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.

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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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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Almost Double Digits

Nine years ago yesterday, she entered the world, right on her due date, in spite of multiple attempts on my part to convince her to come early.  Her labor was the shortest and easiest by far, a stark contrast to what her first few years would bring.  I’ve written before of how our third born has given me a run for my money from day one and how she turned my whole world upside and regularly caused me to question everything I thought I knew about parenting and how she daily amazes me with her capacity to love others right where they are.

Since that post two years ago, I have continued to watch her grow and be amazed.  She has taught me to be more sensitive with my words, more intentional with my touch, more selfless with my time.  She prays with great faith and has the honesty to question why sometimes God doesn’t seem to hear.  She wants to be a missionary and already shares the gospel regularly with her friends.  She wears her heart on her sleeve, but has incredible compassion for others.  At only nine, she has a way with babies and little children that I’ve never had.  She has a zeal for life and energy like no other.  She is naturally strong and agile and can climb like a human monkey.  She is passionate and does nothing halfway, except maybe cleaning her room.

Chandler is far, far, far from perfect and we rub each other wrong far too often, but she is genuinely striving to be more like her Savior and we’re learning together what that looks like.  When God brought her into our world nine years ago, I was not prepared to be a mother to three children under three.  But He gave great grace (and my own mom who was unemployed for six months) and I wouldn’t trade this tender-hearted wild child for the world.

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January 9, 2012Mentioned twice recently in church, Chandler has taken to reading this classic.

Happy 9th Birthday, Chandler.  I know God has big plans for you and I am so blessed that He has chosen me to be part of them.  I love you!

Eight

A year ago, I wrote about Chandler and the completely unique and wonderful child she is and how God has used her in our lives.  And while God often uses her to remind me just how much I need Him, I give thanks for her today.  I give thanks for her tender heart and her quick wit, for her strength and determination, for her generosity and for the incredible way God will use her someday, and for the eight years He has so graciously given us so far.

 

And I continue to count the gifts He gives each day…..

1270.  husbands and daddies

1271.  reaching the breaking point

1272.  finding balance and peace again

1273.  first horse show

1274.  a really good Saturday

1275.  home study interview

1276.  third borns

1277.  another turning eight

Praying you are open to the gifts He gives this week.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Overcoming Fear

When I was a child I hated swimming lessons.  Hate really isn’t a strong enough word for the memories I have.  My first swimming teacher was strict, hard, and had exacting standards.  Everything I needed really.  But I could never overcome my water phobias enough to meet her standard and pass.  I have no idea how many summers I spent in Beginners.   It seems like about 5, but I know that’s not mathematically possible.

So when our girls started to come of age for swimming instruction I wanted something completely different.  The high school daughter of a fellow church family and a client of Matt’s was teaching lessons in their back yard.  She was sweet, mild, and wonderfully encouraging.  Perfect!  The first two girls did wonderfully under her instruction!  And then there was Chandler.

Chandler has issues with the water, and unfortunately, I often forget the reason for them.  I don’t know why, but the memory of Chandler bobbbing, struggling, clawing for the top of the water in a friend’s pool where she climbed in without her floaties is not burned into my mommy brain like so many other parts of her life.  Maybe it’s because she’s caused so many scares that part of my brain is full.  Maybe it’s because she was fine once we got her arm and pulled her out.  Maybe it’s because I’m a terrible mother.  She couldn’t have been much over one when it happened.  But apparently she was old enough that it left a permanent impression because she is terrified of water.  She’s fine with it on her own terms.  But take her to the deep end and it.is.over.  This is an important thing to remember when enrolling her in swimming lessons.

She threw a fit when our friends’ sweet daughter attempted to take her to the deep end a few years ago.  She threw a hideous fit last summer when we pressured her to jump off the diving board at another friend’s pool.  (In our defense, we knew she was able to swim; she did not believe it herself.)  I knew we needed someone tougher than that third born child to teach her to swim.

Enter my running buddy, Nikki.  She has been helping kids learn to swim for years.  I had heard legendary stories of how tough (but great) she is.  Totally not what I wanted for my kids.  Oh, and to get a spot in her classes, you have to stay up until midnight on some arbitrary night in March to sign up.  Otherwise all the slots will be full.  Definitely not ever doing that!  Until this year.  Because I knew she was exactly the type of teacher I wanted for these last two kids.

The first day the four year old cried and screamed and refused to do anything she was told.  I was slightly surprised as she normally loves the water, but she’s four and that’s the way she operates sometimes.  We talked all that Monday about how the next day would be different and when she could go a whole lesson without any screaming or crying, we would get ice cream.  (I am not above bribery when necessary.)  Tuesday was some wimpering, but it was only about 75 degrees outside, so the pool was considerably warmer than the side she spent most of the lesson sitting on!  She got a cherry limeade for not screaming.  Wednesday she went through her lessons with a smile and was rewarded with a yummy McDonald’s ice cream cone.  Ellie made it through the remaining eight lessons without a tear or complaint.  There were moments I could tell she was working hard to overcome her natural fears, but she did it and I was so proud of her.

The first two days Chandler did fabulously.  I couldn’t have been prouder.  She did everything she was asked and I thought her lessons were going to be a breeze.  Enter Wednesday when something possessed her to behave like a stuck pig and scream and squeal and RUN from Nikki and the diving board until she found herself cornered on the deck and had no choice but to submit.  I found myself wanting to crawl under said deck and die from shame.  I don’t know what happened and I do know what happened.  She was tired.  I hate that excuse, especially for any child past the stage of daily naps.  But it’s true.  Chandler falls apart if she doesn’t have enough sleep and the night before she didn’t.  I’m really not much better, so I sympathize.  And, for one reason or another, that fear in her welled up and could not be contained.

We talked long that day about right behavior and wrong behavior and how the next day would go.  Thursday was an improvement.  Friday was altogether wonderful.

I watched over ten days as my girls wrestled with their fears and their emotions and learned to control them. I could see on their faces the exhaustion or the panic and the internal wrestling to do the right thing.  I teared up many times as I saw their courage.  I watched as Chandler overcame her intense fear of deep water and learned to jump off the board and swim two lengths of the pool and then swim two more shortly after.  I watched her learn to control her fear as she learned to tread water and keep her head up.  I watched her swim farther at the public pools and the lake with her new confidence.  And I watched with great motherly pride as she passed her class the first time through.

Over the past two weeks, Chandler has not only learned how to swim better.  She has learned that she can control her emotions and that she can overcome her fears.  That alone was worth any amount of money.

On a different note, I was so impressed by my friend and her ability to handle those children.  She is tough.  And she doesn’t put up with any nonsense.  But she clearly cared about each child there and the smile on her face when they accomplished something was almost as amazing and joyful as the child’s.  So thanks, Nikki.  I know the past two summers have been hard but I am so thankful my girls had the chance to learn from you.

Ellie waiting her turn

Ready for a kneeling dive

Ready for some really uncoordinated swimming moves 🙂

On the board

This was a big accomplishment!

Back stroke - sort of

Chandler waiting her turn

Swimming the length of the pool unaided

And swimming back

Chandler's turn off the board

Back stroke

Back stroke again

Ellies "Grade Card"

Chandler's "Grade Card" - Still so proud of both of them

The Third Born

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….

0601.  quiet days at home

0602.  staying cool

0603.  teaching large hands to knit

0604.  summer’s heat

0605.  reading in bed

0606.  free audio books

0607.  unplanned days

0608.  How to Train Your Dragon

0609.  frostys + french fries

0610.  being four

0611.  snuggling her through the movie

0612.  long bike rides – just us

0613.  talking all the way through a green light

0614.  birthday cinnamon rolls

0615.  blow pops for friends

0616.  birthday lunch dates with daddy

0617.  swimming…swimming…swimming

0618.  a lost tooth

0619.  conquering fears

0620.  great-grandmother

0621.  being seven

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…and be thankful.

~ Colossians 3:15

What are you thankful for today?