Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tripper Boy Goes to Kinder

Last year I sobbed and sobbed through sentences as I prepared for Eleanor to start Kindergarten.... and exactly one year later, here I am again, prepping to send my baby boy to school. Its funny, because I am not as emotional as I was last year {yet...} but I am exponentially more excited to see what all this year holds in store for my Tripper.

Buddy, since the day you were born you have lived up to your name... in every way. You really are the strong-willed warrior (William) that we prayed you would be. Sometimes, I wish it wasn't as heavily weighted on the "strong-willed" portion, but you know what, I don't really mean that. Because here is what I see in you.... someone who is so convicted of his desires that literally neither hell or high water will keep you from accomplishing or getting what you want. Currently, this makes parenting you VERY hard. But it makes the duty of shepherding your heart incredibly exciting.... because what greater prayer could we have for you than that as you grow, that you would be unshakable. As you mature, I pray that you continue to know who you are, what stirs your heart, what matters greatly to you and defend your position. That you would be a leader, a servant, a protector, coachable, and humble enough to admit that you don't know it all and that you have more to learn and that in your life, God will increase (Joseph).

So as I'm looking back questioning how we are already to the point that you are entering this next chapter of life, I'll be honest... I think you and I are more ready than I figured I would admit. For the first 22 months of your life, it was you and me. Sure Eleanor and daddy were in the picture, but I was your everything for those first two years. Sometimes, I would give anything to go back to those precious moments when you snuggled up on my chest (I can remember the smells and the warmth SO WELL)... oh those days and nights where you just needed to be cuddled... I loved them. But then, remember the time you were 18 months old and climbed out of your crib (while in a sleep sack?).... ya, really and truly, since then.... you've proven to be that strong-willed warrior boy. You spent most of your younger years roaring instead of talking, fighting sleep instead of sleeping, in my bed instead of your own, calling battle cries to a fake army, imagining your right fist to be a character in your own little world, running 100mph in a 50mph world.... basically, you are all boy. You are all warrior.

But Tripper, you are also the most loving, sensitive, nurturing boy. Your rough and tumble exterior can't hide your soft heart for long.... you are a snuggler, a kisser, a cuddler.... you are loyal, imaginative, loving and strong. You've got a joyful heart, a curious spirit, determination to learn and my heart swells when I think of what you will accomplish in your first year of school. I can't wait to watch your math facts explode (you are already SO good at math!), listen to you read, celebrate you memorizing the Bible timeline, make new friends, practice self-control under the leadership of a new teacher, grow in respect as you learn to consider others as more important than yourself..... I am praying this is a banner year for you, buddy.

I am already dreading the day where you learn the correct way to say the letters R and L. I know its coming for me this year, but your precious, raspy voice won't last forever and it tears me up. So you'll grow and you'll learn new things and you'll definitely transform into a big boy... but you'll always be my baby. As this next chapter begins, of course I want to hold tightly to my babies and wish I could keep you little forever... but Tripper boy, I can't wait to see the big boy you will become.  I pray that for years and years when I tell you that you are my boy that you will respond by telling me that I am your girl. I pray that (even though its an odd one) you keep calling me your "squishy mama". I pray you keep initiating kisses and snuggles. I pray that you keep your imagination and your creativity  - and that they swell. I pray you have a love for learning and for new challenges. I pray you fall in love with Jesus and that you let him change your heart, making you a new creation. I pray that as you go, you take others with you.... that you lead well, protect people's hearts, include those that others may look over or ignore, defend what is good and right, and pursue peace. Praying this today, and every day, over your sweet life.... William Joseph... "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

You are a warrior, Tripper boy. You were meant to fight for what is right... what is good... whatever is praise-worthy. Kindergarten, you are getting my baby boy this year. The boy that I know can change the world - and I can't wait to have a front row seat as Tripper soars. I love you, boo boo... you are my best boy.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Its not just hard on mama.

It is no secret, though of course it is not in all of my conversations, that we have been struggling with infertility for the last 4 years. My last pregnancy was in 2013 and resulted in an early miscarriage.... from that point on, we have been unable to conceive. We've visited all our doctors, specialists, had tests run and small procedures done... but we have never once seen those sweet two lines on a test again. I won't lie - it sucks and it has sucked every day for the last 4 years. But somehow, the Lord has also really done a great work in my heart through this struggle and wanting. For the longest time I would pray Daniel 3:18 just yearning to believe the words that even "if not, He is still good." Truly, I didn't believe it - didn't want to believe it because then I told myself that was a way of letting God off of the hook - if I confessed that He was good, His plan for our family is good, regardless if I get what I want.... well, then just take what I want off the table. I couldn't believe it. If I'm being honest, I still pray that prayer but He has softened my heart to actually believe such painful truth. He is good, even if not.

But our fertility journey doesn't just stop with me and BJ. Over the years, at seemingly random times, either Eleanor or Tripp would simply state that they wanted me to have a baby. I felt like every time they asked this question my heart was going to rip out of my chest or I was going to hyperventilate trying to navigate answering their request. Every time, I would turn it to prayer. Every time, I reminded them that is such a sweet desire to have, and that I share it with them, and that maybe we could ask Jesus together to give us such a gift - and I had to teach them what I am trying to hard to believe..... I would say, "but hey... if He says no, He is still so good. He gave me you and you have each other. What an unbelievable gift we already have." Talk about having to be faced with a great reality check, every time. It is NOT lost on me that I have two miracles. Miracles that even one specialist could not believe we have based on our current issues. Eleanor and Tripp were surprises, but they are NO accident. I believe them to be my miracles.

The questions haven't stopped, the begging for me to have more kids hasn't quit, and their prayers now are offered without me prompting them. I find them in Eleanor's diary, I hear them when I tuck them in at night (not every night, but often enough), I realize that my kids actually want a baby just as much as I have for all of these years. And now we are to the part where they are having to grapple with the idea that if our family doesn't grow, He is still good. Its a hard lesson for a 5 and 7 year old. Today, Tripper said its not fair. Eleanor agreed.

And honestly, my heart truly believes that He is still good.... but this is a tough one to navigate. Its painful. It requires me to be strong, even though I'm broken over it, too. It allows me to show my kids disappointment, and that life isn't always going to give us everything we want, and that sometimes not receiving x,y, or z is actually part of God's best plan. Its made me cry in front of my kids, vulnerable enough to admit that I don't know what the future holds, I'm sad too, and yet I'm overwhelmingly thankful because they exist. And they are enough. They are MORE than my heart could have ever dreamed. And He is good. He has always been and will always be good.

Today, we celebrated ways that our family has grown. The babies that we get to love on while not having one that the four of us call our own..... we talked about Ruby, Stella Kate, Wallace, Callan, Brooks and tons of other littles that let us snuggle up and adore them. Friends that let you love like family fill our love tanks. They fill my kiddos tanks and right now, that makes harder days a little lighter. So, it is not just hard on me. But if this brings me, BJ, Eleanor and Tripp to further understand the nature, heart, and goodness of God... we will praise Him for gently loving us, giving us each other, giving us framily and family to snuggle, and for using it all to draw us closer to Him.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

S E V E N

Tomorrow, you are seven.

Eleanor..... do you even know how much my world has changed with you in it? You aren't perfect. But baby girl, you are everything. I'll never be able to put into words the magnitude of love my heart holds for you. I {love} hate the fact that I remember exactly, I mean EXACTLY, the moment when labor began with you and yet.... you are seven. you are SEVEN. how? sweetie, these years are going by so quickly... too quickly.... and my heart just can't keep up.

I told someone a few months ago that I would give my right arm to get back those first few months with you for just a day... and I'm struggling repeating that sentiment today because I know in just a few short years I'll be pleading to repeat ages five, six, seven and beyond with you again. I've probably written this before but in case I haven't... I remember about two weeks after you were born I was walking in Northpark mall with you when a man came up to me and asked how old my baby was in my covered stroller... when I shared that you were brand new, his response has haunted me from that day forward..... he said, "oh my baby girl is new too, but I dropped her off at college this weekend. Don't blink, you'll be doing the same thing before you know it".... and I laughed it off. Today, I'm bawling my eyes out as I remember that account.... because your precious life seems to be on warp speed.

I would say this year was a banner year for you. You finished kindergarten in a new school, having to make new friends, learning new material and you thrived. It was exciting to hear you read your first few books, amazing to watch math skills start to make sense, inspiring to hear you share about your new friends - I loved it because I witnesses you soaring. Again, not perfectly, but it was pretty amazing to watch you develop these new skills sets and bravely make new friends. Here's something I love most about you, punkin bottom... again, I don't get to see everything but from all that I've witnessed I see that you are different. I've prayed, and I continue to plea, that you would be a woman of compassion and honor (Eleanor) who's life would point to Christ (Michael). I'm not sure that you fully understand the depths of what Christ has done for you, but E, you are kind. you are loving. you are friendly. you are pleasing. you are joyful. you are loyal. Eleanor, you love people with your whole heart. You assume the best in those that you surround yourself with, so you are trusting. You are bravely confident all while being incredibly unassuming and humble. You'll never ask to be the center of attention, but you love to support the friends that naturally find their way there.

Your sixth year, you learned that hearts can break. And it has made me so angry and so protective.... I hate that you now have a little picture of the fallen, hurtful world we live in. While in your bravest moments (being in a new dance class with no friends all year and ending on stage when you'd rather be in the audience) you felt belittled, mocked and excluded by other little girls who may not have fully realized what they were doing. E, I'm so sorry. I'm actually so, so angry. Because I watched it lift these precious pure scales from your eyes in the last few months.... I now watch you approach friendships, new opportunities (camps, vbs, playdates) with trepidation because you don't know how you'll be received. And E, don't believe the lies. You are brave.... you are beautiful...  you are kind, and strong, and friendly and baby girl, exactly who you are is just right. The Lord has made you so uniquely beautiful and talented - and I pray, plead even, that all of your days you will rest assured of who He has made you... instead of what the world tells you that you are not. You are the bravest, most beautiful girl I know. I tell you this every day, but what has made you so beautiful is not what the human eye can see... no baby girl, its your heart, your countenance, your kindness, your humility, your bravery, your friendliness, YOU are so beautiful because you practice beauty.  I pray you rise to that challenge for the rest of your life, but not in your own strength... but that you would be completely, utterly dependent on Jesus Christ to be the center, to be the reason, to be the manner in which your true beauty shines.

You are seven and I wish time would freeze... but it doesn't, so today I celebrate YOU. I love you with my entire heart, with all of the fibers in my body and with words I could never express. I will continue to fail you, but Eleanor..... you are my best girl. You will always be my favorite girl. And I am so humbled that I've had seven amazing years of knowing and loving you. Praying for the most He can offer to me as we look to the future. If the next seven are as sweet as these have been, my heart may explode. I love you, I love you, I love you. Happy birthday, Eleanor Michael.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

And then.... She went to Kindergarten

I will never forget the morning I learned about you.... I'd been feeling so sick for so long and had absolutely no thought that it could possibly be you. Nevertheless, when I woke up on December 1st, 2009, the very first thing I learned that day was that you were on the way. Daddy fist bumped the air and skipped out the door with an extra spring in his step...  I spent most of that day crying - silly me, I had no idea that you were my miracle.

I will never forget our first sonogram and telling the doctor we wanted to be surprised by who you were  - we wanted to pray over your character for the full 40 weeks without knowing specifics. It was our joy to pray as we watched you grow, to dream as we prepared our lives for you.... we moved to Coppell because of you... it was my joy to eat cottage cheese and fruit to my heart's content (and it warms my heart to know that cottage cheese is still your favorite food).

July 31, 2010 was the day you were born and was the day my life changed forever. Daddy screamed "its a girl" then had the chance to hold you close.... and then it was my turn. I remember the room, the smells, the euphoric and surreal feeling it still gives me when I think about the first moment you and I locked eyes. Sometimes, you still make that same resting face and I'm immediately transported back to this moment with you in my arms for the first time. If I ever lose my mind, I'm sure I'll never lose that memory... its forever engrained.  We hadn't even named you yet.... but I knew. I knew you were going to be my Eleanor Michael... a little girl of compassion and honor who's life brings glory and honor to God... that is what your name means and that is who you've become.

To say that the next six years have been a blur, or on warp speed, or too fast, or too wonderful, or too EVERYTHING would be an understatement. Nothing could have gone by faster... and yet, I pray I remember details as I do now, for a lifetime. You are not perfect. But you are my joy. From your first coos, to your sarcastic humor... I've had more fun getting to know you than I could put into words. Watching you blossom into this confident, funny, caring, loyal, unique, witty, kind and beautiful little girl is pretty much more than my heart can take. I've learned so much from you and have so much respect for you, already... your humble, yet assured countenance is so graceful. Your kind spirit is contagious. Your smile (even with your mouth closed) displays a heart inside of you so full of joy. Loving you is easy, baby girl. And I had to say all that because now I have to admit this......

Tomorrow, we start a new chapter. Punkin Bottom YOU are a Kindergartener. How do I have a kindergartener? I remember being one, myself! When you walk through that door and you sit down in that classroom, chapter two of your story begins..... and baby girl, you are ready. I may not be, but you are. You are ready to make new friends, fall in love with learning, to be brave and kind and inclusive and hilarious, to continue to be fashioned into the girl God has created you to be... and Eleanor, we can't wait to watch this all unfold! We can't wait to cheer for you, pray for you, pray with you, study alongside of you, challenge you and believe in you.

So as you go... the verse we named you from is, again, a perfectly suited prayer and charge over you:
Colossians 3
12 - Put on then, as God's chose one, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience..... oh Eleanor, you have such a kind and loving heart. May God continue to shape it in His own unique and perfect way for you... we pray you grow to be a girl that is confidently passionate about who she is, sees others, pursues people with intention and works diligently with respect for authority and others.
13 - bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.... we pray you are quick to offer reconciliation, grace and forgiveness. We live in an imperfect world where not everyone will be kind or always choose the right thing, but we pray that you first come to an understanding of the free gift of salvation Christ offers you and that you can truly grasp the overwhelming grace He has extended to you.... this is paramount, sweetie.
14 - And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.... We've always told you that you are the most beautiful girl in the world. And I hope you remember that we immediately follow up that statement with what makes you beautiful... your precious, loving, tender, caring, kind heart makes you beautiful, Eleanor. Never forget that... be loving. We pray you stand out for being kind and unassuming, because you are different in your pursuit of people, and for being FOR others.
15 - And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful... Its okay to be scared, its okay to be unsure, but Eleanor we pray you lean on our comforter... He is our peace. We pray you take deep root in the knowledge and understanding of Christ, that you know He is good, He knows you, He is for you... and you know how Daddy and I love you more that words can express???.... well, He loves you more. Walk confidently knowing that the Creator of the universe sees and knows and loves you. 
16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.... I can't wait to watch you learn to read. I can't wait to be part of you learning Scripture. I love hearing you sing and it brings me joy to know that as you study, God's word will be implanted on your heart. We pray you hold fast to it all of your days, that it becomes a safe haven and a love story and a way you learn more of who God is... and that it will bring you to praise. 
17 - And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.... You can be anything you want to be, Eleanor. You will work hard, you will lose a lot of races, you will get frustrated and there will be things you don't naturally excel at.... and then there will be the things in which you soar, the things you learn that make your heart sing, that make your heart pump a little faster, that open your eyes to this incredible world we live in and to all the things your incredible mind and body can do. Whatever you do, we love you. We love you, we love you, we love you. Whatever you do, we pray you recognize your life is a gift... and all of the gifts, talents, strengths you acquire are a gift. We pray that you live and learn and respond and grow in such a way that it points to something greater... it points to Christ. 

I would give anything, literally ANYTHING, to go back and revisit different moments (if not all the moments) in these last six years with you. I'd give anything to hold you swaddled up with a paci, cuddle up and listen to you sing "You are my sunshine" as a toddler, go back to the day you took your very first dance class, or saw the ocean for the very first time, or have a conversation with you as a 2, 3, 4, 5 year old again because those memories and moments are some of the best in my life. But I'm ready for chapter two... I'm giddy for the memories we will make in your kindergarten year.... and beyond. 

You are my first miracle, Eleanor. Loving you is easy and profound and knowing you is life-changing. I love you, fiercely, and pray for years and years and years and years to get to know you, to love you, to disciple you and to enjoy you. You'll be my best girl, forever. Like I said, I may not be ready... but I am because you are. You are ready, sweet girl.... and so mama's heart swells. 

Class of 2029... here she comes.