Dear Leiana,

life is hard, oh my God it’s hard.  And it has been especially hard for you these past few years.  I know that it’s confusing that mommy and daddy aren’t together any more.  I know that you see the goods and bads in both of our parenting and just being human.  I know that things are said that are confusing and make you want your mommy and daddy back together.  I wish I could fix it. I wish that he and I could respect and love one another for who we are.  I wish that it wasn’t so bad that being together wouldn’t actually be more detrimental to your health and well-being than us being apart.

I do know though that I have failed really bad lately.  We talked about it this weekend but you had shut down on me for the past month or so.  You refuse to talk to me or tell me anything. I am harsh with you and short.  While we talked about it, I realized that I haven’t spent any quality time with you.  You are generally with your daddy on the weekends so the only time that I have with you is waking you up, rush rush, rush, getting you to school, picking you up, taking you to this and that, making dinner and putting you to bed.  I asked you if that is what is wrong and you completely broke down crying saying, “Mommy, I miss you.”  You cried and buried your head in my shoulder.  I cried too but you didn’t see it.  I texted daddy immediately to tell him that we needed to spend some time together.  The next day was Friday.  I picked you up from school and your little sis stayed with Gramma.  We drove around a little bit and then ended up just getting some tacos and a Gatorade.  We talked about school and dance a little bit.  You bounced around and danced in the aisles.  Later, we went to dinner with Gramma and sis then I took you girls to the trampoline park.  Saturday, we agreed that it would be nice to not go anywhere but sleep in and hang out at home.  You flipped the bacon for me and I made some eggs for a nice breakfast.

I am sorry that I have been so focused on my goals and treating you girls like an inconvenience.  I want to build a solid career in order to buy a house for us so badly that I sometimes forget to live in the moment.  I get consumed with the dream of a place where we can have an animal and can be our own.  No one can tell us our lease is up and make us leave, year after year.  I hope and pray that your life will have some consistency sooner than later.  But until that happens, I can still create stability for you and give you a peaceful home.  You are amazing, and smart, and strong.  Goodness, you have the strongest heart I’ve ever seen from a young girl, way stronger than mine was.  You understand things at a deep level and care.

I also know that grandpa’s sickness has been hard for you.  I hope and pray that he can be better so that he will be able to emotionally connect and truly care.

You are doing great, Little Leiana.  I am looking forward to your continued affect on the world.





I know that this time must be confusing for you.  Elise doesn’t really know the difference whether or not daddy is around, but you do.  Thank God that when daddy left, a whole lot of family members were there to not “replace” him but be able to be in your life now.  We never saw anyone before, now you see your Grandma and Grandpa every week and your Mamaw every few weeks.  You also spend time with your cousins regularly whereas you never even met them before.  You are growing up with your family and I love it.  That’s the way it is supposed to be.  I think you’ll understand the dynamics one day.

I know that you desire to go to school.  You have said before that you want to see the same friends more often.  You meet friends so easily but because San Diego is so big, we rarely run into the same people at the parks and the beach.  You do love going to your Sunday school class which I make sure to bring you to every week so you can at least have that as a regular thing.  I am planning on attending more things that you can get familiar with until I have the money to get you into preschool and/or a dance class.  Preschool is so expensive but as soon as I can, you will go.  I have so many things to figure out in the next few months, where are we going to live, where am I going to work, who will take care of you and Malia while I work, and how I am going to juggle it all.  I’ve been so impatient with you lately but we still do have fun together.  You are such an amazing young girl.  Tonight we went to eat at chick-fil-a and there was a young girl that you were playing with.  actually, you asked her if she would be your friend and she said yes.  You looked so happy when she said that.  You fill my heart with so much joy.  When she was eating with her family you were turned around watching them and she had a phone that she was playing some games with.  She told you that she had her own phone and was bragging about it.  I know that you wanted one too… but later on you told me that she had her own phone, you paused and then said that wanting something someone else has was wrong (not in those words but the same concept).  I loved that because we had talked about that a few weeks ago and I think you handled it so well.  We are going to have some struggles with that and I never want you to feel like we don’t have enough.  God has always provided for our needs… He’s even provided for many of our wants.  But we are most likely going to struggle.  I continue to have to remind myself that we are blessed so much even though it’s going to be hard in a lot of ways.  We will make it and God is taking care of us as our Heavenly Father… no better provider available than Him.

Literal Leiana

You have become seriously hilarious to listen to.  Rebecca, your babysitter, gave you a “pirate braid” play extension to put in your hair and when we went to the dining hall you kept telling people that it was just for pretend that you aren’t a real pirate.

You listen to everything oh too well also.  Yesterday when we went to Oside pier to meet up with Kristina and Liz, Liz and I were talking about working out and Liz mentioned that she runs up and down stairs for a workout.  well, next thing we know, you are running over to the stairs and running up and down them.  You told me later that you wanted to work out to be strong.  We talked about the reason we work out and eat healthy is to treat our bodies as a temple, that God wants us to take care of our bodies so that we can be healthy enough to help others.

Today when I picked you up from your church class-the four year old room.  one of your teachers told me how sweet you were.  she said that you were just enjoying sitting and reading and that you call her “teacher” and are so polite.  I agree.  It’s pretty amazing how well you soak up the things that we talk about.

This evening right before bedtime you said you were hungry… I, as always, was frusterated and asked, “why are you always hungry right before bed?”  you said honestly, “my tummy just tells me that it wants food!”

Whether you are wearing a princess dress or your cousins Ninja Turtles mask, you have been known to tell people things like, “I’m not really a ninja, see it’s me.”  Cracks me up!!


Dear Lord,
May You God guard the girls’ hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I feel like we are ruining our children. I hold that stress in my stomach. It’s always tight and uncomfortable. I’m surprised I don’t have physical ailments because of it. I am constantly nervous and worried, Lord. I’m not a fun mom or wife because of it.
Lord, please help me to know and believe that YOU are in control and I’m not. Also help me to live like I believe that ALL things come to the good of those who love you. That you can take mistakes that I’ve made, and continue to make, to bring good to my children just like you have done in my life.
Please bring peace and Love to my family. Being unity between me, my husband, and our two girls and any future kids, if any. Let me give up control and my nervousness to you. I don’t need to be a pleaser. I don’t need to carry and fix every emotion of the family. I am not responsible for everyone’s happiness. And please keep either of the girls from feeling that way, too.
Thank You and amen!!


Dear Leiana,
I call you Baby and Babe. I don’t think it’s weird but as you grow up you may wonder why I have done that. See many people think of their significant others as their Babe or Baby. Now daddy has called me many pet names, baby cakes is probably the one most often used but we haven’t made a habit of using babe and baby.
Maybe he would agree with me that when we were dating it just isn’t feel right to call each other baby. Neither one of us are each others babies. We don’t want to treat each other as babies and sure done want to be treated like one.
However, YOU are my baby. My first baby and we have called you and your sister baby from birth almost. So it is completely natural to call you babe also. On my side of the family, nicknames are very common an important. I have many nicknames. In fact, no one called me by my real name until I made friends with the Christian group when I was stationed in Okinawa. It actually took me some getting used to and i had to realize that unlike what I felt and was raised with believing, some people want to respect you by using your full name. But I was raised with believing that only strangers and people who don’t care about you use your real name. People who love you call you a more personal nickname. I realized later that both of you don’t have names that have easy nicknames like some names. So you are my baby, other people may think it’s strange but I’m going to keep calling my ACTUAL baby by that name and keep my husband as my man and my love.
I love you!!
Btw, you befriended an older girl (11) at the park that many kids would be unsure about because she has some special qualities, some people would call disabilities. She was born extremely premature and her dad said that it is a miracle that she is alive. You don’t care about physical appearances or even challenges. All you saw was her heart and the fact that she wanted to be your friend too was all that mattered. You loved her and started calling her your sister. You don’t know how honored I am at how unconcerned you are about things that concern the world. You see people’s hearts. She loved hanging out with you and you reciprocated that love.
Love you,

Seek First

Dear Leiana,
You are such a sweet, outgoing, friendly girl. Today while playing with the boys next door you kept “falling” and telling Dominic to help you up. Dominic is the oldest boy and so use to helping his three younger brothers that it really doesn’t seem to bother him to help you every time you ask… Or tell.
Yesterday we went to Walmart with your adopted gramma, Susie. He wanted to buy you something and get you out of the house so we went on a mini adventure. You sat in her cart on a soda 12 pack container and were the sweetest girl the whole time. You whispered to me once that you wanted something but then I reminded you to be thankful for whatever she wanted to buy you. The rest of the trip you contained to be extremely respectful and sweet. When we left Susie said, “I can’t believe it, I’ve never been in a store with a child who didn’t continually ask for something.” She bought you a cute little green shirt that had a main one shoulder and just a strap over the other and she bought Elise a onsie.
I need to remember to have us make her a thank you card.
She brought you over a razor scooter today. And you got the hang of it pretty quickly.
We have been so blessed while bing here at the ranch. God has truly provided for all our needs. I hope you remember at least some of this time.
I do see that one quality that you already possess is calling people by their names. I know that the people you know think that it’s really neat when you know them and you call across the room or road, “Hi, Christian!” And you say it until they respond. And wen you go give Carlos a hug, or ask John, Juan, or Diane to sit with us.
I hate to tell you because I fear that it will be really traumatic for you but the boys are moving this week. They just found out. Those boys have not had an easy life. I would say that in some ways you haven’t either, with all our moves and daddy and me fighting so much but they have a ton more things going on with them. It may be different for them because they are boys and they may not internalize things like girls, but I’m certain that it’s not easy. They’ve seen much more than they ever should at such young ages.
Just remember that when dealing with people, normal, difficult, nice, weird… We are all broken people. We are either broken people who have our hope and fulfillment in Jesus or people who are pretending and have stuff that they are coping with in their own strength.
I’d rather be dirt poor (we are sure close to it), and surrounded by people who love Jesus and are on a mission to learn and grow to spread His truth than in a mansion. Now if God decided that the rich needed to be ministered to and they would listen, then “Lord, bring on the riches.” But then again, even though in our society we don’t have much, to the world we are still in the top 5% richest. Billions of people go hungry, don’t have medical care, and die every day while we can complain about only having one car… Well, one working car. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” We are those rich people and we are blessed beyond measure. I don’t ever want you growing up thinking that being rich is anything. If God gives us money may it only be the further his kingdom and to meet people’s needs. God has taken everything away and I don’t want to start collecting again or putting any emphasis on stuff because that’s all it is, stuff. What worth is stuff if people are dying? What worth is stuff if we can help send someone to spread the love of Christ? Watch Schindler’s List if you haven’t already. I hope I’m around to talk to you about it when you do watch it.
I love you so much. None of these posts are meant to put pressure on you to do anything. Seek God and His Spirit will lead you and guide you to be who He has made you to be. “Seek first the kingdom of God and all else will be added unto you.”

Religion vs. Jesus

Dear Leiana,

There is a big movement in the Christian culture now to move away from traditional religious Christianity. This has been something i really want to get across to you. I want you to understand that as a follower of Jesus, we are not under a rule-system that if we follow it, it makes us good enough to get into heaven. We are not under the law. Jesus came to fulfill the law.

God knew from the beginning that we would NEVER be able to keep the commandments. Jesus affirmed that when he said that (not quoting) if we look at another with lustful eyes, we are committing adultery, that if we are angry with our brother that we are committing murder. We will never be able to fully keep the greatest commandments to Love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, and minds and love our neighbor as ourselves. No matter how much we try to do good, we can never be good apart from Jesus. Even our good works are filthy rags to God. Even with our best intentions, without Jesus to cover our sins, we will never be able to earn our way to heaven. The problem with trying to earn our way to Heaven is this, without Jesus to cover us, any good we do is nothing compared to the bad we do. Our good works without Christ don’t even come close to covering our sins. That is not the point anyways… some people will say that “As long as I do more good deeds than bad, then God will be happy with that and let me into heaven.” This is not at all biblical or possible under the law. The only way, even in the Old Testament times, to cover sins is by a blood sacrifice. The only thing that can cover our sins is for the blood of an innocent to be sacrificed, similar to the sacrifice of Aslan on Narnia. God created it that way, this point is testified to through the entire Bible. Jesus became our blood sacrifice ultimately. The sacrifices before Jesus came were just a temporary covering until the Messiah was revealed. The law was given to prove to mankind that we are unable to keep the law. Without Jesus, there is NO other way to God. Not by our good works, not even by people not knowing or hearing. As I read in the book Radical the other day, all people know that there is a Creator (whether they deny it or not), all people reject him. If we say that people who have never heard of Jesus get a free pass to heaven then the worst thing we could do for those people is to fulfill Christs commandment to Preach the Gospel and make disciples of every nation. If they hear about Him then they will have an opportunity to reject Him but we have already rejected God.

What I pray for you is to fulfill His commandment to make disciples of every nation, to follow Christ to the ends of the earth and preach the good news to the nations. I want you to passionately know Christ, and not just be a “Christian.” I don’t want you just to “be good.” I don’t want you to focus on what you can do and earn and how you can be a better person or even American. I want you to not care about stuff but Love God and Love People above all else. And please Lord, help me to raise this young girl to know and trust you.