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365Expressions

Writing these "letters" has helped me to process life as a new mother, remain thankful, and come awake to the little moments that make this pretty challenging season simply wonderful.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 56...Tradition Talk


Dear Sadie,
Easter is coming up next weekend.  I haven’t given it much thought at all, except for thinking about the massive amount of pastels and bunnies everywhere!  Every time a holiday rolls around, I have mixed feelings about it.  Sometimes I want to be indifferent about it just because of all the hype.  I don’t like hype about things that don’t matter.  It’s not that I never get into celebrating things.  I celebrate birthdays.  I celebrate Jesus often.  I celebrate you kids all of the time.  I think about how important Jesus holidays are for formal remembrance; it’s just that I like to remember His life and sacrifice on a daily basis.  Do we really need a holiday?  How much of our time honored traditions have eternal value?  And for the parts that are just “fun,” are they worth the expenditure of time, money and energy?  These are the questions I struggle with.  I have no soapbox.  I just wonder.  I want you kids to grow up with traditions, but ones that will have a lasting impression on you, and ones that will point to Christ as supreme.  I see parents putting so much effort into celebrations, holidays and traditions, and I wonder if it all is necessary, even beneficial.  Sometimes we parents put too much emphasis on secondary things, when children are much more satisfied with far less.  If I could leave anything with you as far as what I understand at this point, it would be to give thought to your actions and form traditions with firm conviction.  If it doesn’t sit right in your heart, toss it out.  Ask the Lord and He will direct you.  Don’t worry about what others think about it.  Enough said.

Love,
Mommy

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”  Deuteronomy 6:6-8 

Day 55...I'm Liking You


Dear Sadie,
After coming inside from the heat of the day, you started on some Berenstein Bear Books as I wrote in my journal.  Then you came over and asked me to read one to you and I said sure I will.  After reading, you asked me if you could then read one to me.  Definitely!  You sat by my chair on the fireplace and “read” to me, with expression just like that of an adult reading to a child.  You are so precious.  I started getting sleepy and could hardly keep my eyes open.  I guess you noticed because it was then that you stopped and said, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” (Where did you even learn that one!?) To which I replied, “What?” with a grin.  “We should go over there on the chair (couch) and cuddle.”  My heart melted.  So we went over to the couch and got all cozy with a blanket and pillow and lied there for a minute or two holding each other.  Usually when you’re feeling sleepy and not wanting to give in to a nap, you fidget a lot and change positions.  So I thought that’s what you were doing.  I was simply enjoying the rest.  But then you said, as you sat up next to me, softly and affectionately, “I just want to look at you.  I’m likin’ you.  I love you so much.” 
Ahh!  We tell you all the time you are a sweet girl, because you are.  But sometimes, you still amaze me with your kindheartedness.  I am confident it is the love of God loving me through you.  You wanted to look at me, even just with my eyes closed, lazily lying on the couch.  It pleased you just to be near me, and you wanted to take it all in with those precious blue eyes.  
It reminded me of a lesson God is teaching me about looking on Him, gazing upon Him long enough to behold Him.  We look at the Lord in many different ways.  For me, when I am gleaning from His Word, His creation, in worship, in quietness, in listening, and in directing all of my attention towards God for stretches of time, I am beholding Him.  It’s as if I am saying to Him in those moments, I want to stay here forever.  And I don’t just love You, God.  I like You!  Let me look at You!  That reminds me of when Moses asked to see God.  And God let Him, because of His love for Moses, and knowing Moses’ affection for Him, hide in the cleft of the rock as the Lord passed by.   
We often pray, “Open the eyes of my heart” to the Lord.  What we ar asking is to see Him with all of our heart, in all of His glory.  Face to face.  They say “seeing is believing.”  This is true with our heart eyes!  Gazing upon the Lord will increase Your faith, because you will know Him more intimately, not in your head like you learn math facts or historical knowledge, but with your spirit.  You will know and believe Him and walk in His love and so have faith to move mountains.  When you set your physical eyes on something, they say you are “feasting your eyes” on it.  So it is with the eyes of your heart.  You are feasting on something so tasty, so scrumptious, so sweet, that you just want to consume the thing.  That’s worship!  We are consumers of that which we esteem.  My heart’s desire is to be full of God.  To be so full of love for Him that it wants to explode out of me. 
Thank you for wanting to set your eyes on me, dear.  I pray that same love and devotion and fondness will be multiplied for your Heavenly Father and Lord who loves you beyond your wildest dreams.  He is enough to satisfy your every real desire.

Love,
Mommy

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the day so of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 54...Find your Facilitator



I think these days now more than ever, my passion for wanting you to be intimately connected with God is strong.  I guess because ultimately I know you belong to Him and He can love you infinitely greater than I can, first of all.  And secondly, He is the one who is going to continue to teach you and walk with you, long after our teaching and walking days are over.  

One thing I find us doing on a regular basis, like today, is just talking about Him.  And not in a theological study kind of way, but in a natural and comfortable way, as if He was in the room with us—of course because He is!  Wherever your understanding is, it doesn’t really matter at this point.  What matters is that I am believing.  That I am walking with Him.  And that I just let Him overflow from my heart into the atmosphere of our home, or wherever we are, naturally, so that He can penetrate into your heart, into your home.  And not that that is the only way He can come into your heart, but it most definitely is in these primary stages of life for you.

My prayer tonight is that you will find what facilitates your heart’s connectedness to Him.  Once you find what stirs your passion for God, your heart will soar with Him!!  For me, it has always been music and writing.  Music and writing.  I have a lot of music that has come out of me and gone into me through the years.  I also have a lot of writing that has come out of me and gone into me through the years.  And through it all, both music and writing have been facilitators of my worship of Him.  They are the two things that primarily draw me into His presence on a daily basis.

Tonight I stumbled upon a video of Jeremy Riddle speaking about worship, and he is what inspired this letter, so I will share this quote from him.  He said,

“Music has been just so instrumental in keeping my heart connected to God.  I think if there’s anything I’ve ever wanted music to do is just be something that facilitates a connection between God’s people and Him.  The record as a whole, the whole point of it, for me is just something that people can take, can sit in, and can use these songs to begin to pour out their hearts to God and feel His heart for them.”

I know you and I will not be the same in everything, although sometimes it feels as if you are a “mini-me.”  But knowing that is what encourages me to say to you, find what facilitates your soul to receive and express love to God.  Worship is just that for me, it’s an intimate exchange of love, honor and respect.  There will be something, as music and writing is for me, that helps you get reunited with God, time and time again, a place of home and rest for you.  It could become an idol, so be careful not to worship the method.  It is there because God put it there to help you interact with Him.  It will keep your relationship with Him moving and growing.  What a gift it will be when you realize how you will be uniquely encountering Jesus on this adventure.  Wow! 

Love,
Mommy

“…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”  Ephesians 3:17-18 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 53...The Bond of Love and Peace

Dear Sadie,
Tonight it was ever-so-evident how close you and I are, my girl.  I came home from being away for about 2 ½ hours, and yes, Daddy had you up way past your bedtime of course. I found you lying under my covers on my bed just playing.  You popped out all messy-haired and cried, “Mommy!” upon my entrance.  We embraced and held each other long.  “I missed you!”  You got to stay up even longer after that, playing computer video games with Daddy, just having extra bonding time with the two of us.  Putting you to sleep was pretty easy though.  Daddy tucked you in, then I followed.  I came in and started to stroke your long blonde hair.  You closed your eyes, and with a smile on your face, you dozed off in a matter of seconds. 
I am struck tonight with just how awesome the closeness is that we share.  There is absolutely nothing between us.  It’s love bare.  Adoration.  Compassion.  Fondness like no other.  No awkwardness, guilt or shame.  Pure, true, love.  It’s so beautiful I can’t even describe it.  It’s crazy to have a human being you feel so close to.  I know you love me daily, and I you.  I so wish I could maintain that same intimacy with others, with everyone.  Of course at times I do, but with us adults, we always tend to have things dangling in the atmosphere…unforgiveness, awkward socialness, selfish unmet desires, demands, expectation, fear, busyness…it’s selfish pride really.  Every now and then you have breakthrough, and you have close, intimate relationships born into your life.  But even then, it comes and goes.  With a parent and child, in my experience, it begins at the child’s birth, and grows.  And when God is present as He is in our home, the feeling is indescribable joy.  I want that same intimacy kind of intimacy with spouse, with God, with all, all of the time!  I think we are tasting heaven each time we share in such sweet, sweet and tender fellowship.  That’s communion.  A reflection of His love for us.  A picture of the beginning in the garden. 

Thankful to God for His Grace-gift in you,
Mommy

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” James 1:17

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…”  1 John 1:7  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 52...Beautiful Blood

It’s the end of the day.  I feel dried up.  Lord fill me with the words You want me to say…

I was listening to a song about the blood of Jesus being all-sufficient tonight.  It is pretty common that words like the ‘blood of Jesus’ get lost in the sea of faith familiars.  But tonight I am reminded that these words are heavy with goodness.  Sweet and savory, all-suffient, power words.  They are life and freedom to me.  The blood.  The blood of Jesus.  It never runs dry.  It never gets dull, nor worn, nor weak, nor meaningless, nor powerless, nor mundane.  Just the opposite.  The blood of Jesus is our promised protection.  Our powerful provision.  It amazes me that His love poured out over two thousand years ago is still transforming lives, redeeming lives, and freeing souls from captivity even today.

If God’s grace ever seems boring or too familiar, just stop and reflect on the beauty of His sacrifice, and respond in worship.  You’re just a little girl right now, not even in school yet.  And in just a few years, you will have heard about Jesus so much you might not perk up at words like ‘blood of Jesus’ after a while.  It happens to all of us.  My prayer is that through the propelling of your wildly romantic relationship with Him, He will open the eyes of your heart to see Him, and His life will always bloom afresh to you like new Spring every day.  Come alive to Him every day, let Him walk you down the path, and you won’t need anyone to teach you.  Your life will teach others to taste and see that the Lord is good. 

All to Him.

Love,
Mommy

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:14

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 51...Soccer Moms, Here I come!

Dear Sadie,
Today we got our first family car…a minivan! Yeah!  While I never have really wanted to drive a van, it suits our needs.  And besides, I think we are officially a family now! J Haha.  It makes me happy to know we can actually go on road trips and use our own car, and it is also a little bit sad because I cannot reach back and hold your hand on nights when you need a little extra comfort while going to sleep on the road.  But as bittersweet as it may be, it’s an answer to prayer. You and I asked God for a bigger car, and here we are!  We got one!  So thank you, Lord!

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” Matthew 21:22

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 50...Wonder Woman Syndrome

I just don’t know how moms do it.  There is so much to overwhelm mommies these days, even in days past, that it is so easy to get lost, unfocused, stressed, overworked, or just too busy to even know how to slow down or that they’re going too fast.  If you are not a mom yet, then you haven’t experienced this fact, but you will.  In the end, “something’s gotta give” as they say.  Let me just throw a few out there—things that can overwhelm you if you try and take it all on all the time. 
          Keeping a clean and orderly house
          Homeschool, Private School, Public School
          Full time Career, Part-time Job
          Keeping Up with Kids’ Recreation
Volunteering
          Keeping up with friendships
          Keeping a daily Quiet Time
          Cooking every day
          Preparing Healthy Menus for the Family
          Creative Activities for the Kids
          Budgeting
          Grocery Shopping
          Maintaining Good Hygiene and Looks
          Disciplining Children
          Fostering Spiritual Growth in Children
          Exercising
          Time Management
          Maintaining Personal Goals and Interests
          Keeping Clothes Sorted, Seasonal and Size-wise
          Keeping a Healthy Marriage
          Planning Family Outings/Activities
          Keeping up with Birthdays and Holidays

HOW DOES SHE DO IT??  It’s just too much if you ask me.  I look at this list, and I may have a handle on one or two.  Yet, we are expected to be the experts of them all!  I just want to point something out, who is putting these expectations on us?  Is it our kids?  Our husbands?  Our girlfriends?  Truthfully, it’s usually ourselves.  I will say it over and over again, to myself first, perfection is not the goal.  In your list of priorities (and you will always have them), ask yourself what really matters in the end.  Because in order to remain sane, you definitely have to let things go at times and learn to say no.  Number one on our list should always be God.  You and God.  That’s it.  Seek Him, and ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU.  Number two, your husband.  Honor and respect him no matter what, through the good and the bad, when he’s right and when he’s wrong, and his love for you will grow, and he will show it to you. Three, your children.  When you find yourself spending more time and energy on your kids than your husband, don’t fret.  That’s the norm!  But, I do feel called by God to put Daddy first, and give him the best of me, not the leftovers.  So make sure you’re saving some energy, love and attention for your hubby, and not spending all of yourself on the kiddos.  It will keep the household in order, and your kids will benefit from the love you share with one another.  Four, your dreams and goals.  Putting those after the first three only makes sense.  Being fourth, that doesn’t make them not important, because it is extremely important to follow hard after your dreams while parenting, being a wife, etc., etc.  It is more imperative than most women realize, I think.  And it’s just too easy to let it all go when you’re used to giving of yourself to your “Top 3.”  It’s just less important.  You’ll figure it all out.  But go easy on yourself.  Take it slow.  Don’t expect too much out of yourself, and take one day at a time.  Each time a major life change occurs, just give yourself what I call a “grace period” to act and feel deranged. Everything will feel totally out of whack when changes come.  It sounds easy for me to say, but it truly works to just trust in the Lord, let Him be your peace, and rest in Him.  Practice a life of worship, and it will all happen in His time.  Don’t let yourself be consumed with trying to juggle it all.  He will take care of you when you make walking in His Presence your #1.  So go have fun!

Dear Sadie.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” Isaiah 30:15   


  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 49...Dear Jesus

Dear Sadie,
When you and your brother started talking, it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.  From your first words, Dadda, then duck, and bye-bye, and of course Mama, to your nonsense babbling that only you could understand.  We all just laughed and adored.  Now it is Titus’ turn.  He is saying, in his own way, all of our names, shoes, cheese, please, thank you, milk, outside, mine! The fun part is when he repeats things we say.  He says it and just smiles a jolly smile.  When he is in the mood to jabber, he really lights up and gives us what we want.  And today was the best day yet.  He said his first prayer, the same one we taught you when you were a year and a half.  The most precious part about it was when you were singing your “God, our Father” prayer before eating, I glanced over at Titus, and he had his head all the way down and kept it there until you were done praying.  When you said Amen, he lifted his head, and my heart lifted too.  He knew this tradition, and I hadn’t even intentionally taught him!  I was pretty surprised.  You kids pick up things so fast, faster than we can keep up with!  So that is when I decided to say to Titus, “You can pray, too. Say, Dear Jesus…I love you…Thank you…Amen.” And he repeated everything back to me with such joy. I thought to myself, I gotta tell somebody!  Titus just prayed with me!  Okay, so I know He doesn’t exactly know all he is saying, but it was our “first steps” of spiritual growth with Titus, for me.  And I was thrilled.  I had to text a few people right away! J  Then I thought, how amazing is it that he picked up that all by himself.  “Man, I can’t believe I haven’t taught him about prayer earlier!  How do I keep up?” It can be slightly overwhelming when you think about it this way. Now looking back, I have a slightly different perspective on it.  And that is just that so much of what is taught is not the intentional, but the things that go under the Mommy/Daddy Radar.  Sure there are things we need to be purposeful about, teaching and training and discipling.  All of that is Biblical and important.  Truthfully though, they pick up character traits and habits without us every realizing it.  What a profound task, this living in front of two little pairs of eyes.  It’s scary, and yet remarkable.  Humbling, and yet fulfilling.  To know that we are living and breathing examples of Christ for you, that you will watch us and critique us and copy us more than anyone in the world.  I cannot imagine what this journey is like without the grace of Christ! We sin, and you will watch us fail.  And at the same time, the mystery remains, that it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  I choose to be moved by the Spirit and not by my own flesh.  I am living in His grace, and there is no longer any condemnation for me!  How freeing is that?  When you become a parent, be released to live full in His grace.  Do not put restrictions on yourself to be all to your children.  Do not chase after perfection, as tempting as that may be. His grace is sufficient. You can be free to be yourself and grow in this grace.  If your kids get to watch you in that garden of freedom, they will be more inspired to seek the Lord for themselves.  They will follow Him.  They will have discernment and accountability in Him.  They will have a safe place to land.  They will remember that this life is more than living by a set of rules or standards.  It is living rightly related to their Father, in love with Jesus, worshiping Him, in pursuit of His glory.  What can be more rewarding than that?

Love,
Mommy

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 48...Here and Now


Dear Sadie,
I am finding the awe, wonder, and joy of parenthood comes at the most unlikely of times.  Not that tonight was particularly bad.  But I will say it was a far cry from a well-oiled machine or nifty and predictable pattern.  I now find my first peace and solitude for the first time in over 13 hours.  Kids asleep at 2 hours and 15 minutes past bedtime and I am thinking,  How.did.that.Happen?  Here's a guess:

1 twilight stroll and Barbie jeep ride (I blame the beautiful day and the urge to be outdoors) + 1 session of chatting with neighbors + 1 very tired mommy + 4 promised books + 1 slightly stubborn daughter + 2 late snacks for 1 finicky son + 1 drawn out potty time + 1 teething diaper right before bed + 1 teething diaper waking up tired baby boy + 1 sore bottomed-boy needing extra loves and cuddles - 1 Daddy =  10:15PM

Even after it is all said and done, you are lying on your pillow half asleep while saying, "I don't want to go to sleep."  But you are too tired to fight it anymore.  Your body relaxes with the weight of mommy nearby, and your arms are lying in the "surrender" position, palms up on your pillow.  I lean over you in the dark, whispering i love yous, my left arm under your right arm, and my right hand caressing your hair to the side of your forehead, much the way my mother used to do to me.  I rest my head on your chest, careful not to put too much weight on you.  I feel your heartbeat tap against my cheek and it reminds me of when I could feel that same tiny heartbeat dancing in my womb.  And now here you are, three years-old, drifting off to sleep in your own twin bed high off the floor, my old quilted blanket tucking you in, you purposely grasping a random pink ribbon you found in the bathroom, why, I have no idea. Your breathing changes and you are off to dream again.  Your brother is quiet and asleep on the other side of the wall and the whole house is still. And I am full.  Thirteen hours of pure kid interaction, and I am exhausted.  But as spent as I may be, I do not feel empty.  Neither am I hungry for "me-time."  Tonight...I am full.  Full of thanks.  Full of wonder.  Full and satisfied.
The kind of intimacy I share with my children astounds me.  I never knew just how fulfilling this life with children would turn out to be.  I now know that the connection I have with my offspring, and definitely also my husband, picture how God intended all of us to relate to him and each other.  Oh, how we need each other.  He wants our relationship with him to be beautiful and unpredictable, free and full of ecstasy, just as it is with our own closest soul mates.  It is His design!  If it is ever boring, it's a sign that something is in the way.  Because definitely most assuredly, god is not boring!
But we are not in the garden anymore.  A lot of those "should be's" remain lost and stolen.  Some of us feel we are left groping in the dark.  And others have medicated and/or distracted themselves enough not to know the difference.  Still, others are getting the bliss back more and more every day, thanks to Jesus.  Some call this sanctification.  Others call it perspective.  All I know is, because of Christ it is possible to truly enjoy and understand life here and now.  Eternity has sprung.  We have a destination, and we are on a journey, but we are also here now.  Time does not exist in heaven. That is how I feel when I am present with you, my daughter.  And that is how I want to feel every moment.  In His presence IS fullness of joy. 
I am grateful to have...
My family to help me see a little more clearly His glorious and undying love on this Journey...
My intimate GPS and Security Blanket on me at all times...(Holy Spirit)
My Jesus partnering with me as I trek along...
And my Father waiting on the other side, arms open wide.

What thrills His life has to offer!  The sorrows and discomforts are always there...always around us.  There will always be things there to frustrate us.  And I mean, ALWAYS.  But we are not left to want!  We are totally, absolutely, and completely loved.  He has taken care of all of our needs big and small, and purposed for us success and authentic intimacy should we choose to accept Him and believe Him for what He says. 

Oh my.........what poopies and bedtimes and exhaustion can bring out in a person!

Thank you, Lord, for it all.

Love you my girl,
Mommy

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward."  Psalm 127:3

Day 47...What am I doing??

Dear Sadie,
Some days I ask myself, what am I doing, writing letters to Sadie?  Is she even going to read them?  What if I am teaching her something that is contrary to what God would teach her?  I go into this thinking I have all this wisdom to share with you, and that you should be so lucky to have me!  Then most days I'm going, "What am I thinking?!"  I hope you bear with me.  I hope you know that I know that I do not have all of the answers.  I hope you can see my heart and know that I try to speak from it always.  Most of all, I want you to have your own relationship with God so that He can teach you all things.  If something I say doesn't sit well with you, and you can't find it's agreement in the Scripture, then just forget about it!  Ultimately, God will show you the Way, and then walk in it.  Otherwise, my heart overflows for you.  I will never intentionally lead you astray.  You can bet on that.  But most of all, you have a Shepherd who will lead you into all Truth.  I shall remind you of that over and over again.
Love,
Mommy

"But when He, the Spirit of all truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth." John 16:13

"As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him."  1 John 2:27

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 46...One day's time

Dear Sadie,
I extend an invitation to look into my day as a mother at this point in time.  I'm not proud of it.  I am proud of Who holds me at the end of the day.  My Maker.  And who I get to hold at the end of the day.  My family. Take a look.  No two days are ever a like, amen.

Sleeping in.  Computer ABCs. Mommy help me.  Sleeping in ridiculously.  Husband under sheets.  His turn to make the coffee.  I make the coffee.  Phone call about work. Send daughter to wake up the baby.  Happy, giggly babies playing.  Worship music soundtrack for our day.  Drink the old coffee first, just a sip.  Banana.  Mommy play with me. Cheese toast quietly munched at the mini kitchen table.  Babies staring outdoors at the day starting. Wash some dishes.  Collect library items due.  "Tangled" finally found.  Throw a load in.  Prepare milk bottle.  Juice cup.  Now for the fresh coffee, add milk and cream, I really shouldn't. Pull up blinds.  Open curtains.  Bright sun highlighting perpetual dust. Make Hubby's turkey sandwich for lunch. Prepare Hubby's chicken breakfast sandwich in microwave. Wipe crumbs.  Sweep crumbs.  Listing groceries needed.  Sighing about no car.  Probe toys hiding under tables, in corners, staring at me.  Good-bye, Daddy.  Snow White book.  Lilo and Stitch in background.  Laundry baskets carried upstairs.  Blocks stacked.  Blocks crashing down.  Laughter.  Laundry folded.  Moments stolen to surf for rentals. Tucking away clothes.  Daughter helping.  Hangers hung awkwardly.  Phone calls.  Selected scenes from Tangled.   Picking up dispersed parts of toys. Cheese sandwiches and chicken nuggets.  Chicken fajita.  Juice.  Kid talk.   Table hallelujahs.  More crumbs wiped.  Dish control.  Bathing suit on.  Titus naps.  Hose out.  Towels laid  Book and journal just in case.  Worship CD and stereo on porch.  Squeals and laughter.  Running.  Spraying.  Getting out kinks.  Phone calls about a rental.  Checking on sleepy baby.  Singing.  Reading a chapter.  Cold, refreshing water.  Coaching.  Ant dodging.  Tangled back on.  Long talk with Daddy.  Mapquest.  Wake up Titus.  Change diaper. Bathing suits.  Hose again.  Overzealous sister.  Crying brother.  Jumping, leaping, running.  Water. Brother recovered.  Awestruck by cars. Daughter getting crabby. Dinnertime.  Burgers, carrots and peas.  Please eat the veggies.  Swiping rejected, smashed carrots and peas off the floor.  Energy-deficient.  Half-napping while kids play.  Coffee and Disney movie.  Holding baby with bottle of milk.  Relaxation. Folding bath towels. Bathing time.  Pajamas. Combing hair.  Wind-down movie.  Phone calls.  Pinterest.  One in bed.  Quick cry.  More cuddles.  Asleep.  Teeth brushed.  Cheese and milk.  Banana.  Up and down stairs.  Good-night cuddles.  Jesus peace.  Sadie tucked in bed.  Now at the computer, Facebook, email, blogs.  Inspiration.  Daddy comes home.  Let me finish.  Salty popcorn.  Chatting.  Writing.  Can't wait for sleep.  Tomorrow, I will wake up by an alarm before the kids get up, and start all over again.

These are the fragments.  Probably mostly meaningless chronicles to another.  What I cannot detail are the hugs, the frustration, the training, the love, the warmth, the anger, the silliness, the mentoring, the fun.

Oh, the life of a stay-at-home mom.  I love it here.  

If you choose to go this route at any point, and I hope you do, get ready.  It's a ride.  And it's worth it.

Love,
Mommy

"train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind..." Titus 2:4-5

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 45...The Dance

Dear Sadie,
At our usual Sunday gathering yesterday, I felt freer than ever to dance.  It's hard to close your eyes when you're dancing--you pretty much fall down!  So to keep your eyes open and dance at church, you have to be caught up in the Presence of the Lord and swept away by His love in order to do it, which is good, because then it is true, authentic worship.  And in being caught up, it means even though your eyes are open, you are not looking about you to see who is watching, or looking to see what others are doing.  Something must have been loosed in me on Sunday, because all day to day I have had the urge to dance with Jesus.  In the kitchen while I was making breakfast, cleaning up, doing the dishes.  I just felt the Spirit's calm presence moving me to express His love through dancing and singing.  His peace stayed with me all throughout the day, so that even when I wasn't physically dancing, I was still swaying and moving to His rhythm, enjoying His peace.  Doing laundry, picking up toys, talking with Jason, taking care of kids.  He truly does NOT give as the world gives.  It is real, true, almost tangible peace.  From the Prince of Peace.  He is my dance partner.  I want this freedom to keep propelling me.  I want the steps and the moves to bleed into every area of my life so that I am dancing with Him through every day and every circumstance, in any crowd of people, or alone.  Whatever the case, in spirit and in truth, I will live for Him.  This kind of love you will experience someday.  Sometimes you watch me and smile when I'm acting foolishly in love with Jesus around you.  You might think I'm just being silly right now, but just you wait girl.  Just you wait.  I know God is near to children.  You definitely have done your share of dancing!  I pray for early God-encounters for you, and everyday love pulsating through you, body, mind and spirit.  Dance like no one is watching.  He is pleased by you!

Love,
Mommy

"And David danced before the Lord with all his might."  2 Samuel 6:14

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy."  Psalm 30:11

"You make me full of gladness with your presence."  Acts 2:28

Day 44...Sugar and Spice

Dear Sadie,
At church this Sunday, Pastor Brent commented on how sweet my children are, and told me that I'm doing an awesome job at parenting them.  What a compliment!  How encouraging his words were to me!

It is no secret that I have such a sweet little girl for a daughter.  I am consistently reminded of it.  Friends, family and strangers alike all can recognize sweetness for what it is.  It just flows out of you.  "I love you."  "I just love being with you."  "I love hanging out with you."  "Thank you for playing with me."  So uplifting are you!  You just are showering others with words of grace and kindness all the time.  It makes my heart so happy to see and to hear about my daughter blessing others in this way, especially when I'm not around.

Mark this down:  one of the most important values you can instill in your household is the weight of your words, and how we constantly either sow life or death to others with our mouths.  Blessings or curses.  As loved ones of God, we choose to bless!  As I experienced on Sunday, and every other day, words are full of power to uplift.  Just as Brent encouraged me, so you encourage me every day.  That I am a good mother to you, that I am demonstrating love to you, etc.  That means so much.  Tonight I was at a Ladies' Night Out with my mom, and the speaker there said this, and it is so true, "When someone offers a word of encouragement to me, I just feel like three inches taller!"

Right now you are so pleasant because you live simply and have little baggage about you.  In innocence, children naturally enjoy life and love people.  I pray you will only grow in more and more grace in the days ahead.  With His supernatural power, yes, it is possible!  That is my prayer for you.

This lesson is so important to me, because God knows I so desire to be a sweet fragrance for Him.  When someone calls me "sweet" it blesses my soul.  Growing up, I was called "Brat" or "Snot," enough times to stay with me today.  I don't believe that anymore.  Not because I have become a better person necessarily, although I hope I have grown up!  But I don't accept those names now because God has spoken to me several times, even recently, that I am sweet!  Even two Sundays ago, when someone began praying over me, I specifically heard the words "sweet girl," and it just broke me!  He sees me that way, just as I see you that way.  And when I believe what He says about me, I walk in that truth.  I am able to live it out through the assurance of His Words to me.

Like I say, "You're my candy!"  In more ways than one, you ARE my sweet, sweet girl.

Love,
Mommy

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."  Proverbs 16:24

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21

"For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ" 2 Corinthians 2:15

Day 43..."Simon says..."

The other day we were at grandma's and we had her yummy meatballs and gravy over rice, carrots and brussel sprouts.  You ate most of your dinner with very few complaints, which was lovely.  A mom's delight.  But in the end, talking to Tabby (Grandma) you said, "I ate it, but I didn't like it."  To which Tabby replied very politely, not at all offended by her three year-old daughter, "That's okay.  You'll like it when you're older."  When I overheard you two talking, I just laughed inside.  It reminded of me how you said the very same thing just days before, and several times prior to that.  "I didn't like it very much, Mommy.  But I will like it when I'm older."  Just like Tabby, you said it so confidently and with the poise of an adult.

Every day I am reminded of just how much of a tape recorder you are.  Children take in what we say, and they spit it out without any thought. It happens so naturally.  Really, I am aware today how much God made us to be like this.  What we put in, that's what comes out.  What we sow into our soul is what we reap.  How I pray that you will stay connected to God's Word, both His spoken words (from Him and from others) and His written Word, the Bible.  The more you soak it all up, the more it will flow naturally.  You won't have to remember something, He will just give you the words.  To encourage, to bless, to admonish, to bless, to teach, to bless.  In addition, when you allow Him to pour His love out to your, the more love you will have flowing out of you and spilling onto others.   His truth flows like a river.  Let it pour into you, let it pour out to others.  Conversely, if you fill yourself with negativity and evil, that is what will flow out of you.  So be careful and mindful of what is going in.  What you are "recording."  I pray I can watch what goes in me, and receive all that He has for me, so that I only say (and do) what the Father would say.  I hope you say and do as I do.  I don't mind if you imitate me.  I only pray I will be steadfast in His Presence, resting in Him, confident in His love for me. Because then and only then will the obedience flow.  Then will I be an imitator of my Father.  Only then will I be sure that I am a model for you of His excellent ways.  Alone, I am no good to you.  Abiding in Him, I am full, alive, and fruitful like a tree planted by streams of water.  Without Him, I am nothing.  But in Him, I am a new creation, and I have everything I need for life and godliness.  How privileged I am to watch you walk and grow and imitate and figure everything out.  Because of you, because I get to be your mom, I grow every day.  Thank you!  Thank you, Lord!

Love,
Mommy

"A man reaps what he sows." Galatians 6:7

"The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." Galatians 6:8

"God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:5

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 42...Let it shine

Dear Sadie,
Your granddaddy, Daa, as you call him, has a saying about you.  He says, "You light up my house."  Lately, you've been telling him this truth, and now all he has to do is just agree with you.  It's as if you fully understand.  Light and darkness is something we can all understand.  Even as a three year-old, you may not be able to fully comprehend with your mind, but I am sure that you understand it with your heart.  One can see it in your smiley eyes when you say, "I light up your house, Daa."  How amazing is that.

Christ came into the darkness as the Light of the world. Now all of the world can know the Father of Lights, because of Jesus.  We are light, too.  We are now the light of the world.  Christ shines through our body, soul and spirit.  We don't just reflect His light, we exude it from the inside out.  Because here in our hearts Christ dwells, the Holy Spirit.  You are a light bearer, my dear.  One day you will accept Him and know Him as your Savior.  I pray from that day forward that you will know that no one can ever take away the light He is in your heart.  So let Him shine as you fall more and more in love with God, as you become filled with all the fullness of God, let it shine!

Love,
Mommy

"For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness,' has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ."  2 Corinthians 4:6

Day 41...Sing, sing, sing

Dear Sadie,
One of the things I love about kids, you in particular, is the songs that they sing.  The other day you were out on our tree stump just singing, nonsense mostly, at the top of your lungs, for all of the trees and sky and grass and two dogs to hear.  It made me smile.
I'm a singer myself.  Today I noticed that when I came out of my women's group, I was so full of the Holy Spirit from His encouraging Word to me, and from my fellowship with believers, that a new song just came and I sang as I drove.  I didn't have to think about anything, the words just flowed from my heart to His ears.  That's how singing in the spirit works.  Your mind can't get in the way because the words are just flowing from your innermost being and out of your mouth.  Like a child.
My dear child, stay with your song all of your life.  You don't have to perform for anyone.  You just sing your heart out.  Sow into your spirit, and you will reap songs of joy and peace and righteousness.
Love,
Mommy

"The kingdom of God is of....righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17

"Let the words of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another will all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."  Colossians 3:16

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 40...Be anxious for nothing

Dear Sadie,
When so many little things are going on, mostly wrong or maybe just a little bit messy, it's really easy to not feel like writing anything.  I don't have much to give right now.  I haven't taken time for God's Word to seep into my soul.  I don't feel refreshed because I haven't taken time away.  I've been too busy.  There have been moments of light where I've been able to focus on the Lord and pray and just be in His presence, even when things were hard.  But do I have anything to give to you?  Not hardly.  The thing I want most right now is carefree-ality.  My new word this evening.  You'll ask me every now and then, such as on days like these, "Mommy, are you happy?"  You always want everyone to be okay.  And I love you for that.  Most of the time I let out a sigh and I will tell you the truth of how I am feeling in the moment, and what is causing me to feel that way.  I think that's what's going to help you kids maintain good self-expression and awareness, if you are asking me these questions and I am offering you real answers.  You do want me to be happy all of the time.  And I wish I could be like you all of the time, sort of clueless to the chaos swirling around me.  For instance, you know about some of the things that are happening, not all, but you also don't know the stress these things sometimes cause when they all happen at once.  You know that Daddy managed to jump over a fence and bruise his side and get a boo boo, but he's okay.  You know that we sold our car, but you're not anxious to find a new one. You missed our car when it was being worked on.  And you liked riding in Daa and Nana's truck, and now you will probably miss it, but be glad we have our car back.  You don't know we're looking for a car to replace the one we just sold.  You know we packed up to pick up Daddy at 8:00pm last night, and then got out of the car at the last minute per change of plans.  You were just happy that Mommy read you books before going to sleep finally.  You know that the sound stopped working on Daddy's computer, but you are confident Mommy and Daddy will fix it eventually.  You don't know that we lost the code to turn the stereo system back on in Mommy's car.  You knew that we tried to pay the water bill today but couldn't, but you have no understanding about the late fee that is applied.  You were just happy to be out with your Mommy having girl time, walking the streets.  You had no idea that Mommy was forgetful and keeping Daddy from leaving the house on time to go look a van while we strolled the city streets together.  You don't know that Daddy lost his phone.  You don't know that Mommy keeps losing her phone, and that both Mommy and Daddy can't seem to keep their phones charged anyways!  You didn't know a rock flew and broke Daddy's windshield just before he showed the car, but he sold it anyways.  You don't know that Mommy and Daddy are too tired and preoccupied to enjoy each other's company or be very nice to one another on a consistent basis.  And you don't know that when all of this car mess is over, we will have to start thinking about moving again in order to pay the bills.  Be happy for what you don't know.  And keep enjoying the rest you feel, that even when things go wrong, even when we get boo boo's, somehow everything ends up alright. At the end of the day, we are together.  At the end of the day, we got Jesus.  At the end of the day, hope, peace and joy fills our souls because we do not rely on circumstances to fill us up.  At the end of the day we can sleep and another day soon begins.

Love,
Mommy

"By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me--a prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:8

"Be anxious for nothing..." Philippians 4:6

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 39...Praise God for people!

Dear Sadie,
Tonight I can't help but think about how good people are.  And I'm not talking about good as in moral character.  Good as in, "And God said it was good."  We know God is good, and we talk about that all of the time. We even talk about how He made the sky beautiful, and the flowers pretty, and all of that is wonderful.  But tonight I reflect on how good He made His most precious possession.  The ones He made so intimately connected to Him in the garden.  The ones He handed the keys to and gave the right to rule over the earth.  The ones He made in His own image.  We are pretty awesome, to say the least.  I'm deeply impressed.  I don't think I need to go into all the wonderful characteristics that make people wonderful.  I'll save that for another day.  In general, we're pretty stinking cool!
I look at you, my daughter, and there is no denying the Creator.  He has made you fearfully and wonderfully.  Set apart from any other creation.  I sing to you all of the time, "You are my sunshine."  I think God put the sun there just to reflect how my daughter would shine into my life and bring so much joy into it. Into others' lives as well.  I know that's not the purpose of the sun, but it sure seems like it.  I am full of wonder when I examine you.  I am full of respect for a God who intimately knows every part of you.  You are amazing.  You have an awe-inspiring Daddy Artist.  He created you out of dust, and you have become the apple of His eye.  You are my treasure.  My gift from God.  I look at you and marvel at His works.  I can't help it.  It brings tears to my eyes.  And I can't forget my son, too.  But this letter is about you, and so I talk about you.

All too often we are critical of man, only seeing and talking about the downfalls and mistakes and sins.  And we critique and analyze and squelch what's raw and beautiful. I think we dishonor God when we do that.  He is sorrowful over our sin, yes.  But Jesus has paved the way back into His open arms.  So we can come boldly, and should.  Repent when necessary, and come as confident children with total access.

Yes.  I am full of wonder now when I think about you.  And you are my daughter, so I get to know you up close.  Think about how amazing it is that God has made so many people, and He longs for each one to be brought back into His Kingdom.  Back into His house.  Back into His arms.  Fully redeemed and restored to their original intent, design and destiny.  My prayer is for you to know your Daddy full well.  To accept Jesus as a perfect gift of grace, paying all of your debts.  And the Holy Spirit's guidance and friendship.  So much has been given to us.  It blows my mind to think of these things, only my spirit can contain some of it.  Tonight I am thankful for His treasure in you.  I am also thankful for His treasure in man He created.  How beautiful heaven will be when we who feast at His table, receive His free gift, will know face-to-face what all this means.  Who His is.  Who we are in Him.  We will then fully understand what now makes us speechless.  We will know the Glory intimately, no shadows.  No reflections.  Pure as daylight.
For now, I will choose to see through His eyes.  Look with me.  Choose to show mercy, grace and compassion.  Choose to draw out the light that God has placed within.  Set your eyes on His beauty, and you will see the wonderful amazing awe-inspiring creation He has made in man.  Specifically in man.  Tell of His wonders. And give thanks.

Love,
Mommy

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Psalm 139:14

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 38...The rod

Dear Sadie,
I am going to talk to you about a sticky subject today. It's sticky and hard, not flowery at all.  It stinks, too.  It is one of the most difficult parts of parenting I have discovered thus far.  That is discipline in the form of spanking.

I decided to give you a little time away from the little ones for a little while.  It was sort of a sudden decision, and I guess it took you by surprise.  Because you were resistant from the get go.  I said, "Sadie, why don't you go on upstairs and play by yourself for a little while." (many times you have agreed and obeyed on the spot...not this time)  Again, I said, "Sadie, you are bothering your brother a little too much. I think it'd be good if you go up to your room and have some time alone for a little while."  "No, I want to color!" you replied.  This is later in the day, and you're definitely hitting your tired stride.  Until we go outside and get active, do something constructive, you tend to get a little restless.  I was trying to divert you, but you were stuck in obstinacy, so I had to do something to help you come out of it.  Telling me "no" then turned into yelling at me on the way to time-out, as well as hitting me.  A spanking became necessary at that point. The part about this that I really want you to know, is that there is a right way to go about spanking.  There are some things we follow when going the spanking route. First of all, we try always to remain calm, and not react in anger (as hard as this is).  Second, we make sure the punishment is clearly defined and set in advance in accordance with the offense.  Defiance (outright disobedience) and disrespect (talking back, yelling, hitting) are the two areas we target with spankings being the consequence.  Lastly, we communicate everything we are doing, the reasons for it, what God says, throughout the whole thing, etc.  Everything is done in love and out of love.  If all is done correctly, you respond with remorse.  I forgive you.  We hug and kiss.  We express words of love and sorrow.  And then we move on and have fun pretty much immediately, to remember that we go on from here, and we make mistakes but keep going.

When it's time for you to have kids, and you and your husband are faced with the decision of spanking, whether or not it is right for you and your child, I hope you come down to what God says, and pray for the ability to communicate love to your child through everything you do, however you do it.  I know a lot of people think that you are sending your child the wrong message by hitting them.  But I hope you also get to experience how loving and firm discipline reaps a kind, respectful and obedient child.  The bond you have with your child when the discipline moment is over is inexplicably good.  It is such a delight to have respect and love flow from your child after it's all said and done.  It sure does make this hard way the better way.  God's way really is the way.  I never enjoy bringing you pain.  It is awful.  But in the end, we are honestly keeping you from more harm down the road. Again, not easy to talk about.  But important enough to give it some thought.

Love,
Mommy

"The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother."  Proverbs 29:15

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 37...Whistle while you work

Dear Sadie,
You are my little princess.  You live in a fairy tale. You are confident you are gorgeous whenever you put on a twirly dress.  You make friends with small critters.  And naturally, you sing songs while you work.  I enjoy work too.  I enjoy it even more when you help me, and talk about how fun it is, and sing songs while working.  You make everything fun!

It helps to have people with good work ethics to look up to.  I have my mom to thank for this.  Growing up, she always made cleaning house games.  She created chore charts where we earned stars.  She really had me convinced that housework was not work at all, but fun!  And do you know what?  I still think it is fun, because I have this perspective!  As far back as I can remember, a preschooler I am sure, I stood on a step-stool hand-washing dishes.  I sorted mountains of dirty clothes spread out on the kitchen floor.  Darks.  Lights.  Towels.  Delicates.  Boy did my mom have me trained!  We would tie something like a belt from a bathrobe to a laundry basket and give ourselves no more than 4 or 5 minutes to do a fast-paced, clean sweep.  Anything that didn't go in that room, we'd throw in the basket.  And when we were all done, we'd do a speedy run through the house, dragging the basket to the appropriate rooms for drop-offs.  Then we'd hit the next room and start again.

I hope to instill this same craziness in you, my dear. :)  It does not take much convincing when you start young, that's for sure.  I think as children we have a natural sense that work pays off.  If someone is able to cultivate work ethics in us early enough, helping us polish these skills while we are young, the value and enjoyment of work will truly grow and blossom into something invaluable as an adult.

Snow White sang and whistled while she worked.  She taught her friends, the dwarfs, to do the same.  Cinderella sang about her dreams coming true as she got ready for her day of work, work, and more work.  Rapunzel sang while she started her chores and swept the floors.  (Okay, so she was singing and wondering when her life would begin, but that's more because she was locked in a tower for eighteen years!)  All three princesses were princesses in disguise.  They did not yet know their true identity, but by nature they found joy in the simple tasks and mundane chores they found themselves in, day in, day out.  They brought their royalty with them into every circumstance.  Their peace, joy and confidence.

You, my little lady, are a princess too.  Your Daddy is the King.  That makes you royalty.  We tell you this all of the time.  (and of course, your earthly daddy is your prince, for now:)  And although you do not understand the full ramifications of this identity yet, you will learn as you grow.  God's Word will reveal this to you as He shows His inheritance and promises laid out for you.  For now, as a child, you think it means you look beautiful when you're all dressed up.  And you think it means you must pretend you are getting married to your invisible prince.  But there's also this sweetness inside of you already that sings and dances.  It's the joy of the Lord that shines through your eyes and your voice and everything you set your hands to.  I love how it is coming out when you see the work you can accomplish when you set your mind to it.  That is a beautiful thing.  Yesterday when I let you rinse all of the dishes and hand them to me to put into the dishwasher, you'd think we were on a ride at Disney World.  I hope and pray I can cultivate this more and more in you.  You already bring beauty to the simple.  I also pray that you will pass it on to your kids as well.  My beautiful, inside-and-out, princess.

Love,
Mommy

"You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours."  Psalms 128:2

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord" Colossians 3:23

Day 36...Love love

Dear Sadie,
Tonight you were so full.  So full of love.  You told me you loved me about 5-6 times in a period of about an hour.  You spent the day with your grandparents, and then saw your other grandparents a little bit later this evening as it worked out.  Daddy was home from work.  You had a great day this morning with church friends.  You and I hung out as usual.  So I think it's safe to say your cup got pretty full today.  Tonight, you just spilled over.  We were brushing teeth this evening and I asked you, "Sadie, you're so full of love tonight, aren't you?"  And she just said, so dreamily, "Yeah, I love love."

I love love, too! Ha ha!  Without love, where would we be?  I'm so glad to be a part of a family, and from a heritage, where love expressed is an every day occurrence.  There is nothing like the security and safe haven of a house full of love.  Love expressed.  Love acted upon.  Love carried out.

Tonight I had a headache.  A pretty bad one, but a functional one anyways.  I guess the Lord knew I needed that extra dose of affection, because you were dishing it out like you were on a drug or something!  The love drug.  Well, it rubbed off.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you for showering me with your tender, sweet love through my daughter tonight.

As we lied in bed cuddling I said, "You are SUCH a sweetheart." You simply replied, "I thought you might say that."

Love you,
Mommy

"But the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13:13

Friday, March 9, 2012

Day 35...God's jewels

Dear Sadie,
There are so many days where I promise you something.  I tell you I am going to do something for you, and I really, really try to remember to do it.  And when I don't, you will remind me.  Then I do it.  With all of my might, I do it.  Do you know why?  I will tell you.  Because keeping my promises to you is very, very important.  It's my way of telling you I love you.  I keep promises to you about things that are small mostly, but big to you, that's what matters.  What they mean to you, not me.  I promise you I'll look for the missing foam pieces to your color puzzle in the closet baskets.  I promise you I'll play dolls when the dishes are done.  I promise you we'll go to the park tomorrow.  I promise you we'll call Julia's mom and schedule a visit.  I may not use the words "I promise," but to you, they are important and will be remembered.

God is like that.  He is the one who never breaks His promises. And His promises are important for us to remember and Him to keep.  He's good at keeping them.  It's just us that needs to remember them.  Pray them.  Thank Him for them.

I will never leave you.

I love you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

I will meet all of your needs.

You will spend eternity with me.  I am preparing a place for you.

Your sins are forgiven and forgotten.

You are safe in my arms.

I rejoice over you.

He is the best Father a girl could ask for.  Not only does He keep His promises, but He's thought of everything.
Let's commit to memorizing these, and recite them whenever we lose sight of His promises kept.
Us princesses like our jewels.  Well, these are worth more jewels than you could count.  Our daddy is rich!

Love,
Mommy

Day 34...All things new

Dear Sadie,
I have often had the thought about "new things," and what the big deal is.  We LOVE stuff to be new.  Sure, we can appreciate antiques, and used items at a garage sale are worth a fortune to you when you don't have a lot! But even those things, like today, are new to us when we get them for the first time.  Like today we collected change from your piggy bank that you have been saving up for not fussing about going potty.  We happily stored the coins in my purse and looked forward to a trip to the dollar store.  You fell asleep in the car, so we ended up going to a thrift store to look for toys there because it was a little farther distance.  More distance, more minutes on your naptime. :)  So you looked at all the stuffed animals when we got there and you just LOVED the little frogs.  The tree frog with the red eyes drew you in, and you wanted it so bad.  It was 2 dollars, so I stretched your money just a little. :)  It's beanie baby legs were floppy and playful, and you held his hand as it swung by your side walking out the door.  You called him your "baby" and you named him "Thomas."  And as sometimes happened, he got left behind.  At Papa and Tabby's (grandparents).  Tired from a long day, your heart was broken and you wailed about your "new frog" being left behind.  You wouldn't be able to sleep with your "new frog" that night, emphasis on the new.  If it had happened a couple of days later, you probably wouldn't have cried so hard.  But this time, even mommy almost cried!  We called Tabby to make sure the froggy was safe and sound, and felt reassured that we could come and get him the following day, as we were too far to turn around and retrieve the cute little amphibian.  You felt better when I told you how tomorrow it'd be like getting him for the first time all over again, and that he'll be new to you once more when you slept with him for the first time tomorrow.  Then you decided, "Okay.  I'm happy now."

Isn't it funny how we cling to all things new?  And we are sad when the newness wears off?  Or maybe we don't even realize when the newness wears off...we are busy wanting something else new?  For me, there's nothing like a new outfit.  I don't even want to wash it.  It just makes me feel fresh and new straight off the rack.  Even at three you have this feeling.  "My heart is broken.  I really need my new frog."  It hurt more because you JUST got him.  I'm sad for the frog....will you still love him just as much next week?  Will you care as much when you leave him at nana's in two weeks?  No, I'm not really sad about the frog.  But it's true!  You will not care as much.  It's your affection for this new fella that makes it hard to be apart.

Just like when we first fall in love with Jesus.  We are taken by Him.  We don't know how we ever lived without Him.  We live and breathe Him.  Think about Him all the time.  It's a good adoration--and the very best and worthy One to be so dedicated to!  And yet even with Him, we let our first love affection slip away. He gets forgotten with the cares of this world, idols and other loves, sickness, loss, disappointments and despair.  So soon we forget how important it is to keep that flame of love lit for our Love of all Loves.  It's my desire to stay in love with Him in a first love way all the time, and same for you.  You will know when you first fall for Him.  Your heart will tell you.  And it will have nothing to do with your mind.  Your mind will follow, but you'll know in your spirit that He is yours, and you are His.  And it will be a romance, a friendship, a dance that you won't want to end.  How do you keep it alive?  That's the rhythm you and your Partner will have to figure out as you go.

Love,
Mommy

"You have forsaken your first love.  Consider how far you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first."  Revelation 2:4

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 33...Writing stories

Dear Sadie,
Today we did something new, fun, memorable and imaginative. We had a blast!  You narrated your own original stories to me as I typed your words.  Wow!  What imagination you have!  This is something I did with 4 and 5 year-olds while I was in college training to be a teacher.  Dictation, dictation, dictation.  But never did we have kids do whole stories!  They were usually one sentence dictations or a phrase or a word describing a picture that they just drew.  You don't have the skills yet to put your thoughts down on paper, but that doesn't mean you aren't inspired!  Today proved this. I've had you dictate to me several letters to loved ones, but this was the first time you had come up with stories with each part present: a beginning, a middle and an end, where I was able to keep up with you and write it all down. Then you illustrated them with no help from me.  I've never seen you draw a complete picture so fast...it was already in your head!  They corresponded perfectly with what you were seeing in your mind's eye.  I'm absolutely amazed.  If we put these in a book, the progression of your storytelling is going to be obvious.  And what a collection of stories we will have!  I am so excited to have a little writer on my hands.  Then when you were finished with your two stories, you insisted that I tell the stories next, and you sat at the computer and "typed" my stories.  My little teacher!   When you become a parent of a three year-old, I highly suggest doing this.  Your child's eyes will just light up at the sight of their story, sitting before them in print, bound together in a book.  They will see with their own eyes that they, too, can make something beautiful.  Intelligently inspired and imagined, even in their youth.  And it will spur them on to greater things down the road.  Priceless.  Being a mommy is such a gift.  I'm ecstatic.
Love,
Mommy

Day 32...Gifts

Dear Sadie,
If we are not careful, this world will strike us down before we can even start.  That is it's nature.  To criticize and condemn.  To compare and contrast.  To squelch and to squander.  When a desire is placed in your heart to create something, carry it out without worry or thought.  A dance, a drawing, a recipe, a garden, a room design, a poem, a hairstyle, a song, a dream, a whatever.  Do not let your mind get in the way.  When your imagination wants to do something, let it flow like a river.  For that is who God is in you, a River.  You need to let it flow.  And you must not worry about originality.  It will take on your shape.  So don't snuff it out with your brain.  God has made you special.  Probably you will be tempted to think it's not unique.  The world will not accept it.  It's not special enough.  But I encourage you to remember that God is your audience and He is proud of what He made--you!  So you can be proud to be His creation!  You can boldly create, because you are like Him.  In His image.  We do not live to seek the approval of men.  Love is our main goal as children of God.  And when you are giving what God puts in, you are loving.  You are daring to give a gift to the world, even if it chooses not to receive it.  And that's bold and courageous love.  That is humility.  He freely gave His life so that we could come boldly to receive, though many still will reject Him.  For us, giving in the Name of Jesus is the best kind of love there is.  Freely.  Unconditionally.  Without fear of man.  Pure and simple, it is this giving of yourself that will open hearts to God.
Love,
Mommy

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

"Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."  John 7:38

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 31...Just another day

What a day. I really do not know what to tell you today. I have a headache from sinus pressure. Three young children needed me all day today. I am wiped. And I am not feeling very inspired at the moment.  Probably, if I sat here long enough, I would come up with something.  But I am looking forward to a new beginning.  I need to rest.  As great as it was to be with you kids, I am ready for a new day to begin. Good-night! 


"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lam. 3:22-3

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 30...P.S.

Dear Sadie,
I have to add to yesterday’s letter.  I want to make sure you know that being present with your kids does not always mean that you never say no when they ask you to play, or things of that nature.  And don't let yourself be driven by guilt.  You will always come up empty.  (Your heart has to be in it.  It should be in everything that you do, as easy as it is for me to say that.)  It simply means being able to stop what you are doing long enough to listen.  Listen to God.  Listen to your kids.  Listen to your heart.  And follow in peace.  That might mean stopping the dishes to play.  It might mean getting down on your knees, looking your daughter in the eyes to say, “Honey, you know Mommy wants to play with you.  Let's be thankful that we just had a good 30 minutes of playing with the pet shop together.  Now Mommy needs to…” Or it might mean you need to pause and talk to God if you are not at peace with any of it, and you feel frazzled and pulled in too many different directions.  Let Him flood you with His peace right in that moment, then act on what He tells you.  Remember that you cannot make a law out of any of it.  It takes being in a relationship with the Holy Spirit, and sensitive to His heart’s desire to know which steps to take.  In big decisions in life, and in the small and seemingly unimportant ones.  Employ the peace and presence of God in your life and you will move freely and joyfully through circumstances that otherwise might not render a tranquility of heart.


Love,
Mommy


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Day 29...Bathing babies

Dear Sadie,
I have to tell you, this topic just keeps coming and coming to my mind lately.  I guess the Spirit is trying to tell me something!  You went out with our good friends, Cece and Fuff (Jeff and Kristi), while we went to church tonight.  Fabbiano’s Pizza, Barnes and Noble, and then the Mix for yogurt.  I can’t wait to hear about your fun time!  Came home a little early and gave Titus a bath…he kind of threw up on himself at church.  Yucky!  As I sat there watching him play in the water, his pale soft body splashing around, bright eyes dazzling me, I just thought about how good it was to sit there and watch him, interact with him, adore him, love him.  Again, presence.  All the time!  It comes back to me.  I think this is because it’s so, so important, and I am in revelation mode.  It is becoming a part of me.  And the Holy Spirit is doing this in me.  It is His character to be present.  And of course because He is living inside of me, His presence can become a reality in me, the more I cooperate with Him.  
          I keep thinking about what it is about a person that draws people to him or her.  I really think it is a mixture of habits that make a composite of  this idea of presence that infects people.  Have you ever been with someone who made you feel like you were really important?  Has someone looked you in the eye while you talked, never looking away?  You are talking about the weather, they are fascinated.  You are pouring out the cries in your heart, they are crying.  This person sees you.  Feels you.  Cares enough to not let his mind wander away, here or there.  Stays with you while you are in her presence.  Stays…with…you.  This is the kind of person you want to be with.  You never want to leave him or her.  You feel so special!  You want to be that same kind of person in return!  It is infectious.  It is intimacy.  It is love.  It is real and sincere.  Compassionate.  It cannot be faked.  This is the Holy Spirit.  God is like this.  And He is in us.  And He is flowing through us when we are able to be present like Him.  He is our ever-present help in time of need. He is the God who sees.  His presence is wonderful.  He listens to us.  He helps.  He loves.  All the time.
          When I am at home with you, I want to be truly at home, all of the time.  I want to play with you when you want to be played with.  I want to sing songs together, read books, paint, play dolls, ponies, draw, dress up.  Whatever it is you want me to do with you, that’s what I want to do.  So many times I say, “Not now, I have to empty the dishwasher, but I will later.”  You walk with a sad okay, and I think to myself about my duties as a mom, and that this is just the way it has to be.  So many times I say, “Okay, let’s play now,” only to be on the floor, criss-cross, books laid out, thinking to myself…I gotta fold that laundry before it all gets too wrinkly….I better get lunch startedMan, I need some “me” time…I am soooo tired (yawn)..maybe it's time for some more coffeeI am so sorry, my dear!  You deserve so much more than that!  And yes, it is true.  We moms have so much to accomplish during the day.  We always think we must multi-task or how else is it going to all get done.  Is that really true?  Is there not another way to live?  Do moms really have to be all that busy?  
          Watching Titus take a bath, playing with him, watching his laughing eyes look lovingly up at me while I gaze at him.  He babbles names of family members.  He sets his tiny foot up on the side of the tub just to check it out.  My mind is no where else but here.  My phone is far from me.  I am here.  And he knows it.  You always know it.  This is the full life.  Children have got it.  I am getting it back.  The only place I can love you is right here.  Ann Voskamp said this about God, “Here is the only place I can love Him,” and about life she says, “The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction.”  Don’t you want that kind of life?  Imagine the souls you can impact if you are with a stranger, with a friend, with a lover.  Imagine it.  You aren’t missing anything because you aren’t thinking about where you should be, where you are going to be, where you want to be.  Less worry.  More love.  Less anxiety.  More laughter.  Less neglect.  More human connection.  More flavor.  Tasting God and all of his blessings.  With God, all things are possible. When you become a mom, please remember this.  Your mom was learning and walking in the journey of now.  I will be for all of my life.  You can be my reminder when I become absent and distracted and discontent.  Right now, being your mom, staying at home, this is truly a BLESSING.  And I would not change it for anything, no matter how monotonous or mundane things can become.  Focus, and less multi-tasking.  I want you kids to have all of my heart.  I want my husband to have all of me all of the time.  I want God to have all of me.  He gave me EVERYTHING I could ever ask for in Himself.
Love,
Mommy


"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."  Psalm 34:8


"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

Friday, March 2, 2012

Day 27...Who's counting?

Dear Sadie,
Expect the unexpected, or have no expectations at all.

It is just better to leave room for whatever to happen on the scene.  Especially in parenting!!  But, also in life in general.  I believe it saves a lot of heartache and stress when you expect the unexpected.  It does not keep your life free of heartache and stress, but it definitely lightens the load.

This week started out with Blackberry Monday, Daddy’s phone catastrophe.  Monday night the Honda showed signs of a broken transmission.  Tuesday the results came back—yes, the transmission was a goner.  Tuesday night I was temporarily locked out of the house and we had to use the bathroom down the street at a neighbor’s until your daddy came home 15 minutes later (we left the garage door opener in the broken car).  Later in the evening the stuffy noses began in both of you kids, and so did the sleepless nights for all.  Wednesday night your fever spiked a little and we spent the whole day in pajamas—even to the grocery store—and going through tons of tissues.  Thursday the truck I am borrowing would not start, but your granddaddy figured out the source.  Thursday night Daddy’s car window broke.  Friday I had to take you kids to my twice a month women’s small group, which was a little bit crazy, so that Daddy could take his car in to get the window fixed.  I talked and cried with my good friend so long today that I forgot to change Titus’ diaper over several hours and he leaked all over himself and his car seat, on top of which it woke him up from his nap early.  Now you have gone to bed early at 6:20PM from exhaustion, and I am hoping you stay asleep until morning. 
But who is counting what here?! There’s a song that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” I think I might just need to do that today!  But I will stop for now or else this is going to be waaaaaay to long.  Because hey, I am REALLY blessed! J
Love,
Mommy


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" Ephesians 1:3