Mother Letters - The Uncut Backstory

It's been quite a journey (and hang with me because I'm going to talk about drug use here).*

A few years ago, Amber and I decided to create Christmas presents for each other.  We were looking for simple ways to pare back, to cut through the commercialism of the season. And as I'm sure you can imagine, although this sounds like a terribly fantastic and humble idea, October snuck up on me and I had nothing. No ideas. Nada. Zilch.

That was when God intervened with a hernia.

Yes, you read that right.

Laid up in the bed, high as a kite on pain killers, I had an idea that I thought (in my drug induced state) was brilliant. I would collect letters from mothers to mothers. The letters would tell stories, share narrative wisdom, give some encouragement along the road. It was the perfect gift for Amber, I thought. After all, we had three boys all under the age of four, and if there is anything that a mother living in that kind of chaos needs it's encouragement. And so, I opened a blog and put out the call. And as a gift for participation, I told the mothers that if they submitted, they'd receive their own copies of all of the letters.

Now, drugs make one do weird things, and I'm not proud of this next part. Laid up in bed, my idea became ever more grandiose (and I might have breathed the words "take over the world" at one point). Armed with uninhibited courage, I sent direct emails to some pretty famous people--think Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, a Christian recording artist or two (who shall remain nameless because I'm still holding out hope), and an award-winning poet. Among those individuals, I also sent an email to three of Amber's favorite bloggers--Shannon Lowe, Ann Kroeker, and Ann Voskamp.

Needless to say, I received no response from those tasked with running our country, or the creators of fine and worshipful music. I did, however, receive responses from the three bloggers, each excited to help, each promising to write a letter. What was more, Shannon asked if she could write a post requesting the participation of the blog community. I agreed and we carefully crafted a story that would not give away my identity.

The rest is history.

Over the next month and a half, I would receive between 500 and 600 letters. Each was beautiful. Some were joyful. Some were heart wrenching. Each was unique.

On Christmas day, I presented the letters to Amber (in addition to the over 500 mothers who submitted; yes, it was a logistical nightmare). You can imagine her response. There were leaky eyes.

Amber has been coming back to these letters year after year. They've opperated as a source of encouragement and hope. They've helped her through some dark days. Last year she (and a dear Saint with whom I work) told me, "these letters need to be made more widely available."

Today, is the day that those letters are being made available. Today is the Mother Letters Ebook release date! If you are a mother, you'll want to check it out. If you are a father who'd like to earn a few brownie oints, you'll want to check it out. If you are a college student who needs a bit of perspective (your mom really sacrificed a lot, you know) you should check it out.

"How do i check it out?" you ask. CLICK HERE.

Thank you so much for sharing in our journey. We appreciate you all more than you'll ever know.

*Neither the mothers in the Mother Letters, nor the author of this blog endorses the use of opiates for creative induction.

The Living Poems (a benediction and invitation)

I’ve watched Amber raise these children for seven years now—Ike with his missing teeth and love for all things wild; Jude with his dietary complexities and gentle barbarianism; Ian with his stocking cap, backpack, and his zeal for comedic fashion; Titus, the baby with the perpetual smile. It wouldn’t be honest to say that it’s been a walk in the park, all grace and peace, all sugar cookies and singalongs. I know the truth.  Some days are filled with white-knuckled prayer after white-knuckled prayer. Once, Amber was a graduate student in a prestigious Fine Arts program. She wrote strong poetry, the kind that made other poets want to wield better words. She’d never tell you that. She’s quiet that way. But I remember the day she decided to leave the program.  She didn’t want to lose our children to poetry, she said. Looking back now, I know that was a difficult decision. But Amber is a faithful woman and she never looked back.


She creates and curates a different kind of art these days. The living poems, they sneak handfuls of chocolate from the candy jar, count the ripples from the rocks thrown into the fish pond, or beg for one more night-time verse of "Trust and Obey"—for there’s no other way. All the while Amber pours life into them and calls them beautiful art--the very best of her creations--and she treasures them in her heart.




Today, we have the privilege of honoring mothers from all walks of life. What started as a simple project to encourage Amber three years ago, has turned into something quite amazing.

We’d love it if you would join us today at  And if you are an instagram junkie, please check out the photo contest.