An open letter to the man who marries my daughter

Dear future son-in-law,


I’m the crazy lady who loves your future wife so much that I hang out with her for hours in blanket tents singing Taylor Swift songs off key.

I love her so much I made her clean up (and eat) the beef and noodles she tried to hide on the floor under the table. I love her so much I sat in a really uncomfortable chair all night long and held her head while she threw up every 20 minutes that February she had the flu.

I love her so much I monster gripped her arm the entire hike down into the Grand Canyon just in case she might trip and fall over the edge.

I love her so much I’ve listened to made-up musicals, played American Girl dolls, made pottery on a plastic wheel, and tried multiple failed craft experiments.

I’ve watched her freak out when she loses her favorite leggings. I’ve cheered as she flies across a soccer field. I’ve examined every single real (and not so real) boo-boo on her body.

I’ve washed her clothes (even when they’re clean because she doesn’t want to hang them up), cleaned her room (with that “one arm scoop under dresser and find old pizza” technique), and made her bed (how does that child sleep when the sheet is on the floor?).

I’ve taught her how to brush her teeth (more than once a week  – you’re welcome), take a shower (with soap), blow a bubble (after several hours, days, weeks), and tie her shoes (the rabbit goes in the hole…).

I’ve rocked her to sleep, held her when she cried, and played this cool balloon game we made up that only involves our feet and killer chuckles.

Future son-in-law:

I have memorized her face.

I have learned her heart.

I have stored every tear, every fear, every giggle.

And I’m sure all that (and my husband’s gun collection) will scare you to death before you come to realize what I know to be true.


Because while I held her puking head, I was praying.

While I taught her to make macaroni and cheese on the stove, I was praying.

While I searched for those stupid leggings, I was praying.

While I watched her from afar, laughing, building, hurting, playing…

I was praying.

And when she meets you, her eyes shining and heart leaping,

I will be praying.

Because although the crazy mama bear in me wants to grab her and squeeze her tight, shielding her from life’s poison arrows and love’s prickly parts, I know I can’t.

I really just want to build one of those tiny houses for my little family of three, move us to a very hidden place in Canada, and live like those woodland reality shows away from civilization – forever.

Honestly, I want to move to Neverland where she will never grow up and she’ll always need her mama.

I’ve even thought about the witness protection program (can you do that spontaneously with no witness?).

But I can’t.

Because when she was born and I held her newborn sticky self in my arms, I knew.

She’s not mine.

And just to type those words sends a tear down my cheek and a little hairline fracture through my heart.

And that means she’s not yours, either.

And I say that (I promise) without malice or ill-intent.

I say that with freedom for both of us.

Because my sweet dancing daughter?

She’s His.

She belongs to Jesus and she always will.

I wrote like seven versions of this letter.

In one, I gave advice to you (I know, annoying).

In another, I smothered you with lovely words and nice analogies (I know, more annoying).

And then I realized I only wanted to do two things.

  1. I wanted to show you how much I love my daughter.
  2. I wanted to show you how much I love YOU.

And the only way to do that is to tell you I’ve prayed.

For you, about you, AT you (sorry), and because of you.

And prayer? It does something pretty amazing.

It causes us to love.

I will not be a perfect mother-in-law.

I will mess up and do weird things and call too much and probably make you crazy. I will give bizarre advice, attempt to be helpful, and over love you all the time.

But even after you guys get married, I will continue to pray.

And I know what that does (gulp).

It shows me when I’m wrong.

It helps me follow the Father.

It pushes me to apologize.

It urges me to love with grace, mercy, and compassion.

It makes me better.

For you, for her, for my husband (bless him) and for me.

And all that good stuff in me?

It’s Jesus.

And prayer gives me more good stuff – helps me be more like Jesus.

So I’m gonna do that.

But I can’t promise I’m never going to sneak into your bedroom and rock her like that lady in the I’ll Love You Forever book.

Just kidding.

(No I’m not).

(Seriously, I’m not).


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Want to read more of my stuff? Here’s one of my most popular posts.  Here’s a letter I wrote TO my daughter on her tenth birthday.  Here’s my Oprah appearance story.

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