Me Too: Book Review

Last summer I read Jon Weece's book "Jesus Prom." I really enjoyed it, and so when I had the opportunity to read and review "Me Too" this summer, I was looking forward to it.

Just like "Jesus Prom", this book is super approachable and easy to read. Weece is funny and engaging, and his illustrations are easy to understand and interspersed with stories from the Bible. I love where the title of this book comes from: a quote from C.S. Lewis, one of my all time favorite authors. C.S. Lewis wrote: "Friendship, I have said, is born at the moment when one man says to another, 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself...'" I have heard this quote before, and I like how Weece spins it to show our friendship/relationship with a "God who understands" us. And that is what this book is about.

While praising the book, talk radio host Susie Larson said, "[Jon]'s humility and self-deprecating humor disarmed me. His Kingdom heart undid me.... He loves people like Jesus did and does. If you long to be comfortable in your own skin-- just the way God made you, and if you desire to be at home with the love of Jesus in a way that heals you, and if you're willing to see that same love transform the world around you, you've come to the right place. " And I think that's a pretty good summary of what the book is about and what you get in the author.

The cover art comes from a thing he did with his church, where they gave everyone a baseball-sized paint-filled balloon and told them to throw the balloons to unload their tension. They threw them at giant canvases all around the church parking lot. I love that idea. I love that image of all these people in a church body just unleashing paint that representing crap inside of them. He writes, "The took aim- throwing hurt and anger and pain and bitterness-- and it did more than create the messy graphic used on the cover of this book. It united our church family around our common struggle and around our Father's ability to replace frustration with freedom."

Weece write about different attributes of God in each chapter that remind us, like the book jacket says, that there is a "God who turned the ugliness of the cross into a spectacle of eternal beauty. An all-powerful Lord who will do the same with the pain of the world."

Personally, I enjoyed Jesus Prom slightly more, simply because I think I resonated with the content a little more. However, this book is just as engaging and excellent and I highly recommend it.

I was provided a book through BookLook Bloggers but all opinions are my own.


3 months of Nan Louise

 Yes, I have been doing monthly pictures of Nan. I just figured I would post them every three months, and here we are...well into her third month of life!

Month ONE

Our biggest baby, Nan seemed to quickly outgrow newborn clothes and stretch out. She loved being held or otherwise entertained [read: eating], and never went longer than 2 to 2 and a half hours between feedings.

Month TWO

She started to figure out longer naps, and started stretching her feedings out a little bit. She began smiling and cooing a bit, and sleeping through the night some. At your two month check up your heart murmur that they heard at birth was gone!


Month three has been a fun one, now that Nan is laughing and cooing like crazy. [We tried really hard to get her to smile during these pictures...to no avail]. She talks more than Blythe or Becks ever did at this point, which is a bit terrifying for me ;). Sleeping through the night is hit or miss, so we're going to break the swaddle and do a bit of sleep training soon [this is when we did this with older two and they became THE BEST sleepers. Saying our prayers it works as well with this little pistol]. 

Nan, your sisters are SO in love with you. They smother you and I tell them a million times a day, "give her space...give her space..."
I'm enjoying you so much. Your smells. Your sounds. You're just so sweet. You are a fast nurser and a good nurser which is such a blessing. Like your sister's before you, you don't poop, but luckily I know what to do for you now to keep you from too much discomfort! 

 You're hair is still RED! You still have the cutest freckle on top of your head [I'll be sad when your hair covers it up...but at the rate your hair is now that could be awhile ;)]. Your eyebrows are so light. Papa came over one day and said maybe he'd just draw them on for you! 

Nan Louise, we love you SO much. We are so thankful you're a part of our family. Three months have gone so quickly, and we know you'll be crawling and walking and going to kindergarten before we know it! 

 And here are the other two little ladies in our house:



Now that I'm officially out of the fourth trimester and I have a three and a half month old, maybe I can get back in the swing of writing a little bit here and there. That's a big maybe.

Last week Blythe had a birthday party to attend. She was unbelievably excited to get to go and do gymnastics since the party was at a gym...and eat cake. Best day ever. I was looking forward to taking her, as I enjoy finding little moments here and there to do one on one things with the girls [even though she asked if Brent could take her because it was a day that started with an "S" and that meant he was home. I get it. He's more fun than me. No. I'm taking you.  You will have fun. Now get in the car. ;)]

So there we were, driving down the highway. She was in her car seat, strapped in in the very back of the van. We stopped for gas and I accidentally pulled up to a pump that only had diesel. When I backed up to a regular pump this prompted questions, so we spent the next ten minutes looking for big trucks that used diesel. She talked about Nini Pat being in heaven. She asked what heaven was like. I told her she wouldn't cry in heaven, and that she wouldn't ever have to eat or drink because she wouldn't be hungry or thirsty. We talked about how heaven will be perfect because God is perfect. And she said, "I'm perfect." I quickly reminded her she isn't, and that's why we need Jesus. To which she said, "I meant I'm perfect when I pretend to be God." Oh. Got ya.

And that's when it happened. To my left a car passed. I glanced over and saw a mom with her hands on the wheel and a teenage daughter all slouchy and comfortable looking in the passenger seat.

As their car made its way around me, I looked in the review mirror at my beautiful, inquisitive little four year old. And I saw us in that car in not so many years.

And I wondered what our conversations would be about. I wondered if she would rather be on her phone than asking me about gasoline and heaven. I wondered if she would have asked me before getting in the car that day if her shoes looked okay with her outfit, or if we would have spent the time arguing about the length of her shorts. I wondered if she would still enjoy time with me in the car. I wondered if she would look even more like me. I wondered if she would be a true follower of Christ. I wondered if I would still be exhausted. I wondered what our relationship would be like.

Today Blythe wanted to put on some dress up clothes. Most of our dresses fit her pretty snug now, and she was having a very hard time. By the time she put on her fourth dress, which was actually the first dress she had put on and had now re-put on, she was in full melt-down mode. I was pretty exasperated, but God gave me grace in that moment to see two things: 1) as her mother it is my responsibility to help her walk through her emotions and point her to Christ. And 2) how I handle these moments now will greatly affect how that slouchy teen will respond to me in the passenger seat then.

So I scooped her crying four year old body into my lap. The folds of her gold Belle dress fell over my legs. I reminded her and showed her how to breathe through her mouth [why this is so difficult for her in these moments, I will never know]. I asked her what was making her so frustrated. We talked about how the sleeves were scratchy and droopy. I reminded her about the Fruits of the Spirit that she has been learning about, particularly self-control. I asked her what it looked like to control her self.

It wasn't perfect on either of our ends. Her crying lasted entirely too long. My patience not long enough. But when I tucked her into bed tonight we laughed together and when I was walking out of the room she said, "Mom!" I turned around and gave her that look. You know the one. The one that says "this-is-it-it-is-your-bed-time-and-it-has-been-a-very-long-day-you-better-make-this-worth-it."

"I love you, Mom."

My heart bursts for that girl. But I also know my heart cannot lead that girl unless I lead my heart to Christ. If I don't, if I let moments of dress-up meltdowns turn into ugly yelling [as I often do], those moments will add up. And after years of addition, those moments will equal a teenage girl who doesn't know how to handle her emotions, has not seen Christ in me, and who definitely won't enjoy riding in the passenger seat next to me.

These little years are hard. And in the monotony of breaking up fights, and wiping up spills, and putting on bandaids, and figuring out why someone is crying I don't always see the addition happening. But when that car drove past me, God whispered in my ear, "This is what your days are adding up to. This is the holy work you are doing. They will grow. Help them grow towards Me."


Book Review: NIrV Kid's Quest Bible

My last BookLook Blogger book was this Kids Quest bible. I picked it to review, thinking it would be a great little gift to my 6 year old niece who just started reading. And she LOVED IT!
The colors and page layout are great, and it includes full bible text. Here is what the "book blurb" says about all the fun features: 

Over 500 questions and answers for kids •Book introductions help explain what each book of the Bible is about •A dictionary and subject guide help kids find what they’re looking for •Fresh, colorful design makes the Bible fun to look at and use •The complete NIrV translation, the steppingstone to the NIV!

Some of the questions were what I expected: "What will heaven be like?" "Why am I not supposed to lie?" but some of them were ones I would never think to ask like ones about the lottery and other subjects that kids are exposed to but may not know a lot about.

The things I liked the most about this bible were:
/Each question had at least one scripture reference to look up to help answer/discuss the question.
/The introductions to each book of the bible included great facts and context for the author of the book and other information that is needed to understand the Bible more.

My niece loved it, and I think it would be even better for kids slightly older than her.


the fourth trimester

I have had thoughts for weeks about writing about this time in the fourth trimester [yes, I know that tri means three...but just roll with it. It's a thing.]. But now that I sat down to write and the cursor is flashing I don't know exactly what to say.

Maybe I'll start here: Everyone keeps asking, "How are you doing?" or "How are you getting along?" Those are hard questions to answer, because if you've ever been in the fourth trimester you know that the answer to those questions changes moment to moment. But overall the answers would probably be: Okay. and Okay. 

And to me, those okays are pretty positive things.

Overall, despite some pretty crazy moments and a separated pelvis, I still think this transition from two to three has gone better than from zero to one. Notice I said "gone better" and not "been easier". I don't think you can quantify what is easy or hard after having a baby. It is a weird time where offering your bloody body to a newborn every hour and half seems doable but putting on real pants seems impossible and leaving the house seems like it will never happen again. Now which of those things should be easiest? Putting on pants. And which of those things should be hardest? Nursing a newborn every hour and a half. But your mind and your body have gone haywire and you don't know up from down for a few weeks and really every single thing you have to do that day is hard.

 But then you just start doing it. And you keep on doing it.
And pretty soon it's normal and hard things become easier and babies start walking and going to the bathroom by themselves. 

After Blythe I had a hard time recovering from labor. I thought I would never get to stop using a peri bottle. And nursing was nearly a complete disaster. There is no reason I should have continued, but I did because #firsttimemom. On top of all of that, I had to adjust to a human being needing me to sustain life. That's a mind shift, even if you've always wanted to be a mother. And on top of all of THAT, I had made the decision to quit teaching for the time and become a full-time stay-at-home-mom. I gave up a role I loved for a new role I knew I would probably one day love but was definitely not currently loving. And did I mention my body was still bleeding? 

Suffice it to say, nothing could trump that emotional nightmare, so why not have more children? But in all seriousness, I learned so much that first year with Blythe. And I rejoiced when it was time to wean her, and I realized that motherhood snuck up on me after its initial onslaught, but my biggest lesson? My biggest lesson was that I am not what I do. Or what I don't do. When I let Christ truly define my identity and started inviting Him fully into the messy details of my day as a mom, there was still hard stuff, but the hard was faced with a confident Peace. 

 All that to say this:
the transition to three has not rocked me to my core like my transition to one, but it has still been full of hard stuff just the same.

But really full moments of just good too.

Also, I think the idea that I deserve certain things has changed, which means that picking up a nearly petrified and half eaten peanut butter sandwich off the 2-weeks-since-last-vacuumed-living room floor and eating it seems like no big deal. And while showering without someone crying or opening the shower door or putting something in the shower with me sounds lovely, I don't feel like I have somehow earned that or that I deserve it like I once did. I still remember reading something a friend posted after I had Blythe. After she had her first born her mom said these words to her: You brought your daughter into this world.  She owes you nothing. You owe her everything.   

But this fourth trimester?  Let's see. Nan has been our most difficult baby. She's not a bad baby by any means, but our other two were pretty easy. Nan just has more fussy periods and still eats every two hours. Which has been interesting. But overall she's a good egg too.

This has for sure been the hardest transition for Brent and me as a couple. There is just less time where it's just us and quiet and where we have the brain capacity for a conversation. We're realizing this more and trying to be better about the time we do have, and finding ways to create more time, and also trying to give lots of grace and realizing this is just a season too. 

Two weeks ago was my breaking point. I think I just heard lots of women nod their heads and give a knowing smirk. Even if it was 20 years ago, I'm guessing you vaguely remember your breaking point after your children were born. We've just had several months of hard stuff: Blythe got pneumonia and spent a couple of nights in the hospital in March, and then things just got crazier and crazier. Becks had pneumonia. Then I got sick. Then I had a baby. Then I could do so little because the pelvis thing. Then when it seemed the clouds were finally breaking a bit, the older girls spiked super high temperatures. And that's when I broke. My mom came over on the worst day during lunch time. She said she saw that look in my eyes and was immediately taken back to when I was a [very difficult] baby and she would lay me down and literally crawl out of the room. And then I would start crying. And she would lay on the floor and just cry with me. And can I just say this: that all sounds dramatic until you've been there. 

So when she saw that look in my eyes, she tread lightly.  She gave me a hug. Brent saw the look as well, as I'm sure most father's have seen at some point, and he asked how he could help and I just didn't know so I yelled things about unloading the dishwasher then went to the bathroom and cried. It was a crazy day.

But then the clouds really did start to break and some sunlight has been coming in and I think, dare I say it, we are really about done with the fourth trimester and just headed back into life?!

This transition has gone better than zero to one, but it has required so much more physically of me. I am needed in three places at the same time many times a day. Getting children in and out of the car is about like you could imagine it when they all still require buckling assistance and yes, I use snacks to lure them into the vehicle all the time. 

Also, something I wasn't expecting? My older two hitting their "difficult stage" at the same time, while also having a newborn. Blythe breezed through age two. I loved it. Terrible twos? Not a thing. "Oh just wait, she'll be a threenager for sure!" Not really. But age four? The attitude and tantrums have arrived. While at the same time Becks has hit her stride at age two. One minute they are completely fine, and the next they are both screaming and I am poised to call the ambulance because someone only screams like that when an amputation is inevitable. But no. It's just that Becks thought that Blythe's socks were really her socks but they aren't they are my socks...no they're my socks...And then Nan wakes up and it's time to eat.

Twenty minutes later all is well. Because usually twenty minutes is all it takes.

So this fourth trimester? It's been okay. We're okay.  A good okay.

And I think this is why:

/I'm enjoying Nan Louise at this stage more than I have any other infant of mine because I have perspective. I know this is a season. I know she will grow. I know she won't demand I feed her every two hours forever [actually, Blythe still does so....?]. She's already started smiling and, like one of my friend's said, when they start doing that it's like someone has opened a window and there is fresh air to breathe again.

/ Help. Oh my word. I've heard some people say that with each consecutive child the amount of help offered during the fourth trimester diminishes. This was not the case for me at all. The outpouring of help I received was staggering. Obviously our mother's were a HUGE help. The entire first week home one of them stayed the night with us. They swept the floor and kept the dishes reasonable and I don't think my mom set foot in my house for three weeks without doing a load of laundry.  I had someone here around the clock for the first two weeks of Nan's life. The next two weeks I still had a ton of help because moving around was still pretty difficult, plus I wasn't really supposed to be doing too much until the cartilage all healed up in my pelvis. So people took the big girls for me. Or they came and let me sleep. Or they came and held a baby so I could tend to my big girls. Or they came and brought food and sat and talked with me. My elementary best friend's mom showed up one day! I hadn't seen her or talked to her in years. YEARS! And she came with a meal, and cookies, and she stayed and played with my girls and she let me sleep and she did my dishes and folded laundry [even our underwear!] and I realized again how God created us to live in community for a reason. I had a meal train coming from church for almost 6 weeks! A former co-worker and friend gave me an iTunes gift card to get some music to chill out to. Another friend brought a quiche and let me drink my coffee while it was still hot.  And I know, without a doubt, that all of that and all those people made this transition better for me.

[Side note: if someone you love is about to have a baby, or just had a baby, here is my advice: SHOW UP. If you don't like to cook, order them a pizza [or bring them Olive Garden like one of my friends did!], or sweep the kitchen, or fold some underwear.  Bring her her favorite coffee. Every little gesture helps. And if you're about to have a baby, here is my advice: let people help. When someone says, "Hey! Let me know if you need anything." Give them something specific right then-- maybe a meal would be helpful, maybe keeping older children would be helpful. "Could you come and hold the baby so I can take a nap?" Or if they are a great friend, "We are pretty set for meals this week, but I can't even begin to tell you the last time I cleaned my bathroom. Here's the toilet brush." Most people are offering because they really want to help. This time I needed help for a really long time. And that was hard to accept. But I had to ask sometimes.]

/ My expectations were a lot lower. I didn't expect to bounce back within two days. I didn't expect to have head over heels feelings for this baby I was just meeting and knew it would take time to grow. I knew I would be getting less sleep but I also knew my body would acclimate to that new schedule pretty quickly. I knew nursing would suck, but also that in 3-6 weeks even that would get better. I just didn't expect anything to be perfect and wonderful for awhile. :) [However, when people said their body was totally different after their third, I maybe didn't believe them. But now that I'm sitting here and see myself in the reflection of the computer screen, I'll just say this: it's all true.]

So that's it I guess. I have perspective. I've had help. And I lowered my expectations.

 Having a baby is a whirlwind: physically and emotionally. But in the end, after the dust of the fourth trimester settles, it is one of the most beautiful experiences of your life. And in all of this? We get Nan Louise in our family, which is worth every second of hard. And through it all, I've learned in more tangible ways about our God who shows up in our weaknesses and becomes our strength. In my insufficiency He is sustains me; in my weakness, He is strong.


Spinning Craft Holder: How To

This will have to be brief, but I had a lot of people ask how I made this for the girls. 
And let me tell you, it has been A BIG HIT! For all of us, because their markers aren't finding dark corners of the house to mate and create little spawn markers to hide in even more places for me to step on or pick up all the live long day. 

Also: WORD OF ADVICE: If you are a very type A person this may not be the best project for you to attempt. Brent could hardly stand watching me. It requires a little fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants and a lot of don't-measure-just-wing-it kind of stuff. [I'm just picturing my sister spending about twelve weeks making this...] 

Okay. Here we go. I didn't take the best pictures but I think you'll get the idea. 

What you need:
 I used 2 inch and 1 1/2 inch
 [my mother in law had one she let me use. She also said if you lived in the 70s and didn't have one of these on your table you weren't cool. Okay, those weren't her exact words. You could search garage sales, thrift stores, or buy one on amazon for about 10 bucks. I believe mine is 10 inch diameter]

First step is to cut your PVC. I just guessed a bit-- I wanted my tallest one to be about the height of a marker [if you wanted to keep paint brushes etc you could make it a little taller] After I knew my tallest one I just cut the rest in 1/2 inch increments smaller. A few of my little ones maybe got too small but whatever, it works. 

And when I say "I cut" I mean my dad cut because he has the miter saw. I just stood behind him and told him what to do. :) 

Also, a miter saw cutting PVC pipe sounds like a newborn crying. At least that is what my body thought. Ask me how I know... :/! 


Okay. Where was I?
You have your PVC cut. Take some sand paper and sand down the edges. You'd be amazed at how sharp that can get in spots. Once they are all sanded, clean them with soapy water and let them dry [this way you know the paint will stick]

Then get out your husband's caulk gun and some liquid nails. Arrange the pipes however you want them on your lazy susan. 
Okay. This was the hardest step, and you just kind of have to wing it. I recommend gluing your middle pipes together and letting them dry. Once you have that chunk started, start gluing others to it. I glued all the pipes together and then glued the whole piece onto the lazy susan. 
An extra pair of hand here would be fantastic! 

Your glue will smoosh out the bottom edges. It's okay. I took a paper towel and wiped it off the best I could around the outside edges that would show, but it wasn't perfect. 

Here is what I'm not good at when it comes to crafts: waiting for things to dry. 
But with this one it is pretty important. 
Wait several hours if you can, or overnight for it to dry. It should be a pretty solid mass. 

Once everything is dry you get to spray paint! 
I used a spray primer first, or you could use a spray that has a paint and primer in one. 
Either way I recommend doing it outside and not in your laundry room with windows open or your house will smell like spray paint fumes for days. [That's good for a newborn, right?]

Again. Be patient. I waited for the first coat of paint to dry overnight, then did another good, heavy coat the next day. I chose white but you could obviously choose any color. A metallic may be cool to try, as it would maybe look like you made it from metal. 

Once the spray paint was dry [or dry-ish, if you're impatient like me], I chose a color I liked for the inside. You wouldn't have to do this step, or you could choose lots of colors. 

This was a little tricky. It was hard to leave clean lines in the bottom of the tubes, as well as around the top. I kept a damp paper towel close by and wiped the edge if I got some on it. The lines aren't perfect. Another reason a perfectionist would struggle. [As you can see in picture below] 

But once it is dry and ready to go, it is so awesome you forget about the imperfections! Trust me! 

Fill with your favorite drawing or craft supplies. I got the girls some of the little pip-squeak markers for the small tubes, and also filled with some crayons etc. 

You're done. Congrats. It really only took me about 2-3 hours total hands on time. Granted my dad cleaned up the mess from the cut pipes. Allow two days though at least so things can dry. 
And maybe don't try to squeeze it in before a second birthday right after you've had a newborn. Just saying. 
But really-- go make one! It is awesome! 


TWO: Becks Lynae


Dear Becks Lynae,

I always sit down to write these letters thinking that I'll know just what to say and just how to say it, but like always I am caught off guard trying to capture your personality. But I am more caught off guard trying to capture the intensity and depth of our love for you. 

Becks you had a big year, what can I say? Last May you were a tiny little bit of nothing, weighing in at about 16/17 pounds. You had a sweet and quiet disposition and you were still crawling. In August most of that changed. All of a sudden you started walking. You never really went through a tumbling, bumbling stage-- you just got up and walked and walked like you'd been doing it all along. And with that walking something else changed: you "discovered yourself" it seems. Your personality just absolutely exploded! Quiet? Nope. Sweet? Most of the time. Quirky and spunky and boisterous and outlandishly funny? Every single day.

You have tried me and tested me in ways that I couldn't have expected. You have pushed limits and stomped your feet and pouted your lips and turned your back and gone toe to toe with my own stubbornness. But you know what's crazy? As exhausting as it's been at times, and as exasperated as you've left me, I've loved you even more for it. As you try me with your still-molding heart, I realize how stubborn my own heart is too. If I want to teach you patience and gentleness and kindness, I must first be patient and gentle and kind. You are helping do a hard work in me.

Your sense of humor is incredible. You love to make people laugh, but you also love when people make you laugh. Blythe can do the simplest thing and you might just fall over from laughing so hard. You laugh with your whole body, and there is nothing we can do but laugh right along side you.

As much as you love being with people, I think you are our little introvert at heart. If there is a lot going on, or we've had a busy day, a lot of times I find you in a corner or in your room just looking at books. It doesn't take long for you to "recharge" in this way before you're ready to roll again, but these quiet moments seem to soothe you.

But you are anything but quiet. You love to squeal and scream and sing LOUDLY. You pick up songs very quickly. Some of your current favorites to sing are "Down to the River", "Reflections" [from Mulan], and "You'll be in my Heart" [Tarzan]. You also sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Winkle Star" and that winkle that you throw in is just about the cutest thing ever.

You talk. A. Lot. You are a little parrot of Blythe, and repeat anything she says, even if you have no idea what she's referring to [though you usually do]. You aren't as easy to understand as Blythe was at your age, but I can usually translate for others if they don't understand something. Even if you don't have the words to describe or express something, you can always get your point across. One day I was reading to you and you didn't want to read anymore-- you grabbed the book, threw it on the ground, and said, "AMEN!"

You love to play and tease your daddy, and when he gets home from work you run to him and say, "Getchyou game!" And he always is happy to oblige and immediately starts getting you! I hear squeals of laughter all over the house.

I really think you're ready to be potty trained. Since January you've been occasionally telling us when you need to go poopy and you'll go on the potty. However, since I was super pregnant and now have your newborn sister, I just haven't had the energy or physicality to be able to pull that trigger. My guess is by the end of the summer you'll be a pro. Though we may have to start sooner as you've figured out how to take your diaper off.

You also moved to a big bed this year, and into a room with Blythe. You two have a blast when you go to bed...almost too much fun. It's been a transition for us all. At first it was a little rough. You WOULD NOT stay in bed. So instead of fighting that battle, we got some plastic fencing and attached it all around your bed with zip-ties. Basically we built a cage for you. And it worked! And I know we'll look back and laugh at it and you'll tell tales about what horrible parents we were for doing it, but it has helped us all and been awesome. I'm not sure you were quite ready to leave the crib, but it had to be vacated for your new sister.

Speaking of your baby sister: this was a big year for you! You became a BIG SISTER! Nan joined our family. You love saying her name: "Baby Nan Louish", and you've proven quite interested and sweet. There have only been a few instances we've had to remind you to be careful-- like when you're about to somersault right into her head! It's only been a few weeks but I can't wait to watch you continue to grow into this role more and more, and to watch your relationship with Nan blossom.

You are still pretty tiny, little lady. At your well check your doctor predicted your height to be a little less than five foot! But man oh man can you pack a punch in that little body. He also observed you interact with Blythe for about thirty seconds at that appointment and made two observations: "She's got a sense of humor!" and "You've got your hands full with that one!" Yes. And yes. But Becks, they are full in the best ways possible.

When I was pregnant with you we started praying over you, and please know we haven't stopped. We still pray that you would grow in patience. Not just practical day-to-day patience, but the kind of patience that is long-suffering; the kind of patience that can sit with others through unanswered prayers and the kind of patience that can wait with joy. And we pray you are devoted to your convictions, to your friends, to your family, to your Jesus. And that you live with integrity; that your character would leave a legacy. And Becks, we pray for your purity-- that you would protect it and that others will see where true purity comes from through you. But mostly Becks we pray that you would know our sweet Jesus as your Savior soon.

Oh Becks, I seriously cannot imagine our family without you. Your blue eyes just kill me each and every day. We can't take you anywhere without people commenting on just how stinkin' adorable you are. Thank you for your fierce love. Thank you for always noticing when I am tired or let out a sigh or put my head in my hands-- thanks for asking why I do that, and if I'm okay in your own, sweet way. Thank you for your excitement over simple things. Thank you for giving the best kisses.

Becks, we've had to discipline you a lot. Sometimes we are an emotional wreck because of it. But your dad and I love you so very much, and we want you to experience true freedom. And we want you to know that, just like your relationship with Christ, real freedom is found when we choose obedience. Real freedom is found when we realize our boundaries are not cages-- they are open to our choices-- but they are there to protect us and give us abundant life we didn't know was possible. So when you want to run in the street by yourself and we get onto you, it's because we love you and know more about safety than you. When you scream and talk back to us and we have to reprimand you, it's because we love you and we want you to see that true love helps us be our best. 

Two is my favorite age, and I cannot wait to spend this year watching you explore and learn new things. You're hands are still dimpled and pudgy and still a little bit baby. But I know as this year wears on they will turn into the hands of a little girl. And I want to hold those hands as long as you'll let me.

We love you deeply and fully. There are times I honestly don't know if I can refrain from kissing your face over and over again. Parenting you is a challenge, but it is also so so so much fun. We are trusting God to write your story, and we are so thankful we get to play this little part of it as your parents.

Happy second birthday, Becks Lynae! There is nothing you can every do that will make us stop loving you.