The Meaning of Spectacular

April 20, 2012 | 29 comments

Dear Lydia,

Your Dad and I read your letter, and we want to tell you this first: We love the young lady that you’re becoming. But we find ourselves shaking our heads, because your life feels like a sprint. You’ve gone from zero to 10 in 5.2 seconds.

I remember the way your wrinkly pink fist gripped my finger in your first hour of life. Who could forget?

But then life rolls on by, a series of doors leading to new rooms. It happens like this: We turn our eyes away for one second, and when we look again, you’ve taken another step through a new door.

They said this would happen. They were right.

So. About your letter. We can tell how much thought you put into your words, and how you so carefully positioned your letters on those lines of notebook paper. Your opening question still has us smiling:

“Dear Mom and Dad,

Have you read in the Bible that you are supposed to help others?”

Yes, dear daughter, we have read that in the Bible. In fact, if we’re reading the Good Book, we really can’t miss it, can we? If we cut out all the parts about helping others, the Bible would have a lot of holes, wouldn’t it?

I understand what you’re saying, Lydia. Because reading the Scriptures and doing what they say are two different things. Let me tell you this: I’ve got all kinds of Bible verses underlined with my green-grease pencil. And for the life of me, I’m still trying to figure out how to live what I believe.

Sure, it’s easy to say I’ve helped others when I go to a place like  Haiti, but what would it look like to love my neighbor in a more intentional way, closer to home? I want to live the right answer to that question.

I think you’re trying to figure that one out, too. Because you wrote this:

“You two have always encouraged me to help the less-fortunate. So, I would really like it if you thought about letting me go on (a mission trip) in Omaha. By doing this, it will allow me to help others. This will make me feel spectacular inside. Imagine the genuine smile on someone’s face as I serve them hot soup.”


Good word, Lydia.

You’re only 10 now, but as you get older, the world will bombard you with things you should do to discover your own brand of Spectacular. The world delivers imposter-versions of spectacular in skinny jeans, teeth-whiteners and overpriced cosmetics. As you get older, someone might offer you spectacular in a glass bottle, .. or in a glass office at the top of the corporate ladder.

It will never fill.

The best kind of spectacular comes when we discover that Jesus can be found in places that sometimes smell funny. Mother Teresa said that poor people are “Jesus in disguise.”

Sometimes, Jesus hasn’t had a bath in a week, and sleeps by the river, and has only half a set of teeth. Are you ready for that?

More than anything, we’ve wanted you girls to know this:

The purpose of our lives … is to find purpose in Him.
The meaning of life …  is to find meaning in Him.
The point of life … is to point to Him.

Lydia, it’s true. Life really is all about God.

And, the Bible is right: It is more blessed to give than receive. We promise you, the best gifts in life are the ones we give away. But we think you are learning that, too, because we read your letter.

It was your last line that had us laughing out loud:  “Thank you so much for reading this letter and considering this. I love you, and you’re the best parents ever!”


Whoever said that flattery would get you nowhere? (wink)

But let me tell you this, Lydia Margaret Lee. We read every single word.

And you had us at spectacular.

Love, Mom and Dad

Lydia and I leave this afternoon for a weekend trip to Omaha, Nebraska, where we will serve with a homeless ministry, and also with a food and clothing ministry.  Lydia wrote us her letter for a class project, in which fourth-graders were asked to write “persuasive letters” to their parents.  We were persuaded. And now, we’d love your prayers.


by | April 20, 2012 | 29 comments


  1. Lyli@3dLessons4Life

    praying this morning for your spectacular little lady… God is going to use her in mighty ways. Wonderful! 🙂

    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Thank you, Lyli. She was nervous last night. I don’t know exactly what’s going on inside her little mind, but we have a 2 1/2 hour drive ahead of us, so perhaps we’ll be able to process through that a little bit.

  2. Megan Willome

    I will pray for both of you.

    And you’re raising a fine young girl. My daughter recently wrote her persuasive essay on why she needs a fish.

    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Thank you, Megan.

      You are, too.

      I think Lydia would have liked to have written a persuasive letter for a cell phone. But she knew there was no WAY she was getting that. 🙂

  3. Tabitha

    My prayers are with you and your beautiful daughter.

    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Tabitha! How are you, sweet thing?

      Thanks for your prayers. Much love to you . xo

  4. Patricia (Pollywog Creek)

    Oh, Jennifer….this is just too precious and spectacular…and you and your beautiful Lydia are Rock stars. xo

    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      This should be fun. And hopefully a little eye-opening. I’m eager to see what unfolds. 🙂

  5. r.ellott

    Jennifer…so sweet and blessings as you share this wonderful experience together.

    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Selfishly, I’m glad to have a whole weekend with just one daughter. We rarely do that … just spend time with one child at a time. It will be good, I think. And Anna will be home with her Daddy.

  6. Cindy

    What a wonderful mother/daughter adventure! Prayers going with you!

    • dukeslee

      Hi Cindy!

      Many thanks to you. We are looking forward to it. We live in one hour. Yay!

  7. Simply Darlene

    What flowed outta that girl’s pencil is way more than good penmanship, it is grande citizenship of heaven lived out here on earth. Mr. & Mrs. Lee, you are doin’ good with giving God unto your kids.

    (everyone must be healthy now?)


    • dukeslee

      Hi Darlene,
      We are healthy. Sort of. Lydia and I are both on the end of bronchitis. We may be hacking in our dorm room at night, but we’ll manage. 😉

  8. S. Etole

    So much heart here … so very much.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Susan … Thank you for being here today. I need to pop on over to your place! I’ve been trying to make me way around the web this week, and it’s slow goin’. 🙂

  9. Lisa Auter

    You have my prayers and my awe. May God use your hands and feet, once again, and now your dear daughter’s. I pray many are blessed and I pray that Lydia’s heart is broken open and her heart soars like a dove.

  10. Linda

    Praying for you precious girls. It is always so much simpler when you are ten years old. Oh to keep the heart of a child.
    She is a very special girl Jennifer.

  11. Amy

    Oh, seriously. This teared me up. Wow. What a spectacular girl.

    I am praying for your weekend!

  12. Christy Bahnson

    I knew that letter was a winner the first time I read it!!! She was SO excited today! Prayers to you both for a heart-warming weekend!!!!

  13. Diana Trautwein

    So THAT’S what all the talk about Omaha was about on FB today. Hope this is a rich weekend in every way. Praying for health and protection and connection with people of all kinds – those in obvious physical need and others with whom you will serve whose needs may look a little bit different. Waiting to hear reflections on all that transpires!

  14. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    Definitely spectacular! I do so want my children to see life outside themselves much more than I did at their age. “The government” just cannot fill the shoes Jesus intended His followers to walk in. I have said a prayer for you two.

  15. Barbara

    So proud of you, spectacular Lydia, and Lydia’s mom! Enjoy serving in Omaha!

  16. Deborah

    Oh my! If your wee girl can ask for this in her persuasive letter then you have been doing a lot right as you raise her! (my older boy’s persuasive letter asked to never have to go to school again!)
    Sending heart-felt prayers for you both this weekend. Love.

  17. Janet

    Spectacular indeed!

    What a wise and thoughtful daughter. I used to learn more from my daughter while traveling in the car than at any other time. I don’t know why. We could say things to each other that we wouldn’t have said at home on the couch.

  18. Angie Vik

    That’s really sweet. Looks the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I love the line – “The best gifts in life are the ones we give away.” Hope you had a great weekend together.

  19. Opal @ Celebrate Life

    It’s nice to teach the young the importance of helping others, isn’t it? My parents did that for my brother and I, and I’m passing that on to my eight-year old daughter.

    Currently she helps me at my Lutheran churches food pantry, and in the summer, she’ll be helping me prepare meals at the local homeless shelter. I cook breakfast each month. I love cooking, and enjoy chatting with the guests. The days I spend there, are even brighter. I always leave their feeling energized. The homeless shelter is one of the numerous ministries available at our Lutheran church.

    My prayers will be with you and your daughter.

  20. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    “This will make me feel spectacular inside. Imagine the genuine smile on someone’s face as I serve them hot soup.”

    I can imagine that smile. Will you please let her know I can see it way out here in California?

    Much love to you both. I’m honored to pray for you.


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