Dear Peanut-Girl, What I’ve Learned Through the Fantastic Fours

You’re five. Just pressing my fingertips to those nine computer keys hurts. You’re five. How did this happen? My baby. Now five.

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Yet those words make me happy, too. You’re different – different good. I like it. I like you. You’re not at all who I expected you to be. You’re better.

You’re crazy. You’re precious. You’re precocious. You’re your daddy’s girl and your mama’s shadow. You’re your grandmama’s angel and your grandpa’s delight. And you’re your very own person.

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I’ve learned a lot through this past year – this year I’ve called the Fantastic Fours. Here’s what I’ve learned…

I’ve learned that every year, just about three weeks after your birthday, you test me. You push me, you push the limits, you push yourself, and you prove what you’re made of.

I’ve learned that consistent discipline and persistent love bring us both to the place of experiencing God’s best.

I’ve learned that mutual respect works with more than just jobs and marriages. It works with kids, too.

I’ve learned that you crave affection and long for words of affirmation – and it’s my joy to give you both.

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I’ve learned that what makes you happy is being loved, and for you, that means spending time together.

I’ve learned that you can shoulder responsibility beyond your years – with grace and joy.

I’ve learned that four-year-old silliness isn’t my “thing”. (Sorry, just isn’t.)

I’ve learned that you love your friends, Go Fish, and Dinosaurs.

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I’ve learned that you love to learn and homeschooling is definitely for us.

I’ve learned that I must allow you to teach me so I may teach you.

I’ve learned that children are good pray-ers, good forgivers, good peacemakers.

I’ve learned that you want a Tinkerbell guitar, Tinkerbell motorcycle, Tinkerbell baseball bat, Tinkerbell socks, and Tinkerbell clock. Ariel used to be your favorite. Tinkerbell won out this year.

I’ve learned that you’re a challenge, and I’m up for it.

I’ve learned that I really like you. A lot. I think you’re cool. (Yes, “cool”. It’s a word that was rad or down or hot or sick or whatever back when your mom was young…but still a lot older than you are now.)

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I’ve learned that the “Wiggle Game” is by far the best way to help you learn anything – really, anything.

I’ve learned that it hurts me when other little kids hurt you.

I’ve learned that God really does lead me in how to lead you as long as I stay close enough to hear Him.

I’ve learned that you’re learning to love Jesus, and I have no greater joy than to hear that my child is walking in the truth.

I’ve learned that you make a good partner, a good team-mate. And team mates we are – you, Daddy, and me. Team Greene.

I’ve learned that when school just isn’t working for this day or this week or this month, we’re good! We’ll play. We’ll snuggle. We’ll learn. We’re us. And we’re good.

I’ve learned that when school IS working, we can’t allow others to discourage us. We’ll play. We’ll snuggle. We’ll learn. We’re not “pushing” anything. We’re us. And we’re good together.

I’ve learned that the sound of your laughter is the best sound in the world and your smile makes me happier than almost anything else.

I’ve learned that for all my days, all my life, I’ll love you – but then again, I already knew that. Happy fifth birthday, Peanut-Girl. I’m so very thankful you’re my daughter.

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Until Then…

It’s December. Where has the time gone? I remember bits and pieces, and have many more scribbled in my Thanksgiving journal. Remember that one? It’s the one we went through together, every Thursday, for over a year. That was a while ago, though, wasn’t it? As I look back at the posts on this blog for 2014, I see that there have only been two others. It’s been neglected for a while, and now wears a gray cover of dust in which one could scrawl the letters, “Write on me.

 

You see, as a content writer, I’ve gained some paying clients, and I’ve taken on some editing and writing on the side, ever trying to add to my portfolio. My little Peanut-Girl is now three-and-a-half, and she knows everything – or at least she wants to. Believe it or not, she needs more attention than ever – that is, even though she’s physically able to meet more of her own needs, she needs increasing amounts of intellectual stimulation for her little brain to grow strong and smart. And, happily, that’s what I’m here for – though part of helping her grow is teaching her that the world is her school room and she can learn on her own, too. But that’s why I’ve chosen to stay home and raise her: To teach her these things and much more.

 

And all this doesn’t leave much time for personal blogging. Yet you can still find me on the blogosphere. I blog over at Jeep with Kids, and God has given me a new twice-a-month outlet for writing what He puts on my heart: My church’s women’s ministry blog! You can find that blog, Woman to Woman, here.

 

I plan to begin re-blogging many of the posts I write for Woman to Woman here on Philosophies of Strawberry Short Cake, but I’d love if you popped over to check out the site and follow along! I am partnered with two other Jesus-lovin’ ladies: One is a long-time friend, and the other is my lovely mama! I know you will encounter the Spirit of the Lord there as you read what He lays on our hearts each week.

 

This blog, at Short Cake Writes, will always have my heart, and there are some things I can only say here first. Parts of my soul just can’t be shared anywhere else. And someday soon I will uncover some hidden moments, brew up some tea, and spend some time writing here again. Until then, come on over and visit me at Woman to Woman, won’t you?

Our Loss, Heaven’s Gain

Virginia Gilstrap Tweedy Durr, Born December 19, 1930, went home to her Lord May 14, 2014.

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Some called her Sister Tweedy. Some called her Sister Durr. Some called her Mom. I called her Grandma. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t know and love her – my memories of her extend back to when I was a tiny tot.

I can still hear her gentle and genuine laughter as my brother and I tumbled across the floor in wrestle-play. She would say, “Well, goodness, doesn’t that hurt, honey?” then shake her head and laugh again when I went back for more. Her legacy of laughter is my rich heritage.

I can still see her soft and radiant face full of reverent affection as she opened her heart to Jesus in loving worship and confident petition. I would keep my eyes open and watch in fascination as she spoke to God like she was talking to a friend. Her legacy of prayer is my rich heritage.

I can still envision her small and slender frame as she walked next to the love of her life, her soft hand tucked into his strong arm. Her deep joy, abiding love, and genuine respect for Grandpa were evident in all she did. Her legacy of holy matrimony is my rich heritage.

Grandma was a unique blend and balance of all the finest character traits and qualities, which found their roots in her soul day by day as she followed her Savior. A story told by author Elizabeth George finds its personification in my grandmother:

Elizabeth relates the content of an article she once read, titled The Bell Sheep. The piece explained that when a shepherd noticed a certain sheep that willingly followed and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep. The flock would then follow the “bell sheep”, and thus they stayed near the shepherd.

Grandma loved the Lord her God with all her heart, soul, and strength. The words which He commanded her were in her heart, and she taught them diligently to her children, grandchildren, and everyone around her. She talked about them when she sat in her house, when she walked by the way, when she lay down, and when she rose up (Deut. 6:5-7). She was, indeed, a bell sheep. Her legacy of following the Shepherd is my rich heritage.

Not long after we had our first child, my husband and I took her to meet my grandma. Our baby girl was only six months old, but I wanted her to know the woman who was weaving a godly legacy that is now her rich heritage.

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The classiest of ladies, she was the epitome of dignity and grace. She had the boldness of a lion, the gentleness of a dove, and the face of an angel. I will endeavor always by the grace of God to honor her legacy. Some called her Sister Tweedy. Some called her Sister Durr. Some called her Mom. But I was blessed to call her Grandma.

The Symbol of Thanksgiving

I number gifts and I snap photos and I write graces and I post them here. A continual boasting of His love poured out; rain drops of great grace. But what’s the point of eucharisteo?

Is it a mere Joel Osteen type attempt at a false prosperity gospel to bring health, wealth, and happiness by speaking bold “words of faith” and gratefulness to leverage victory and gain? Is it another postmodern system of relativism that preaches thankfulness without acknowledging to Whom we ought to be thankful?

The apostle Paul answers these questions for us in Galatians 6:14:

Boast in the Cross

With the words God forbid, Paul makes it clear that any other ground for boasting is counterfeit and contrary to the Gospel. The cross was an object of shame to the Judaizers, and means little to legalists, but to the wretch who grasps amazing grace, the cross is the only symbol of thanksgiving.

Romans 2:4-5 teaches that we store up God’s wrath if we think lightly of the blessings we receive, not grasping that His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance and boasting in His death and resurrection.

While the Bible itself speaks of boasting in other things – in the glory of God (Romans 5:2), in our weaknesses (2 Cor. 11:30 & 12:9), in tribulations (Romans 5:3), and in the people of Christ (1 Thess. 2:19) – Paul is saying that all other boasting must still find its validity in the cross.

In his book The Passion of Jesus Christ, John Piper offers this truth:

Everything good, and everything bad that God turns for the good, was purchased by the sufferings of Christ…every legitimate pleasure in the world becomes a blood-bought evidence of Christ’s love and an occasion of boasting in the cross. When our hearts run back along the beam of blessing, to the source in the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.” (emphasis mine)

And so we boast in our blessings because they find their dawn and their legitimacy in the cross.

 

In the still, the Spirit comes and He whispers a name.

Christ.

The counting of all blessings is ultimately summed up in One.” ~ Ann Voskamp

 

Thanksgiving Thursday: Unwrapping the Gifts

 

1146. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

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1111. Writing at a coffee shop during a rainstorm

 

1096. Sundresses; because every girl feels good in a sundress 🙂

 

1101. Take out from Three Margaritas

 

1118. Taking our Peanut up her first 14er

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1134. Snuggling on the couch with my Love, watching a late night movie

 

1144. A family walk that ended just as the rain began to pour

 

1090. Playing games and eating pizza during Peanut’s nap

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Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

 

 

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The Prescription for the Busy Life

I love the movie You’ve Got Mail. I dislike romantic dramas, but I have a heart for charming comedies, and I adore Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly. She’s sweet, uncomplicated, and sees the beauty and gifts unwrapped in the world around her.

In one scene of the movie, Kathleen is pondering life and says, “So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Life is always busy, always passing in the blink of an eye. But counting gifts brings you into the moment, opens your eyes to how to live a life that some only read about.

 

Enjoy the Small

It was somewhere around the beginning of June, though, that I missed days – then weeks – of counting gifts. They were there. My Father’s hand poured them out like rain. I just didn’t keep track of them.

Time flies when you’re having fun, but all too soon the fun turned into whining and fussing. Not the two-year-old; me. I began to moan about the 100-degree heat and gripe about the dog hair and grumble about the pull-up that contained something should have been in the potty.

 

A hard day of sniveling is quite draining, and a hot Jacuzzi bath and chilled glass of Chardonnay sets everything right again. I didn’t have a Jacuzzi tub or a great bottle of La Crema, so a bubble-jet bath mat and a glass of boxed Franzia had to suffice.

I sunk deep into the swirling rush of water and realized that our claw-foot bathtub in this house is better suited to a true spa-like experience than the tub in our old house. I spent the remainder of my time in the tub relaxing and repenting for my bad attitude and ungrateful heart.

 

Enjoy Every Moment

 

When I got out of my soothing bubble bath, I grabbed my thanksgiving journal to write the gifts of a perfectly sized bathtub, sweet conviction, and new mercies.

I knew it had been a few days since I had jotted anything down in my beloved spiral-bound book, but I was shocked to see how long it had really been – but not so shocked to recognize the correlation between my lack of thankfulness and absence of numbering graces.

 

I’ve since tried to go back and remember and number the gifts I was loved with that I missed. It’s been a sweet reminder of the joys and frustrations, smiles and frowns, beautiful and ugly-beautiful of the past weeks.

Like a gentle rain, the memories have washed my heart and soul with the love and grace and faithfulness of the unchanging One from whom all good and perfect gifts come. And I am determined to not miss His showers again.

 

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Living the Greatest Blessings

 

I swung my feet out of bed and grabbed a cup of coffee. I sat down with my husband to chat for a moment, kissed his lips then took his hand and we invited God into every part of our day. I heard chatter so I sat on a little girl’s bed and giggled and dreamed with my bubbly and bright-eyed child before getting her up. I fed her breakfast while reading Bible stories and trying to keep the dog from begging at the table.

 

I completed the near-daily chore of vacuuming and mopping the house, took my little one to the potty for the twentieth time, and praised and cheered for a job well done. I shooed a hyper dog away from a hissing cat for the hundredth time, and worked out while my daughter banged on a tin can with a metal hinge that I’m pretty sure was a fairly important part to a weight machine. I created sand castles with my tow-headed toddler, swept rocks from the walkway and collected sticks. I picked up my frightened child who got knocked down by the dog chasing a ball, and belly laughed with my mama over comical Facebook posts.

 

I said a prayer and fed my girl who fed the dog, cleaned the broken glass and spilled milk, arranged letters on a blackboard and talked about words and colors and numbers. I read a book about red fish and blue fish and sang about sunshine and happiness and gray skies. I settled the girl into bed for a nap, and sat down to work on a small client project, and then to try to put my heart on paper.

 

I grabbed my thanksgiving journal to jot a few things down and to read through the week’s gifts unwrapped. I smiled. I am living my greatest blessings.

 

   There are no interruptions in a day.

There are only manifestations of Christ.

You are doing something great with your life – when you’re doing all the small things with His Great love.” – Ann Voskamp

 

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Veggie Tales Truth

If you’re a parent – and even if you’re not – no doubt you’ve heard of Veggie Tales. Just in case you’ve been camping out in a cave for a while, Veggie Tales were created in 1993 to help kids discover how God made them special and unique, and how much He loves them. They work to equip children to do right in the sight of God, and help them understand key biblical principles.

 

My first introduction to the Veggie Tales gang was about five years before our baby girl came along. I was flipping channels and came across a seemingly distraught cucumber wrapped in a bath towel singing anxiously about the unknown location of his hair brush.

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But cucumbers don’t have hair anyway, so the tall green gourd was able to do without his hairbrush.

A few years have passed and now I’m Mama to a little blonde toddler who likes Veggie Tales. While rummaging through the $5 movie bin at Wal-Mart the other day, I found Veggie Tales: Sweetpea Beauty. I threw it in the cart and came home.

Later that evening we popped it in the player. One of the stories is the little known yet all-too-familiar fairytale of Snoodlerella, who receives an extreme makeover in record time and goes to the ball until midnight, when she goes back to her glasses and braces, uncontrollable hair and cumbersome graces.

I wasn’t particularly paying attention to the movie, until the King spoke to Snoodlerella. But what I heard was a Still, Small Voice speaking to me.

As Snoodlerella was lamenting her looks, a deep, comforting Voice spoke directly to her – and to me, and to every woman on the face of the planet: “I think you’re beautiful,” the King said. He reached out and took her seemingly disconnected white-gloved hand as it floated in the air and continued, “I treasure you deeply; you’re lovely, my child…there’s nothing about you I don’t truly love! It is true, every word that I say. Daughter, I am the King, and I made you that way! I delight in your beauty, you’re wonderfully made! I knew you before earth’s foundation was laid. You’re precious to Me, every hair on your head! Daughter, hear and believe!

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My eyes welled up with tears that spilled onto my cheeks. The King of all creation – my Abba Father – knew me before the foundation of the world and chose me to be His! Hear and believe, ladies, we are cherished and captivating…He created us that way!

My daughter now brings me her “Pincess D” (Princess DVD) several times a day asking to watch it. I love for her to hear those words spoken to her, too, but she has to wait until family time to watch anything. And we often choose something other than Sweetpea Beauty. So I just tell her that her King asked me to give her a message: “You’re precious to Me, and I think you’re beautiful…I made you that way.

 

 

Thanksgiving Thursday:Unwrapping the Gifts

Rain in Colorado!

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My daughter’s drawings

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A bouncy horse for Peanut

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Family time at Sonic

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Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

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