Sunday, September 23, 2012

fearfully and wonderfully made

Tonight I was sitting, about an hour or so past putting my babies to bed, when I heard my Anna crying.  Sad, scared cries.  I went in and there she was, lying on her back with her arm outstretched, crying.  I scooped her up and quickly spoke words of love to her.  Mama’s here, I got you.  She nestled in, her little tears dampening my sleeve, popped her thumb in her mouth and fell back into sleep.  I sat in the rocker with her in my arms.  She held onto me and I held onto her.  I prayed for her and spoke the truth that I’ve been speaking and praying over all my children since their first days: you are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

This truth rings deep within me especially today.  Today is my baby girl’s birthday.  Not my Madeline or Anna, but my baby girl who I can’t hold onto with my hands.  I wonder if she cries out in the night.  I wonder if anyone holds her if she does.  I want to hold her and rock her and feel her nestling my shoulder.  I want to tell her she is fearfully and wonderfully made. 

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
and in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

Today is a hard day for my mama heart.  I can’t stand that I have missed so many birthdays.  I can’t stand that I miss another day.  I love this girl like crazy and can’t wait for her to be home. 

We made birthday cake and sang to her today.  We watched videos and looked at pictures and prayed for her.  We celebrate her life and long to celebrate with her. 

Today she is four, and she is so very worth celebrating.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

all in a days work

Dear Anna, you are the best mess.

You hiked your little self out of your crib, turned off your noise, put away your blankets, and walked into Madeline's room and just started playing.  As if nap means nothing to you.  I walked in and you saw me and began your precious little weep and pouty lip and hugged me and I just couldn't bring myself to take you back in your room and do any "parenting" about staying in your bed, taking your nap, etc.  Instead I said, "do you want to stay and play with Madeline?"  My, what a good mama I am.  I will probably not feel so sweet about it if you decide napping is truly no longer for you.  Third Child Freedoms.

You rounded the corner with Cyrenthia's laundry basket on your head.  How do you do these things?

I was in the midst of dinner making.  Madeline & Simeon were "helping/being insanely loud and all over my legs" and you were quiet somewhere.  This is what Daddy found when he found you. Kix cereal.  All. Over. The. Floor.  And you were all smiles.  And we laughed and took pictures of you and never once mentioned not doing things like that.  Again, what a good mama I am. Third Child Freedoms.

Bedtime: Here you are, just bouncing in the baby bouncer.  Vibrations and music and all.  Happy baby.  Third Child Freedoms.

Friday, September 14, 2012

imperfect vessels

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.      2 Corinthians 4:7

Our friends over at 99Balloons are hosting a  blog series called StoryFork: a community engaging disability.  Andrew & I are young ones in this world and are soaking up every word these incredible folks are writing.  In a broken down moment (or many of them lately) I wrote this letter to our baby girl far away.  And to her friends, whom we daily are praying for.  Each made in His image, each created for His glory.  Each showing more of God in ways that are beautiful beyond my imagination.  

dear one,

if i had seen you before i would have prayed for you for a moment.  i would have said how sad and i wish there was something to be done.  i would have looked at your face and thought you precious.  i would have pondered for a conversation the plight of orphans with special needs and what should be done and who should be doing it.  and then all of a sudden i would have forgotten your face and made you a number and a cause.  

i am so very sorry.  i am sorry i saw through my own eyes, my own selfishness.  i am sorry i looked with pity but not love.  i am sorry i saw something broken and failed to see the broken mess inside of me.  i am sorry i thought without compassion and believed myself to be the one to show Christ to others and you to have nothing to offer.  i am sorry i walked in ignorance and fear.  but, i am so very thankful that God, in His goodness, grabbed hold of me, and in light of Him and His word, has changed me.  

now, i so dearly desire to know you.  to know who you are. what makes you smile.  to know the sound of your laughter and the joy it brings.  what causes your tears and your sorrows.  how you will see me as your mama, andrew as your daddy, madeline & anna as your sisters, and simeon as your brother.  to know how to comfort you, feed you, play with you, rejoice over you, love you and be loved by you.  my sweet dear, i want to know you.  no more are you a number or a cause.  a list of disabilities and needs. you are my daughter and more so, you are a daughter of the the Most High.  when no one else has known you, He has.  and praise the Lord He is bringing me into the beauty of who you are.  

i will forevermore choose to know, to step into pain to see the beauty, just as Christ stepped into my pain to bring me to the beauty which is redemption.  hold on, dear one, we are coming.

much, much love,
your mama

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

on turning 30

So this past weekend I turned 30.  I didn't really reflect too much on it all until my sweet friend, Heather, commented to me about living simply and being content.  That is when I realized that over the decade of my 20's my life changed. and changed. and changed.  I got married when I was 20, graduated college, moved 7 times, worked 3 jobs, lived in Africa, bought a mini-van, bought a house, added Madeline, Simeon, Anna, Cyrenthia & her baby Elijah to our home, and am now eagerly waiting on our daughter to come home.  I know I don't know what all the Lord will have for my 30's but it at least appears to me that it will be a life of less drastic changes for the next ten years.  Outside of course of watching my children grow to be in their teenage years (yikes!)  I really loved all those changes my 20's brought but certainly am looking forward to whatever is coming next.

On a celebratory note, I really have the greatest husband, family, & friends!  For my birthday Andrew spoke right into my quality time love bank and suggested a girls trip.  After talking it through we decided on Kansas City for a 3-day weekend and I will admit, I was a bit cautious.  I get so nervous asking friends to find childcare, spend money, and mostly I am just never a big fan of lots of attention on me.  I can't even put into words how greatly God blessed me with this weekend and these friends.  They (& their husbands :) made great sacrifices to make this weekend happen and went above and beyond to shower me with love and encouragement.  Our trip was filled with great conversations, lots of laughter, yummy food, tears, shopping, and very little sleep!  My friend Ginny says there is "curtain" conversation and "non-curtain" conversation.  Meaning, we either talk about what color curtains to hang in our houses or we peel back the veneer and talk heart talk.  And that's definitely what our weekend was...lots and lots and lots of heart talk.  I certainly feel so loved, cared for, and rejuvenated!

God certainly knew what He was doing when He surrounded me with these wonderful women.  He cares for me better than I could ever imagine and I am so incredibly thankful for these ladies.  They enrich my life, my walk with the Lord, my understanding of His will for my life, my parenting, my marriage, and I know so much more.  Thank you friends for loving me so well!  For the official birthday dinner night my sweet friends spent time each sharing beautifully encouraging things to me which I will be storing up in my heart and also a tip for my 30's.  Each one was encouraging & those I will share.

1. Cease striving & know God.
2. Continue to walk in wisdom and God's Word.
3. Drink coffee!
4. Enjoy each moment.
5. Heal from past wounds, forgive, and let go of bitterness.
6. Be confident and content.

Good advice for me for sure.  Thanks, friends!

Monday, September 10, 2012

yogurt & community

this is our little daily life and i really do love it.

yogurt is a love hate of mine.  anna loves it.  and loves feeding it to herself.  i love that it occupies her in her chair for a good 10 minutes.  i can't decide if i love or hate that she smears it all over herself on purpose and just smiles as she does it.  then again, it is pretty cute.  and not too hard to clean up.  and it is as if she knows she is adorable and that i love her for it.  so i guess i do love it after all. 

our community is so so good.  we had a crazy relaxing fun family night the other day. we ate pb&j's & taco bueno.  we laughed, played, watched our kids do cheers and throw balls.  i am so very thankful for this group...more to come on that and my birthday weekend in which my friends out-did all friends in pouring amazing amounts of love into my life in kansas city.  He is very good to me.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Ashley! (and a story)

A few years ago, before we had kids, I applied to several graduate schools.  Then, Ashley and I packed up and headed for six months in Africa.  The plan was to wait, hear back from schools, decide where we would go, and then return from Africa and jump into grad school.  As we waited on acceptances and denials, we talked about what was next, and Ashley had some hopes that the Lord would put us back in Arkansas. 

One March night in Kenya, though, I got an email from the University of Arkansas saying “Thanks, but no thanks.” We lay underneath our mosquito nets, talking through the disappointment, and try as I might, I couldn’t deny the pain of rejection.  “You’re not good enough” never sounds good to a guy.

So where did that leave Ashley? Her heart had been leaning more towards returning to Arkansas, so it would be another kind of disappointment for her.  The disappointment of leaving home, perhaps permanently.

I finished a good portion of my thoughts first (being the kind and selfless husband I am) and then turned to her.  “What are you thinking about all this?”

Her response was beautiful.  “I want to be where you are.”  She wanted to be with me knowing she would have to go to a brand new place where she knew no one and where she would have to find a job to provide for us while I was in school.  If you’ve ever wondered what wedding vows look like in real life, it’s moments like that.

She talked about being excited to move to Boston (the most likely option at that point) and how in 20 years, we would look back and see how a move to Boston fit into the Lord’s plan.  We're way ahead of schedule on that one.  It’s been 7 years, and we regularly talk about God blessed that move in so many ways.  In that Kenya moment, though, Ashley’s quiet confidence helped me (made me) believe in my heart what I’d said all along, that the Lord was in control. 

I’ve known Ashley for over ½ her life now, and I’ve got many more moments like this.  Wedding vows played out in real time. 

I’m sure lots of you could point to a moment like that as well--a moment when Ashley gracefully redirected.  We all need people like that in our lives.  I get to be married to one and our kids get to have one as their mom.  What an incredible gift.

The world is better off because of you, Ashley—people look more deeply at themselves, look to Jesus more, and take steps to looking more like him and loving others like he would.

Happy birthday!  We love you!

Andrew and the kids

Monday, September 3, 2012

happy monday, shower liners

Confession: my shower curtain liner has been hanging in our shower for 2 years.  It has gotten a little, a lot, bit funky.   Every time I shower I think, wow, that is really gross.  And then I get out and move on. Well....

Did you know you can wash your shower curtain liner?  I mean, you probably did, but I certainly didn't.  And today, I did.  And wow, I should've done that a really really long time ago.

My solution was going to be just go buy a new one.  Thanks for the tip Mimi!

Now, go ahead, wash it.  It's the little things.  Happy Monday, y'all!