letters to my daughter :: january

January 15, 2013

I’m Marla
Sprinkled throughout this journey are the little joys, moments of inspiration, and snippets of life that add color to our human experience. Join me as we embrace the beauty of imperfect perfection, the magic of a beautiful moment, and the endless possibilities of creativity.


Towards the end of 2012 I was extended an invitation to join a group of photographers in a year long project in which we would write letters to our children on a monthly basis.  Initially, I felt really honored by the individual who asked, but once I saw the list of other truly talented and accomplished women who would also be included, I might have blushed and felt super humbled, and extremely grateful.  Many of them have no idea who I am, but I know of them and have been following their work for some time.  So there’s that, for which I am really very excited.  Additionally, this project comes at a really poignant time in my life where writing to my daughter Eva on a monthly basis and purposefully telling her how loved and cherished she is, comes with perfect timing.  Even though I do anticipate these to be very personal in nature (featuring controversial topics like faith), I feel it’s a wonderful opportunity to put comfort aside and speak from my heart to my daughter’s and sharing that with the world along the way.

So here it is:  one of twelve.


My dear Eva,

Often we say dear when starting a letter, but in this instance I mean my dear Eva.  There is no other way I can imagine saying it and you must know from the depths of my heart, how very dear you are to me.  I am fairly certain that I have carried you with me my entire life because in the exact moment I met you for the very first time, it felt as if you had always been with me and I could no longer remember a time in my life when I didn’t love you.  A while back you asked if I had always wanted a daughter, to which I quickly and assuredly replied yes and you smiled very sweetly.  Yes, for as long as I can remember I always wanted a daughter.  But more specifically, I always wanted you.  I dreamed of you, wished for you, and prayed for you years before you were even born.

As you continually get older before my very eyes, it becomes more and more apparent how little time I have with you.  This is why I want to write these letters to you.  In part so that as time goes on we can both look back and read these to remember all the little things that are easy to forget and just pass us by.  It’s easy to remember the big things, but it is the littlest things in life that make it magical.  I think this about love as well.  It is easy to remember the big feelings of love because it encompasses us daily and therefore I could never forget how much I love you, but I want to remember how how my heart swells when your little hand fits into mine and how you still want to hold it it as you are soon turning nine years old; or how you still love to be held so tight all the time and always want to sleep in my bed; and how you run home excited to see me each and every day.  These are things that maybe you will forget when you become more and more independent and want less to do with your mom than your new and exciting adventures that lay ahead of you.  Hopefully along the way I’ll be able to leave you little pearls that you will carry with you always.  Really, I want to write you a book but I’ll just try to think of a few at a time.

Pearl 1:  You are incredibly special.  I know all parents think their children are incredibly special and really the best thing that has ever graced the earth, but you dear are so very special that it is a challenge to put into words.  But people and often strangers recognize it and tell you frequently how special you are; how smart or intelligent you are; how well spoken you are; and how talented you are.  You have been hearing these compliments for years from everyone around you.  Subsequently I don’t believe you will struggle with self-esteem which is great, but at the same time I hope you will not place your sense of worth in what other people think of you, which is a danger in relying on others for your strength of self.  It is so important to learn to love yourself and feel confident in yourself even if you come across others who might not understand you.  Self-worth is best found through intimacy with God.  He is your biggest fan and if you let Him, He will be your most loyal friend and confidant, your wisest counselor, and your greatest advocate .  In times where you may feel angst, internal frustration, or misunderstood, God will always have gentle, comforting, and loving words that speak directly to your heart and soul.  I hope you will look to Him first because it will save you much heartache later by trying to let the world fill those lacking places.  God made you the very special lady you are and will become and He did so with a very specific purpose.  Every talent you possess was intended to aid you in this and someday all of it will come together in a most beautiful orchestration.  I feel supremely blessed to witness and nurture your uniqueness every single day.

Pearl 2:  You are one of the most focused young people I have ever met.  You have an amazing ability to remain committed and steadfast to your ideas inspite of any potential challenges or obstacles and regardless of what people say or think.  You will come up with at least 5 solutions to each and every obstacle and still have a ton of joy and ambition left in your heart.  I think this is an amazing virtue to possess, as people in the world today often give up much too easily on their ideas and dreams, but also their commitments. I have no doubt that you will accomplish the great things deep in your heart because of your tenacity.  I want to warn you however, that sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to.  In fact, sometimes it goes so opposite of what we want that our hearts become completely wrecked with grief.  Right now this is an idea that is really challenging for you, which is okay.  I hope in time you learn flexibility, which is an amazing pairing to your level of focus and commitment.  Hold tight to your dreams, but know that sometimes the path changes to get there.  There have been times in my life where something I so desperately wanted didn’t come to pass, or I failed so horribly at something and thought I could never recover.  In the moment, it feels like nothing could make it better.  But I can look back on every single serious disappointment in my life and see that something much, much greater was waiting for me ahead.  I am so excited to see you reach your greatness.

My darling girl, much of what I now understand of life and love comes from being your mama.  Thank you for being such a kind-hearted and loving teacher.  I always tell you, but you are the best! xoxo

Love to you always,


Next in this list of amazingly wonderful photographers is Ms. Tabitha Patrick.  You can find her post here.

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  1. Alana Harris says:

    This is so beautiful. Your daughter sounds like an amazing girl and your closeness is so sweet. Brought tears to my eyes. Just lovely.

  2. Your letter seriously brought tears to my eyes. I definitely can related. <3

  3. Gorgeous and so heartfelt. I have a lump in my throat. Beautiful.

  4. amy grace says:

    marla, you came into my life like a gift. i read this and savor every single word, and read some lines again. i know you and that this is completely sincere and directly from your heart, and just the very tip of the iceberg. there is a whole world beneath the surface that blows me away. i want to meet eva. i want d to meet her. two gifted, passionate, special souls, who already have had more enough big things in their lives. but who will surely brave anything that comes. love to you. you are amazing. the two of you have a perfect love.

  5. love the “pearl” concept….such wise words you have offered her…she sound like an amazing girl and I can feel your love for her…

  6. Jayme F says:

    beautifully written, and directly from your heart. I know that your daughter will cherish these words.

  7. Rachel May says:

    I am in awe right now. You have no idea how much your words have touched my heart. Eva is such a lucky lucky little girl to have such an amazing mother, and I say that not even knowing you! I wish my mother had said these things to me… especially Pearl 1. Incredible words… Monumental. Love every single one.

  8. melissa says:

    happy tears streaming down my face…i have no words…in complete awe.

  9. I am so glad this project has brought a new friendship into my life. I am in awe of your words so wonderfully spoken to your daughter. She’s blessed on so many levels to have you as a friend and leader in her life. I look forward to reading more through the year.

  10. elaine says:

    Sweet Marla, love the look of your blog! You made me get a little emotional tonight and I have been hard as steel lately! I love, love, love this…

    “I am fairly certain that I have carried you with me my entire life because in the exact moment I met you for the very first time, it felt as if you had always been with me”

    That is pretty powerful and exactly the same way I feel about my children. Your work always means so much to me and seeing it paired with Eva, it makes me really want to meet her, and have you fly to Chicago and meet the boy with the wings.

    looking forward to are projects together. 🙂

  11. Rebecca says:

    OK…I decided to read one more letter before I go to bed…and this is so amazingly beautiful and heartfelt. “I always wanted you”…that makes my eyes watery. I really am in awe. So happy we could meet through this project. XO

  12. Carey Pace says:

    I love your images and your letter. You used this to tell her things about herself at this moment in time, and also encourage and instruct her as a good momma does. Beautiful beautiful!

  13. Carey Pace says:

    and I’m super glad you are sharing about your faith in all of this, too.

  14. I sense it too… your words are so meaningful and heartfelt. Wonderful letter!

  15. Hannah Mayo says:

    It is so obvious through your words that you are an amazing mother, and that Eva is a very special girl. The wisdom you shared here resonated so deeply with me- I think I really needed to read some of it. I’m so happy that you’re part of this project, too.

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