a letter to my son

 

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Buddy-Boo,

(Lately you have been asking me to call you that. You will ask me a question and as I answer you will say “say ‘yes, Buddy-boo.’”)

Last night we read some Bible stories before bed. You convinced me, in a way only you can do, to read one more-the David and Goliath one. I was really, really tired and distracted. To be honest I did not want to read another story. I just wanted to tuck you in and be done with it. I am sorry for when I act that way. I know these are the treasured moments and I should not let my own selfishness or exhaustion get in the way of pouring into you. Last night I am glad I chose to read one more story. You and Hayleigh have been full of spiritual questions lately-questions far beyond what I think a not-yet-three-year-old should be coming up with. You ask me a lot about Heaven and Hell and God beating Satan. I can tell you are intrigued and a little afraid. That is probably the right way for all of us to feel.

 

Last night I read the one more story, David and Goliath. You were captivated. Since you are on a couple of month long “sword kick” anything with weapons and armor interests you. It was especially curious to you that David did not want to wear the king’s armor and that even though Goliath was really, really big and had a really, really big spear that David was not afraid. You stared at the pictures, thinking. Always thinking. You traced the spear and the sling shot with your fingers. You asked if you could sleep with the Bible. So you did. You slept with it open to the page where Goliath was clad from his monstrous head to his intimidating toes in armor and a fearsome beard towering over David, who was looking up at him declaring that “God always wins His battles”. You lay your hand on the picture and drifted to sleep but not before telling me that you wanted to sleep with it open to this page so you could “remembuh dat God makes me stwong, not sowds and peers”.

 

Oh what those words did to my heart! I was so proud, so pleased, so challenged. Once again God used the words of one of my children to instruct me. How often do I try to do things on my own? How often do I try to bolster myself with “swords and spears” instead of trusting that God will give me strength…that God always wins His battles? We all have different forms of armor that we use to protect ourselves, B. I don’t know exactly what yours will be yet, but I pray that you will clothe yourself in humility as you rely on God for your strength. I pray that you will be strong in God’s strength, not in your own.

 

I have heard it said that it is not God who is on our team, but us who chose to be on God’s. In other words, it is not that God looks at us and says “oh! He has a good thing going. I am going to help him out on that one!” Instead we need to chose to be on God’s team. We need to chose to fight the battles that God gives us even if they aren’t the ones we would pick-even if they seem too puny or unimportant, even when they seem too intimidating and insurmountable. God chooses His battles and when we chose to fight for God’s will, we will not lose.

 

These days you spend so much of your time creating sowds and peers and belts to put them in. You say a lot of “on guawud!”. You are a pirate. You are a knight. You are an army man. You are a guard. You are Peter Pan. It is adorable to watch and fun to play along with! I can’t help but hope, (and pray), that one day you will choose to fight with vigor the battles that God sets before you. I pray that instead of fighting against the will of God, that you will see who your true adversaries are. I pray that you would understand that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12.) I explained to you and Hayleigh last night that God is going to beat Satan some day-that the battle is already won. I told you that Satan knows that but he still tries to fight against us by making us believe lies or by trying to make us make bad choices and sin. I saw the fear in your eyes. I told you that God is always there to help you fight again sin and Satan-all you have to do is pray. I reminded you of the verse “When I am afraid I will trust in you.”(Psalm 56:3). I found in incredibly fitting as you went to bed last night that you did not choose to sleep with your toy sword/s, as you have often done lately. But instead you chose to sleep with the Bible next to you-a tangible reminder of what our real weapon is.

 

I fall short often on using the weapons God has given me. I fall short on even remembering what the real enemy is. Despite my short-comings, and there are so so many of them, I pray that I can instill in you an eternal perspective. I hope that you can see the trials and heartaches of this life as tools of God to prepare you for the real battle. There is no use fighting against the tools God will use to make you more like Himself. Some of the tools might be painful, or confusing, or unexpected. But, B, I have found that the most effective tools God uses are often the last ones we would have prayed for. They are the ones that really hurt, the circumstances of life we thought we could never handle, but with God's help we can. So go to God when it hurts. Tell Him about it. Lean into Him. Trust Him. He knows. He cares. Let Him use the crappies of life for His glory. Be on His team. Choose to align yourself with God, especially when it is hard. In your own words: God is the one who makes you strong, not swords and spears. Remember, God always wins His battles.

 

I love you forever. I am honored to fight alongside you.

Mommy

 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  Ephesians 6:10-18

staying in the present

God has used my kids to help reveal to me a little about what I mentioned in my last post about having conflicting emotions. He has used them to teach me that I can be very sad about something, and that is okay. It is not a sin to mourn. But in my sadness I can still have great joy. For so long, maybe because of my propensity for Depression, I have tried to rid myself of negative emotions, or feeling down. When I can’t fight it anymore I tend to just give into it and feel guilty. God is telling me that it is okay to be sad. It is okay to allow myself to feel and to process. He is telling me that I don’t have to stop being sad to be joyful.  I can experience His joy in the midst of my sadness. His joy won’t erase my human emotions to a fallen world, but His joy gives me hope and peace.

I am reminded of His joy no more than when I look at my kids. They keep me in the present moment and that is truly a gift. Yesterday being in the present meant taking advantage of Peter’s day off from work and frolicking in the 20 degree weather until we couldn’t feel our extremities.

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Joy and Sorrow


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I have typically been someone who sees things as black and white with very few shades of grey….not the book. I am talking about metaphorical colors here. Lately life and God have been stretching me and I am realizing some things that my view of life had not encompassed yet. (Side note: Sorry if anyone was offended by my last post! My intent was not to isolate people. I hope you understand.)

One thing that I am beginning, really just baaaarrreeellllyyyy beginning to understand, is how someone can have two conflicting emotions at the same time. I am learning that I can feel great sadness but still have great joy. I can be completely weak and still be completely strong (in God’s strength). I can be unsure about the future and still be at peace. These are gifts I can have only because of my relationship with God. People, I am a mess. I could never accomplish any form of mental/emotional health, success or true fruits of the Spirit without the Spirit in me. Just ask Peter, I can’t even make pancakes that aren’t soupy in the middle, much less get my emotional crap together on my own.  I am still trying to figure it all out in the day to day, moment to moment. But through the trials I know God has been preparing me and teaching me. I don’t have many things figured out, but I know in the midst of chaos, I can be calm. When I feel like nothing is sacred I know Who to trust. I can feel sorrow with every ounce of my physical body and still my soul can have inexplicable joy. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

new blog

Hey! Thanks to those of you who regularly read my blog and offer words of feedback, encouragement and love. It really makes my heart leap and my cheeks blush to know anyone appreciates my ramblings. I would never assume that anyone would be interested in what is going on in my life or what I have to say about it, BUT  I just wanted to make people aware that I have started a new private blog. I still plan to continue this blog. The new one is a place for me to process what is going on my with family these days. If you are a family member or close friend and would like to allowed to view the new blog, please let me know and I will include your email address on the viewer list. I am not trying to be super secretive…okay maybe I am. But it is only because I value the privacy of the people I love and the interweb is not known for being too awful private.

So, if you already know bits and pieces of what is going on, or you are someone who cares about me and my family and would like to read the blog, please let me know. I reserve the right to politely turn down some of the swarms of people who will undoubtedly want to read my emo-updates. It is not because I don’t like you, probably. It is not because I don’t appreciate that you care, unless you are just nosy. And it is not because you are a Duke fan-okay maybe it is.

So, if you still have interest after that hard sell, send me your application, references, social security number and credit card information ASAP and I will get back to you shortly (perhaps from a lodge somewhere in the Swiss alps).

Thanks for caring! And I seriously mean that in the least sarcastic way possible!

for her sleeping ears, for my aching heart

I crawled into bed with her the other night. I brushed back wisps of hair so I could see her sweet sleeping face.  I took her little hand in mine. I lay my face right next to her cheek so I could feel her breath against my face. And I lay there. And I prayed. I swore I would never have favorites. I still swear I never will. Loving her has always been easy, but lately it is not coming as naturally. As she grows older the ways we used to connect are changing. Sometimes I look at her and it is like I don’t know her. How can this be? I am with her every day. I carried her for 9 months, delivered her after 22 hours of labor. I know her heartbeat. I know that her nervous giggle will quickly give way to tears unless I wrap her up in a hug or call her name and blow her a reassuring kiss from across the room. I know what she is thinking when the words do not come. I know when she is gazing off or seems distracted that she is replaying something in her head, always dissecting, always wondering.
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The little girl who used to be so easy for me, in practically every way-easy to figure out, easy to parent, easy to love- has suddenly become not so easy. I am not entirely sure what has happened. I think not knowing, especially when I pride myself in at least having her figured out, makes it that much harder.

So I crawled into bed with her. I cuddled close to the little girl who won’t lean into me anymore. I listened to her heartbeat. I felt the slow, even breaths as she slept. Those haven’t changed. I stroked her cheek and twirled her hair between my fingers. I whispered into her ear that I love her. That she will always be my first baby, my special girl, the one who made me a Mommy. I whispered that I will love her no matter what, no matter what she chooses, or what she does, or who she is, nothing can make me stop loving her. I whispered that I love every part of her, that I think she is amazing and beautiful and I am proud to be her Mommy. I whispered that I am proud of the person that she is, who God has made her to be. I told her that she will always be my baby, my little mama, my special girl-no matter how old she gets and no matter how much things change. I whispered to myself as much as to her. And I prayed.

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I prayed that even when I don’t feel love towards her-for whatever reasons, reasons I can’t understand, reasons I detest-that I will choose to act in love, because really love is action, not feelings. I prayed that I would show her love when she acts un-loveable, when her behavior screams to be punished or pushed away that I would draw her close and show her grace. When her behavior begs and questions, “do you still notice me? Do you still love me? Everything is changing. Is my world okay?” I prayed that I would answer by my actions, “YES.YES.YES.” I prayed that I would be able to reach her, connect with her, even when I don’t understand-or even when I do and something that used to be so easy has suddenly become so hard.

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I have been there before with my son. It took me nearly a year to consistently feel love for him. But I chose to willfully, prayerfully act in love, none-the-less. Now he is easy to love. He walks into a room and makes people laugh right out loud. He melts people by his funny expressions and heartfelt affection. He is charismatic, a true people person, just like his dad. She isn’t. She is the one watching from the side of the room, following his lead even though he is two years younger. She laughs nervously. She hesitates and holds back while he dives right in, with ease. When she jumps in it is more forced, calculated, and awkward. It is as if each step has so much thought and effort behind it, as if each bit of her herself that she gives away she second guesses. Sometimes it is painful for my heart to watch. Her false confidence has grown out of her perceived expectations of others and their applause. She requires so much reassurance, so much extrinsic motivation.

 It is impossible not to love him. It takes little initial effort. He sucks you in without even knowing what that means. She takes her time. To know her is to love her, but it takes some effort to know her. These days I feel torn between not recognizing this new persona of her’s and knowing it oh-so-well. I see myself standing in the corner, envying how her brother can be so carefree, so magnetic. Doesn’t he know there are things to worry about? Doesn’t he know people are watching? What if they don’t think my smile is pretty? What is they don’t think my story is funny? What if I don’t know what to say? What if they don’t love me? What if they do? What if something happens to them? What if they get sad, or sick, or go away? What if I love them and they don’t love me? What if I love them and they go away?

 I know her. She is me. How can I love her when she is me and there are so many things about myself I anything-but-love? My heart breaks for us both, for the people that we are. Life will not be easy for us and our thoughts. For us and our tender hearts. When I wondered if I knew her I know I do. When I struggled to connect I realize it was a deeper struggle than just to connect with her.

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So I crawled into bed with her. And I wrapped my arms and my heart around her. And I prayed. And I cried. And I whispered that I love you. I whispered it for us both, quiet enough for her sleeping ears and loud enough for my aching heart.

Royce’s One year pictures because apparently it has been a year already

 
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I finally got around to taking Royce’s One year pictures. I figured since she was actually 13 months old and we were trapped inside with record low temperatures and about 2 feet of snow, it was a good time. Nothing like beating cabin fever by busting out your camera, throwing the world’s ransom of play dough at your oldest two kids to keep them distracted and letting your baby go hog-wild on some cake in the middle of your living room. Well, it worked for me at least. Royce was pretty okay with it too.
 
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I can’t believe what this girl does to my heart. I mean, I can. I have two others who do similar things to me, but yet each time, with each precious babe, it is different and new.
 
 
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Contrary to what the chronology of this post may suggest, these pictures were taken before she consumed half of that cake. The personality on this one often times causes Peter and I to look at each other, let out a stifled laugh riddled with nervousness and say something along the lines of “oh geez. We are going to have our hands full.” She is not lacking spunk, that is for sure. I love that about her. I love that my kids aren’t boring. Otherwise I wouldn’t have much to post on facebook about and I would probably start banging my heads against the walls….more than I already do.
 
 
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Every thing is a game for Royce. Whether it is a game of keep away with the dog’s water dish, peek-a-boo, or teasing one of us by pretending to share her food before yanking it away for herself at the last second. (This one is not a personal favorite of Braxton and Hayleigh, because as I am sure you guessed I never feed them. They are forced to rely fully on the generosity of grandparents and the sugar of doting Aunts as well as Royce’s table scraps. Times be tough.) They prefer her game where she feeds Paisley a bite of her food and then takes one for herself. Few things are funnier to toddlers and preschoolers than germy, dog saliva going where it should not go. Okay, poop. Poop is funnier. I just love her laughs. There are many of them. And her faces. There are many of those as well, but each one begs for a smooch or a nuzzle.
 
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I love this age. It is so full of developments. Royce actually took her first steps right before I started taking the second set of pictures. I am excited to see her not-so-little personality emerge more and more over next months, especially as she begins talking…ya know in English. Before I know it I will be taking her two year pictures. Oye. I am going to bite my own tongue. Love you my sweet, spunky, silly, Roycie Adelyn Bee-bah!

Ps. I have no idea why some of these black and white photos look Sephia toned on my blog. I am not an expert in such things, although I know that they appear black and white in my photo software. They do not look like that anywhere else but in a published blog post. It is kind of annoying me but only enough to post a PS about it. Not enough to really figure it out. That is all.

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