The Sweet Gift of a Child: Peanut Turns Two!

Tomorrow, my just-born-yesterday baby turns two years old. Two years of joyous noise, messy rooms, helpless giggles, cascading tears, boundless love, and amazing amounts of pink. Cut straight out of the womb, she drew her first breath, and snuggled into a place inside my heart that had never before existed.

 

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Our tiny Peanut was a low-key newborn, sleeping most of the way through her new life and calmly observing the world when awake. Two years later, she still loves to sleep – slumbering on average 11 hours a night and two hours or more during the day. But when awake, this fiery toddler is nothing less than a whirling dervish, experiencing all life has to offer.

 

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She developed a love for music very early, and she moves easily to the beat of any melody she hears. Our lives are filled with the sounds of Peanut serenading us by playing her harmonica, singing Song Sung Blue, and singing just behind most songs as she picks up any word she recognizes. She loves to dance, and swirls to worship choruses, twirls to Mary Poppins tunes, sways to Michael Buble jingles, jives to Bon Jovi rock, and bounces to John Lee Hooker blues.

A girl after my own heart, she loves books, and asks me to read to her often. She’s a rough and tumble rug rat, and loves Jeeps, horses, and being flung, swung, and flipped. She’s fearless and adventuresome, and she loves to pray.

 

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My heart flutters each time she stretches her chubby starfish hands toward me and pleads, “Pay, pees!” (Pray, please.) No matter how many times a day – or how many times during one meal, I never miss an opportunity to allow those soft, precious fingers to curl around mine and go before the throne of grace with my child.

As we enter the third year of this most treasured life, I find my heart is happy to see her grow. I look back at the fragile infant I held in my arms, as I sheltered her from all that may seek to harm her. While I reflect on those sweet, irreplaceable memories with nostalgia, there is nothing like continuing to raise a child. The delicate babe I brought into this world is an amazing creature, filling my life with sweet affection, and teaching me how live life through the eyes of innocence.

Each new milestone is full of wonder and awe, and I look forward to what the future holds. Below are a fraction of the gifts I’ve unwrapped this year from the hand of a loving heavenly Father as I am honored to mother this beautiful child.

 

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     Unwrapping the Gifts

 

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Count One Thousand Gifts….Then A Thousand More

 I sat down last week with the spiral bound journal where I write gifts unwrapped and give thanks for the blessings. Inspired by One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started this journal nine months ago. Some days I discover many gifts; some days one.

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After having missed several days during the move to Pueblo, I happily returned to the habit of giving thanks to God by numbering His gifts. My heart was full with the day’s blessings and I couldn’t wait to write them out: “Beginning construction on Peanut’s room; Office Depot discounts; An exercise mat.”

 

I moved my purple teeth-marked pen to the next line, but stopped before the tip reached the page. I glanced back up the line above. #999.

 

One thousand gifts. A dare to find one thousand ways He loves me.

 

For a moment, I reconsidered what I planned to write next. I had always imagined that the following number would be something of great importance; some lofty, theology-laden, high-calling type thing.

 

I embarrassed myself a bit by such silliness. After all, isn’t this the whole point: I don’t even know they are gifts until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down – it is sort of like…unwrapping love. A child thankful for the childlike.”*

 

All as Gift

 

I lowered my pen to the page. #1000, Finding just the right camera setting for capturing a photo I really wanted.

 

There it was. Symbolic of everything this journey of giving thanks is about – unwrapping rich gifts of lavish love from the hand of a good Father. A child thankful for the childlike.

 

And so I continue – a thousand reasons, then a thousand more. “This is what it means to fully live.”

 

10,000 Reasons

 

 

Unwrapping the Gifts

 

1001. Sitting in church with my husband’s arms draping my shoulders

 

1018 Getting the trash out early on trash day

 

1016. Cooking for my family in my new kitchen

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1026. Sharing a Rib Eye steak with Peanut

 

1029. The first late-night front porch time with my best friend in our new haven

 

1028. Roasting marshmallows over the new fire pit my husband built

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1036. Spring’s first lilac

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

 

 

 

 

 

*One Thousand Gifts, pg 45

Photo Credit

The Shepherd, Bell Sheep, and Lamb

I recently began reading Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George. She begins the book by defining a bell sheep: “When a shepherd noticed a sheep who willingly followed him and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep so the flock would follow the bell sheep…who, in turn, was following the shepherd.” She then says, “A mom should be the bell sheep for her daughter!

 

And how are we as mothers to become the bell sheep for our children? We “shall love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our strength. And these words which He commands us…shall be in our heart. We shall teach them diligently to our children, and shall talk of them when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise up,” Deuteronomy 6:5-7.

 

As I read, my heart cried out, “Oh, God, let me be Your bell sheep for my daughter! I will – I do! – love You with everything in me, Your words are in my heart, and my delight is in talking about You! May my consistent and diligent teaching help my little girl become a woman after Your own heart!”

 

As I poured out my heart before God, He showed me how my mother had been the bell sheep that led and trained me to become one for my daughter, and now, she and I are living as unified partners in this high calling of training up a child. I realized how great the love of the Good Shepherd is for my daughter…He has surrounded my baby with bell sheep!

 

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This year, I will spend Mother’s Day enjoying my own gift of motherhood, as well as celebrating my mama, the one who diligently taught me the Word of God. Through her, I was introduced to the One I love with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I pray that as a mother, I can teach as diligently, love as wholly, live as sacrificially, and raise a child after God’s own heart as well as she has.

 

Three Generations

 

 

Unwrapping the Gifts

 

922. A good, Good Shepherd Who loves my little one even more than I do

 

932. Hugs that heal sorrow, laughter that follows tears, and love that never fails

 

959. Clocks

 

923. The honor of being a Mother

 

Of All the Rights of Women

 

911. Not having to worry about the words our little Peanut-Parrot hears her parents say

 

969. Peanut loves her new house

 

995. Sharing in the sacrament of Communion with fellow Christ-followers

 

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

A Million Faithful Moments

It has been several weeks since I’ve written a post here, and life has blown through my hours and days like a whirling dervish. Rushing winds of life change, peculiar blessings, and unimaginable joy have replaced the gentle breeze that was my life. Gentle breezes will return again, but for this season, I’m panting from the gusts of new adventures.

 

Breathe Deep

 

In just two months, my mama became single again, my husband lost and gained a job, I’ve battled a painful, exhausting illness, I’ve felt the healing hand of the Great Physician, we’ve moved 40 miles south from our little haven-home into my childhood home and in with my mama, and rented out our little haven-home.

 

There is so much I could tell you of God’s grace, goodness, mercy, and blessings over these past months; He has been so good, and we have been so loved. It’s the strangest thing: the greatest happiness comes in such unexpected ways.

 

I sat in my computer chair, twirling it round and round as I talked with my mama who was standing on the steps that now bridge her home and mine together.

 

This is a dream I didn’t even dream, but it’s a dream come true,” she said.

 

I smiled, but something stirred within me. I had heard that somewhere before.

 

When God’s Word is written on your heart, it becomes second nature to hear it in your ears. And there it was: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us….” Ephesians 3:20

 

A Million Faithful Moments

 

A million moments full of the faithfulness of a good God. This dream has just begun….

 

 

 Unwrapping the Gifts

951. A new haven-home

963. Gorgeous views from our back yard

966. Being surrounded by those who love me when I have no more strength in my body

965. The healing touch of the Great Physician

981. Going back to our wonderful church family after so many years

983. Settling in to life’s new routine

984. Working out again!

985. Watching Peanut thrive in her new surroundings

987. An unexpected date with my husband at a blast-from-the-past local hangout

986. I may not know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future

 

What gifts have you unwrapped this week?

Hard Eucharisteo: The Mingled Cup

A dream died this week. New life began this week. And God was good this week.

A 10-year-old covenant ended with a piece of paper: Dissolution of Marriage. One spouse couldn’t rest in grace and deliverance. The man I called Papa chose a different life, and the Little Blonde is now free.

I asked if she’s okay. Like a sun-kissed daffodil, her face beamed radiant, and she said yes. She knows the lover of her soul will never leave nor forsake, and she stands ready to live, ready to love.

Joy and Pain

When God created the picture of Himself and His bride on earth and blessed their union, He joined two into one, never to be torn asunder. Man’s sin and foolishness have marred the perfect image of God’s love, beauty, and sacrifice. Yet Christ’s redeeming love lives, grasps, holds. The beauty of His passion is seen in those who march forward; those who reach out, take hold of His unchanging hand, and choose to marinate in His grace and goodness and offer up the sacrifice of praise – hard eucharisteo.

“The Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, ‘I know, I know’…”

Just Hold Onto This

Everything is eucharisteo. Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things – take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness…

This, the hard eucharisteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good…All is grace because all can transfigure.

Wrestle with God, beg to see the blessings.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

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        It always precedes the miracle.

 

Unwrapping the Gifts

949. A woman of strength and love to do life with…I love you, Mama!

944. A new morning and the new mercies and faithfulness I see (Lamentations 3:23)

948. He never leaves us nor forsakes us; He will not, He will not, He will not (Hebrews 13:5 AMP)

716. A day to just stay in jammies and watch movies

945. Spring’s new life

946. Choosing to feel both joy and pain, and stay open to the blessings

947. Nail-scarred hands that hold, cleanse, and restore

 

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

 

 

*Photo Credit

Thanksgiving Thursday: Ardent Advocates Embracing Grace

We Are the Women

My days are spent enjoying, instructing, guiding, cuddling, disciplining, reassuring, speaking to, and loving a toddler. With God’s glory and her good as my aim, I’m passionate about intentionally training, growing, and bringing up my daughter.

It wasn’t until I had a child that I realized just how much work God puts into training His children. A day doesn’t go by but I am being gently – or not so gently! – corrected, lovingly comforted, tenderly controlled, and sweetly calmed.

I’ve noticed, though, that while each day brings new light, He chooses to do His most intimate, in-depth work the moment I sit down to write this blog.

Constant Miracle

This week, as usual, I sat down to read through a few other blogs before I got to work. I quickly skimmed the latest post on Road to 31, a blog written by a wife and homeschooling mother on a journey to become the Proverbs 31 woman. As I continued to read, my face burned and my heart quickened.

She wrote that she – and many of us – had become Homemaking Pharisees, living a “godly” life with an ungodly spirit. She zeroed in on mothers who judge other moms on their medical choices. Specifically, she wrote about birth, and those who have made an idol out of their love of natural birth, allowing their zeal to turn into a standard for Christian living.

I never wanted to have an unmedicated birth, and after an agonizingly painful miscarriage that nearly took my life as well, my interest in home birth went from minuscule to non-existent. But my decision was not well met by some. I began to wish I could elbow a few people and murmur, “Mmm-hmm! See there? Home birth is not the message of the Gospel.”

I noticed that this post was the fifth installment in the Homemaking Pharisee series. Excited, I turned to the others. Then I felt the hand of the Lord pressing in. What have I turned into an idol? What technically good, and perhaps even important, yet non-Gospel issues have I treated as doctrine? Homeschooling?* Methods of discipline?* Disdain for cry-it-out infant training? Mmm-hhhmm.

While our passions may be driven by what we believe God is calling us to individually, we must not allow them to become idols, distracting from the Gospel of Christ.

The Gospel

There may even be compelling biblical evidence that what we believe is correct or necessary for the best outcome. And we are certainly allowed to become ardent advocates for that which God has made us passionate. Perhaps what we have to share is exactly what others may be seeking in their quest for God’s best.

 But we must not let our passions become standards for others, or judgments that keep us from our call to lift others up and allow freedom in the non-essentials.*

Convictions

Once again, and increasingly, I unwrap the gift of His loving discipline: “Cast off your idols, and embrace grace.” And as I ask for forgiveness, I ask for His scalpel to cut the very root of idolatry from my heart, and thank Him for His faithful training. All’s grace.

The Only Real Perspective

 

Unwrapping the Gifts

686. His transforming power

879. Bright, raw, crunchy, sweet baby peppers

899. Reading Undaunted by Christine Caine in its entirety in 24 hours

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901. A friend over for coffee while our girls played

893. A strong hair dryer

880. Back yard fire bowl fun

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898. Italian Nachos at Old Chicago

859. Consistently creating a more selfless marriage

921. A new bathroom faucet that doesn’t leak

920. Homemade Cook’s Country spicy fried chicken

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What gifts have you unwrapped this week?

 

 

 

*Please read Road to 31 blog on homeschooling

*Please read Road to 31 blog on methods of discipline

*I’m not discussing biblical mandates in this post. “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” St. Augsuine

*First five photos by Ann Voskamp