Notice Me

I was sitting around a table the other day where we were talking about our church, how we could do it better. We got around to talking about visitors, what we were doing right, what we were doing wrong. A woman I have a deep respect for, she is just so genuine, started talking about her dentist’s office. I know, I thought it was a weird rabbit to chase at first too. But then she explained that everyone at her dentist’s office had been trained to be present. They were told to make eye contact, not multi task, be active listeners. This woman said she felt better leaving the dentist than she did leaving the spa. Wow. Sign me up for a teeth cleaning.

The other day a student was trying to tell me a story. At first I was listening, but then….I got distracted. I was passing out papers or looking through other papers, or collecting other papers (I teach english, I have a lot of papers.) Who knows what I was doing, but I wasn’t listening anymore. He lowered his voice and banged his hands on his desk. He looked at me and cried out “NOTICE ME!”

I suppose it wasn’t the most respectful thing to do. I am his teacher after all. And this is the south. Perhaps, “excuse me ma’am” would have been better. I guess that is why I like freshman. Both of us are sometimes missing a filter. “Notice Me.” He isn’t the most popular kid; some of his peers think he is kind of weird…so they ignore him. In that moment, that was what his heart was calling out for, please someone notice me. Hear me. Show me that I matter.

I have heard formerly homeless people say that worse than living on the streets, or eating garbage, is consistently being ignored. Having hundreds or even thousands of people walk by you and not one make eye contact makes you feel less than human. Confirms the fear that we all have that we don’t really matter.

Even the Peanut and Rooster are not immune to needing to be noticed. It seems to be something we are born with, not something we grow into. Sometimes the Peanut will shove her little face between me and my computer, put her hands on mine. “Hi!” She’ll say. Yes love, you are right. It is time to notice you. Even the Rooster, our little contented baby, will give you those two incredible dimples if you squeeze a toe and ask her how she is doing. “Oh wow” her face says, “Thanks for noticing me down here. I noticed you too, you are lovely.”

It is Valentine’s day. Here at the school I work, you couldn’t possibly miss it. A number of my kids are walking around with teddy bears or balloons. Some gifts were not from boyfriends or girlfriends. Some were simply from friends. Maybe it is silly or shallow that these things make them happy. But today they walk around with proof that someone thought of them, cared for them, noticed them.

We are half way through I Love My Neighbor month at church, where we agree to make a concerted effort to actively love those around us. I’ve baked cupcakes and invited people over. I’ve picked up coffee for a colleague. All of these things are the same. All of these things say, “Hey, I was thinking about you. I noticed you. I saw that you had this need or that want. I noticed that you exist and I think you matter.”

I think there is a little freshman boy in us all. Hopefully we smell better, but I think there is a piece of us crying out “Notice Me!” Read my blog, friend me on Facebook, tell me my shoes are cute! Please somebody notice me today. Sometimes I am so busy noticing myself, my phone, my computer, my needs that are not being met, that I don’t have time to notice anyone else.

But here is where I have found the beautiful paradox of the gospel. When I notice you, truly notice, there is a piece of my soul that is noticed too…that need of mine is lessened. We noticed each other.

The Littlest Disciples

If you come to our church on any given sunday I hope you are not easily distracted. Or if you are, I hope you find our little distractions amusing. Because at my church, it is acceptable for the little ones to run up and down the aisles, dance in circles, crawl around on the floor, and generally giggle, coo and squeal for the sheer joy of it. Because at 1027 kids are allowed to worship as kids do. Messy and simple, but honest and pure. They sometimes bump into each other, the tiny bodies in the front, as they spin circles before the Lord. It causes a ruckus as they find their respective moms and get their little heads kissed. This is what happens when your worship leader once seriously considered being a kindergarten teacher. This behavior is accepted.

Not only is it accepted, but I know that when the Peanut has called out for “EIEIO” too loudly and too many times (I think she thinks that Jonathan takes requests) I know that his prayer will sound something like this. “Dear Lord, thank you for our children, thank you for their example to us, that they show us how to worship.” My worship leader believes Jesus when He says “let the little children come.” So he does. And they do.

As a parent it is sometimes hard. It would be easier for me if my kids would sit quietly hands in their laps. But that is not what my kids do. (Some kids seem content like this and that is okay too.) It is sometimes scary, taking people at their word and letting your kid be so kid-like in an enviroment that historically has been reserved for quiet reflection, reserved reverence. What if they are all talking about my naughty monkeys behind my back? Some one elses kid tossing a fit because they are not allowed to play the piano doesn’t bother me that much. Kids are kids after all. But mine? Terrible. Worst mom ever. Whose kid throws a fit in church. (mine does.)

Yesteday the Peanut was putting her hands in the air and spinning around on her tip-toes. I have seen this move a million times done by Elizabeth’s girl. She was runnning between peopled who loved her and squealing with glee on both ends. She was crawling around with her friend Josiah. She was worshiping with her church family by simply being a part of the body, and it took everything I had to not tell her to stop, because I was paranoid about what people thought.

Lately there have not been any 3 foot tall worship mobs running around up front. I don’t know if the kids grew tired of it, or if the parents were worried about it all being distracting, but I have heard people talking about the kids. My church family, they say “How come the kids don’t dance in front anymore?” and “I miss watching Marin dance before her Lord.” They say “It distracted me at first, but when I opened my heart, the Lord allowed me to see the kingdom there in front of my eyes every Sunday with the under 10 set.”

This week I had the privilege of sitting with some new comers. Two 5 year old boys, and a set of sisters 6 and 8. They behaved beautifully. I could tell that my new friends had been told that they were to conduct themselves in a church-appropriate manner and they did. This is good parenting, preparing your children for what is expected. But I could also see the glint in their eyes when I was bopping around with my babies and the way one little boy was carefully shuffling his feet and swinging his hips. He didn’t want to embarass his parents, but he longed to join our little dance party.

I don’t blame the parents. They have a lot on their plate lately, the effort it took to get themselves to church on Sunday was enormous. I was humbled that they would do all that, what I might not be willing to do, just to worship with us. I have been to churches where childhood exuberence is frowned upon. Jesus loves the little children who sit quietly next to their parents thank you very much. I wish his parents had been told ahead of time that kids being kids was okay with us. I pray that they come back soon and join the little mosh pit up front. It ministers to me. Jonathan taught me that.

Note: This post has been edited from the original version.

To my daughters, may you never need it.

Dear Juliet and Priscilla,

There are people who will tell you that you are not as valuable as your brothers. They will tell you that the church, the family, your God, were designed to be experienced chiefly through a man’s experience, and only through a woman’s as a sidekick (they will likely use the word helper, or mate, or help-mate.)

When this happens I pray that you will think of me, of your aunts, of your grandmothers. I pray that you will have seen the love that I have for my Lord, the love that he has for me. I hope that the women in your life who love the Lord with abandon will be a protection against the lie that you need anyone elses help to experience God. He loves you desperately.

Think about your dad and your grandfathers too. There are so many in your life who think you are incredible. They think you are wise and have something to say. They feel very very lucky that you are girls, that you are their girls. They want to know what God is teaching you. They believe it might teach them too. It is your dad, the rhetorician I think, that will make you read the words of men like this. You will roll your eyes, but also store those words in your heart.

My loves, when you hear those lies, the ones that are meant to keep you quiet and safe with you hands in your lap, I pray that your heart is protected. I pray that those things sound so strange to you that you will think them silly. I pray that you laugh and go about your day, being the woman God created you to be.

But I know that your reaction will more likely be anger. You come by that righteous anger honestly. Your mother’s temper is famous in the family lore, and your dad has a similar story. When we have something to say, we like to be heard (we met on a speech team after all.) May you not be consumed by your anger, may the desire of your heart be Jesus, and not that the people around you say all the right things about him.

I am learning just now, why Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. May you learn that lesson earlier. It was as much for us as it was for the people who are saying things against us.  My dear sweet girls, I pray that you would not insist on having the last word, but instead go on about your life, proving every moment that God has amazing things for you.

There is a chance that you are the one who is called to vocally confront these beliefs, and if that is the case I will pack your lunch with things that will soothe your throat, and kiss your head as you go to your work every day. If God calls you to be that voice in that wilderness I will be your biggest fan. But make sure that is what God called you to do.

It is more likely that He will call you to simply live the equality in the gospel everyday. It may seem like this is not enough, but it is. Your job is to do every day what the Lord has for you that day. If it is to speak up then do so, if not then keep moving. Trust that God will multiply that offering. You living the truth challenges those lies better than anything you could say.

Remember that the people who are saying these things are your brothers and sisters in Christ, and as I once told your grandmother at girl scout day camp “sister means even if you don’t like them, you are stuck with them and you have to be nice.” The Bible is clear sweet girls, you need to be kind to your brothers and sisters the ones who live in your house and the ones who do not. It is not kind to let lies go unchallenged. Lies about women hurt men too. But make sure it is done with a gentle spirit. You and I don’t have everything right. We wouldn’t want someone identifying us purely by the things we get wrong. We hope that people identify us by the things that point to our savior. We must give others the grace that Christ so freely gave us. Especially when they don’t deserve it. That is what makes it grace.

It is sometimes hard being a woman in this church, but it is always worth it. Sometimes when we hear hurtful words we turn our backs to the church, we reject the whole thing as hopeless. God loves his church, he calls us his bride.  He wants to love you through the church, imperfect things can love you well too. I hope I have shown you that as your imperfect mom. Don’t let your pride cheat you out of the love God wants to show you.

I love you my loves, my lovelies, my girls. I am so very blessed to be your mom. I pray that you will never need this letter. But I put it here, just in case you do.

Love,

Your mom

We Talk Nice

Oh language acquisition, how you teach me so so much about myself. The Peanut is quite chatty these days, and lately some of the phrases she has picked up are less than cute. As my car pooling buddy said yesterday of toddlers “they are like tiny mirrors being constantly held up to you.” After all, there are a very limited number of people the Peanut could be learning these words from. And perhaps I am not as nice as I once thought. Because I am constantly having to remind the Peanut, “We talk nice in this house.”

You see, the Peanut has picked up too phrases that are neither winning friends nor influencing people. The first phrase is this: have it. I wish that I could accurately type that phrase with the correct inflection. It comes out of that darling little mouth so quick it sounds like habit. But more like HABIT. It almost always is accompanied with her arms stretched out. It is usually followed with a full on fit if “it” is not in her arms within moments. “It” is often in reference to the Rooster…… Sorry kid, we can’t let you kill your sister. She is also still very good at MIIIIIINE!

The other phrase she picked up is moooove. This is mostly accompanied by pushing. She likes to direct this at me and the dog equally. Somehow she knows not to use this one on her dad. I could not for the life of me figure out where she was getting these phrases…until they came out of my mouth. The Peanut was taking a little too long to get into the door and I shoved my knee into her back and said…move. Oops. I guess I am the one who needs to start saying excuse me. And after that little epiphany it didn’t surprise me that much that “I’ll have that” and “Can I have it?” and “You can’t have it” are regularly occurring phrases in our household.

What I am realizing lately is that the same phrases the Peanut has been shouting at me lately are the ones I am most likely to shout at God. “God can I have it?” “Mine God it is mine!” “Let me direct that, move!” and the usual from both me and my daughter “Help!” I don’t want to continue with my toddler prayers. I want to talk nice too.

Welcome to Franceland

WARNING: The following story happens within the metaphysical space my sisters have dubbed “Franceland.” Franceland is the space where we who are married to or are descendants of John S France screw up in a very specific sort of way. The classic example of Franceland is leaving the car for someone to use, but taking all sets of keys (including their set) with you. This happens more than we would like to admit, and more times than you would believe. This story is far more ridiculous than that. Feel free to be completely amused at my expense.

Last night I got all ready for bed and wandered upstairs. For the first time in a long time. I remembered both my Kindle and my phone so I did not have to trudge up and down the stairs multiple times when I just wanted to go to sleep.

At four the Rooster woke me up to feed her and on my way back into the bed I noticed that my phone was nowhere to be found. So I woke Christian up to set his Ipod as a back up (which he did without even grumbling). I was sure I took the phone upstairs and it would go off but just in case….

Fastforward to the Peanut waking up and Christian checking the time and “I’m really sorry Abby, but it is 7:04.” Turns out I took Christian’s phone upstairs, not mine. I am supposed to leave my house at 7.  I jump out of bed and rush around the house as quickly as possible and have to leave the Peanut in a fit on the floor because I am leaving. Never did I think I would be glad I leave every morning before the Peanut gets up, but it turns out I am.

And I need gas, like really need it. So I get gas and text someone that I will be late but am coming, and rush to work as fast as possible and make it to my classroom with about 6 minutes before the bell rings.

Right as that bell rings my most jocky of jock students points to the floor and says, “Ummmm, Ms. Norman I think you dropped something….” Right in front of his desk is a breast pad, which he thinks is a maxi-pad, that I did not put in because I was trying to save time and I figured  would put them in between classes.

Then I explained to a room full of tenth graders that I am still breastfeeding and sometimes my boobs leak, as I blushed uncontrollably and probably should have stopped talking but babbled on. I do that when I am uncomfortable. Even when the little man in my head is screaming JUST STOP TALKING. Because while I am a huge advocate of a woman’s right to breastfeed anywhere anyhow, it is still awkward to talk about when you are talking to adolescent boys about your boobs specifically. I am blushing just typing that.

So I was having trouble gaining traction anyway as I stumbled through the discussion about Antigone when my phone rings. My phone never rings during class, I leave the front of the room to discover Christian has called. Something is wrong.

Yup, something sure is wrong. Specifically, I took the car seat and the double stroller with me to work. And the Rooster has a doctor’s appointment. When Christian asked me what we were going to do, I answered “we are going to call Tiffany to come rescue us.” So he called Tiffany, who ditched her plans for the day, and by God’s mercy had an extra car seat. She got herself and her two-month-old in the car and delivered the car seat to Christian so he could take both girls to the doctor sans the double stroller (I have no idea how he got them both into the doctor’s office). Meanwhile I was frantically calling the Doctor’s office to see if they could delay our appointment.

They could reschedule the appointment (yeah!) for one thirty which is too close to Christian’s class today (boo!). So I had to teach my class amidst all of this. It was a disaster to put it mildly. Out of my mouth came, “This is why I am a teacher and not a surgeon, in this profession I can just say, well botched that one, we will try again tomorrow.”

Mostly, it was this. I have three jobs, mom, wife, teacher, and in that moment I was failing at all three. All of them. I was trying to laugh it off, but my kids could tell I wanted to cry.

Tiffany did in fact come to the rescue. Christian got the Rooster to her appointment (18th percentile weight, 72nd height, 75th head size) and the Dr. gave us the okay to turn the Peanut’s car seat around.

All is well that ends well I suppose. I am so grateful for the community of people I have in my life that would abandon their plans because I botched mine. I am trying hard to simply chalk this up to Franceland antics and laugh it off, and I am sure I will. But right now it stings a little. I suppose that is my pride again. I am certainly glad that Jesus’ mercy is new every morning. I could use a re-do tomorrow.

Does God believe in working moms?

Yesterday my sister told me about another family from our church. The mom was all set to go back to work full-time after maternity leave (serious baby boom over at 1027 church). She loves her work, is good at it, and has always planned on being a working mom, at least since I’ve known her. And suddenly and unexpectedly the Lord provided a way for her to go back only part-time. And today the only other full-time working mom told me she had quit her job and was hired part-time elsewhere.

I know that these stories have nothing to do with me. Really I do. I know that no one but my family bases their decisions on what is best for me and my kids. But somehow this felt very personal to me. She was supposed to be my working mom friend. My one friend who the Lord called to the same place He called me.

DISCLAIMER: If you are reading this right now and thinking, what the heck I am a full-time working mom that is following hard after Jesus, don’t I count? The answer is probably you do count, the Lord was taking me through something. And I am sorry, I should have thought of you, I was just being self-centered. I am working on it.

I suppose I should have heard this story and thought, wow, just as the Lord moved a woman’s heart, He provided the means to follow that dream…..and I should have been encouraged. And I suppose that today I should have heard that if the Lord wants to move me out of teaching full-time, He will, just as He did this woman. Instead I heard that God didn’t have the same thing for someone else as He had for me, and I began seriously doubting myself.

What if those Christians who insist that anyone other than the mother being the primary care-giver is against God’s plan are right? What if I only thought we have been openly praying and seeking the Lord’s will in our life but really I am just totally closed off to the possibility of not working, so God can’t tell me even though I sought Him for a month with what I thought was no agenda but I really did have an agenda I just didn’t know it? Wow…that last sentence did not seem that ridiculous in my head, in fact it kind of made sense. Now it is just really embarrassing.

Anyway, I was having some serious working-mom issues. Like, if I only wanted to be with my girls bad enough, God would provide a way. Or, the women who stay at home more than me, they are better mother’s than I. God has me working because I am not a good mom. Or most ridiculously, I should at least be miserable in my situation. Liking my life as it is right now, spending 40 hours a week away from my kiddo’s speaks to my ineptitude as a parent. Every moment I am not with them should kill me. I am a bad person for enjoying myself at work. It means my kids are not my greatest treasure.

As I type this out I can see how absurd it truly is. I had teachers in High school who hated their job, those classes were miserable even if I liked the subject. But my tenth grade English teacher, and my ninth and tenth grade history teachers, and the entire Spanish department at Whitmer High School (shout out to Senora Jaeger!) they really enjoyed what they did, and it ministered to me. I still remember their names and the things they taught me. And I remember how they seemed to like me and my class mates and the things we were learning. I know that me getting such a kick out of my job most days is beneficial to my students. I hope my girls have teachers who enjoy their jobs. Feel called to them even.

Beyond that, I have prayed repeatedly that God’s will be done. And rather than have me hit it big on the blog scene and get offered a book deal for the book I have yet to write, He put me in a relationship with Elizabeth and her kids, expanded my family in ways I did not know were possible, and allowed me to truly live the gospel. This semester we changed the kids schedule for the first time in a year and a half. The same semester we moved from Tuesdays and Thursdays to Mondays and Wednesdays, an employment opportunity landed in her lap for Thursdays.

God has so clearly gone before me. In school switches, in child-care, in moving to Atlanta. But none of the other women in my church are doing it this way. So I doubt. Even though I am happier when I am working, and my marriage is better, and I never ever doubt that my kids are being loved as well as I could love them.

No one from my church has ever made me feel anything but encouraged as far as my work is concerned. But there is something about doing anything in a way that isn’t normal, especially within the larger Christian culture, that doesn’t sit right. I have heard one too many speakers insinuate that a woman’s place is in the home, her only place. Read one too many “Biblical Woman” bible study that cites any woman’s greatest work as her submission to her husband. And while I know these things are not true, there was a piece of my heart that believed them.

I am replacing those lies with this truth. My mother-in-law worked. And the Lord provided her with a woman named Fay to take care of her children. Christian stills speak fondly of Fay. Christian doesn’t say that his mom didn’t invest in him or that she loved her job more than him. He says “Mom worked really hard, and our family is still reaping the fruit of that today” and “Fay was awesome.”

Those of us who were really into the youth group circuit when I Kissed Dating Goodbye  came out are used to this narrative: I am a Christian. God spoke into my heart that I was supposed to do (fill in the blank) this certain way. Which make this certain way God’s way. Period. For everyone, not just for me. Do it that way.

While this would certainly make being a Christian easier, I am learning daily that God does have some certain way kind of words: with kindness, with gentleness, prayerfully, lovingly, faithfully. That is the way God wants me to mother, to teach, to live. And that is hard for us, because it looks different for everyone, there is no set path.

I am a good mom because I am following God’s design for my family in this season, as are everyone else that I mentioned here. Maybe that doesn’t look like anyone else’s path (Seriously, anyone else a sitter-swapper out there…..anyone?) and maybe that is just fine. With me and with God.

Where I am at….2011

As I look back at this year a phrase goes round and round in my head “If God put you where you’re at, He will meet you where you are.” And I think that pretty much sums up 2011 for me. It was a big year for my clan and I. Peanut’s first birthday, Rooster’s arrival. Another move by my school district, another fit thrown by me, another perfect fit for this time in my life. Christian started his PhD program. I wrote a children’s book. 

It was a big year, and most of these were big surprises. And ones I certainly wasn’t hoping for but am so glad they happened. I pray I never forget the lessons of this year. That my plans are so small, and God’s plans are so great, and so good. That the less time I spend fighting what is to come, the more time I have to see Jesus in all of the impending chaos. That if God put me where I am at, I can trust that I am stepping into his mercy every single time I step out of bed, even when that is multiple times a night.

A couple days after Christmas I was nursing Rooster in the living room where the Peanut’s new tri-cycle was resting. (Where else but Grandma’s house are tri-cycles allowed in the living room?) I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t resenting the fact that I was the only one in the house awake. But I was. I was so tired. And then I thought of fifteen years from now when the thing with wheels that the girls will want under the tree will likely not be there and will certainly not be operated with pedals. I can already here myself saying “Do you remember the year the Peanut got that tri-cycle? She couldn’t yet reach the pedals, but she got around well. That was Rooster’s first Christmas, she loved that Elephant rattle, we named him Elvis. Those were the days….”‘

I am aware that in some respects I am currently living “the days” the ones I will think about every time I see a little girl. That in some respects, 2011 was the beginning of them. I see the wistful look on my dad’s face every time he sees a couple of little girls climbing all over their daddy. I will long for these moments, so I best do less whining and more treasuring. And at the same time give myself more grace, and permission to have a good cry sometimes. Because that is where I have found His mercies on more than one occasion.

The biggest regrets I have for 2011 are the moments when I was stingy with my grace, both to myself and to others, especially my family. The truth is, sometimes your best doesn’t cut it….But God can cover the rest. If I am nothing else next year….I want to be gracious, to my body as I get back to where most of my clothes fit, to myself as I balance motherhood, teaching, and being a wife, to my husband as he balances all the Lord has for him, to my friends as they heal through the wounds life has inflicted, to my students who are simply teenagers and no one wants to do that again. I want to give grace because the world says it is unnecessary and a waste of time. But I believe it is healing and facilitates the freedom to do better.

I want to do better next year, whine less, treasure more. Let 2012 be the year of grace. God’s grace to me…and through me. I can’t help but being a little nervous writing that. We all know what Christ-giving brought….

Oh the death spiral…..

The Rooster is sleeping upstairs. The Peanut is at Elizabeth’s sleeping in her toddler bed, (her toddler bed! I know…I don’t want to talk about it!) and I am sitting on the couch in my silent living room feeling like a bad mom, a bad friend, a bad writer and wife….. I guess bad is not the right word. More like…..not enough. I am feeling like I am not good enough. And I know that I am not enough, but that through the grace of Jesus Christ He makes me enough, more than enough. But right now in this moment I don’t feel like that. I feel like I don’t cut it.

 
I suppose I should recognize the pattern in my life. I have been believing some lies about my body lately. Lies about what is\t should look like two months post partum. And so I skimp on the food for the day, not a lot. Just enough to be a little bit hungry. And by not feeding my body I am feeding this lie. That my body is not good enough. And that pretty quickly bleeds into how I am not good enough. At anything, because my kid is not with me, because my house is not clean, because I don’t write in this or anything else enough, because…because….because. My sister calls it the death spiral.

I know you know what I am talking about. A post baby body becomes “my body isn’t good enough” becomes “My kids are crying because I am not a good enough mother” becomes “my house becomes evidence of my inability I can’t even get the toys off the floor” becomes “I am not a good enough wife” becomes you crying in a heap on the couch. Because I fed the lie. The first one. And I have learned that the only way to combat those lies is with truth. It is the only way to stop the death spiral. Because truth brings life just as lies bring death.

The truth is that I am good enough. That God has empowered me to be what my family needs for me…..He gave me them, He knew what He was doing. The truth is my house is a mess…..and my friends don’t really care. They get that two kids under two means chaos reigns, and they respect my choice to let the Peanut take all the pans and spoons out of the kitchen drawers while I make dinner so that we can all be in the kitchen happy. They are perfectly happy to trip over those pans. The truth is that my worth resides in not the happiness of my kids, the cleanliness of my house, or even the quality of my words and whether anyone is impressed with them. My worth resides in Jesus Christ, what He did for me on the cross. My savior thinks I am enough, perfect in His abundance. And when you start spouting that, the death spiral has nowhere to go but up.

This one’s for the girls

An open letter to my two beautiful girls.

My heart could explode with all the joy  you give me. I don’t know if your momma will always be a working momma. I love my job and think I am good at it….but I am so grateful for these extra months I was given to stay at home. They are such an amazing blessing.

 Rooster, right now it is me and you, everywhere. We are a team. And you are such an easy baby that I politely decline when people offer to take you, even for an hour. I am simply not ready to give you up yet. You are mine. You smile now. And you have glorious dimples. But you make us work for it, or surprise me right when you wake up from a nap and it is just me and you. You seem to come out of your shell in the quiet times. It makes me wonder if your sister may over shadow you, but you don’t seem to mind.I can already see how your personalities will challenge and compliment each other. It is hard sometimes, but sisters are amazing. I can already see your babyhood slipping away. Your hair stands down a little now, your new born diapers are too small. You are trying to hold your head up. And as I delight in these things…..I am a little sad. Now I know that once you start doing these things you will never not do them. We can never go back. You have a naturally gentle spirit. And you are so patient with your family. You let your sister try to push your binky back in and then pull it out again and give herself a turn over and over again. And you don’t mind. When you cry out because you need something, if you think I am about to guess right you stop crying and wait to see if your needs will be met. I appreciate the grace you give me. I hope you are always that gracious. Don’t let me take all the credit for that trait when you get older. God designed you with that graciousness, and it will serve you well. Already, sometimes you need a minute to yourself. You like to sit in your seat and kick your legs, as though you need a moment to just process and be with yourself. It has taken me twenty-eight years to realize I need those times too. Don’t be afraid to take them, it is simply how you were made. Don’t apologize for it.

And Peanut. You are currently the definition of a laugh riot. I don’t think you will ever have to remember to live life to the fullest. You experience everything one hundred percent.You laugh and smile so freely. You cry so loudly when you are upset. When you like something you LOVE it. When you want a book read, you want it read right now, and fifteen times. You woke your dad up from a nap on the couch the other day by sticking a board book in his ear and shouting “he-ya” over and over again. You entertain yourself and others by singing every song you know, and you are good at it. Aunt Em can recognize the songs when we are on the phone and you are only in the background. Even when it is just you and Rooster in the back of the car you are singing. I love it when you sing “Jesus Loves Me.” If you just remember that, live by that, you will thrive. You try to hold your sisters hand when you are in the car. Although it occasionally leads to your sister’s arm being pulled out of the socket, it also makes me tear up with joy. I am so, so glad the Lord blessed you with each other. The other day someone stopped us in the grocery store, looked at me and said, “that one has a beautiful spirit, doesn’t she” she could sense your joy. It rolls off of you in waves, splashing on to not just me and your dad, but the people in our small group, the clerk at the grocery store, the old women in the neighborhood. I have watched your smile infect so many people. I am sure I will be watching that for the rest of my life.

I love you both so much. There are no words that have not been said to describe how much I love you…and every word that has been written is not enough to describe it. But even more than that God loves you. He made you to be incredible people. I am grateful for the opportunity to help in that process.

Love,

Mom