inspiration. and God speaks to me every single day through His word through you words. Ann, my oldest first child is about to leave the nest. She feels a calling from God to go into missions, here in the United Staes. Its hard for me yet thrilling that through my failures and victories as a mommy, God was able to cultivate a heart for Him. Pray that I dont stand in her way and that my prayer is and will be i trust Him yet help my distrust. praying for all moms today, and you Ann, that you will never stop being a blogger for Jesus. Youve helped me find blessings again, bubbles as you call them.

  80. What a beautiful post, but yours always are. Thank you for sharing your heart and love for Christ, it is an inspiration. I have printed it and will read some to my son today and as he gets older. He is 12 and the years are flying. I had different ideas of what parenting would be at the beginning and now realize that this job is more difficult than I would have imagined. My prayer for both of my children each day is that they follow the Lord, listen for His voice, no other ,not even mine. There are days when he
    stands up for someone or something and I see Christ all over Him and it is all I can ask for. Thank you again for being you!

  81. “Beautifully expressed!” (I write through my tears.) Our three are grown with children of their own….and my prayer of praise and thanksgiving is that all three and their mates are passionate in their love for Christ and in teaching their children by example to be the same. Being a parent has been my greatest blessing!

  82. Leading, never pushing, that is my goal for my motherhood. My oldest daughter is just driving, just going to college, just found a boy, (who’s a friend). My youngest daughter is a tiny 5 month old, just discovering, just teething, just sprouting her hair. I had so much fear, between the first of nine, and now the last, but in the last year, a healing and now I do feel the joy of the unknown, and the rush of letting go. It’s a beautiful thing, delicious like a newborn baby, but in a different way. I thank you for your words, you are helping to change my own momma, and of course, I have learned more grace, and been so encouraged.

  83. I’m reminded again of what I keep learning: that the most genuine relationships are made closer by letting go.

    My first son has had several years of really questioning what he believes. Seeing the ideals of faith in scripture juxtaposed against such a messy, painful world has just been too much for him to make sense of … like it is with all of us. Instead of responding by insisting he go to MY church with ME … that he parrot back what I wanted him to believe … I let him go to explore,and wrestle and question … and I prayed like crazy that he would find the truth and discover that it can all only make sense in the hands of a God who knows and controls it all even when we can’t see it clearly. In choosing to let him go, his heart remained willing to listen to and learn from me. And when he announced that he had come to a place of peace again with what he believed, I rejoiced that it came from his heart, not just from compliance.

    I think the hardest thing about being a parent is the letting go and trusting God to be sovereign–from the time you conceive and have to trust Him with every little worry about your baby’s health and safety to the time that you have to let that amazing person you’ve grown to love move away into a scary world to learn more from God Himself than from you. Thanks for all that you share. And thank your family too, for letting you be so open with their lives, as well as your own.

  84. my one great regret as his mother is that i didn’t start attempting to explain Jesus, faith, and the Bible because i thought he wasn’t old enough. i thought it would be easier when he was older. it isn’t. we exposed him to truth and he has a wealth of knowledge in his head. but it hasn’t made it from there to his heart or out into his actions.

    i know the Word cannot return unto itself void, so i continue to pray and relinquish him to the good work He began when the son gave all that he knew of his 5 yr old self to all that he understood of God. because i know He’s the Only One who can finish it. i can’t badger, urge, plead, or manipulate him into a walk of following the Way.

    but i’d like to see the work that the Father and Son are doing…just a glimpse. it would give me some hope. mine leaves the nest for college in 18 months, and if i could turn back the clock, i SO would.

    thanks, ann, for putting into words what my heart longs to say to him. perhaps some day i’ll show this to him.

  85. My last post was all about releasing our children to God and allowing Him to be the source of all of our motivation. I love this post! As a mama to two boys that are growing so fast, you spoke my heart here. Thank you for weaving your words into a beautiful picture of the measure of our young men.

  86. Ann,
    Your words always touch me in big ways.

    My daughter walked to the neighbor’s yesterday. I realized in that short time she was gone how much I view myself as her protector. I realized that far too often, I leave God out of the equation.

    Beautiful piece.

  87. I think I’m hearing this message in more than one place! Just yesterday I read an article by Simcha Fisher about the struggles and rewards of parenting, whether you have one child or one dozen children. She writes about how the struggles and suffering we mothers do happen to us, “…so that [we] can become strong enough to be [women] who will be left.” ( My sons are still babies – ages 5, 3, and 1. I’ve felt the joy of watching those babies take their first steps only so that they walk farther and farther, looking back less and less often. And I know that the joy I feel to hear them hiding God’s word in their sweet little hearts, watching those little hearts grow and swell as they start to understand, making my heart do the same, will eventually be the same joy that puts a lump in my throat when those walking feet take that big heart farther away from me – but closer to God. And thank goodness for that, for it will be so much better for them to be closer to Him.

  88. So touched by these words, Ann.
    I am feeling clueless and overwhelmed and so in love all the time with my sweet one-year-old full of sunshine boy. I have no idea to raise a boy into a man, and now I miraculously find myself three months away from welcoming two more twin boys into our lives. I am so aware of the challenge to raise these boys into God-fearing and God-loving men. I am only 27 and feel so incapable. It will be rough on me, having three little ones all at once, but I am so filled with hope, so aware of God’s grace and leading in my life. I hope one day (and I know it will come rapidly) I can look back and be proud of all that God accomplished through me, sending three dear boys out into this mixed up world. Thank you as always for your heart. It is so beautiful.

  89. I want my kids to know they are loved without measure. While their dad and I love them deeply and want the best for them, their heavenly Father loves them deeper and fuller and is always there…even when they’re not paying attention or giving Him the acknowledgement I pray they will come to know and live in all the days of their lives.

    Your story was beautiful…almost lyrical. Thank you for sharing this journey with us through your words!

  90. My one fear is actually multiple. I worry that they will forget who they are and where they came from. That they will let the world and all it’s worries pull them away from their Savior and their God. I wish I and spent more time on the floor playing, and reading and doing everything motherly for them, because it all too fast comes to a close. My oldest left home almost a year ago, and still it makes me cry.

  91. Wow- you just wrote what my heart is crying…my son will be leaving for bootcamp for the navy in just a couple of short months now…we have just began having some discussion about things like wills, funeral plans (for him)and such, things that a parent doesn’t want to think about. Aaron is older – will be 24 in April and this will not be the 1st time he has left home… he left once for college- then walked into marriage quickly with a beautiful girl…which dissolved as quickly as it began…he returned to us with a broken heart…but the Lord is ever faithful. So once again, Aaron will fly away soon…It is with my whole heart that the Lord will keep him close…I pray that the Lord will use Aaron and his past to encourage younger young men…His father and I are so proud of him….we realize that the navy will take him far away from these Kansas plains…but we know that he is in HIS hands, his loving hands….and God have plans for him…plans that are so much bigger and better than anything that our small human minds could conceive…and we give God all our praises……

    • Aarons, Mom,
      As Ann writes our hearts as mothers, your note touched me. I too am a mother to a son in the Military. My son is on his way to Afghanistan soon. After two tours of Iraq, I thought I had learned about letting go…well, maybe I have a bit more to learn.
      I had a good friend who said ” Drink deeply, hold lightly.” yes, that is what we do.
      Prayers for you as start this journey. It is one of drawing close to God , and pride that our young men desire to protect and serve. God go with Aaron and with you.

      • kathleen and Aaron’s Mom,
        Ann touched my heart and you have also, I have a daughter new to the Army who has just moved to Korea. So far away, too far for this mama to reach, so she’s learning to lean more on her heavenly Father. It’s hard letting go, but oh the joy of seeing them fly with their wings of faith. God be with both of you and your sons serving in the military.

        • To Kathleen and Phyllis
          Kathleen – thank you for your encouraging words and blessing. You are ahead of me in this walk as a military mother…i too lift your son and you- God keep and bless him and you.
          Phyllis- thank you too for your words. l also pray for your daughter in Korea. I am so grateful that we now have the ability to stay in closer touch with those overseas (sometimes) with internet/skype. ect…. Thank you sisters!!!!

  92. Oh my Ann. AMEN!! So true…I wanted to comment about the essay on saying good-bye. From my experience as a hospice RN I have been taught how to die. And truly accepting death, mine and the ones I love, allows us to truly LIVE today and love them intensely. We only have today – how good is the Spirit who allows us breath today! Such an incredible, unique gift. Tomorrow belongs to the Lord alone.

    Ann you write my life. That, too, is amazing and marvelous. THANK YOU.

    For all you young Moms, with time to use your influence directly: all the character and skills you want for your children to have, BE THAT. They don’t want words but demonstration. You will see them imitate you and you will be amazed!

  93. My husband and I have always said that parenting it the wonder of letting go to our children. We have four boys and how I long for them to grow and become men of God. This summer I get the priviledge to take the older two (9 soon to be 10 and 6) on a trip to East Africa. I am praying that this trip will change them to have a heart for the World and that God will capture them early. I am praying that we will grow in our bond as mother and sons so that we can fully live God’s Kingdom out in our relationships.

  94. I have a 16 year old son who’s been struggling with severe depression and ran into some trouble this fall. prayer prayer prayer–does he stay at home? do we send him to grandparents, to somewhere else??? months of severe crying out, following hard on years of general intense prayer for this son–God, are you listening??? are you working??? my faith is stretched to the limit, fraying, ready to break!!!

    also a 12 year old boy who’s crashing into puberty, and a six year old girl who is just . . . sweet :). we crashed and bombed with homeschooling, several times, but this time i am listening . . . the kids are in school now, it’s my 2nd day ever with all 3 of my kids in school full time. i am nervous, yet awed, freed from a heavy burden, on a bit of a high, sailing up on wings of a spiritual renewal i haven’t felt in years. i wanted to make the homeschool ideal work for so long, and it never really did, but i can’t compare myself with others, plunge down into regret–i’m trying to walk by faith. trying to be thankful for god’s gracious provision of a public school in our little farmtown (where i would not have expected to live) which is actually quite excellent, with a quiet, respectful atmosphere, where many of the parents are more conservative than i am, and my younger kids have great teachers, and really nice friends. i’m trying to discern His way, listen to His voice, allow him to place my steps.

    we are missionaries to an islamic community. every time dh has visited the mosque lately, really, really bad things have happened. last week the engine to our car was destroyed. i ask, should we be doing this??? jesus tells me yes, but you aren’t taking it seriously enough, you need more prayer, you need to go in the spirit. there is some amazing breakthrough, amazing things happening, amazing provisions financially in the past few months, but i am tired of “continual crisis”. i’ve been living by the flesh, caught up in all the tasks, and my flesh craves REST.

    long story told in brief. YES i could use prayer today!!! ann, i have just discovered your blog and am greatly enjoying it. your book was one of my all time favorites. you inspire me as a writer, i have always wanted to write :). thank you,

    angela nelson

    • praying for you, angela nelson just before me!

      dear ann,
      why do we all feel as though we know you, and can share most anything with you? because you are so open and vulnerable to those thoughts and feelings that are your own(as well as ours), and those that Our Lord shares with you, to share with us. may He continue to bless you, as you bless so many of us. thank you dear ann~~i feel a chance to begin again with my 6 grandchildren. whatever failures that were in the past with raising my 3, are just there, in the past. i look at the pics of your sweet mama, and realize that we are the same age. the Lord has so blessed me with a daughter, too, who is “sold out to the Saviour”. Praise be to God for all He has done and will do in the future. my prayers are beginning today for your sweet boy/man–safety, health and all else that he needs. love you and your family, and prayers for you also, while he is gone!! how i use your words over and over–truly All is Grace!!!

  95. Ann! Thank you so much!! I love you and pray for you daily!!! You bless me beyond words. peggy

  96. Got choked up over this one. My son, my youngest after 3 daughters, is now 21 and getting married in August. It’s hard to know what’s left to say, but your post has given me some great insights. I pray I’ll always have a line to his switchboard. God has been so good and has blessed our mother/son relationship. It is still hard to let him go . . .

  97. Just gave birth to our fifth, second via birth with three in between via adoption and firstborn going on 8. Our fourth son. Reading your post with teary-eyes knowing how fast the years between zero and eight can fly, especially as the others were a bit older joining our family. Wanting to hold this new love non-stop while mom-guilt pressures that I’m not doing enough. Above all desiring for my children an intimate walking with the savior and hearts that long to obey him.

  98. You spoke my heart. My tears splash on the keyboard. I’m sending this to my son and daughter-in-law. (She’s the one who does the wall climbing.) Thank you, Ann.

  99. Ann…how can I thank you? You have expressed what is in my heart so many days. Your book has been more than a blessing—-it has been life-giving. I am experiencing the ENJOYMENT of all the graces, and my soon-to-be 13 year old son is one of them. Despite the challenges of disabilities, he loves Jesus so much and sees the world in not just a glass-half-full, but a glass overflowing! From his just-awake-sleepy hug every morning, to his “I love you Mom,” at night, he is such a treasure, and I already ache at the idea that someday he will leave me and journey on for what God has planned. Thank you for encouraging and reminding me to treasure the moments, play more, love more, live more…..

  100. Oh my goodness…I just shared a few fast words with my son who has just been deployed for only two and half weeks…Your words resonated within me until the tears could not help but spill over! How just reading words, not even being able to see his face or hear his voice, can settle this mother’s heart and bring me peace. The challenge this year of fighting for victory over cancer, trusting God for my son to have victory over the enemy has he travels to a foreign land on special assignment, spending so many hours “on my knees” before the Lord for my precious daughter struggling with a chronic illness. Yet through all of that, knowing that this benevolent God that I have loved my whole life is at work on my behalf! Never sleeping or slumbering! Always watching and waiting to move and leave his fingerprints all over my life! Would you pray that my eyes will be open even wider to see his fingerprints, my ears more keen to hear his voice and my heart more settled in the palm of his hand than ever before! May God bless you as much as the words from your heart have blessed me!

  101. Oh Ann, your words continue to touch me and speak to the core of me. Thank you for sharing your “gift” of writing with me. This one hit hard….my first born will be leaving for college in a few short months…..and your words touched my soul today….tears flow. “I will never stop loving and letting you go. A mother and child live the first great love story and there is no love story without loss, and this is always gain.” beautiful…..
    This is what needs to be said…..”This is what you always need to know: You have nothing to prove to anyone – if you’re in Him, you are already approved.” – I will be writing those words down to share with my son. Thank you. There is no way that I could write as beautifully as you do, so I will share your words.
    I look forward to reading your blog posts each day and my MOST favorite book is “One Thousand Gifts.” It captured me. It will be on my nightstand for years and years to come~
    Blessings to you and to your son,

  102. Beautifully spoken, Ann! Our eldest daughter is preparing to go to Turkey, in April. It has all happened so quickly – this growing up! Thank you for your words. Praying for your family, your son, and for you, my friend.

  103. I wish I had opened my hands with such grace, spoken those words with such wisdom, my six now grown, four boys, two girls, wanting wisdom of their own. It is harder to fix their bumps and bruises now. The heavenly Parent, omnipresent, sees them, omniscient knows what I can’t know, omnipotent to my incredible impotence, know prayers, There are more tears, more sighs of relief when He does whatever it is He sees, knows and does. I am glad my girl has you to look to and does. Bless you sweet Ann.

  104. Blessed, again, by your words, Ann, and your heart ripe with love for the Lord, and for your children.
    I have a son, older than yours, but not by much. It seems to me that no matter how much of God’s Word I taught him, it was never enough. It should have been more. When you’re building a life on a foundation, the foundation can never be built too strong, too deep or too wide.
    As he begins his journey away from me, I want him to know that the God of Heaven never fails. That all is mercy, all is grace. That here, today, this passing world, is but a moment. Heaven is our home. Hate sin (in self more than others), accept the free gift of Salvation, share it with people everywhere, ever strive to love God with all your heart and love people as you love yourself.
    ~ Pray I’ll be a better mother than I am. ~

  105. This is heart-wrenching-so close to home as my daughter is going to be a missionary. Praying for her to meet the love of her life (and his!) before she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime!

  106. Excellent words, filled with all of your feelings. As a mother of two boys myself, I felt every tug of your heart. Thank you for expressing yourself totally. You have done a great job with your family.

  107. wow, this is so beautiful as your words always are. Reminds me of my own son, a reserve police sargeant bearing the weight of protecting others. When I see him in his bullet proof vest with leather gun belt I hold my heart ever so close and I pray for protecting angels to surround him always. It is our letting go that enlarges our hearts. For when he grew into a man he learned love and they created ‘three new’ beautiful little men. The circle continues and this mom heart swells into a grandma’s.

  108. These are painful things to talk about.
    I can’t talk about my regrets right now.
    I have no idea how to solve them.
    I am laying them down at God’s feet.
    Many things have not gone the way I thought they would.
    Many things have gone better.
    I cannot see the whole picture.
    I’m really trusting God that everything is not said and done and that He will keep working through me no matter their age.

  109. So true. I raise my boy child void of his father, grandfathers, uncles and such in our home. He will be 16 this year. I often wonder about raising men and how many Mom’s are left to raise men on our own; like the mothers you met in South America perhaps. How do we teach them to be men and men of God? We love them with the love of Christ and we trust God’s plan for them. Thanks for your words. I needed them today.

  110. Beautifully said, dear mama, whose heart and hands are stretching.
    Know this, this trying of your faith works patience. . . but let patience have her perfect work.
    I am a homeschooling mother of nine- with one child who has gone on a long journey- where we never got to say goodby or give an inspiring letter to. But all is well because God chooses rightly and he is where the hard things of life will never ever discourage him anymore.
    One of the most beautiful cards we received when our 17 yr old son died in a car accident here in the States was the reminder that God – my loving heavenly Father sent His Son here to minister to me and die for my sins and that He understands. He understands even the little letting go’s.
    I have had to ponder many times since then- that all the little letting go’s help to get us ready for the bigger ones. My challenge is to use each day faithfully, thankfully and joyfully so that when I must open my hand, to a child’s marriage or travel or death, I can do it with peace- even though there is pain. You have said it so well.
    When Paul died, one of the things that made it easier is that we had spent a special amount of time with him the year before, building bonds and strengthening ties.
    So mothers, everywhere- live each day carefully. It is a gift from God to use to further the glory of God in our children’s lives.
    Just found your blog -Ann and it has been such an inspiration to me. May God give you the strength to keep on sharing with women, not neglecting all the things that a mama only can do for her family.

  111. I can’t believe how accurately you captured my feelings, even though I have girls..
    Bless you as journey on as a mom.

  112. Looking back, now that I’ve done my own letting go, it began, this lesson of letting go, with the final push at the birthing. Inorder that you, beloved child, would live, have life, I had to literally push you, out….and let go. The cord was even cut in a symbolic and literal gesture, no going back, the letting go has begun. Nobody told me this was the lesson, everyone was focused on the holding on, the placing in arms to hold close. But now I know, the truth was there with that final push, letting go it is the beginning and the end.

  113. Ann, thank you so much for this beautiful writing!! My firstborn of 5 is 18 and will be graduating HS and heading to college within this year. I have dreaded this event, and at the same time, not taken advantage of every moment leading up to it. Now I am worried about how he’ll manage on his own. I am trying to cram so much learning into these last several months and just keep praying it’s getting through to him. I try each day to encourage his walk with Christ but i also know he is at a very impressionable age and wonder if i’m doing enough. Your words are an encouragement to me, to see i am not the only mom with these emotional struggles of letting go. I look forward to your blog posts in my email daily. Thank you for helping me stay focused on Christ and the many blessings He brings on a neverending basis! Go dbless you!

  114. My deepest hope for my children is to know this:
    That they are precious. SO SO very precious.
    That they are loved. SO SO very loved.
    That their life is because of Him, for Him, by Him…always and only.
    I pray that these things lodge deep within them and become unshakable truths that humble them on their best days, hold them up on their worst days and tether them steady on all of the mundane days.

  115. Oh, your words have a way of breaking me and making me run to the Lord!

    I have 3 little boys, and I just want to do it right. I just want my kids to love the Lord with all their heart and soul and strength, fulfilling HIS call on their lives, laying down their lives for others. I’m a formula person – I like to know that “if I do this, then I will get these exact results.” But motherhood is messy and not at all formulaic, which means I have to trust and rest in God’s grace and His divine influence on their hearts, rather than in my own strength. I’m praying to entrust my boys to Him, even as He has entrusted them to me. That’s my heart-cry as of late!

    I’m printing out your post and putting it into my prayer journal to reflect upon in the days to come. Thank you for sharing!

    • Dear Coby,
      My children are “grown” 19 almost 20 y/o girl and 22 almost 23 y/o boy deployed in the AF. This is what they say to me now…”Mom, the times when you lost your patience and struggled with anger, is not what we remember most, but it was when you repented to God before us and then asked us to forgive you”. Oh my goodness..what they were saying to me is were transparent before us even in your sin and showed us the way to the cross. I stand in awe of a God who can bridge the cap between my sin and their hearts and bring truth to them and show them that our sin is always against God, it affects and hurts others, but is always against God and that is who they must answer to, not me!
      I must say to moms please oh please don’t spend more time than necessary on things that have no eternal value; like spilled milk and mistakes that can be fixed! Be blessed as you lead them to the cross and show them there is grace and mercy to cover everything in our lives!

      • Sandy,
        Thank you for this! This helps me so much: “…a God who can bridge the gap between my sin and their hearts and bring truth to them…” Thank you for the reminder of GRACE!


  116. Dear Ann,
    I anticipate your blog each day just after 1pm from my quiet office corner.
    Like a hit of sunshine after endless cloud-drenched days, I love to stop time and just sit for a moment so your words, photos and the music can pour over me.
    Today was especially poignant. I am a mother of 2 beautiful adult daughters, 18 & 20.
    They were lost to me for almost four years, ages 4/6 to 8/10. Their father and I made wrong choices and now they are in the world without their full spiritual armour.
    I wake up in the night fearing for their safety, physically, spiritually, emotionally.
    They have forgiven us, but not God. We left them with an unstable foundation, and now I am at a loss on how to lay them at God’s feet to rebuild it.
    I allow the whisper of enemy lies to infiltrate my mind deep in the night until I wake in tears for them.
    Thank you for your honesty as a mother. I know God is good. I remember to recite my steadfast scripture, Psalm 37: 3-11, when sleep eludes me. I long for rest.
    The moments that are lost can be redeemed but never recaptured. I pray for a miracle in their hearts. God can, but do I really belive he will?
    They are gone now, but the generations continue. God help me. I am alone without their father to lead and establish true godly legacy.
    Please pray for me.

  117. Wow. This is how a letter to a child should be written. You remembered everything that matters most. And it all leads back to Him.

  118. This was my post just last night on Facebook. My son is about to turn 16. This came just in time Ann…like salve to this grieving days gone by momma. My God is for me. 🙂

    “Sometimes you look at your kid and you realize that he’s almost grown and it takes your breath away. And you’d give anything for just one more night at the dinner table with him and his dinosaurs and big brown eyed grin. He could name them all ya know. Oh if I’d only known then how my heart would one day grieve for those little moments that seemed so insignificant.”

  119. Oh my goodness, this took my breath away. I am a bit behind you on the parenting journey but this makes me want to say “yes” more, to grab the moments we can and make the most of them. And one part made me smile, the part about “being dead to all ladders and never going higher, only lower, to the lonely, the least and the longing…” I can type this from memory now. I remember when you posted your “prayer for a daughter” on your blog last summer. I copied and pasted it, made a lovely font for it and framed it for my sister to hang in her baby daughter’s nursery. I loved it so much I printed one for myself and read it to my daughter, age 10, one evening before bed. Well, that one night has turned into nearly 7 months and I say that prayer over her each night. She claims she can’t go to sleep without it. It’s now memorized of course. : ) If ever I get stuck, she gets us back on track. I feel as though I’ve done more wrong than I have right {as a mama} but this prayer? It is a sacred ritual she and I share and I know that it counts for one good thing. I just wanted you to know that your words and even your prayers have woven their way into our moments and memories. Thank you.

    • Scooper, what a great idea! Do you happened to know the link to that post or a keyword that is very specific I can use to search for it on Ann’s blog? Ann, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

  120. I’m the mother of two beautiful miracles. My daughter (first miracle after a miscarriage) is 9. My son (second miracle after 16 months of trying, and one anointing praying over) is 5. I feel, almost daily, like a failure. I know that I will wake up one day and realize I have put laundry (dusting, dishes, etc.) before time with them too many times. Thanks for the reminder to live each moment with them.

  121. That last anonymous post about a Facebook comment was from me…failed to fill in the info I was so set on commenting. 🙂

  122. Your words never fail to touch me. As we prepare for our daughter to wed in the fall, I’ve been thinking some of these same thoughts. You’ve inspired me to write her a letter…maybe several. Thank you for sharing your life with us. You are a blessing!

  123. Ann, My face is all wet and the keyboard is too after reading your post. With 3 boys, 15, 13 and 11, your words haunt me and help me! Thank you for eloquently saying all that I, too, want to say to my boys. I’d like to print it out and put it under their pillows for them to read in quietness. I feel so blessed to have been given these 3 treasures! And I feel so blessed to know you!

  124. oh my heart. my son is four and if i blink we will be here tomorrow. i will keep this and read and reread. thank you so much. these words are a gift to mothers and sons alike. this is what it means to be a mother. so, so beautiful. thank you!

  125. Praying and discussing with my oldest child, a son who will graduate from university in a few months…does he begin his earthly career that he has worked so hard to prepare for the past few years or does he take a year off from the “workforce” and do His work as an intern for Campus Crusade for Christ….a position He has been preparing my son for since he was presented for baptism just weeks old wearing the same gown his father wore at his baptism. Please for us as we let go…and give it all to Him.

  126. My heart breaks as I read your beautiful heart, and read of my sisters who also struggle with their children’s upbringing.

    My son is approaching 30, and oh! how my soul screams over the mistakes I made with him, and how he refuses to acknowledge the Lord. I can recount, one by one, the numerous times I tried to do the right thing and did the absolutely worst thing… How I failed him so many times.

    Then I am reminded of the things I did do right, the times I stepped up to the plate and hit a solid line drive.

    But was it enough?

    I beg our Father to intervene, to do whatever it takes to bring my son back to Him, and I work hard to force my hands to open up, to stop trying to control what is between my son and his Father.

  127. Dear Ann, Mine are 27,24,and 22—can I please have a “do-over”. They grew up way to fast,sad thing is I remember thinking how hard it was when they were little and people would say”these are the easy years” or “they will grow up before you know it” How very true both statements are!! My life has not been easy–not complaining just stating a fact–my dear husband went home 8 years ago and they were all teenagers then. I try and not knock myself down as much and I try and remember that I did the best I could. We are in need of prayers right now tho so if you have any to spare could you please remember us. Thank you so much for your beautiful words–brought a tear or two to my eyes!!! Blessings, Barb

  128. Ann,
    I will be praying for you. My only two sons have already left home. One served in the Coast Guard and now one in the Navy for the last 5 years. Many times I can’t know where my Navy son is. My boys grew so fast and it caught up with me before I knew it. Ann, I loved the token necklace you gave your son. For the life of me I have been trying to figured out a token to bind me, my husband and two sons together. Now we have a daughter-in-law and grandson in the mix.
    To the military moms – Pray daily especially for the unexpected. Tell them you love them and that you are praying for them everytime you communicate with. Turn them over into the Lords hands.
    Ann I read your blog everyday. It has meant so much to me.
    Gods speed to all of you moms,
    Blessings, Debbie

  129. Oh, Ann, your words, (sigh), they are exactly what my heart is saying. Yes, this mama sees it coming. In just a few short months, my oldest will be venturing out into the college world. Without me. That’s what these days have been about all these years, haven’t they? Preparing for this moment. A letting go, wings spreading, the flight. Out of the nest. Although my heart wonders such as yours if I’ve taught him all he needs to know. No doubt, I’ve forgotten much, but this I do know. HE will be with him when I’m not. HE will show him when I can’t. HE has the plan. And my heart is at peace knowing this is just the beginning of something great HE is doing in the life of my son. The one HE has loaned to me for such a short time as this : )

    Thank you for your words.

    From one mama to another,

  130. Beautifully stated Ann! Brought me to tears to read such an eloquent expression of what is in my heart but I am unable to articulate it. Thank you for your blog and your wisdom and your willingness to share it with all of us. Praise be to God for you!

  131. Thank you so much Ann! I desperately needed to hear this today. I have been struggling with my 2 boys “leaving” and our upcoming empty nest. Your words have inspired me through the lens of our Lord Jesus. Yes, he is faithful and just to walk along side our children and encourage them in their faith. I am blessed by your post. Many blessings to you. In Him, Paige

  132. Thank you, Ann. I was saying some of these very things to myself today regarding my launching son. I even sent a desperate little text to his daddy asking for boy/man launch instructions. So very bitter and so very sweet. I both wish and rejoice.

  133. My prayers have been answered, in such an amazing way! Praise God the Father Almighty! With grateful thanks, I am humbled by His mercies. Thank you, God for hearing my prayer. My heartfelt thanks to you, Ann, and anyone who read my comment here and prayed. I was afraid to be transparent, but I shared my sorrow and fear, and asked for prayers. This has been an amazing day of discussions and openness and healing. A new life begun. O praise God for hearing His humble servant. Praise God for new beginnings.

  134. Thank you Ann for these words……My son is eight now and these words just have me in tears. So much truth. I prayerfully ask God to lead me as I lead my son in this adventure and my great hope is that he will grow a passion for God so big it will be uncontainable. Thanks for the encouragement:)

  135. Beautiful. Tears run as I read. We have a daughter leaving in Sept for six months with a mission group. I intend on writing a letter of prayer for her when the time comes. Thank you for affirmation of that and a jumping off point. She is my child who I always felt would go away on a mission trip one day. We are in the midst of fundraising and God is doing miraculous things. God must really want her to go even though our mom and dad hearts want her to stay but only for selfish reasons. How can one go against God’s will for her life? Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m there with you.

  136. What are your concerns for your kids as they embark in the world?
    >That they’ll make wise choices.

    Your prayers?
    >That God would guard their hearts, minds, bodies and souls in Christ Jesus.

    What’s one thing you regret as a parent?
    >Not realizing/recognizing how brief our influence is – and because of that – pointing, folding in more of the word and prayer. And not being able to live what I desired for them to be.

    One thing you want your kids to really know?
    >Though I fail GOD WILL NEVER FAIL YOU!

    How can we pray for you today as you parent?
    I’m so scared, angry/bitter, wimpy, fleshy, emotional. I don’t want to give in to the painful, purifying process that has become my children growing into adulthood. The ugliness in my heart wants relief from the mess bad enough to give up on everyone – giving into fear, hopelessness, relief. I want instead to live forebearing, JOYFULLY, courageously, confidently recognizing/ hearing “This is the way, walk in it.”

  137. I did this for the first time in 1994 when my firstborn headed off for ministry in Moscow. The five remaining followed suit, year by year. Now this is a family lifestyle to far corners of the world, often in tandem, off to India now mostly. Then it was as wrenching as Ann so beautifully describes here. Letting go of them is harder than getting them, and getting them is an upheaval, like an earthquake crack in our selfishness. We learn to give up self and care for another, night and day, day and night.

    But now, we know them, love them, have invested in them. They’re attached to us by heartstrings. Off they go. We then discover that part of our calling is to be a prayer warrior. No one, and I mean no one, prays for our children like their wakeful mommas. Pray. Day and night. Letting go, praying, trusting, and seeing the results illustrates the truth we’ve known all along–they’re His, always have been. When no momma is anywhere near, He is. He watches. He guides. He leads. He protects. He keeps His sheep safe. He holds them in His hands. Trust Him. Let go.

  138. Thank you for this. For refreshing, for reminding. Prayer is our only hope for our children. Only God knows them fully, knows us fully, and loves them more than we do! Pray for my teenage daughter, D, who will not communicate with us, has no joy, struggles with anxiety. Many issues — MK/TCK, going to college this fall and we return to the field. We need God to break through for us.

  139. Oh Ann! Of course this is beautiful and as the parent of a boy on the other side (one year old), I ache and love with you. But I also just jump for joy that he is going to the jungles of Indonesia, where I grew up as an mk. I want to know where he’s going, what he’s doing, with who, and I want to pray for him.

    May he be changed and my God give him a vision for how He would use your son.

  140. Dearest Ann,
    As I write this I weep. My youngest son had just started his freshmen year at college three years ago when he was killed in a car accident. I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus then and I didn’t have the opportunity to give him that gift. Today I learned a past friend who I haven’t seen in years lost her son in a car accident last night, and then I read your post and I’m overwhelmed with emotion. And even in my sadness I praise my Father, who has given us a heart like His. We love ours sons so dearly and I am so grateful for a God who loves us more. I love your website Ann. It has been such a gift to me.
    Thank you

  141. I just began reading your book “One Thousand Gifts”. I have a 22 year old son who has joined the service. My heart aches for him because of some choices he has made that are not of God. He is Gods child and while he made his decision to follow Christ while in High School, he has fallen off that path. I am praying and trying hard to give all my anxieties to God. After reading this blog I cried because it says so much about what I am feeling for him. I know God has a plan for his life and I know God will use him to further his kingdom. I just pray he submits and gains spiritual wisdon and not the wisdom the world offers.

  142. My son is 17, and it is so true how quickly the years fly. I read in the Psalms this morning that our lives are like a passing breeze. I thought about that, about how quickly a passing breeze comes, we feel it on our faces, but it is just that, passing. Before we know it, it is gone. It makes me cherish the time I still have with my 11 year old son, and yes, the short amount of time I still have with my 17 yr old. Bless you. Ann. You always have such a way of pulling at the heartstrings…. with truth, and beauty. Thank you.

  143. I’ve let one go when she took her dreams, her goals, her plans to college, and then sweetness, she returned with her degree and still all lovely and whole and still loving us, the ones left behind. Then I let her go again, to her beloved, and her new life and homebuilding. And another I’ve let go to college and military service, all unknown and frightening, but his calling and we opened our arms and he went. With two still tucked into the nest, my regrets have time to cripple me or change me, time to make me better or make me completely unable to move for fear I can’t be better. What do I want to change? Living in the moment. Not worrying if I’m doing enough, they’re doing enough, they’re becoming the best they can be. Being obedient to the high calling and trusting God for the rest, resting in His grace and living and loving in the now.

  144. Thank you for sharing… for encouraging…for praying…for asking us questions that have caused me to pause…I am a mom to five sons and my greatest desire for each of them is that they would know and fear GOD and walk in HIS ABSOLUTE TRUTH. For them to learn that HE is too wise to make a mistake, and to loving to be unkind…and that only in HIM there is no disappointment…that truly HE goes before us to prepare the way and we are just to walk in the way he has already establilshed by faith in WHO HE IS…that HIS thoughts aren’t our thoughts nor are HIS ways our ways…that HE learned obedience to HIS FATHER through the things that HE SUFFERED…that HE IS THE FRIEND who sticks closer than a brother and says we are HIS friends IF we obey HIS commands. ~ that HE committed HIMSELF to the ONE WHO JUDGES RIGHTEOUSLY…that there isn’t anything to hard for the LORD and that with HIM ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE and WITHOUT HIM we can do nothing. Truly it is HE who has given us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness and that HE WORKS in us both to will and do of HIS good Pleasure. I regret not loving my sons as Christ has me. I read what love is and isn’t…Actions often speak louder than words… I need to be more patient, and in my tounge there needs to be the law of kindness…times I see reflections of my bad behavior in them and I know our Father isn’t well pleased with me. Some moms have mentioned anger…and I too have been an angry parent and I am continuing to learn what it means to be conformed to the image of HIS DEAR SON… James chapter 1:18-27 “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.
    19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
    22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;
    24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
    26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
    27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
    As moms we cannot train or discipline our children apart from the truth, we must receive the Word implanted, be doers of the WORD, must look “intently” at the perfect law of liberty, and abide by IT, as “effectual doers” only then we will be blessed in what we do. Thank you for 1000 Gifts, for your blog, for honoring GOD and HIS WORD, for loving the farmer and teaching your children to look to the Hills Psalm 121 God Bless YOU richly, Dear Anne

  145. Oh, my. This stage of loss has been weighing heavy on my heart for weeks as the university packages start to arrive…and my last boy is close to leaving the homeschool nest for high school. Thank you once again for your beautiful words and the reminder that they are mine only to launch and HIS for their lifetimes. Lord, fill in the gaps.
    Blessings to your son as he travels to the unknowns of Indonesia with his God that knows him so well. May your heart be sure and steady in the days and weeks to come. (And thank you God for skype and the internet!!)

  146. My daughter just recently took her wings to flight and is off on her own. I wanted to stop her so badly. To take her hand as I did as a child. To grab one more moment. She is attending college , working and handling her own. I am very proud of her but miss her miserably sometimes. She comes home twice a week to visit. I have four more little ones at home my youngest being 2. As I give her baths and color with her I know the time is fleeting. God gave me these precious little ones to enjoy. I know all to well. The youngest has the best of me because I know .


  147. I’m a first time mommy to my 1 year old daughter. Somehow we both got very ill 3 weeks after she was born. Me with an E.Coli Infection and her with Bacterial Spinal Meningitis. Though the Lord has healed us both physically, I struggle emotionally with the pain I unknowingly caused her. I get so scared whenever she isn’t feeling good. I just want to wrap my arms around her and protect her forever.

  148. Now my screen us blurry and my tears are spilling over as I fast forward to the day my sweet, seven year old boy is off on his own….and yet I want this for him—him finding his way in this world, anchored in place and held fast by Gods love and grace. So bittersweet…. Thank you for sharing your amazing heart with us. You have been such a blessing to me and you don’t even know it!

  149. My prayer is that my three children would know Jesus deeply and through that, would know that to follow him will bring them the true joy. Joy that the world will never be able to bring them. I hope and pray that God will give me everything I need to teach them about him.
    Ann, I pray that God will be watching over your boy and guiding his words, hands and feet all the time he is away.

  150. Tears, tears, tears. I’m surprised at how fast it all went, all those years. My dd is about to graduate college and a few short months later will be getting married. My son is a sophomore in college. I miss them both so much, I love to see the lives they are living, the people they have become and continue to grow into. I would turn back the hands of time and do it all again though and yes, I’d do so many things differently. Now that I know.

  151. Hi Ann, Thanks for your words. Our 16 yo just returned from 6 weeks on a missions trip. No internet, no phone calls. Letting her go was hard. Seeing her stepping out in her faith was so beautiful. But I agree, once that door has been flung open, once they see what God is doing and can use them to do, once their understanding is of this whole beautiful world – they have new eyes and new desires and new compassion. No matter what they do, life for them will never be the same again. We met her at the airport not a week ago and her first words after a big hug were that she wants to go next summer (Dec/Jan in Australia)!! God bless your boy and use him and comfort your hearts as he is gone and as he comes back excited!

  152. Ann,
    Thank you for your beautiful words and servant heart. I have been blessed by your words for years. Our boys are growing so quickly. The oldest, 11…he is so big. So many mistakes I made when they were little. Being angry, selfish…God redeems though. He has us on amazing journey and submitting my will to His, there is peace 🙂 I am thankful; I am grateful and I am humbled by His grace. Praying for your sweet one. Thank you as well for your beautiful book, your honesty both there and in your blog and your kind words you’ve shared with me before. They have blessed me so much. We have a wonderful and amazing Father! Praises!

  153. Just sent our son (21) to YWAM Hong Kong last week for five months– the echoes of the ache and the anticipation of glory fill me in your words. Thank you, and I am praying for your heart from a heart that knows.

  154. Ann – I hope your next book is all about parenting…clearly you touched a major nerve with this post. Moms are plagued by joy-robbing doubt and dissapointment with ourselves. There are so many things in OTG that have blessed me and my family, but I would love to hear more of your stories and gain your insight as to how grace, joy and gratitude can be woven into our daily struggles and triumphs as parents. Blessings and a big THANK YOU.

  155. Dear Ann, What words of wisdom for your children. I have no children of my own, but I felt that your words were important for me to read and feed upon them…I am yet God’s child, after all; and I am still learning, hungry to be taught. Your wisdom has made a mark on my soul today–very timely. What a gift you are to this old heart! May your boy-child print this post and keep it and read it and pray it and attach it to his person as something to return to all his years… FOR JOY!!!

  156. wow, the tears rolled as I read this. I’m writing a year of letters to my children, but you seemed to say it all in one . this is beautiful.

  157. Ann,
    I just sent my 1st born, a son as well, off to college – 3 weeks ago. I read your “what a parent wants to say….” I cried, still crying! It is truely grace. You seem to know how to give my emotions words. Thank you. Thanks for Christ.

  158. LOVE THIS! It’s soppy wet beautiful! Reminds me to cherish the moments, all of them. My children are 9 and11. Reminds me to love and let go radically, trusting Jesus all the way. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  159. LOVE THIS! It’s soppy wet beautiful! Reminds me to cherish the moments, all of them. My children are 9 and11. Calls to me to love and let go radically, trusting Jesus all the way. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  160. 3:30am…you may both experience the sunrise on your journeys–your son on his way, you on your way. How amazing that God gives us hearts that can both break and be healed at these special times.
    Last summer, we gave our son, 16years, a send off on his first journey overseas–to Ukraine. I had experienced stress wanting to make sure he had all the needed supplies before he left–but after his plane took off, the Spirit shifted my prayers to ones for his posture towards others, his heart and concern for the hearts of those he would be spending time with. Would the influence of my mothering be a blessing to him in that way? Would Jesus make up for my failures in this area? And when our son returned home, the stories were not about having packed the right stuff, but about how Jesus showed up in a thousand ways to meet the needs of our son and the ones he befriended. The mothering question that was answered last summer–though I continue to need reminders!–is that my mothering will never have been or be enough. Jesus is who is needed. He is enough. Mother and son become sister and brother in this remarkable adventure with Christ.

  161. Ann, so beautifully wrote. I pray a balm covers your heart. My eldest is 19, and i have so struggled in the letting go – it has been a year of watching, and not being able to fix. Weeping with my own realisation that its really up to the Lord, not me, to carry the internals of her heart. One year on, I can so see his silver thread weaving through – so gently , so gentlemanly – and I can honestly say that I trust her to find her way forward in truth. I trust Him to complete His wok in her.In the year of natural disasters our community has lived through, I feared internal disasters – still those out of my control.But as you have said Ann, there are no emergencies – no need to panic.He alone is so worthy of my trust. She begins the year in such a better place and I am so grateful.

  162. Ann, you touch my heart, always. I too have a 16 yr old, and want so much all the same things for him.
    This past week, especially, but like countless other times, your posts have ministered to me beyond what my words could say.
    You truly are a blessing worth counting. 🙂

  163. Dearest Ann, I don’t know if you will ever read this as I know how busy you are, but after reading you for 5plus years now, I have finally come to a place where I cannot bear it anymore. There was a time years ago when my boys were small and my love for God was fervent and my dreams for them this big, to do just what your son did. Go into all the world and love God with all their heart. But years and years of angry outbursts and awful awful words that would make you cringe a ,million times over (though i always repented with many many tears) and emotional instability and wavering faith killed their desire for God and now My Oldest pretty much hates God and I’m struggling myself. Oh, I wanted to do right so badly. I wanted to so badly that I fasted and prayed and begged for deliverance that has never come and so I have given up. And then I look at your beautiful farm, your homeschooling them so well, and I see how beautiful your children are and how they love God and it is just all too much. I’m so thankful for that. I really am. God needs such fervent followers. But I must stop reading….. Because those dreams of mine have been crushed and trampled on, and it is more than I can bear. I tremble to think of how I will be held accountable one day for how I lived out, or more accurately have NOT lived out my faith in front of them. Oh, how I wish I had never had children for if they don’t bring glory to God, I failed in this most important job. Still love them to death, but I have let those dreams go…… 🙁

    • Don’t ever give up! The grace and mercy of God are more than enough to turn the darkest night into a glorious morning. You have to forgive yourself and move on. You are still their mama and there is nothing like a mama’s prayers. Now is not the time to run from God, it is time to get closer than ever and watch His miracle working power transform yours and your childrens life. It is never too late! Keep encouraging yourself in the Lord! Like David in the Bible (1 Samuel 30 read it), when he thought all was lost and began to loose hope he stopped feeling sorry for himself and encouraged himself in the Lord and soon all that was thought lost was recovered in full. I don’t know you but I am praying for you. You are part of the Body of Christ and if one part suffers we all suffer. We need you on our side, we need you to stay in faith, we need you strong in the Lord. So I will pray for strength. It’s not too late. Jeremiah 29:11 Galatians 6:9

    • Dearest, Beautiful Tina…
      Oh, sweet sister. Yes, if I’m causing pain and hurting you, friend — I deeply apologize, and yes, Tina, you find a community where you feel encouraged and edified and just…held. Wish I could reach over and squeeze your hand, Tina.

      You aren’t alone sister — I’ve said awful words and ranted angry and the kids have followed suit and it’s been ugly here… deep ugly.

      But God.

      But God and grace and sticking close to Him and preaching Gospel truth to my messed up heart and steeping myself in His Word and memorization and counting gifts… and kneeling before kids and confessing sin and begging for forgiveness and grace. We’re all right there with you, Tina.

      Kalynn writes beautiful, biblical truth… Now is the time to wrap yourself around God, like a belt around a man, and cling to Him and let His love for you heal all the wounds and bruised places sister.

      Ps. 73 is one of my favorite Psalms:

      21 When my heart was grieved
      and my spirit embittered,
      22 I was senseless and ignorant;
      I was a brute beast before you.

      23 Yet I am always with you;
      you hold me by my right hand.
      24 You guide me with your counsel,
      and afterward you will take me into glory.
      25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
      And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
      26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
      but God is the strength of my heart
      and my portion forever.

      I have been the brute beast — but He still holds my right hand. He won’t let you go, Tina! He’s got your hand and you are gripped by relentless grace.

      I have the flu tonight and am in bed with a fever and the house is a mess… but I’ll take this time to pray with you, Tina… that God will bring more of the Body of Christ to wrap around you and love you and walk with you, beautiful one. Promise — I am praying.

      You are so loved — by Father… and this messy, grace-clinging daughter.
      All’s grace,

    • Oh Tina, don’t give up. God’s time and ways are not ours – He can redeem all. From the beginning, the Deceiver has been the author of fear, telling Eve (and us) that God is withholding some great good from us, or discouraging us with the lie that He chooses to bless others, but not us, or that our mistakes are unforgivable. Don’t believe him. Both you and your children are precious to the Lord, He knows the plans He has for you; they are for good and not for evil. “May [His] unfailing love rest upon you even as [you] put your hope in [Him] Psalm 33:22

    • After sending my note off to you a moment ago, I see Ann and Katelyn had been writing too. Be encouraged.

    • Tina,
      Praying for you as well. You are loved. So are those precious children of yours. God can work miracles.

      Lamentations 3:19-26

      I remember my affliction and my wandering,
      the bitterness and the gall.
      20 I well remember them,
      and my soul is downcast within me.
      21 Yet this I call to mind
      and therefore I have hope:

      22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
      for his compassions never fail.
      23 They are new every morning;
      great is your faithfulness.
      24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
      therefore I will wait for him.”

      25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
      to the one who seeks him;
      26 it is good to wait quietly
      for the salvation of the LORD.

      hope is a most precious gift 🙂

    • Tina,
      I’m praying for you as I write these words. I, too, have struggled with parenting these blessings. We changed our whole lives around because it was such a struggle. I have processed the hardest times by writing a novel about it and all the healing that Jesus has brought me. Every time I reread it, I see all the things I still need to learn over and over. If I may, I’d like to send you a copy to encourage you in persevering with your relationship with Jesus. He loves you so much and only wants your love in return, not your perfection or even your children’s perfection. Your children belong to God and He is always working out their salvation. It is not ever finished until He says it is, so you have not failed. Don’t listen to the negative voice the Deceiver is tempting you with. The deceiver wants you to feel like a failure, to give up hope. Christ is your hope, not you, not your actions alone. You are being covered in His Light through all this prayer from all the wonderful women. Open yourself to His Light. That is all you have to do. Please email me at and allow me to serve you by sending you a copy of my book which shows my woundedness and how Christ healed it. In Christ’s peace.

      Ann- I hope you don’t mind my doing this… I have always loved how you show your woundedness too.

    • Tina, others have said it far better than I could, but I am praying for you as I type. Don’t give up the fight! God can redeem to the uttermost! Jesus came for you, for your children! Just. For. You.

  164. Gracias!

    Las palabras de gracia y verdad son las que llegan a los mas intimo del alma. Words of truth and grace are the ones that pierce the soul.

  165. Oh, Ann,
    This is so eautifu! My 4 children are all adults now, but I will NEVER outgrow being their Mama! Right now I am struggling with trying to decide whether my husband and I want to make a move 2 1/2 hours away from where our daughter, son in law and 2 granddaughters live. It would be a move that would be such a positive lifestyle change for both of us, and the climate change would help my arthritis. I’m so torn, we’ve never lived away from our kids! The youngest “baby” just became engaged this summer, to a wonderful young lady. Please keep us in your prayers as we try to do what God wills us to do. I love your posts, they always leave me with such encouragement and a sense of love. You do a wonderful thing Ann!

  166. I was putting together a graduation announcement for my daughter, one who i’ve home schooled for ten years. I was writing a little on the back of the card which included the words love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. After that ,I paused.. how does a mother sum it all up? I wanted the announcement to include some sentiment. A verse, maybe? I was struggling with what words to say. Your name popped into my head, so after a click I was at your blog. The title for your post today “What a Parent Wants to Say Before a Child Leaves” I cried… How God understands where my thoughts were! At that moment He sent me encouragement through your post. Within the post I read how you wished you had said “yes” to Scrabble more, all those u-turns and the matter of forgiveness from the child (oh, how I wish I could take some things back). I have a beautiful relationship with my daughter because Christ is at the centre of it <3. Your post is a blessing to my heart!

  167. ann…i pray jeremiah 29:11-14 for my children…”Thank you, Lord Jesus, for how you are working in jason and tracy’s lives…for how you are fulfilling the hopes, the plans, and the future you have for them, orchestrating circumstances and bringing divine appointments into their lives…”

  168. I’m at an airport coming undone as I read this post and soak in its wisdom and long to be home for good night kisses and more books.

    Thank you, Ann, for giving such life-giving perspective to motherhood.

  169. It’s the most amazing thing….how the heart, the love grows larger through the years ….. how one is pummeled by all the goings on – babies, young children, work, scars, teenagers and that never-ending-wanting-to-be more real, more authentic, more transparent. And then, when they go…. oh what pain… and joy, fear…. and hope – have I done, have I said, have I loved enough … so he/she can walk, can run, can fly – under the wings of the wounded One. Cutting that umbilical one more time, releasing them again into the arms of the ultimate parent – letting go – breathing deeply – feeling heavy yet light, old yet younger than ever. And when they come home to visit it is different – here I am again stretching my capacity to love …. ever growing and expanding.

  170. The tears are running down my face as I read this. My eldest boy will turn 7 on Saturday (with a pirate party planned). I already sense time fleeing. I can scarce believe he will be 7… and I fear 16 coming too soon! I have chosen to hs, knowing that I only have these precious little ones for a few years before they fly. My strongest desire is that my children will know the love of the Father, and will desire to serve Him with all their heart and soul and mind and strength. Please pray for patience as I try to educate them wholeheartedly, and for ways to make learning interesting for my active children!!

  171. Beautiful letter, Ann…beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
    I want to homeschool my children…, my little boy just turned 4 and my little girl just turned 1 and we would like more precious little ones, and I’m already thinking about homeschooling…to prepare…somewhat uncertain, desiring God’s best for my children more than my best which is not ever enough because human expectations can get in the way…where do I begin? What are the best resources? I know you know, Ann, because you homeschool your precious six. 🙂

  172. In bed here tonight with fever and flu… and begging your grace. Wanting to reach out and squeeze each of your hands and pray with you.

    Know I have read each and every single one of the comments and I am bowed here with you tonight, praying over each of you… For the mamas who have miss children and grieve over children, for mamas who are packing up children and mamas praying for the return of prodigal children. For the brave and the broken and you all so unspeakably beautiful mamas…

    I am praying with each of you tonight… Thank you for the privilege. And for being a community that reaches out and prays for each other, that touches each other on the virtual shoulder and whispers — “In this moment… I am here with you and praying… ”

    More love than these thin letters can hold…

    • Lord bless Ann as she rests in you, heal her, give her strength for the tasks you would have her do–and THANK YOU for planting your desires in her heart.

  173. Oh this resonates! My only son is but 2, and yet, it still resonates! Our nightly lullaby is called ‘Roots and Wings’ – and lately he’s started to sing it with me. A beautiful memory, these nights cuddled in the rocking chair will be, and in the now, a reminder to me of the immensity of the job.

  174. Beautiful…I have two boys that haven’t even started Kindergarten yet, and I pray this would be my prayer and encouragement to them as well. Blessings to him for going and being obedient to the call.

  175. How I identify with your words, Ann. They describe a mother’s journey of holding a child and letting to. I had to let go of my only son the past year as he took his family to live hundreds of miles away. This was the hardest of “letting go”s. Our heart strings are never disconnected no matter the distance our children travel.

    Blessings to you for sharing your heart and your words with us.

  176. My throat aches while reading this. My boys 2, 4 and 6 seem so far from 16 but I know it will happen in the blink of an eye. The days drag on but the years fly by. 🙂 I’m so admonished (and encouraged) to take the daily opportunities to speak into their lives with words and actions and not let them slip away.

  177. What a beautiful way of putting things so clearly. I have been struggling as my oldest is 16 and venturing out with a couple big trips that will be life changing this spring/summer. It is hitting hard that he is turning into a young man quickly. It is as exciting and scary all at the same time. God has used your words and book to greatly work in my life to not be so busy to miss the little moments.

  178. I’ve been here, too, four times over with my four grown children. Letting go. Oh, my, only a mother understands. And it really doesn’t get any easier with each child in succession. We hold our children with open hands up to the eternal Father. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  179. This post, today as I wait for the boy to turn 15 in a few days and I wonder where the time has gone and feel like I have about 5 minutes before he packs it all up and leaves home to venture out on his own. Trusting God for everything in his life and that He will give me the grace for these days ahead. Thanks for the reminder that others are going through these same things.

  180. I’m a gal around your son’s age. As I read this I treasured every word, and I just had to stop at the end and say thank you. Godly guys are few and far between, parents that actually care often seem as rare. Thank you. You will never know the extent of the appreciation I feel to a mother who does her absalute best to raise up a son in the way he should go.

  181. Ann, your blog is so profound. I am reading your book now. It is beautifully written. I only wish I could have been as insightful and sensitive to my children as you are. My childrearing years all seem to me a blur at times. That is probably one of my biggest regrets. But they kind of overwhelmed me — especially when they come in pairs and our parents lived on the other side of the country.

    We have five children — I remember when it was time for our firstborn son, Matthew, to move out of the bassinet into the nursery across the hallway, I was beside myself! Each time he took another step of independence, I anguished and fretted. His first day of pre-school. His first overnight Boy Scout trip. When he went to New Mexico for camp. When he went to college (I cried each day for a year before he finally left) — only to feel that he was in the best place possible — kind of like Heaven! When he studied abroad in Spain. Little by little, God sent him farther and farther away from me.

    In the meantime, we had 4 other children. Our daughter, Meaghan, was born 26 months after Matthew. Then I had two miscarriages and thought I’d never have another child. I was devastated. One day I was reading Psalms 139:13-19. I mused to DH, “wouldn’t it be funny if God gave us twins because I always wanted 4 children” and DH said, “let’s just be happy with our two. I don’t want you to go through this again, losing a child.” Then a year later, I was pregnant! With twins!! That is when God taught me that our children are really HIS and each morning for the next 7 months, I woke up and thanked Him for keeping them safe through the night. Each day I offered them up to Him . I offered our other children, Matthew and Meaghan, up to Him. The twins, Madeleine and Molly, were born just 2 days short of their due dates after me being on total bedrest for 3 months. And then 3 years later, Meredith arrived.

    With each child, my grip has loosened. I have learned to pick and choose my battles. I have learned to trust God that He is in charge and He knows best! It has not always been easy especially if a child were going through a difficult time. But each time, I had to let go of my death grip and place that child back in His loving hands.

    Now Matthew is about to be ordained a priest and is assigned to Monterrey Mexico — he is serving in a parish with 30,000 parishioners. He performs many funerals each week for sons who have been murdered by the drug cartels. He listens to stories of children who whisper to tell him about murders they have seen in front of their homes. Yes, I am concerned about him. But this is what he is passionate about. He wants to serve the poor. How can I tell him no?

    Our daughter is a first year resident as a pediatrician and her husband is an ER resident. They talk about serving abroad because they loved their rotation in Africa. Our son in law is wonderful and we are so blessed. He has set the bar high for Meg’s three sisters future husbands — whoever that might be! The twins are juniors in college and our youngest is about to graduate high school and has gotten into colleges and is waiting to hear from more. I am concerned that they make the most of their educations — we are spending all of our money sending them to college. I am trusting God is leading them where He wants them to be.

    We are so blessed and so grateful for our children. Yet I have doubts and guilt that I was not the best parent. I was impatient. I didn’t keep an immaculate house. I wasn’t firm enough. I was too wishy washy. I gave in too much. I was too strict. Aren’t we all like that?

    But I pray for them each day — for their spouses or future spouses. I prayed when I was 16 and a Baby Christian for my husband whoever he was and wherever he was. That God would train him and prepare him for our marriage. And I think God did just that. I pray the same prayer for our children. In Matt’s case, it is the Church and the people he serves. I pray for a hedge of protection around each of our children. I pray that their hearts will be led to serve God and to love Him as much as I do. Many tell me that they couldn’t let their sons go to someplace as dangerous as Monterrey. I tell them that we can go to any ‘dangerous’ place whether it is in a small town or a large urban city and be killed. We can be killed tonight on icy roads. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to be run over in the Wal Mart parking lot!

    Ultimately, I rest knowing that my children know God and that He will use them wherever He sees fit. We always tell each other that we love them as the last thing we say whenever we speak on the phone or say goodbye. Our friends have lost their children unexpectedly in the last 2 months. We try to tell our children that we love them as much as possible. Sometimes that is not always easy — especially when they are adolescents! But then I just think of God’s unconditional love for us when we act like unpleasant, rebellious teenagers towards Him!

    I rest knowing that no matter what, we will all be together in Heaven some day. What a peace we have knowing Jesus!!!!! I pray for each of you Moms — just following Ann’s blog and reading her book, you are on the right track! Just pray and be open to God’s lovely Will in your lives. Trust Him. Like the old TV show, “Father Knows Best” — He does!!! And give Him THANKS!!! He rocks!

    • Pam,

      Your comment reminded me how important prayer is…I’m thankful I’m praying more for others, but need to focus more on my own family and children and grandchildren…thanks for this reminder…please pray that I’ll be a better prayer warrior for those closest to me…thanks! 🙂

      • Kelley,
        I thought the same things — I pray fiercely for my family — and I also pray for others — those in our community and for all the others in the world. Our teachers, health care providers, our police and firemen; our political leaders even though you might not agree with them — I pray for God to speak to each one and pray that they may all listen to Him; I pray for our clergy; I pray for our armed forces; I pray for those who are battling disease and whose loved ones are dying. I pray for those who have lost loved ones in the war. I will pray for you!

  182. This said so many things that I wanted to say to my son who is graduating from college this year. So, I sent him the link and asked him to read it and told him that I knew I could send it because I know who he is inside. He replied with a long, long email that was beautiful, from the heart, and full of Christ. You need to know that my thoughts to him through your words were spoken directly from the Spirit in His perfect timing. The connection of my heart and my son’s heart melted together in mutual love. He is turning his face toward the One who has been there waiting for him. Thank you for allowing the words to flow through you.

  183. Your words, they flow, they leave a lump in my throat. My teen daughter will be travelling in a month, by herself. I’m nervous, I worry… already, and she isn’t even away. I’m unsure I have prepared her enough. I pray that our Lord will give her the wisdom she needs in every situation, Thankful that God hears and answers prayers.
    Thank you for this wonderful post.

  184. I read this as a mother of five children…parenting alone these past 6 years…in the flesh alone, but my husband is the Lord. What a fence I walk…they see their dad once a week. once.
    The Bible talks about the fatherless…I pray for the Lord to send the mentors to my son who is 15. I fail him daily. I told him yesterday that the Lord showed me years ago that he would stand before younger people and tell them that taking the easy road isnt the right way to go and to take the hard road. Him hearing these words I could tell sunk to the heart for him. fatherless….not in the spirit though.
    Your letter clings to my heart…the tears are close. my oldest daughter married in November. She lives 15 minutes away and i miss her fiercely. tears now. So many things I would go back and redo…
    What I didnt fail in was instilling compassion and gratitude. There could have been many more hugs and encouraging words…God can finish.
    I alone am not enough…He is my partner. There is still one son, man-boy here and 3 daughters here…now I work part time and go to school to make ends meet. Where is the time for my blessings? We still homeschool….14 years now. It looks far different from married days, but still so much my heart. Having my flock around me, watching and forming…watching and forming and praying.
    Thank you

    • thanks for sharing your heart, Lori…we all have a story to tell…this is a reminder how much we need to pray for each other as we’re all in different phases of life with our children…may God richly bless you for your faithfulness as a mother…He indeed is a father to the fatherless…our church started a men’s group that reaches out to those boys in and outside of the church who don’t have a father figure…they’re involved with a local school in the area and meet from time to time for fellowship, fun and sharing God’s truths with these young men…wonderful program…maybe you can suggest something like this to your church! 🙂 God bless

      • Thank you for such kind words Kelley. It means a lot to me. I will suggest that group to my pastors. What a great idea!

  185. Oh, Anne, as I’m reading this I am crying not only for you but for mine, I just can’t stop the tears…


  186. Dear Sister,

    May the Lord cool your fever, Ann, and bless you with the comfort you have so freeely extended to others in His name.

    By His Mercies,

  187. My 8 year old son… how to inspire the ridiculous love of Christ?? No condemnation!? World, leave me alone! God knows my son! I trust God! No more be said…

  188. Ann, the grace & simplicity of your words always touches my heart. My hope is that my children (ages: 22, 20, 18, 17, 15) will know that the Lord is always with them even when they step out of the light into darkness. That He holds them securely and waits patiently–or pursues them zealously–until they return again. I regret that I didn’t teach them to honor their father more. But since his surrender to God’s love, they saw the change in him which was so evident. As my children leave our home, I want them to see that the source of any strength, love, joy, grace or blessing that I have to give is Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior.

  189. Wow! Tears are welling up!
    I fear many things for my children. I fear when they get hurt…physically, mentally, emotionally. I fear for any disappointment they may have. I fear that they will not choose to experience a life full of Christ. A mother’s fears can be numerous!
    I am not far into this journey of parenting…only 5 years at most and 4 little ones to care for. Still, I have regrets. I regret not having taken care of myself well enough to remember the earliest moments of my first 3 babies. I regret those emotional outbursts that are taken out on my little ones.
    I want my children to know that for how much I love them, their Father in heaven loves them even more.
    Please pray for my wisdom, grace and mercy in parenting these four little miracle from God.
    Your words are a gift from God Ann! Thank you!

    • Noell,

      My children are both grown and married with children…I can understand your fears and guilt…sometimes I wish I could change the things I did or didn’t do correctly as their mother…I also know that Satan wants to put me down and is the author of lies and wants me to be defeated…thankfully, God is showing me that I can’t live in the past, but the here and now…I’ve asked God and my children to forgive me for not being a better mom and not honoring and respecting their father as they were growing up…not knowing where you and your husband (I’m assuming you’re married) are spiritually, I encourage you to glean as much info about parenting as you can from good Christian books, ( the Bible being the main one) or even a trusted mentor who is already weaned from mothering! 🙂 Support and honor your husband in front of the kids and don’t fight in front of them…you need to be on the same page and work together through any problems…know what you desire for your children now before they get older, especially in their teens, so you know how you’ll handle what can be difficult years, especially in relationships…more specifically, DATING! Read, I kissed dating goodbye, by Joshua Harris for starts! 🙂 We weren’t on the same page and both our children ended up becoming parents before being married…two very different situations, but we wouldn’t change it for the world because these two children are precious gifts from God! We have three beautiful grandchildren, whom I hope to be a better grandparent to the second time around! 🙂 God is good, ALL the time!

      • Kelley,
        Thank you so much for your reply!
        I’m not sure why, but it is so hard for me to admit to my family that I am wrong and just as hard to ask for forgiveness. This is not new to me, I’ve always struggled with this. In my heart I know when I am doing wrong, in my heart I want to be forgiven. Asking God for forgiveness, however, never seems to be a problem for me. Maybe I have a fear that my family’s love is conditional and I know that God’s isn’t?
        My husband and I are definitely on the same page spiritually, we’re both Christians and Christ-followers. This doesn’t mean we sometimes have no clue what we’re doing…we often argue in front of our children, something we need to desperately work on.
        I deeply appreciate your advice & wisdom, I find that I need that from other moms/wives who have been there!
        God bless you and your family!

        • Noell,

          I can understand the struggle to ask your family for forgiveness…I find it more difficult to ask my husband for forgiveness! I know the main reason is because of my pride…I might rationalize why I did or said something and think I didn’t sin or that he should come to me first etc. I know my husband will forgive me, but I struggle with the fact that I might have just sought his forgiveness about something and not long later I’m having to humble myself and seek it again…it’s not fun being humbled and having to confess our sin, turn from it and seek forgiveness…so thankful we have a wonderful, perfect role model in which to pattern ourselves after…GOD! Ask God for grace to help you in this area of your life…you won’t regret it! 🙂 What better way to teach our children humility than to live it before them in this way! 🙂

  190. Thank you, dear Sisters, for your love and prayers to this broken woman. . It is all about Him…..Praying you get better fast, sweetest Ann.

  191. Hi Ann,

    What a beautiful tribute about and to your son…Funny I read this a day late…our son, Caleb Joshua ( I know your two older sons have these names 🙂 ), will be deploying in April to Kuwait…he serves in the Army National Guard! As the day approaches, I’m growing sad and becoming teary-eyed over his leaving us and his new wife and baby! I’ve grown in my relationship with God in a wonderful way this last year, and wonder if I’ll faithfully cling to his promises He’s revealed to me as we see him off! I fear the unknown for him and wonder what God has for his life as he serves his country…he’s young in the faith, but I’m thankful to see that God is continuing to work, as He promised, in his life and that makes me smile and give thanks! I plan on sharing your letter with him and letting him know that many of your thoughts to your son are the same I have for mine! I do plan on writing him a letter before he leaves to share my heart with him…please pray with me about this…I struggle to know what to say because I don’t want to scare him and talk about death too much, but it’s life and something we need to think about, where we’ll spend eternity! Thanks for sharing your heart…you are such a blessing and I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to get to know you and your family a little!

    All because of eucharisteo!

    Kelley Light

  192. Wow! I’m speechless and feeling all kinds of emotions. Especially about giving to the child and forgiving the parents. I’ve spent so many years making sense of my childhood and came to realize there are no accidents in God’s plan. It was His perfect plan that brought me to Him. I love your ability to share your heart and authenticity.

    Thank you!

  193. Oh, how this resonates with me this week. It’s just days after watching my second born take his oath into the Marines. It’s like your whole life as a mother flashes through you in seconds and you wonder what more should have been said, what more should still be said. I thought I’d be prepared, since I’ve done it once before -that time saying goodbye at college just an hour away. And still, it’s there…that need to breathe in a few more hours and days with this child who is walking in the opposite direction. It is good…it is right- it’s what we raise them up to do….but it hurts and tears at the deepest part of what we’ve become so comfortable with.
    Thanks, Ann…
    Your words remind us all to live today with gratitude and eyes open…tomorrow comes way too fast…

  194. As a teenager, I was the one getting on the plane and heading for Indonesia (literally!). At the time I didn’t think much about how hard that must have been on my parents. One thing I know is that after that first experience away from home being so far, any trip after that didn’t seem nearly as far. Now with children of my own, that day that they leave feels far away, but will sneak up on me before I know it. Thank you for these beautiful words.

  195. Ann these are words for my heart as I watch my children do ministry and now as I watch my grandchildren ready themselves . Thank you for your insights; they are gifts to my spirit and an encouragement to me.

  196. With 3 grown…. and 3 to go….

    Wishing I would of read more to them, played more laughed more….

    So each day I remind myself how fast it goes… and I try to live fully in the moment.

    As my oldest is married, lives a state away…. I am so proud… my heart hurts and is so full.

    Praying for you, Ann. For Caleb and all of you.
    much love

  197. As I read this a day after you posted, and read the Joy Dare for today, I realize the 3 gifts that might never have been: my marriage, and our two beautiful daughters. Oh the stumblings I’ve had through the years. Praying that my girls will understand my apologies, that they will stay true to the One who is True, that they will follow whatever His calling is for them. Your eloquence leaves me speechless; I feel like Moses when he complained about his speech impediment, and then I remember God rebuking him for that complaint. God has planted food for my soul in your words. Thank you so much for being an honest brave soldier for Christ.

  198. With 3 grown…. and 3 to go….
    Wishing I would of read more to them, played more laughed more….

    So each day I remind myself how fast it goes… and I try to live fully in the moment.

    As my oldest is married, lives a state away…. I am so proud… my heart hurts and is so full.

    Praying for you, Ann. For Caleb and all of you.
    much love

  199. You had me at Scrabble.

    I subscribe to your blog and everyday I am moved by how you find the beauty in the ordinary and turn the mundane into prose.
    Today, though, today brought tears; real, wet, stinging tears.
    My oldest just turned 13. So as I type, I cradle my 5 year old on my lap and hold him a little longer – taking the opportunity to embrace time; love; grace.
    Perhaps I would not have done that if you had not shared your words. You are truly a gift to us, Ann. The Spirit still uses others to share God’s word and love. Thank you for being an open channel, an earthly vessel. I pray for healing for you and strength.

  200. My prayers, begun before they were even glimmers in my eye, back during my college days and continue today for my two dear children…from David’s heartfelt prayer for his Kingdom children…..Psalm 144:12 “That our sons in their youth will be like well- nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. ” Both with deep Godly foudations, both with lives full of fruitful beauty and humble service to the King. Function and Form that brings delight to His heart.
    My regrets – not always keeping the mission prayerfully and passionately focused…allowing winds of challenge to push me off course.
    But this I know, in spite of my weakness, in the midst of my brokenness as a parent, He has proved Himself over and over. He is the healer of all of lifes hurts – big and small. It is costly to lauch a child into adulthood, but oh the joys of seeing them walk with Jesus. And this too a constant pull on my heart….towards deeper maturity . That in the offering, the lauching, the tearing of the veil,- my capacity to love and to pray has grown. I see His grace molding me into that Kingdom pillar carved to adorn His palace – A cornerstone mamma – like the ancient graceful pillars of Greek maidens…. weathering the winds, lauching the next generation of Kingdom leaders.

  201. Just a story: a missionary wife from Mexico was recently home on furlough and gave a presentation at our church. She mentioned that she and all four of her brothers and sisters are all missionaries–and she is a child of missionaries. And all five of her mother’s brothers and sisters and most of her many cousins are all missionaries.

    “Wow!” commented one lady. “What a wonderful family legacy! What did your grandparents do to instill such a love for God and others in their family?”

    The simple reply, “They were farmers. They loved God and each other; they prayed for their children and faithfully supported God’s work. They worked hard and taught their children to as well. Little did they know but they were growing more than cows and crops on their farm. They were growing workers who would go to the ends of the earth to plant the Gospel seed. Farms are great soil for growing missionaries. The hard work, the vision, the patience of waiting for plantings to grow—all the stuff the God uses to make men and women who will work and pray through the lean times and wait for God’s Spirit to move.”

  202. I have 5 beautiful blessings in my life ages 4 to 21 and I struggle every day to hug them enough and encourage them enough and remember to teach them all they need to know and then the Lord so gently reminds me that I just need to be their mommy and HE will be their GOD. Learning to let go and let God has been the hardest struggle in my life. But I have seem the most amazing miracles happen in the moments following the letting go. God is so faithful to express His love for them in ways I never imagined.

    I have so enjoyed your book, Ann! This has been a lonely year for me, as my closest friends have moved away. But you touched my heart so many times as I would read your words written in the way I think…for a moment the lonelyness melted away .
    I had you in mind the other day as I was so blessed to watch my daughter’s overwhelming thankfullness and joy expressed through leaps across the living room floor and great shouts of joy for recieving a special birthday gift. Because you put into words what I have been thinking….that she is enjoying great delight and happiness because she first experienced great thankfullness and expressed it through lots and lots of hugs and kisses! And then a thought occurred to me… maybe I am doing something right! Not a thought I get to have too often! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your life!

  203. Oh Ann! You are so amazing! Your writing is poetry and you put words to the stirrings of this mother’s heart. I shared this post with my aunt who is also a mother to boys and we cried together. I will print these words and hold them close to me as I pray for and guide my little boy to the moment he is ready to fly.

  204. Wow. The thing I think about most as I read this post is that I have done so many things wrong — didn’t play Scrabble enough, did I model lining up under authority?, do they know that I love them? After a divorce from a horrible marriage I kind of checked out, and although my mom and dad were wonderful to help out and stand in the gap during that time, I just wonder what kind of damage I did. But God is good, and He works things out for His glory. Praise God.

  205. The Lord has shown me that I need to repent. But how? The abuse was years ago, the neglect was years ago. The mistakes were years ago. Or were they? How do I still hurt and live for self even now after all these years. Living with the consequences is so painful I can see why someone might turn to drugs or alcohol or worse. I understand David’s deep hurt (that hardly captures the pain he must have suffered) when he had to suffer and watch the consequences of his own with his son. What would I tell my son if I had the chance? I would tell him I loved him, I made mistakes and I don’t want to make anymore that he has to suffer for. I would tell him to love like God loves, not like a human loves, live for God in all things, and take seriously some things, and some things don’t take too seriously. Wisdom is knowing the difference. Be wise in the Lord and above all forgive those who hurt you, and forgive yourself.

  206. Thanks, Ann. I’m posting a condensed version of this in my bedroom to help me think clearly in this, a tough season. I must remember for me. I must remember for our children. I must remember for the world around. I must remember for Him. Thanks for being a tool in His hands to share living water with a parched soul.

  207. What a tender post. My own daughter bolted out of our lives, slamming the door on faith and us and everything. My heart was shattered. But because of that shattering I found Christ in a whole new way. He became my hope, my rock, and my healer! Through a complex set of very painful circumstances in our daughter’s life, Christ gave our daughter new life. Then, He restored our relationship. We now enjoy a relationship that is so much more than we ever dreamed of or hoped for. HE is the giver of life, and the source of our hope, restorer of dreams that have all but died! Praying for you and for your son.

  208. Thank you Ann for a BEAUTIFUL and TRUE reflection of a mothers’ heart – my boys are young, only 5 & 3, but there is so much in my own heart that I want them to really hold onto for dear life, many things you blogged about – and sometimes, the years feel too few, and the moments too empty – I will remember your words along my journey:) God bless!

  209. Our son is going away, overseas for several weeks and he, also is sixteen! I’m so excited for him, I have encouraged him out the door on every adventure from sleepovers, to scouts, etc, even as I privately fretted and prayed, he was mine to mother but not mine to hold back, I hold him and my family in prayer all the time. You asked one thing I regret and one thing you can pray for us? I regret that during a time of difficulty we let go of our faith and hope although we did return to a church and putting our faith in God’s will for our lives. Would you all pray for us to remember God in everything, even as situations dissapoint us that we not let them bow us over but that we bow to God and trust in Him in all things so that we have the strength and the courage to just do our best? Thank you.

  210. Ann, thank you for your words. My 12 year old son is not leaving me yet, but there is the sense of him traversing his own internal landscape. We had a conversation last night at bedtime. He has struggled with fears,so many fears…has fought so hard to be brave (“son, there is no courage without fear.”) Last evening it was, “What if there is no tomorrow–that’s what I’m most afraid of, mom, since I began to understand these things.” His dad has been battling cancer for the last five years. We’ve watched him go from a man who climbed mountains and swum oceans, to someone struggle to get out of bed, limp down the hall, fight down the nausea and illness from the daily toxic chemos, and still go to work every day to teach enthusiastic middle schoolers the love of creation and science–one of whom is this son.

    So how does a mother speak into this darkness? How to silence the howling voices? What if there is no tomorrow? What if what we fear most happens? How can I help him see a God he can hold onto in this darkness, who even now holds him in His hands? And so I fumble with words of eucharisteo. “Father-God, thank you for today. Thank you for your kindness to us. Thank you for taking such good care of us. Thank you for our warm home. Thank you for our little family. Thank you for soft beds. Thank you for mashed potatos. Thank you, that even if there is no tomorrow down here, thank you that there is tomorrow in heaven. Thank you for this day we have been able to share together.” I feel the tension ebb out of him. Quietly, “Thanks, mom.”

    Thank you, Father. Thank you for this bread that is enough for today, for tonight. Thank you that there will be more tomorrow (if You so will), enough for my son on this journey of his.

  211. Ann- I need you to know how you have changed my life. Upside. Down. Ruined, in the best way possible. So thankful and grateful for you, your ministry and words.

  212. Was offline most of yesterday and didn’t see this until today. Dear Ann, if only you knew the grace that flowed through your words that gave me strength in the letting go. My young man was born, not of my body, but half a world away in a remote village in the Philippines under the seeing eye of his heavenly Father. Being his mother has been all gift, even the hard parts that made me cling closer to Christ. I know you believe in the truth of every word you’ve written here. I’ll whisper prayer for your mama’s heart in the letting go. Grace and peace to you.

  213. Ann-I just finished your book. I am broken. The words on these pages flowed through me and truly broke me. I want to be re-built.I am being re-built with each thanksgiving. The beginning for me was toward the end when you talked about what your sister’s name meant. Beloved-I finally realize for the first time in 35 years that I too am that. Thank you and God bless you.

  214. My heart is sad that my husband & I are sending our first arrow from the nest…sad because we have only had him since he was 14, adopted from Thailand. We grieve the time that we didn’t have & are thankful for what we have had. As he shoots away, we pray that what we have had was enough…

  215. Ann, you have such a beautiful way to describe the feelings I’ve had as a mother. What do I regret? Mostly I regret that I did not love and laugh enough with my four girls. That somehow, in my desire to become a godly woman, wife, then mother, I must have made it seem wrong. Empty. A giving up too much of me. For only my last daughter truly wants to serve her husband as a help-meet. One out of four. Not good odds. But . . . there’s still time. God can still change their hearts. I wait on bended knees.

  216. Truly lovely, Ann! Through my tears, I project your words to my son, ready to spread his wings this year. I’m not ready, he is–I pray. Yes, the first love story, the one that follows the ultimate. “… no love story without loss, and this is always gain.” Why doesn’t it feel like gain? We love, we pray, we sing, we wipe tears and noses and so many other things; we guide, we read, we play, we listen, encourage, and praise; we weep, we laugh, we breathe deep and then let go. Praying God’s grace makes up for my lack, and praising His faithfulness. Fly, my son!

  217. Ann,
    Your words are as lovely as the pictures and music you share with us. Thank you for giving us your time and sharing with us your thoughts and family. Your love is spread throughout the world.
    I always enjoyed each stage my children were in; it passed so quickly. We parented with the time in mind when they would fly from our nest. Love let’s them fly on their own. It’s the return visits that are so precious. I think after they’ve grown is when you pray the hardest for them.
    We always have regrets, but that’s what forgiveness is for.
    I’m getting a second chance of infulencing for the Lord as I babysit my granddaughter.

    I found your book at our DaySpring outlet by accident/providence. It has changed my life as I look for God’s gifts of grace throughout the day. I’m keeping a journal, too. Maybe you could come to this DaySpring in Arkansas some day.

    Blessings to you and yours,
    Linda from Ark.

  218. I just want you to know that as I was reading this, I was thinking that even though you may leave, you never really “go away” from your parents. You always need them. Don’t worry, he’ll be back many times. 🙂

  219. As a mother whose first “letting go” is looming ever closer, this made me cry. There was another smaller lesson in it for me, too. Thank you.

  220. Hi, I’ve never written to you before, Ann, but appreciate your words so much. One Thousand Gifts….powerful! I am a mom of 7 (all “his” and “mine”–I get asked that a lot!), married to a preacher, learned a lot of things the “hard way.” I have found the letting go is new in every context: when they go to college, when they get married (even to the right girl), when they join the military…then escalate that exponentially when they face combat. When I’m surprised by my own fear of letting go (again), believing that I already took that test and passed it, I realize my love for my children, particularly my five sons, only grows stronger, and my control over their comings and goings grows less. As I fear for their safety, their spiritual fervor, their ability to make the right choice, I always come back to Moses’ daring request to God on Mt. Sinai, “Show me Your Glory.” Lining up my idolatry next to God’s glory (“Yaweh–Yaweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth…”) how can I not be humbled, and open my clenched fists to all the glory He has in store for me…and my children?

  221. Thanks for sharing! I loved this! So my heart.

    Momma to six kiddos- and also fledgling! The first one graduates next June, and we are attending a college preview day in two weeks- so this was perfect timing!

    We can rejoice in the time we’ve had with these precious gifts and be REST in His grace. His grace that has covered all of those things we think we missed.


  222. This week our oldest son signed the dotted line to be in the Navy. He graduates Memorial day weekend and leaves 6 weeks after that. I am so blessed and so thankful for the gift he is. So ready to watch him fly, and so sad that it hurts more then words can express. I am not afraid for him. I am going to miss his everydayness. Every time he walks into the room I am in he calls me beautiful. He dances with me, sings to me, and tells me he loves me. He loves God and depends on him. My heart is sad. I am so thankful for his influence in his brothers lives, and know this will be an adjustment for all that Gods grace is once again sufficient in. I regret how fast it has gone and that I cared so much about so many small things. God is faithful.

  223. This was so beautiful. My son’s are 20, 17, and 7. With my older two I now realize how fast it goes by and cherish everyday with my 7 year old. Many mistakes along the way and many more to come but know his never ending grace will cover my failings. Just read your book about a month ago and loved it so much.

  224. Wow! Beautiful. I know that day will come far too soon. May God help us to redeem the time and to take such joy in all our moments with them. May our lives point our children to Him.

  225. “What to say before a Child leaves…” What a title….Just wanted to share my nephew was shot and killed. He’s gone. No more will we see his beautiful beaming blue eyes, hear his laughter, or see his bright shining face. What a void this has left in us….so, love your kids extra today….spend extra time with them…love on them unconditionally…be kind…be patient…be aware there are others who have lost their “treasures”….be careful not to complain about your kids….teach them well….and thank God for all the blessings you have.

  226. I read this as my only child, a 10 yr old boy lies sprawled asleep on the sofa on a sunny Sunday morning… And you bring tears to my eyes. I think of all the times I have wasted, things unsaid, harsh words I wish I could take back right now. But I look at this boy, this blessing we have and I feel pride and joy and so much GRATITUDE for him…for this… THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this post. I have tears of joy too… Because I take so seriously motherhood… But I am so serious about raising a man… A real, true, good man…you have touched on so much I feel. Just last night I told my husband that it is in the LITTLE things, the things that NONE ONE would even notice when u know u are raising a good kid. School, church, athletics…yes all important. But hearing your son ask another, “and how was YOUR day?” and MEAN IT…seeing your child smi
    E and coo at a baby they see in the grocery store beacause he just “thinks that baby is sweet” and MEAN IT… the kid that offers to fetch his sick mom a glass of ginger ale and be GENUINE in his helpfulness….. It is in the small.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU again for this post. I think I am going to take my kid out for lunch today…. 🙂

  227. Word from my heart…how did you know??!! Thanking God for your gift of writing so many things that I would say if I could. This will land in all 3 of my boys email boxes and I will share it with my young moms group.
    Bless your sweet heart Ann.

  228. Two weeks ago I hugged my 2nd born girl goodybe… I held my 4 month old grandgirl, her child tight, kissing her sweet cheeks, trying to take it all in. They were boarding a flight to Germany where they will live and minister for the next two years. She is 21 years old. This her 3rd flight to another world. The first was to India for a 3 week trip at 18. The 2nd to Germany; India at 20.

    My first-born has already spread her wings and gone to England/Poland in ministry with YWAM.

    You never feel like you’ve done enough… it makes you thankful for grace… and love that covers a multitude…

    I felt this post… deep.

  229. Thank you for this. My one and only child, my boy, is about to move to Colorado… far away from me here in GA. I am proud beyond words of him, but I am aching all the way to my core. I know God is in it, his plan is unfolding right before my every blink, and I am holding each second in my memory, but I am hurting. He auditioned and made the Air Force Band…how cool is that? He’s loved music all his life, he studied it in college for 6 years and now it is time to show the world what he’s got…oh my goodness this is hard! Thank you! I’ll be passing this on to him, with hopes he sees the similarities.
    Best, Vicki

  230. I am a hurting mom. My son is 17 and has left my home. He is bitter and wont speak to me. He has been gone 8months and my heart is broken. I miss him terribly. Ive tried reaching out to him and am getting nothing in reply. I read “what a parent wants to say before a child leaves” and cried my eyes out. He is my first born out of 5. His siblings miss him dearly also. Would you pray for my son and I please.

    • I have been in your shoes. Only my daughter started leaving at 12. After a life of crime, addiction and prostitution God has redeemed it all. But more than that he changed who I was as much as he changed her. To love the unlovely as Christ did can only be learned when you have someone like that to love. How can you love your enemies unless God gives you some. The journey was 10 years long, an eternity in Mom time, but the amazing results can only be God sized as well. Never stop seeking him, never stop giving God’s simple truth, Never underestimate what he can do with human failure. Never stop growing in your love of his word, never stop seeking him. You know he has a plan………..

  231. My son leaves in March to serve in the United States Coast Guard. Your beautiful words have explained my heart as he begins the adventure God has planned.
    Thank you & blessings!

  232. What is MOST beautiful is the letting go…the giving away to God, Ann that you are doing….that you’ve done. Again. and Again. and Again. Remembering that truly they are His and this time…oh, this time that we have with them, this precious, borrowed….fleeting time…really is about helping to know, deep inside, WHO he is and HOW to serve him. I relate Ann: how….and what does that look like…and oh, what I’ve made a mess of it sometimes! Thanks for letting us take a peak at the how….blessings to you today….

  233. Ann, I loved the quote “You’ll see your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls not the glare of screens”. I wish to add it to my email signature. Is this your quote? If not, could I have the name of the author .

  234. Ahhh, you had me in tears, Ann. Always loving them and letting them go. From the beginning, it’s so true. My boy is only 7, but I’m already learning this lesson, as I’ve seen him off to school now. This truth is a huge one to grab a hold of now, for I’ve caught myself fearing ‘someday’…that elusive someday when the kids leave to live their own lives and fearing their Dad and I will be alone. Relationships aren’t the best with our parents, and it pains me to think that will happen to us and our kids. But I’m not my parents, neither is my husband. We can be different. We can be better. Always flawed, of course, but we can learn from the mistakes & short-comings of our parents…we can walk with Christ, pray to break those generational curses of stubbornness & self-centeredness, and instead walk in love, choosing forgiveness, mercy, and grace. And in choosing to walk with Him, we can find our identity in Him, not in anything or anyone else, even our kids.
    You can’t know great love without loss. That’s so phenomenally true. If we could all only grasp ahold of that! It’s inevitable! So many are so afraid to truly love for fear of being hurt. Well, love comes with hurt. No matter what or who you love. It’s just it’s nature. But if you don’t know love, you don’t know true life! Thank you for this beautiful post. I will be saving it and keeping for my kids!

  235. Dear Lord…I thank you for this day and for that which I have read this morning and how it has spoken to my heart…the heart of one who so often …despite my feelings of failure and my shortcomings…desired above all to love my children…to do what was right by them …to trust you OH LORD to enable me to do the right things…to have FAITH in you — because deep in my heart, I know that faith works…that faith makes all the difference …forgive me Lord for the times I have made mistakes in my life as a parent…for the times I made bad choices and decisions that I should not have made…for the times when I said no when I should have said yes and vice/versa…for the times I didn’t take time for my children when I should have…for the times I thought I was too tired to play or to show the attention to them that they needed…for the times I failed to apologize when I messed up…please Lord heal those places in my children’s lives and help them to be made whole…to be believers in you and in your ways…to have faith…to trust you…because in all my blundering…in every bad choice and decision…through every heart ache…I know that it was YOU who carried me through…I know Lord that deep in my heart that though I am far from perfect …. all that I ever wanted for any of them was your grace…for them to be successful in this thing called life…for them to see and know you on a personal level…for them to grow up and mature… to find the right mate …to become parents themselves…to put you first in their lives… Karen…

  236. I love my Boy-Become-Man (so quickly…how did the years go by so fast?). He’s turning 30 this year, with beautiful Christ-like wife and 1 year old sweet grand baby girl. Regretting not striving to understand him better as a boy and teen. He has such anger stored up inside that is seeping out all around even though he tries to keep it contained. Has not spoken to my husband in over a year, blames him and won’t let my husband even see or hold our sweet grand-daughter. The pain is unimaginable. I’m stunned by his anger and bitterness. I believe Jesus when He says NOTHING is impossible for Him. Only He can fix our broken family. My prayer is that my son’s faith in the Lord’s grace will be restored, our family will be made whole again, and that my faith in a kind, miracle-making God will bring much glory and honor to Jesus in the midst of our mess. Thank you, Ann, for the ways you have inspired me to thank God for EVERY situation, to slow down and find joy in the thousands of gifts God gives every day and – by God’s grace – to never walk unseeingly past His gifts again. Gratitude does change a heart. I pray for my son Jamie to have a heart of gratitude too.

  237. Thanks, Ann. Your “son” letter is deeply moving and so beautiful, it inspired me to write one for my teenage daughter. Words just came flowing in and out naturally one by one like the Holy Spirit gently speaking to her unique character through me. She is already very radical so there was no need to tell her to “be” radical and yet there were lovely bits in your letter which struck a chord and a tear, reminding me of things worth calling to her memory all we have taught and prayed with her. Thank you so much, Ann, and praise be to God. PS. Bought one copy of the “thanks” book for her plus a spare copy for the home.

  238. Ann – I love that the Lord binds the hearts of sisters in Christ when we have never even met. While we travel as sojourners…here…chances are we may never physically meet, shake hands or hug, but your words have blessed me today. Two years ago, our oldest son felt the Lord’s tug to join the Air Force. As I read your words, my heart was overwhelmed with all the emotion that I felt with our firstborn packing up his room and things to live a life apart from me. How crazy and selfish! He wasn’t put here for me…but for Him! I remember crying and wondering…Have I said enough…taught enough…loved enough! I want my son to look hard for the good memories…I’ve made so many mistakes in this thing called parenting! I want him to learn the work of forgiving all those mistakes. As the rest of us gathered that day to see him off, we all knew life at home would be different without him there. He left two weeks before Christmas. Christmas was going to be different…the first one without Joey. The first time we would celebrate Jesus without Joey. He would be in boot camp…would he even know or remember about Christmas? There was no communication except through letters…words became life to me…an extension of my heart carried to someplace in Texas. His four other siblings (Josh, Jenna, Jessica and Justin) were writing as well. Carrying our love through letters…through words…Your blog has reminded me of the precious time Our Great Father gives…each day…each hour…each minute…I want to remember to say yes more to “our Scrabble”…why didn’t I say yes more often…with more babies life just happens and goes by so fast…All is Grace though, isn’t it. He reminds me of the preciousness of this thing called life and family and friends! Thank you, Ann! Your words have encouraged and reminded me today of Him and Grace! Blessings –

  239. Oh, dearest Ann, Just keep trusting our Jesus and ask Him to hold you close to His heart. I have never missed our boys – even though they have been in college (19 years at Dordt College in Iowa and we are from Michigan). Never have wondered if they would not come home. Always focus on the positive – the great thing they are doing for Christ! Aaron has spent over three years in Guinea, West Africa – is there even now for the fourth year on his own. And now having Andrew in New Zealand for a whole year! You know how close I am to most of those 7 sons! But it is ok holding Jesus’ hand! Oh,yes! There is great excitement when we receive a note from them! Like this morning hearing the adventures of being in the Bush giving out Bibles! How can we be sad? Am wondering how long your son and group plan to be gone? Oh, my precious friend Ann, you will be all right holding on to Jesus’ hand! And then you have just one more to add to your list of “thanks”. Mine now number 1604! Add that to your list! Love you so much, May Jesus’ peace and strength be yours! Bernice 🙂

  240. When I read this post last week my breath caught and my heart beat just a bit faster. The follow-up post: What to Do in Hard Times stopped me cold… What if the someone you love doesn’t ever come home again? He didn’t…. My beautiful 20 year old son left for college in the fall of 2005 and in June 2006, he took his life. He didn’t come home and I am forever changed. We as a family are forever changed. A brother and a sister, 2 neices, mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles….friends…the ripple seems unending.
    So what did I do? I fell to my knees and promised my God that this would not destroy me, our family, my faith. I promised that I would become a better person and that my son’s death would not be in vain. Many, many days those promises have been almost too much to bear, but God is faithful and has brought me- us- through. My husband and I work with others who have lost loved ones to suicide. We brought a grief ministry to our church. And we pray, knowing that all is out of our hands. Control is an illusion and all is His. God is good and we are reminded daily in so many ways. Grandchildren and a new daughter-in-law bless us and our family is growing in number, in strenght and in faith. I will forever miss my boy and bear scars of this loss, but I rest in the promise of eternity where we will never have to say goodbye again.

  241. […] Too, writing this letter with the perspective of your own passing is simply one way to do it. Although, this point of view really helped me focus and ponder my words carefully. Instead, you could write a letter like this from another angle. For example, check out this unbelievably beautiful blog post from Ann Voskamp, in which she writes to her 16 year old son as he leaves her home for the first time: […]

  242. Ann, I found your words from two years ago and I am right where you were then. My 19 year old son leaves tomorrow for Africa for three months. He’s going to love and minister to a country ravaged by AIDS with more orphans than we can imagine. I am so so very proud of his desire to take time away from school, invest his own money and go serve the least. And at the same time my mother heart is sad, concerned for his safety and selfishly doesn’t want to be separated from him for three long months with little or no contact. I know God is all over this and it’s a great “problem” to have 🙂 He is spreading his wings and learning to be what he was created for……I guess I just didn’t realize that it would be so painful on my side. Thank you for your words which always seem to articulate what is going on in my head and heart. You are a blessing!!!!