Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Us. And these windows.


New addresses. Your togetherness. Beautiful young ladies and handsome little gentlemen. Your travels. Your joys. Miracle babies. Your sweet homes. The places I've lived. Our shared childhoods. The memories we've made together. The ways we're aging. The last time I saw you laughing. The last time you called me crying. The common places that tie us together. Joy. Some pain. The people you've added, and those we've lost. Life.

Christmas cards are my very favorite thing that happens all year because of everything they let me see. And feel. I monopolize the mail in December because I want to feel it all - seeing the return address, opening the flap, pulling out your card and those first turns of my lips into a grin. And the "us" of our past rushes through my mind like a card catalogue of all our time together. And then I'm just so grateful for you, and for our "us."

Thank you for sending us all your cards and all these feelings. I'm a feeler, and a "words-of-encouragement-er" and seeing y'all and reading your messages absolutely fills my heart in a very real way. Seriously - if you haven't felt a full heart before, it's worth finding. It's like a tea kettle that's about to whistle - warm, and on purpose, and just right. For those who we don't see all the time, I miss you. For those who work with Dan - thank you for being his people and moving forward one of the most God-centered secular companies I've ever known. For our family, we love you and are so grateful for you. For new friends, welcome, and thanks for welcoming us into your lives. For old friends, a knowing smile and all my love.

When I sat down to write this, I felt like I had so much more than this to say - but it turns out, I just wanted to tell you thank you. Thank you. For all of it. I hope I always find my way to gratitude and humility as quickly as I do this year - I feel God and his peace and mercy all over it.

I told you on our card we'd be praying for y'all this Christmas. And we have. And I will again. I invite you to pray this prayer for your Christmas card people too.

Dear God,
Father you sent yourself to dwell among us as your son - and you knew that concept of family would mean something to us. You built a crew around you to teach and support and do life with - and you knew that concept of community would mean something to us. You modeled the importance of family and Christian friends from the beginning. Thank you for that. Thank you for the rest and acceptance a community can bring.

Thank you for our people, for our Christmas card people and all they mean in our life. I lift each family to you and ask for your blessing in their life. Please show them (and us) how to walk in the center of Your will for their lives, show them mercy, grow wisdom in their minds, and compassion in their hearts. God work through these people to extend the hope and joy You offer the world. Please teach each one of us how to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with You.

God please bind us together in love, in kindness, and in You. In Your name, I pray this Christmas.
Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dear God,
You are the creator of all things. You gave the world it's rhythm and timing and orchestrated the dance of nature to perfection. I know you make no mistakes and do nothing by accident. Thank you for our family. For each strength and weakness, for the easy pieces and the challenging spots. Thank you for building us to need one another and to give and take from one another.

God the further I get on this motherhood path the more I know I do not know. I also realize every day how deeply I've come to rely on your guidance, your assurances and your confidence to keep moving. Please create in me a newer, deeper relationship with you so that I can keep growing in my trust with you and working toward living the life you've set out for me.

Thank you Lord for your patience with me, for your guidance and wisdom, and your peace which passes all understanding.
Amen.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The last first day of preschool

Dear God,
Caroline Jo is heading to 4 day 4's tomorrow. Thank you for the preschool that's become our home in these last two years, and for the men and women who give so much of their hearts and time to making it the place it is. Thank you for the families we've met there, the children Caroline calls her classmates and friends and their moms who have become my friends too. God you've answered so many prayers for us through our preschool. Thank you that we feel like we belong there.

As CC starts her last year of preschool I am humbled and compelled to my knees to ask for your blessings to continue in her life. God please draw her nearer to you each day, claiming her as your own child. Please continue to lay out a path for her to grow, to feel a sense of belonging, to challenge her and nurture her. Please continue to surround her with children who will be true friends to her, and with teachers who guide her according to your will. God please wrap my girl in your love, and allow her health and happiness.

Please God be with Caroline's teachers this year. A class full of 4 year olds must be so challenging. I can't imagine the calling you've placed in their hearts, what a gift they're giving us in these leadership roles. God please give them courage, wisdom, joy and peace this year, please give them the strength they need to lead our children.

I hope I'm not taking it all for granted. I hope I'm not missing the moments or hurrying. Thank you so much for the gift of these two precious girls God. Don't let me mess this up.  :)

Amen.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Wrestling with a 4 Year Old

Dear God,
It's not a joke. Motherhood is not a joke. And God I am praying to you tonight because I had a really hard time. Caroline's will is so strong God, and she can be so convicted and difficult. God tonight she just couldn't handle herself at all, and it pushed me and pushed me and pushed me and I just shut down. God I ask come to you tonight though with just one thing - gratitude. Thank you for Caroline. Thank you for her voice, for her heart, her convictions, her strength, her trust in me that she can push and not break, for our dinner table we gather around, the food that's on it, the house we put them to bed in each night, the community we're raising them in. Thank you God. I am choosing right now to direct my mind toward gratitude and count this life as joy, especially on nights like tonight.
With a sincere, humble intention to set my mind on greater things,
Amen.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bravery

Dear God,
These girls. These girls God have just shaken me up. My whole life, almost everything I think, everything I do. There's so little that's EXACTLY the same as it was 4 years ago before I became a mother. It's not a loss of self, it's not a bad thing, it's just so so different. And it's made me think of the ways I want to be stronger, the things about myself I want to work on. One thing, I want to be more brave. Because I want my daughters to be more brave than I've been.

God I pray that you develop in Kate and Caroline a spirit of bravery, and confidence. Not in a way that keeps them from needing support and community, but in a way that makes them convinced they're capable, that enables them to do BIG things. Please Lord give me the same, brave confidence that lets me be the person you envision me to be.

Thank you God for these girls, for Dan, for our family.
Amen

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dear God, and Dear Caroline

Dear God,
Thank you so much for the blessing of Caroline in our lives. Thank you for 4 healthy years. Thank you for choosing us to be her parents, for the amazing growth we've had as a family since she was born 4 years ago.

God, there's just so much to talk to you about with Caroline. God I have so many hopes for her. Please continue to pave a path for Caroline, opening the doors for her in the places we should lead her. Please keep giving us wisdom as her parents, and grant us patience as we face challenges. God Caroline is Big. I pray that this next year you help us each to take a step toward each other to solve problems. Please God help us to teach Caroline what it means to yield, without squashing the beautiful, strong spirit that makes her so unique. God please help us to pour compassion into Caroline so that her leadership qualities feel more like leading and less like bossiness. God please occupy Caroline's heart and mind with your ways, and help her to grow as a reflection of Christ in this world.

God you know Caroline's changed everything about everything. As it is with a first child, she'll always be the very first page our book about parenthood. Please bless her God with the abundance this life you designed can offer.

Amen.


Dear Caroline,

Oh Caroline. It's been a year sweet wild child. This year we moved into our home on Drawbridge, and you've been in 3 day 3's at the MCC at FUMC - Cary. Your teachers are Ms. Crystal and Ms. Amy. You have a letter of the week and ALL YEAR you've been waiting for letter P so you could take in a couple of your purses. You take ballet on Tuesday mornings with Ms. Sarah at Graceful Expressions, your favorite leotard is "elsa blue" and you were Tinkerbell for Halloween. Your favorite sitters are Ms. Lindsey and Ms. Madeline. You'd like to be a dentist one day. You say a dentist would be good because you could be a mom and a dentist, and you'd help people with their teeth. You moved into a big girl bed, your hair finally started really growing, and you're 100% cured of any form of shyness that previously existed. Your favorites: the color gold, macaroni and cheese, ovaltine in milk, dresses and skirts, Cousin Drew, Sophia the First, Call Me Maybe, Shake it Off and Joy to the World. You love craft projects, painting, making bracelets for your friends, manicures and pedicures, singing, dancing, taking showers, going to the dentist, all things princess, working in the yard with your dad, wildflowers, sunflowers, potting flowers, talking on the phone, taking care of baby dolls, tea parties, adventures with Aunt Rhonda and playing dress up. You're not allowed to wear clippity clop shoes on the stairs.

Ready for this sister? You have a husband. You met him while building snowmen together in Africa. His name is Jerry and you have 5 children: Tomcat, Snoopy, Paisley and Abby and Ellie (the twins). Jerry is a referee for Major League Soccer, and Tomcat is currently away at boarding school. Tomcat and Snoopy love to climb trees.  We were watching the World Cup this year and you saw Jerry on TV. You said he was playing soccer, but pointed to the ref. I told you that he was actually a ref and that the ref doesn't play during the game, he just makes sure everyone follows the rules. You laughed, put your hand on your hip and said "oh, that sounds just like Jerry."  You have your old "married dress" and your "married ring" and you bring them out from time to time to show your "trildren". Y'all had a dog, Soapy, who you lost this year. You came down one day after nap and told me he'd passed away. Sometimes when we're out, you'll look around for a minute and ask where Jerry went. Most of the family imagines with you and plays along. It's wonderful and amazing sweet CC, and I absolutely love this world you've built. I'm sure it'll be going away before too long, and I'll be sad when it does.

One night this year we were praying and at the end of your prayer you said "God bless mommy and daddy, Caroline and that ugly little baby and Baxter and all of our family and all of our friends." You were referring to Kate honey. And didn't skip a beat.

I asked you to clean up your booster and your drink the other day and you burst into "It's a Hard Knock Life" - from Annie. What? How do you think so fast?!

Catchphrases: Actually, Here's the Deal, calling dad "Chief" or "Boss",  Boom Goes the Cannon, You'll get over it, What in the World.

CC you're a handful my child. You love to talk, and have a hard time knowing when to just listen. You have 100 ideas every single day and the energy to do most of them. You're not a huge fan of cleaning up. You insist upon picking out your own clothing - you're opposed to ruffles, zippers, ruching, objectionable buttons, pleats and layers. UNLESS they're on a tutu or an otherwise highly-desirable article of clothing. You hate putting your head under water and really fuss over wearing tennis shoes. You stomp, and pout, and say "I'm So Mad" on the regular. Here's what Ms. Pat (2's teacher) told me about you. She said "Caroline's a leader - but leadership without compassion is bossiness, so just keep teaching compassion, and she's going to be great". And I believe it. So, you little nut job, I keep trying, I keep showing the boundaries around manners, etiquette and healthy living, and praying that I'm getting them right.

You know what I see when I look at you Caroline? I see your amazing imagination, your love of life, your endless energy, your sweet words that seem to sometimes come out of nowhere, and an amazing depth that's much much greater than your 4 years should allow. Keep up the wild life little C, it looks good on you.

I love you so much it hurts.
Mom

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dear God, and Dear Kate

Dear God,
Today is Kate's first birthday. Thank you God for the precious gift you've given us in Kate. Thank you for a year of health and growth, of love and joy, and for the gift of witnessing a baby turn into a toddler. God, to me, there's no other place in the world where you power and majesty is as clear as it is in birth and childhood.

As Kate's heavenly Father, I know your love and hope for Kate is even deeper than my own. God I pray that you continue to work within Kate to grow her into a faithful follower of Christ. I rejoice that you've claimed her as your own, even in these years before she can really even understand what that means. Please guide Dan and me in parenting, give us the patience and wisdom we need in this journey. God please give Kate a joyful spirit, a tender heart and tough skin.

With gratitude and awe at your marvelous and gorgeous creation,
Amen.

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Dear Kate,
Sweet, tiny, happy baby Kate. Happy Birthday beautiful daughter. When I walked into your room this morning you were your usual smiley self, sitting happily in your crib, smiling at your mom and sissy, listening to your happy birthday song. Dear Kate you are a joy and this year has been wonderful. You were born two days before we closed on the house we live in, and you've been so patient and flexible in all the change this last year brought.

We've watched every little "first" you've had - because we don't really think we'll have another baby, and we want to make sure we really absorb your big moments. We've prayed for you, with you, over your laughs, over your cries. We've taken you picking pumpkins and swimming, family dinners, trips to Grandma's at the beach. You've learned so much this year - from those tiny new things like opening your eyes and learning to smile, to the bigger things like crawling and sign language, eating real food, feeding yourself. We have loved watching you grow little girl. And this was the year of your life that you and I will spend the most time together of ANY year in the future. Can you imagine that? This year you won't remember? Just read this one day and know how much I loved all our minutes tiny Kate. Even the ones in the wee hours of the morning.

Kate you're amazing. You love cheese. I mean LOVE cheese. You crawl and scoot all around this house. You're starting to want to go up the stairs. You pull up on the dining room window and stand there and stare at the backyard and the trees. You don't cry much, but you get deeply wounded when daddy and I tell you 'no', and you do like to try to snatch things from your sister a lot. You love Baxter, and climb all over Reese too. You find the tiniest little pieces of things on the floor and taste them all. Yuck. You imitate us a lot - actions, sounds - it's so cute. Your first and only real word so far is dog, and we don't even have one silly girl. Sometimes you pet your little friends and call them dog too. I bet they love that. You go to the Y, and to Sunday School, and sometimes stay with our family members. You're so easy about that. You give kisses, high fives, wave bye bye. You sign for "more" and "all done". You have a purple blankie, a stuffed pig named Polly, and don't like to wear shoes or socks at all. You have five teeth and far more hair than sissy did at age 1. You love splashing in the bath and sucking your thumb. You fall asleep every time we want you to, and always, ALWAYS wake up happy.

Lovely Kate, here's my birthday wish for you: I wish you keep your simple, easy joy, I wish your heart becomes full of compassion and love, and I wish your mind to be curious, driven, and bright.

I've loved these first year days baby girl. And I love you way more than you'll know, at least until you're a momma yourself one day.

Love,
Your grateful mom