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.

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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A Father to the Fatherless

The place a father holds in the life of his children is priceless. No other relationship is like that of a dad and his little ones. Indeed, I truly wonder if any relationship can compare to that of a man and his daughter. And the loss of that relationship is especially painful.

Celebrating Father’s Day has never been the same for me since 2001, the year I lost my dad to suicide. For many years after, I browsed the card section, searching for a card for another girl’s dad who became my step-dad.

But my eyes only fell on those that spoke of growing up with your first love – first crush, first hero – and knowing this man would always hold your hand and your heart. Tears would flow and my heart would ache – or become angry. Angry over my loss, angry over his decision, angry that I could never again be Daddy’s little girl.

Another cruel form of loss is when someone comes in the aftermath of tragedy to promise love and relationship for a lifetime, but instead leaves to fulfill selfish lust and a naïve notion of “finding oneself”. And now I am, again, left without a dad on this earth.

 

But I am not Fatherless.

 

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I have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby I cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15)! The word cry in this scripture denotes an intense and powerful internal affection, and a fierce and forcible outward confidence in the freedom and liberty granted to us as children of God.

Intimate yet respectful, the name Abba is our warrant for boldly claiming a filial relationship with the Most High God. What an astounding, incomprehensible thought: We hold the same standing with the Father as Jesus our Messiah, His only begotten Son!

My first love, my Abba, Father loves me and will never leave me, and He holds my hand and my heart – forever.

If you have been left without an earthly father, accept the love of the Everlasting Father as your very own today. His love endures forever, and He is waiting to hold your hand and your heart.

 

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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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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.

 

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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

 

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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?

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.

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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