Celebrating the Middle

She turned twelve a little over two weeks ago.  I’ve been slow to post because life has been moving fast everywhere else.

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The past year has been a bit dicey as tween-sized hormones brought tensions and mood swings and battles that are becoming old hat in this household of girls, but they’re battles just the same.  Yet underneath those battles over food and clothes and hair, that same gentle soul still lives.  She still loves all the animals and all the people.  She is still the generous servant who would give you the shirt off her back and help you put it on.  She has dreams of going to nursing or medical school and becoming a medical missionary.  She loves to run mostly, I think, because she can encourage the other runners as she goes.  She got braces this year and the long-coveted Miley Cyrus hair cut (not pictured 😉 ).  She handles life with grace and selflessness and she’s a blessing to anyone that knows her.  Miss Chandler.  My favorite middle child.

Eight

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Two weeks ago, this sweet girl turned eight.  And as I wrote yesterday, our relationship is unique and her heart is a mystery.  But God is writing the story and one day we will know the secrets she holds as He unfolds her heart.

Regardless of where our relationship is, she is our daughter, our family, and forever one of us.  And while God knits our hearts and joins our worlds, we wait for the redemption that is coming.

Happy birthday, my beautiful, mysterious girl.  I am thankful for you and for the privilege of being your mama.  I know one day we will dance naturally together.
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I love you,

Mama

Thirteen: Take Two

Ten days ago she turned thirteen.  We celebrated the gift of her with cake and song and laughter, but I never celebrated with words.

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Emma Joy is a blessing to our family.  A true second born, she is often striving to differentiate herself just a bit from everyone else.  Her passions include soccer, the Kansas Jayhawks, Doctor Who, 80’s music, and baking.  Her dry, witty sense of humor is often unexpected, coming from this seemingly quiet, reserved girl.  She excels in the kitchen with anything involving the words “bake” and “dessert”, and she even volunteered to make her own birthday cake.  (Which isn’t all that surprising, considering the Rainbow Cake fiasco.  More on that another time, if you missed it on Facebook.)  She rocked that cake and I decided I will never bake again.

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This year brought Emma’s first opportunity to travel to Haiti and she worked hard and the Lord provided as she raised money (by baking) to pay her way.  I was so encouraged as her Mama to watch the Lord bless her efforts and watch her rise to the challenge.  And since then, her own outpouring of generosity has shown God’s work in her heart.

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Emma is steady, but in a different way from her older sister.  She is becoming very good at finding hidden things that need to be done.  Trash taken out.  Stray items picked up.  A sister read to.  She is reliable and another girl I can depend on to get things done.  She is such a gift and continually becoming a true “joy” to me.

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Happy thirteenth, Emma.  Welcome to the teen years.  May God richly bless you and may you continue to seek Him and follow hard after Him in all that you do.

Love,

Mom

Nine

This beauty turned nine yesterday.

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Seems hard to believe the baby of our bio girls is going to be double-digits in just a year.  Ellie is our resident book worm.  She’s also our resident “messy”.  Pictures like this next one embody the (tidied up by mom) path she leaves behind in every room.

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Reading, piano, ballet, and drama (the organic kind, not a class) define her life right now.  Whatever she feels, she feels it strongly and she doesn’t experience much of the in-between.  She remains my primary snuggler and the one most eager to do school.  She can talk more than all of our other girls combined and may be the reason this blog is titled what it is, but she is definitely one of my five favorite girls in the world.  I’m thankful for the gift of this girl’s life and the blessing it is to be her mama.

For His Glory ~

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Fourteen

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This one.  Today she is fourteen and lovely and nearly as tall as me.  This year she will begin high school and learn to drive.  And it only just now seems reasonable to me that I should have a five year old, but I look over and I have a young woman.  And it seems just yesterday that she was sitting on the couch watching Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues with her eyes watering because she would.not.blink.  And how does this wonderful world spin so fast?

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Sidenote and unrelated fact about the above picture: Grace is now babysitting for that swim instructor’s two year old son.  How time flies….

This child is our guinea pig child – the first born that is one constant experiment in parenting do’s and don’t’s.  And we’ve learned so much and we have so much left to learn and the next several years will bring a whole new level of education as we navigate goals and plans and new freedoms and responsibilities and the inevitable interest in and of the opposite sex.

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But for today we give thanks for the gift of this girl – the first of our five.  She remains steadfast, responsible, strong, more than a little stubborn sometimes, funny, incredibly artistic, smart, and with a heart captivated by Haiti.  This mama heart is not ready for the letting go that the next few years will bring, but God has plans for her.  Big, good, wonderful, beautiful plans for her life.  And she is His to use.

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Happy Birthday, my beautiful Grace.

Love,

Mama

This Girl….

 

Today this girl turns eleven.  And I could say the cliche phrase about how time goes so fast, and it does, but I won’t.

She has always been her own person, in a good way.

Every year I am more amazed by this girl and her amazing heart and the gift she is to me, to our family.  And there is so much I could say, but I’m feeling a little speechless and humbled today by the privilege it is to raise this one.  She truly inspires me.  And she makes me laugh.  Two qualities that God’s going to do amazing things with some day.

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As I was saying…

With her birthday “twin”, Grammy (Matt’s grandmother). 

Chandler, you are a gift.  Never stop being who God made you.  You are beautiful inside and out and I am blessed to be your mama.

For His Glory ~

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This Girl

Day 4 – this girl….

Twelve years ago, we were blessed with our second daughter.  At 5-something in the morning, Emma Joy, entered the world and our lives were forever changed.

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The past year has been a special blessing as we have watched her mature and mellow.  As Matt shared this morning, she calls herself a “geek” (though neither of us knows when that became cool – but as a former geek, woot!) and loves books and a certain BBC series she’s not even been allowed to watch yet and camo and Duck Dynasty.  She’s excited to play soccer in the spring and volleyball next year.  She’s taken to baking this fall which has resulted in a variety of delicious concoctions, particularly her bacon butterscotch muffins.  She sings beautifully and I could listen to her play the piano all day.

Emma is a gift to our family.  She keeps us laughing and makes sure things don’t get too girlie.  I’m so glad I get to be Emma’s mom.  I can’t wait to see what God does in this next year of her life.

Happy birthday, Emma Joy!

For His Glory,

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* photo credit goes to my beautiful and talented friend Chelsea Hudson

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Eight

I steal a quiet moment between batches of rolls rising (all ten dozen of them) and reflect on the no-longer youngest and her birth eight years ago on Thanksgiving and her birthday celebrated over the weekend.

Smart and funny.  Knows nothing of personal space.  🙂  Loving and kind and full of drama and life.  Has more words than the rest of the family put together, I think.  May or may not have been compared to Buddy the Elf recently, for numerous reasons.  Loves Jesus and others deeply and wears her heart on her sleeve.

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What a joy, though it has not been easy, to watch her grow into a big sister this year.  I am blessed to watch her slowly become the young lady God created her to be.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, my friends!

For His Glory ~

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Thirteen

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In August she turned thirteen and over the summer she somehow turned into a young woman and my heart turns over as I watch her grow.  She is stunning and she is funny and she is kind.  She is generous and steady and one of my favorite people.  She is not perfect, but she is growing daily in His grace.  She has survived thirteen years as our guinea pig child – the one who has had to weather the majority of our mistakes and failures as parents.  She has risen to every challenge we’ve given her and she’s never given up on us, her imperfect parents.

Our years with her are growing fewer and fewer.  I am thankful for the fun we have together, for the beauty and laughter she adds to our family, for the quiet love for Jesus she is growing, for the gift of being her mother.

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Grace, may this next year (the nine months that are left of it 🙂 ), draw you closer to Jesus and your family.  May you continue to grow in grace and beauty and wonder of the world around you.  May you seek the One who has relentlessly sought you and follow Him wherever He might lead.

For His Glory ~

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A Decade

Three years ago, I wrote the post below.  It still so accurately describes our Chandler, only now she is ten and beginning fifth grade soon and maturing so fast.  I’m so blessed to see the beautiful young woman she is growing into and so privileged to be her mama.

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Seven years ago, she entered this world.  Not early like I had prayed.  Not late – Praise the Lord!  But right.on.time.  On her due date.  On her great-grandmother’s birthday.  Flesh brought forth flesh and my heart was stolen once again.

The nine months of preparation had stretched body and soul.  Youngest child’s older sister was 18 and one half months.  Her oldest sister was 2 years and 46 weeks.  That’s three children in less than three years.  This body was tired.  Only 25 myself, I was not ready to be a mama again and God and I wrestled daily and hard through those forty weeks awaiting her arrival.

The lessons learned can hardly be articulated, put into words.  Only that it was that third pregnancy, this third child that has brought me low, given me a new, deeper dependence on God.  He has taught me my limits and taught me to respect them.  And when she came forth, a love so deep welled up within my soul, and I knew I could never imagine life without her and that God had a purpose and a plan.  And she was perfect.

She used to rise in the middle of the night, sneak down to the kitchen, climb up on the counter tops and steal granola bars off the top of the refrigerator.  She cuts things that aren’t meant to be cut, writes on things that aren’t made to be written on.  She used to eat lotions and oils like they were candy – and not even the good tasting ones!  She has caused me to question everything I thought I knew about parenting.  She’s been lost on the beach in San Diego and she said she was going to run away in Ohio.  She loves everyone she meets and makes friends easily.  She has an easy laugh, a tender heart, and an amazing smile.  She has rocked our world and we will never be the same.  And I’m so thankful.

This weekend she is seven.  She is no longer baby, toddler, preschooler.   She is one of the “bigger girls”.  Second grade begins all too soon.  Today I give thanks for her.  For the countless things God has taught me through her and the things He has yet to teach me.  I give thanks for her life and the way she lives it – unrestrained and full of passion.  I give thanks for the privilege of being her mother.  And I give thanks for the daily blessings the Lord bestows….

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For His Glory ~

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