#TellHisStory: The Letters Between Us

June 4, 2014 | 28 comments

As my oldest daughter has gotten older, we’ve grown fond of writing notes to each other. Last year, we shared some of our letters with our friends at The High Calling. This year, we’re posting one of our exchanges here, with the #TellHisStory community. 

Dear Daughter,

You brushed up against me in the kitchen last night, when you were browning hamburger and I was chopping radishes.

Right then, I remembered all the times we’ve melted into each other over your dozen years on earth: in the nursery rocker; nestled in your tiny hospital bed that week when you were so sick; in a dark movie theatre when our hands reached for the same box of Milk Duds; on a shore in Haiti, with our legs stretched out together, while we watched the moon rise over the sea; countless nights under your quilt, debating who loved who more. (All the way to Jupiter and back, babe.)

You always seemed so small next to me.

But now? I turn around, and you are this little woman at the stove, stirring. The steam rose from a boiling pot on the stovetop; you swiped your forehead with the back of your hand.

I blinked my eyes, and that’s how fast you traveled from Goodnight Moon to Good Luck Charlie, to good home cooking in our kitchen. Good gracious, girl, you’ve grown up.

You asked for the salt, and your voice was so small, and I think that’s God’s way of making this growing-up thing easier on a mama. He’s kept your voice little, to let me know that you’re still my baby. I handed you the salt shaker, and I kept my mouth shut, because you might have rolled your eyes if I said then what I’m going to tell you now:

Daughter, I hope you’ll never get too old to ask me for something. It won’t always be for the salt, or for me to turn the light back on, or to scratch your back. But I hope you’ll never stop asking for a bit of advice. For another prayer.

I wonder if you’ll remember too much of what I did wrong. That’s one of a parent’s worst fears, you know. That her child will grow up remembering the awful parts—those times when we raised the voice too loud, set the jaw too hard. I’d be devastated if the worst moments drowned out the best ones.

Daughter, I hope that you’ve heard, above all else, the love. I pray that my heart spoke loudest.

I also pray this: In a world where people are unfriended with the click of a mouse, I hope you know you’ll never get de-loved in this house. You’re loved because of who you are, not because of what grade you get, what college accepts you, what job you land.

And if you ever want to know for sure? Come back and slip your sweet self next to me, like you did when I held you in my arms, when I rocked you in the nursing chair, when we made supper in a hot Iowa kitchen on a hot summer night. I’ll tell you, again and again until I can’t tell you any more, that you can trust in God’s love, and you can also trust in mine.

Love, Mom

p.s. ~ I love you to Jupiter and back—times fifty!

Dear Mom,

Let me ease your worries. We all make mistakes. I don’t remember the mistakes we’ve both made because I think the good of this world always surpasses the bad.

I remember you for the chocolate-chip waffles and peanut butter toast.

For the prayers before bed.

For the times you came to my soccer games to cheer me on.

For help with sheep chores in the morning.

For studying with me for all those extra-hard science tests.


Let me sum it all up in five words: For the love you give.

As your daughter, I expect things from you. I look to you for comfort and encouragement. If I’m sad or just need to talk, you’re my go-to girl.

In your letter to me, you talked about sharing space. Just a few minutes ago, we were in the garden pulling weeds. I love to work together with you like that. I held up my hands, caked in dirt. You held out the hose, and I rinsed off my hands in the ice-cold water. Then you aimed the hose at my mud-splattered feet. I let out a shriek, and we both laughed.

These are moments I will treasure forever.

You love me— the me with all my quirks. The me who loves to randomly break into song. And you know the verses to all my silly songs. You love the “me” who once nearly liquefied a PopTart in the microwave. (Hey, how was I supposed to know it only needed to be in there for fifteen seconds—not three minutes?)

So, thank you, Mom. For everything.

Love, Lydia

p.s. ~ Jupiter? That’s so lame. I love you to Saturn and back—times infinity! (You know how I always have to have the last word!)

So, what’s your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.

Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.

Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.

Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?


For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here. Share the love of story by visiting someone else in the community!

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by | June 4, 2014 | 28 comments


  1. Cheryl Smith

    Okay, Jennifer! You managed to make me bawl….again! What a precious, touching letter exchange with your daughter! You obviously have done WAY more right than you have wrong….if you ever have any doubts, just read her heart-wrenched words. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this…I am still fighting tears.

    • dukeslee

      I don’t know. I’ve got a list of wrongs that is plenty long, but I remember that even the Father doesn’t keep those kinds of records. “As far as the east is from the west …”

  2. Cathy

    What beautiful letters between you and your daughter! Something to cherish for always.

    • dukeslee

      Yes … words to cherish. Thank you, Cathy.

  3. Mel Caldicott

    These are such beautiful words and pictures! You and your daughter have an amazing relationship. Communication is always key and this is a great way to say how you really feel to each other. The gift of writing is something you have both been truly blessed with and it is a wonderful thing to see how you are blessing each other and many around the world with this gift. Thanks so much for sharing these and for hosting your lovely linkup!

    • dukeslee

      Always a joy to have you stop by, Mel. xo

  4. Laura Risser Moss

    What sweet sharing you and your Lydia are doing with us here! Thank you for being so generous to give us this precious glimpse into your Mama+BabyGirl Love. Much resonates with this mama – especially when I read your heart for your girl. It reads a lot like mine for my four girls. And the grace in Lydia’s words? I’m undone.

  5. Jolene Underwood

    So, so sweet. I love it. My daughter (only girl out of 5) has been such a blessing in her encouragement and notes to me. She wrote the sweetest note to remind me of her love and of God’s when things were particularly hard in our last season. This post reminds me of that and inspires me to write to her. Thank you for sharing sweet Jennifer!

    • dukeslee

      Oh, I’m so glad you have the gifts of those notes. I think there’s much benefit in writing to our children. They are more likely to express their thoughts more fully, and they are also perhaps more likely to hear what we’re really trying to say.

  6. Katie Reid

    I love this! The notes from my daughter are already so precious. This makes me smile.:)

    • dukeslee

      I keep them all. I’m not much of a packrat, except when it comes this sort of thing. I keep the letters and the drawings and the notes they’ve written on tiny scraps of paper…

  7. Lisa notes...

    What a mature daughter you have (and she’s quite the writer too!). Very precious to have these exchanges. I’d never want to let them go. It is every parent’s prayer that our kids forget the wrong things we’ve done…I know it’s my prayer.

  8. Sharon

    How precious, Jennifer! Such sweet words from both of you. Recently I got cards from my sons (31 and 27) for my birthday and Mother’s Day. Their words warmed my heart. I have made so many mistakes, and yet, they still love me, warts and all. That is a gift that I never take for granted. And just last year, God gave me a new daughter-in-law. Our closeness is special. Relationships are treasures…


  9. JViola79

    Such beautiful words shared between a mom & a daughter! I have a box filled with things from my son & daughter. The years of raising them are ones I will always hold dear in my heart. They have blessed me so. No one could have prepared me for the love I would feel for either of them. May God continue to bless you & your daughters with a close & growing relationship. Blessings!

  10. Sheila

    What sweet memories for both you and your daughter. What a blessing to capture memories in words as well as pictures. I know these letters will be treasured by both of you.

  11. June

    I was going to ask if you two know how blessed you are x infinity. But I can read between the lines and see that you do. Thank you for sharing your story, Jennifer, it’s powerful.

  12. Michelle Anderson

    Oh wow! Is she really just 12? This is beautiful. What an amazing relationship. I’ve written letters to my boys, but they’re boys. Haha! I’m so grateful they call me or text me!

  13. lindalouise

    She’s telling the truth Jennifer; she doesn’t remember the bad times. I’ve asked my grown children for forgiveness for all those times I failed so spectacularly. They just look at me – puzzled. It’s pure grace. It pours into the places where we have been found wanting.
    These letters are priceless treasures.

  14. Julie Jablonski

    Oh, Goodness! Such treasure! Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your hearts with your beautiful words – very touching. I’m will definitely be checking out Lydia’s blog too.. that girl can write! 😉

  15. Elizabeth Stewart

    I’m completely amazed at your daughter’s writing skills. Runs in the family! Wonderful post.

  16. Karrilee Aggett

    Oh my Stars how I love the two of you and all the love you pass so freely back and forth… and the grace! Lord – let us not forget the grace!

  17. Hazel Moon

    I loved your interchange with love letter between you and your daughter! So precious.

  18. Andrea Mitchell

    Your daughter is just as amazing as her mom. These letters are so beautiful.

  19. Charity Singleton Craig

    I do believe Miss Lydia Lee is becoming one amazing writer, and these letters are just priceless. Do you write them on paper with ink? Because I think these are works of art to be collected, saved, pored over. I am discovering anew the value of hand-written notes. I haven’t figured out how to make them more a part of my life, but I’m trying. What a beautiful relationship you two have.

  20. Laurie Collett

    They grow up so fast! Thanks for the beautiful post & for hosting & God bless!

  21. Laura @ Pruning Princesses

    As Hadley gets dangerously close to looking me in the eye, I too am thankful for the slow changes too. Feet grow long before the hips! Raising a glass to you in a toast as a mom who shares all your love, all your concerns, and all your joys as we raise these precious girls.



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