To my daughter, and the gift she is

5-year-old girl

Can’t believe we’ve had five years with this precious gift.


I’m shaking off the dust and blowing away the cobwebs from this blog for a momentous occasion: it’s my eldest daughter’s fifth birthday.

I’ll try not to go all cliche about where exactly time ran off to, but seriously, I’m astounded and smitten with disbelief that we’re at this day so soon.

Perhaps my bewilderment is drawn from the fact that when her father and I entered parenthood, we had not a single clue about what to expect. And yet, this girl has exceeded every expectation, many I didn’t even know I had. Many needs I didn’t know yearned to be met. Many flaws in my own heart I didn’t know ached to be examined.

This girl, born not breathing on her own until our medical team and the hand of God intervened five years ago on this day, has been a breath of fresh air in our lives ever since.

Last night after she was asleep, I stood at our kitchen sink, scrubbing the evening meal’s pots and pans, pondering over the person she’s become and praying for the person she’s becoming. As I did, the words of her first weekly Scripture passage she is memorizing in kindergarten kept drumming in my head, stirred up from our time spent reciting it earlier in the evening.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

Since I don’t believe things happen by chance, I meditated on the gifts that God has given this girl, gifts that are still developing, and with prayer and direction from the Lord can be used to point others to Him.

Here’s my prayer for these specific gifts He is shaping in her.

For her drive and independence: I pray that no one or no thing will hold her back from doing what’s right, especially when it comes to aiding those that are marginalized, helpless, and suffering among us.

For her enviable intelligence: I pray that she will use her logic and reason to bring clarity to complicated situations and eliminate confusion about who God is and what His ultimate goals are for us.

For her passion for justice: I pray that she will never find complacency in witnessing evil around her and will use her voice to bring His light into the darkness of this world.

For her ability to organize: I pray that she will step forward as a leader in whatever capacity God calls her to.

For her caution and wisdom: I pray that she will learn to listen to the Spirit and decipher whether He is giving her pause or if it’s fear planted by the hands of the Wicked One designed to throw her off course.

For her love of music: I pray that her joyful noise will show others the depth of God’s delight in us and draw those who hear to worship and praise Him for His care and love for us. 

For her creativity: I pray that she will not see roadblocks in her ministry but opportunities to find new solutions to make His name known among the nations.

I am in awe of how much in this five-year span the Lord has used her to teach me, and I’m anxious to know the end of her story.

Of OUR story.

Of His story.

Happy birthday, sweet girl. We won’t fully comprehend the gift God gave us in you until we are with Him.

twirling 5-year-old girl

Oh, the prayers I have for you, my sweetheart.



“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” ‭‭(James‬ ‭1:17‬)

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What’s really helped get me through this pregnancy …

Ah, second trimester. I’m so so glad you’re here.

I’m now more than 15 weeks into my second pregnancy, and the nausea has subsided, my energy is returning, and I can finally enjoy a cup of coffee again. (Why exactly does a brewing pot smell so horrific during the first trimester?? I’m sure it has something to do with those pesky hormone changes …)

But I digress. I’m really glad to put that first trimester behind me, because it was a doozy. I feel like everything about this pregnancy needs to be in bold type and followed with an exclamation point. It’s been so in your face, obvious, distinct, and pronounced. Nothing’s been subtle. I was pretty confident that I was pregnant about a week into it after having some tell-tale symptoms. Then, a couple weeks later on the way home from church on a Sunday night, I told my husband that I wanted a Big Mac. No. I NEEDED a Big Mac. (Of course, I don’t think I’ve eaten a Big Mac in probably 15 years.) He looked over at me from the driver’s side and said, “Hon, you’re pregnant.”

The next day, right at the four-week mark, I took a test. The line started showing up before I could even put it down–no need to wait the three minutes. I was indeed pregnant! And when I told David that night when he got home from work, I was surprised that he was actually surprised. I mean, I think the Big Mac craving was really the only test we needed, right?

The day after the positive test, at 4 weeks 1 day, I was fixing Olivia’s and my breakfast, and I got instantly sick. Wow, I thought, that was fast. I don’t think I even had any nausea with Olivia until about six weeks. And though I had nausea throughout my first trimester with her, I fortunately only got physically sick a handful of times the entire pregnancy.

Yeah, I think I beat that benchmark in two days this pregnancy.

I wasn’t prepared for the nausea and sickness to hit me so hard and fast this pregnancy, since that was not what I experienced with Liv. (Though my wonderful mom likes to remind me how she was sick EVERY DAY for all nine months when she carried me. Love you, mom!) I wasn’t scheduled to see my OB till I was about 10 weeks along, but at week 7, after trying nearly every trick in the book, I caved and called in for help. The anti-nausea meds thankfully gave me some relief, and they really started helping by the time we saw our little babe on the ultrasound at my first prenatal appointment.

Yes, the first trimester was tough. But what really helped get me through it–in addition to many prayers and the anti-nausea meds–was the support of David. He really was amazing, and I’m not overstating that. David truly has a gift of showing his love through his care, and I am very blessed to be a recipient of that. It was like at the first sign of sickness, he just went into take-charge mode. Now, David helps a lot around the home and with Liv under normal circumstances–I really feel we have a true partnership in our home life–but this was above and beyond.

Reading book after book after book with his girl.

Reading book after book after book with his girl.

 

Every day, he would get home from work (I was usually curled up in a ball in the family room at that point) and without even asking, would willingly and completely handle whatever situation greeted him. Getting Liv up from naps. Changing her diaper. Feeding her dinner. Seeing if anything sounded good to me. Making many trips out to fulfill whatever oddball craving I was having at the moment (and of course, when you have a craving coupled with nausea, it is the ONLY thing you can eat). Doing the grocery shopping. Doing the dishes. Playing with Liv. Bathing her. Putting her to bed. Putting me to bed.

He NEVER complained. Not once. I’m sure he was exhausted after working all day and then caring for the entire household (dogs included) once he was home, but it did not seem to phase him. Through my fog of sickness, I couldn’t help but smile as I heard him laughing with Olivia in the other room. Despite the nausea, it made me feel so good. And when I would thank him for all he was doing, he would just say “Hon, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special. I’m just doing what needs to be done.”

Snuggling his girls. (Note: the dogs.)

Snuggling his girls. (Note: the dogs.)

 

It was a rebuke to me. If I were in his shoes, I don’t think I would’ve had the same spirit. During this time especially, he taught me through his actions what it is to live out 1 Corinthians 13. It is an honor and a privilege to be loved by him; I know I am one lucky girl.

I’ve probably embarrassed him by now, so I’ll wrap this up. As I start to feel the first flutters of this tiny babe inside me, I can’t help but be excited for this little one to meet Daddy. He’s a special guy.

All the best Dads watch Daniel Tiger with their kids.

All the best Dads watch Daniel Tiger with their kids.

 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Baby toes

23 things I didn’t know before becoming a parent (that make it the best ever)

Before I was a parent, I felt like all I heard were the horror stories about having kids.

“Say goodbye to alone time.”

“Travel now, because you won’t get the chance once you have kids.”

And the dreaded: “You’ll NEVER. sleep. again.”

To a woman in her twenties who liked alone time and traveling, and very much so loved her sleep, being a parent sounded like the pits. I heard moms around me swap war stories about how they rarely got a shower, they only leave the house for grocery store and Target runs, and they were up 37 times the night before with their toddler. It all seemed so terrible.

So when we had our daughter, we prepared for the worst. But much to our surprise, we found out there was a whole lot of good mixed in with the not-so-good. And the good is great. I mean, like really, really great. Like powerful enough to lift you up and carry you through the tough times great.

Perhaps it’s human nature that we tend to commiserate about the negative aspects of parenthood. I’ve read many a blog post about the frustrations of caring for littles, the drudgery of the routine, and the weariness it all produces. Is there some truth in all that? I’d be lying if I said no.

Yes, it can be challenging.

And yet, it is so. COMPLETELY. exhilarating.

Maybe you could’ve told my pre-parent-self how all the once-ordinary parts of my day can suddenly be so joy-filled, and maybe it still wouldn’t have hit me. A little more than 16 months into this parenting gig, I’ve come to realize you can’t understand most of it until you’re there. Or maybe parents keep all this good stuff to themselves like the perks of being in some exclusive club. But now I know. The secret’s out. And I can’t stop myself from sharing my thoughts on what it is about having kids that is so mind-blowingly awesome.

Here’s my 23 reasons of why it’s the best:

  1. The thrill of (repeatedly) counting 10 tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes.
  2. Drinking in the intoxicatingly sweet scent of milk on your newborn’s breath.
  3. How you get so excited for them to wake.
  4. How you could stare at them forever when they sleep.
  5. The silky smooth wonderfulness of baby skin.
  6. The magic of watching them discover something new. How you find yourself holding your breath as you observe each brave attempt, and how your insides burst when they succeed. I mean, they should give out Olympic medals for rolling over, right?
  7. FOOTIE PAJAMAS.
  8. How they look like perfect angels when they dream.

    Sleeping baby

    Ahhh. The pure bliss of sleep.

  9. Giggles are your new buzz. You’ll do just about anything for them. Crazy faces. Pants on your head. Tooty sounds. All dignity goes out the window.
  10. How you get to relive the best moments of your childhood through their eyes. Christmas. Dogs. Large empty boxes. Snow.
  11. Wobbly baby steps.
  12. Snuggles during story time.
  13. Finding Little People in your purse. Or blocks in your bathroom. Or puzzle pieces under the table. It’s like a little trail of breadcrumbs pointing back to their delightful presence.
  14. Hearing them say your name for the first time and mean it.
  15. Dance parties.
  16. That distinct clean baby smell.
  17. The twinkle in their eyes and the crinkle of their nose when they smile.

    Crinkly baby nose

    Crinkle nose. My favorite.

  18. The reward you feel when you’ve soothed them.
  19. The honor of providing complete care for another human life.
  20. Baby talk. Best conversations I’ve ever had.
  21. The serenity of drowsiness. The fierce sucking of the paci, the tap of the blanket to the nose, and the soft stroking of their favorite stuffed animal.
  22. When they choose to do right.
  23. And finally, one of the absolute best things about being a parent to these little miracles: the humbling privilege of watching them daily develop into the people God planned them to be. It’s breath-taking and overwhelming and beautiful. There’s truly nothing like it.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above …” (James 1:17)