a letter to my daughter as she turns 2

 
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Roycie Adelyn,
Two year olds are the best and worst of human beings, wrapped up into one. They carry no pretense. Wear no disguises. What you see is what you get, complete with pillow cheeks, bouncing curls and a waddle-run that always appears perilously close to a tumble. Two year olds have yet to figure out manners or etiquette or how to be tactful or politically correct. It is refreshing. And it is adorable. And it is aggravating…and exhausting.

I love this age because I get to see you for who you really are, Roycie. I get to see the nooks and crannies of you, before you learn how to tidy them up for company, or throw a slip-cover over the stains and tears. From the day you were born, I became about the task of learning you. Partially because I adore you and I just can’t help myself. And partially because I feel it is my job to learn you, so I can teach you about yourself-the person God made you to be, the rawest essence of you. And mostly I relish it, this unfurling of a brand new person before my very eyes. I find myself a bit like Mary, Jesus’ mother, as she treasures all these things up in her heart. I make note of the way your lips purse when you know you are being slightly naughty, and the way your eyes squint under the weight of you cheeks when you laugh, and the way you twirl your hair and hum the same cadence each time you are drifting off to sleep. I memorize your language so as to decipher it when no one else can. I have learned through trial and error that the best way to comfort you is to hold you with your cheek on my shoulder facing out, one hand pressed resolutely on your head and the other reassuradly patting your bottom. Yes, I love to learn you. And I have made it one of my ventures.

In the last two years of learning you and loving you I have come to realize how wonderful you are, and at the same time just how much you need Jesus. Two year olds have this amazing quality of being able to filter nearly nothing. So lately I spend much of my time seeing and hearing exactly what comes into that witty and willful little brain of yours. You give me the opportunity hourly (and if I am being honest more like quarter-hourly) to see exactly where your sin-struggles are- the same sin struggles that anyone has. As challenging as raising a strong-willed toddler can be, it is also my job made easy…in a way. I don’t have to dig and pry to find your dark areas, so I can try to let some light in. I don’t have to peel back the layers that you have learned to hide your sin under to avoid detection and judgment from your peers. It is all there for me to see. It is tempting to wish for the days (that will come soon enough) when you will learn to mask your emotions, play by the rules and please people. It is tempting to think that then you are “getting it” because you can walk a straight line and keep the temper tantrums at bay. But in reality now is perhaps my best chance to see where you need Jesus. Now, at just freshly two years old, is a time for me to begin pointing you to Him, because we all can see your need- the same need we all have.

The past few days and weeks have not been so sweet between you and me, my Roycie. You have challenged my authority. We have battled and butt heads. I have been tempted in my weak will to cave in to your strong will. And I have thrown up my hands in frustration and near defeat, thrown my hands up to the heavens and pleaded for wisdom, for strength, for help. I have begged God to let me see these loud and hazy moments as a fleeting opportunity to dazzle you with God’s grace, and harder still: for me to give it. Who would have thought that a little toddler, one with a giggle that could melt Scrooge, could turn a grown woman into such twisted mess? Yes, you have twisted me up, Royce. You twist me up, full of emotions I never felt in this capacity before. From the day you were born you have had my heart in a knot, in a way no one did before you. There is just something about the way God knit you together that is almost too much and yet so perfectly enough. You empty me out, every last drop of me. And you fill me up, to over-flowing, bubbling and brimming over with joy I didn’t know I was missing. You have forever touched and blessed my heart and our home with the bits and pieces of you that invade and inspire us. What a gift you are, Royce Adelyn.


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It is my most fervant prayer for you that you will know the depths of God's love and that you will walk in His Truth, captivated by His love, spurred on my His love, defined by His love, held in His love. As I have recently been learning myself in new ways, we love because He first loved us. So, know that He loves you more than I could ever put into words,  more than earthly words could ever say or earthly minds could every comprehend. He loved you to death, my dear. To death. Actually, and as my mommy-mind sees it- more sacrificially, He loves you to His son's death. He sees the dark, hidden places of us even after we have left our toddler years and learned to hide them, and, get this: He loves you enough to love you anyway. He loves you enough to send beams of His light and grace past the "no trepassing sign", past the creeky door of our hears, past the dust and cob webs, past the monsters and skeletons in the closet, to the deepest, darkest crevices of our being. He loves you that deeply, and though the penetrating and tearing down of the old brokeness might not always feel like love, it is my sweet darling. Trust me. But more than that, trust Him. Where all else has failed (you, me, all of us), and where all else will crumble and fade, He loves you enough.




 
Yesterday found us in that place again, that place of exhaustion. We were in corners nursing our battle wounds and preparing for the inevitable next round of battle. It is so hard for a mommy to remember who the fight is really against. I knew my heart couldn’t take another one. I knew your spirit just might break if we clashed again. It was only 9am as I stood elbow deep in dish suds, with you wrapped around my shins begging for, I didn’t even know what. I don’t think you did either. Already I was bent under a day’s work. The light was just coming in the kitchen window the way it does at that time of day, casting rainbow light across the room. When Hayleigh is home sometimes she dances in it. A smile crept across my face at the thought. I let the dish splash into the pool of soap, wiped my hands and threw in the towel. It was time for the softer side of grace. Together we hauled a dining room chair into the kitchen, so your pudgy hands could reach the mixing bowl. You giggled as we stirred and mashed the bananas. You giggled so much I had to catch you as you nearly tumbled from the chair. As I caught you, I could almost feel God’s hands catching both of us, as we tumbled tangled up in each other in this relationship of battles and giggles.

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For the rest of the day the house smelled of chocolate, bananas and sweet grace. I wanted to dance in the wafts of it, so we did. You and I, we danced to our own music in the wafts of banana muffins and beams of rainbow light. Your cheek was pressed against mine and then made its way to my shoulder. My hand lay atop your messy locks while my other reassuradly patted your diapered bottom. We swayed and we hummed and you twirled my hair in your batter-y fingers. Because sometimes a person needs a swat on the bottom. And sometimes a person needs to bake banana muffins in the morning light and to dance in the softer side of grace.

I love you so, my Bee-bah. I am always here to dance and plod through life with you in the sweetness of grace.

Mommy

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