Thursday, December 24, 2015

52 Blessed Weeks

Dear Ivy,
Today, we take the 52-week picture. Tomorrow, Christmas Day, you turn one year old. You've been with us for a whole year. 

I watch you grow and I love to see it--but I hate it just a little bit too. I wish I could have kept you a newborn longer, kept you an infant, a baby who was just learning to sit, to stand. Not forever. But for just a little longer. These days with you have been precious.

(the day after you were born)

(the day after you were born)

In the middle of two difficult years, your arrival was a shining, bright blessing. Your little life has brought us so much joy, so many smiles and so many snuggles. As the song says, you'll never know, dear, how much we love you.

We have savored every moment of this year. It's true. We paid attention, and we didn't let it speed past us. We enjoyed it all. You still don't sleep through the night, and as much as I would love a full night sleep, I really don't mind getting up with you. I know--how I know--that these moments with you are so short, so fleeting. I have soaked in all the moments we've had together, little one, nursing, rocking. The small moments, the little patches of slow in the middle of fast, quiet in the middle of noise. Your daddy has held you, rocked you, breathed you in and breathed out the cares of life. That's the magic of your babyhood.

Your siblings adore you. We all do. You bring so much joy--your happy smile, your sunny personality, your easy-going nature, and the way you prefer your family to anyone else. We all--all six of us--delight in you.

But for now, I just want to think about your daddy and me, and how much you have changed our lives for the better. You, sweet girl, are a gift to us. When you grow up, you may not like having a Christmas Day birthday, but to us, it seems like the perfect day for you to be born. You are a gift, a mercy, a blessing, grace wrapped up in a blue-eyed baby.

And I know that the days to come will be wonderful as we watch you grow into a little girl and beyond. But for today, I am so glad that you're still my baby. I will still hold you while you go to sleep, rock you when you cry, kiss your cheeks and hold your baby fingers. You're still my baby, even though tomorrow you will be one year old. And I'm still soaking up every minute of the blessing that your babyhood is to us. We love you, Ivy Hope. You're a gift, now and forever.

Happy birthday.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What You'll Remember

Sometimes I wonder what you'll remember about this, your childhood.

Will you remember the time we forgot to bring Laina clothes to change into after ballet, and we wanted to go to the park? So we loaded up and bought her a clearance dress at Old Navy, and then played until you were all tired?

What will you remember about your elementary school days? Doing your work in front of a wall of books, reading aloud together almost-daily, learning to recite poetry and speeches, figuring math problems, doing school outside or at the park? Or will you remember how loud it was all the time? How we all get tired around about Thursday and want to call the whole thing off? How I fuss at you way more than I should?

Will you remember the early, early mornings? When we're up before the sun? Will you remember Dad making oatmeal every morning for whoever wants it? 

I know you'll know certain things when you leave home someday: how to do the dishes, sweep the floor, fold the laundry. Also how to make chocolate chip cookies and what music is the best to clean up the house to. You might have to do more chores than some of your friends, but that's part of large family life...and you have more best friends in your siblings than many kids do.

Which hiding places will you remember? This one, behind the rocking chair? You guys sure are back there a lot. There's the two small trees in the backyard known as Cory's Tree and Iain's Tree--I often find one of you there. You all like the side yard where you've dug deep holes in the Georgia clay. And your beds--you guys make them your own, decorating the walls with pictures and drawings, adding blankets and stuffed buddies that you love. 

Soon our church will have a building of our own, which will be wonderful. But all of you cut your teeth on church-in-a-school. You know how to set up and tear down, how to not touch the school's property but to admire the students' artwork on the hallway walls. You know how it takes so many people to pull off a Sunday service, and you know how to pitch in and help. You also know the fun of running around in the gym after it ceases being the sanctuary. I love that you know those things, and I do hope some of you will remember this time in our church family's life.

 I have no doubt you'll remember the Naughty Circle, and the pouty moments you spent there. Good old Naughty Circle.

What books will be part of your childhood memories? The Little House books for sure. Narnia. Caddie Woodlawn? And farther back still, Hand Hand Fingers Thumb? All the Dr Seuss?

What of small group nights? We've had weekly small group meetings in our home since before any of you were born. Will you remember the cleaning? The hurried dinners? Or, hopefully, the yummy desserts? Will you remember hanging out with your friends?

I don't know what you five will remember. But I hope and pray that when you look back someday on the years you spent here, young, growing, learning, that you'll smile and be glad. And then you'll call one of your siblings or me and your dad we will all remember together. I'm saving these moments, these sweet, busy, chaotic moments in my heart, knowing that one day I will really miss this.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

My Firstborn Turns Nine

Dear Iain,

Half a month ago, you turned nine. You posed for your "last day as an eight" picture, went to bed that night, and woke up the next morning a year older. Not really, but you know what I mean.

You're getting to be so handsome. I love the new haircut you've been sporting, and when I told you so, you said, "Oh no. Now all the girls are going to love me. I better get a new haircut." Your confidence is awesome and hilarious. 

On your birthday, we made you a birthday banner. We cooked hotdogs over a fire in the backyard, and we played corn hole toss. I can still beat you, but that won't last, I'm sure.

A few days later, we met your friends at the bowling alley for bowling and laser tag. I loved watching you play! You were so excited, you had so much fun with your friends, and you delighted in the whole morning. You asked for lemon bars instead of cake, and I was happy to oblige. 

I was secretly hoping you'd win the game. And you did. You even got a strike and a couple of spares--what fun! Look at that score. :)

Nine years ago, you made me a mama. Today, and every day, you make me smile. You make me proud. You are brave, smart, funny, kind, clever, creative, and deep. You are a good brother, and you lead this little pack of kids well. I pray that you will always love and serve and follow Jesus, that you'll know Him more every day and in knowing Him, will love Him. I pray that He will make you bold, courageous, kind, and strong. Your daddy and I love you, Iain Mark. Your brothers and sisters adore you. Happy ninth birthday!

Love always,