Word.

So thanks to a dear friend, I have started a little project for W.  She recently learned of someone who keeps a Bible for her child, writing in it, underlining in it, and journaling little notes to her boy and her plan is to give it to him when he graduates from high school.  Beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful and naturally, I had to steal the idea.

I hemmed and hawed over what kind of Bible to get for William, but ultimately decided to get him the current version of the Bible I use in my study.  That way if there were notes at the bottom that I wanted to reference, I could be sure he had the same.  I also thought it might be neat for him to see the Bible that his mama used for her study for most of her adult life.

Well, I ordered the Bible and had his name inscribed on the front.  A friend of mine picked it up and brought it over to my house last night and I was absolutely giddy about it.  Since the idea was first planted in my mind, I have been so eager to get started.  After she left, I removed the Bible from its box and could not have predicted my reaction.

I wept.

Seeing his name on the front of a Bible that has been so incredibly dear to me was enough to do me in.  I sat with it on my lap and was overcome with a tidal wave of emotion.  As I cradled this Bible that had yet to be open, I glanced over to the dog-eared, battered, well-worn and well-loved Bible of my own.  Looking at my faithful friend, I was reminded of all of the times I was so broken and hurting that I couldn’t even open the cover, but was comforted by just clutching it to my chest.  I thought about all that God has taught me through the gift of His Word and how those pages are like life to me.  I thought about how I have been changed, one word at a time and how incredibly grateful I am.  I thought about the struggles…the victories…the battles fought…the lessons learned.  Moments of joy, of fear, of sadness, of anger, and of immense gratitude flooded my mind.  With all of those memories churning in my head and my heart, I was suddenly overcome with a burning desire for my sweet boy…that He would know the depth of God’s consuming love for him and that his faith would blow mine out of the water.

I wept and I prayed and I couldn’t thank God enough for loving my sweet little man more than I ever could.  I praised Him for being so faithful to me and for giving me the unbelievable opportunity to tell my boy all about it.  I prayed with the desperation only a mother could muster that I wouldn’t blow it.  That He would fill in all of my holes, provide everything that I lack, and repair every word that I speak that comes out wrong about who He is and what He has done.  I prayed that my boy would find fulfillment in his Father and that the Bible laying in my lap would be treasured by him throughout his life…not because it was from me, but because it was from Him.

I prayed.  I wept and I prayed and I sat for the longest time thinking about the journey that is ahead for my sweet boy.  When I composed myself enough to not soak the pages with my tears, I cracked the cover and made my first entry.  I turned to Ephesians 1:18 and underlined the verse I have been praying for him every day since he was 6 months old.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

His adventure is just beginning.

As terrifying as it can be to think of all of the hurts likely ahead that I want him to avoid, I also couldn’t be more excited for him.  His adventure is just beginning and he belongs to God.  God will watch over him every moment of his life, guiding and growing him, just as He has for me and I couldn’t be more thankful.  With a profound sense of relief and overwhelming peace, I closed the Bible and put it on my nightstand, thanking God for such an incredible gift.

Valentines Day

Oh my sweet boy, your mama is a hopeless romantic.  Lucky for me, I married your daddy…who not only understands and appreciates that, but also shares the same trait.  We celebrate Valentines Day every year not out of obligation, but because it is an opportunity to pause, change our routines, and be extremely intentional about expressing the love we have for one another.

I love your daddy so. very. much.

I’m telling you this now not to make you roll your eyes, but so that you will know that true love is real.  There is a growing idea in our culture that true love is something fictional…something that only exists in movies and fairy tales.  There is a population of people who want you to believe that marriage is an outdated idea and that relationships that appear to have true love are somehow secretly flawed or fake.  They are trying to tell you that true love doesn’t exist.  Well, my sweet boy, it does.  It’s real and raw and God has blessed us with it.  Thanks to Him, your daddy and I have a marriage that makes me open my eyes every morning with a smile and close them at night awash in gratitude.  Your dad makes me feel beautiful, challenges me to be the best version of myself, keeps me guessing, and loves me so well.  He encourages me when I feel overwhelmed, he shows me he loves me in the most creative ways, and he makes me laugh constantly (no surprise there!).  He is strong, he is passionate, he is smart.  He has a hunger for adventure that surprises me, a mind that amazes me, and a heart that inspires me.

I am head over heels in love with your daddy and have been for over 10 years.  He’s not perfect.  I’m not perfect.  We are living creatures who mess up, hurt each other, and say the wrong things sometimes, but we forgive…we repair…we love.  Each and every day, I thank God for bringing your daddy into my life and every day I choose to love him with every ounce of my being.

I pray for you every night and frequently those prayers turn to the person who will one day capture your heart.  Such a funny thought for my sweet 11 month old!  As far away as it seems, I pray that you would never settle for less than the incredible life God has intended for you and this includes your love life.  It may take longer to find and it might look a little different than you expect, but it will far exceed anything you could have crafted for yourself.  I pray for your spouse and pray that you will have a relationship founded on faith.  I pray that you will feel loved, supported, respected, encouraged, and empowered by your marriage.  In praying for your future spouse, I also pray that you will be an honorable husband.  That you will take your vows seriously.  That you will love without reservation or hesitation.  That you will forgive, demonstrate grace, and choose daily to show your love in many different forms.

With the help of your daddy, you presented me with chocolates and a card asking me to be your first Valentine.  I almost melted into a puddle right on the floor.  With tears in my eyes, I snuggled you up and accepted your request, praying that when the time comes for you to ask someone new to be your Valentine, you would never settle for less than the true, beautiful, authentic love I have found with your daddy.

I love you, lovebug.

Mama

Close to heaven…

Today I held on to you for just a bit longer before bedtime.

We were going through our normal routines and I was soaking up the remaining drops of you for the day.  I was saying my prayers for you, as usual, but suddenly the moment shifted.  I’m not sure what snapped me out of my normal train of thought, but suddenly I realized I was in holy territory.  Snuggled up in that glider in the corner, I was completely overcome by the awareness of what an absolute treasure you are to me.  My senses went on high alert and I tried to absorb every detail I could in that time.  I listened to your sweet, shallow breaths and watched your chest rise and fall.  I smiled at your legs stretched out with your feet crossed at the ankles.  I felt your precious hand rubbing mine and your hair tickling my arm.  Exhausted from a day filled with adventures, you melted into my lap and for but a brief moment, we were one.  I could just barely make out your profile in the light being cast from the hall and it literally took my breath away.  I thanked God over and over for this day, for this gift of you, and for the divine privilege of being your mama.

You are living grace to me.

For with all of my shortcomings, all of my flaws, my mistakes, my missteps…

With all of the ways I fall short, say the wrong things, and fail to love as selflessly as I so wish I could…

With the knowledge of every bit of this, God still gave me you.

Grace.

Divine grace and something I don’t ever want to take for granted.

I didn’t deserve you, but here you are…the weight of you in my arms reminding me of how incredibly blessed I am to be a child of His and a mama of yours.

So tonight, I lingered.  I closed my eyes and held on to you for just a little bit longer.  I breathed you in and with that, drew as close to heaven as humanly possible and said thank you for the millionth time for God’s incredible gift of you to me.

Letters to William

Oh my sweet babee…we had the best conversation on our walk today and I just had to write it down.  The day was beautiful–waning sunshine in the late afternoon sky and a refreshing chill in the air.  We took our usual loop around the neighborhood and what can I say?  God showed up.

I started pointing out how God has blessed us so abundantly through nature.  He could have given us only a few different animal species, but He didn’t.  He flooded the earth with millions of different types of creatures and as a result, we constantly encounter a variety of animal friends.  He could have limited our experience with one type of weather, but He didn’t.  He has given us seasons (yes, even in Florida!) so that just as we are tiring of one type of temperature, another is ushered in giving us a renewed energy and enthusiasm about where we live.

From there, we started talking about how incredible it is that the God who created ALL of that and more, wants to have a personal relationship with us.  I shared a verse that was a part of my morning Bible study–Jeremiah 33:3 which says “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  Wow.  We definitely camped on that thought for awhile.  I pointed out that this one little verse tells us so much about our great and loving God.  First, it shows us that we can talk to Him.  We can do this wherever, whenever, and however.  Sometimes this means praying out loud like we do when we say our nightly prayers.  Other times this means praying in our minds when we are in the middle of a crowded room.  The means doesn’t matter, the fact is that we can always talk to Him.  This verse also shows us that God listens and hears us!  In order to answer someone, you have to hear what they say, so that means the Creator of Heaven and Earth is actively listening to our every word when we call to Him!  Is that amazing or what?!?  Finally, it shows that after hearing our calls to Him, He responds.  This relationship is not one-sided–we talk, He hears, and then He answers!  While the verse doesn’t promise that we will hear the audible voice of God, it does tell us that He responds.  Sometimes this is in that God voice we have in our heads and hearts while other times it is in things that happen around us.  I can attest to this firsthand, my love.  God speaks to me in both of those ways all. the. time.  He will do the same for you–keep your eyes, ears, and heart open.

Since we were on the topic of prayer, I shared another verse from my Bible study with you.  James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  While it might seem CRAZY that God would listen to our prayers and answer them, the fact is He does.  Not only that, we can ask Him for ANYTHING that is on our hearts.  When you pray for something and God gives you what you asked for, please be sure to thank and praise Him!  We did this just this week because you had a cold and we prayed that God would make you feel better.  He did and we said THANK YOU to God for answering our prayer.  Just like I would expect you to thank a friend or a family member when they give you a gift, we must be sure to thank God when He gives us the gift of answered prayers.

That said–and please learn this early–we don’t always get what we ask for in prayer.  In the same way that I don’t give you everything you ask for because I know what is best for you, God answers our prayers according to what is best for us.  Yesterday you wanted to put the Christmas lights in your mouth.  I said “No” and you screamed in protest.  You just couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let you do that–it looked like so much fun to you!  I think we can both agree, since you are alive to read these words, that I made the right choice in not giving you what you asked for.  ;0)  God works the same way.  We don’t often understand why He says no, but we can rest in the fact that He is faithful.  We can trust that if He says “no”, it is always for our benefit.  Oh lovebug, sometimes those “no’s” are SO hard.  I have cried many tears over requests that God has said no to over the years.  It’s so hard to understand why He doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want Him to in the moment.  But every time that happens, after I stomp my feet and ask him “WHY??”, I rest at night knowing that He loves me and I trust that while I don’t understand why He said “no” I trust His will for my life.

We talked about how sometimes God answers prayers with “yes” other times with “no” and finally we have to talk about when God says “Not now.”  Sometimes God is willing to give us what we are asking of Him, but He wants to wait to give it to us on His time.  Oooh this is hard too.  Waiting is SUCH a bummer.  When we come up with something we want, we almost always want it immediately.  When God says “Not now” we have to be patient and trust that His timing is better than ours.  This is a hard concept to grasp, even for adults, so I broke it down a little further for you with the following example.  Let’s say you asked me to take you to Disney World.  I said “Not now” but you REALLY pushed and I gave in and decided to take you.  When we arrived at the park, the skies opened up and we were plagued with torrential rain for the rest of the day.  We ended up having to leave the park after only an hour because the weather was so bad.  Now…replay that same scenario, but this time I stick to my “Not now.”  I know the weather forecast and it’s going to be a horrible day to visit the park.  Instead, I opt to take you the next day and the weather is absolutely beautiful.  We are able to enjoy a full day of fun–something we would have missed out on if I honored your request on your timeline.  Remember: God ALWAYS has WAAAAAY more information than we do.  If He says, “Not now” it’s because He can see a benefit to waiting that we can’t.

Oh how I love these little chats with you.  You kept glancing up at me and cooing in a way that melted my heart.  Someday you will be an active participants in these talks and that just blows my mind.  I love you so much, lovebug.  Thanks for being incredible you.  I am beyond blessed to be your mama.

Letters to William

Butter,

We had the most glorious day yesterday, you and I.  You slept so well and woke up in the most delicious, smoochable mood–I couldn’t get enough.  The whole day was filled with smiles and laughs–I found myself frequently willing time to freeze so that I could hold on to those moments for eternity.  We took our typical walk around the neighborhood and here are some of the things we discussed:

-Halloween decorations

-Fire hydrant review–we have covered this before and were just reviewing

-Squirrel sounds

-Beautiful fall weather (specifically, how funny it is that fall days make us yearn for colder weather, while the exact same weather in the spring makes us yearn for warmer weather)

-The importance of waving to people, even if they look grumpy and you think they aren’t going to wave back

-Looking both ways before crossing streets (again, a review)

-How much you are loved (which I’m sure at this point garners an eye roll or two, as you get this speech every. single. day.  ;0)

My favorite part of our conversation though, was about prayer.  I have told you before that prayer is just a fancy word for talking to God and that you should never feel like you have to have the “right” words.  Talking to God is just like talking to a friend.  Actually, it’s even cooler because when you have a hard time expressing how you are feeling, God gets it no matter what.  In fact, the Bible even says that when you can’t figure out what you want to say to God, He helps fill in the gaps because he knows our hearts (Romans 8:26).  Amazing!!

So yesterday, we talked to God.  We told him about the people in our life who are sick and hurting and we asked God to help them feel better.  We told Him how much we enjoyed the weather and how we would love to have more of it.  We thanked him for keeping us safe when we traveled to and from Tampa and for blessing us with such a fun day.  We told God everything we had on our hearts–thanks, praise, requests, all of it.  While we could only hear our voices and couldn’t see what God was doing, you can be assured that not only was He listening, our prayers were causing him to act.  I’m not making this up!  Matthew 18:19-20 says this: “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”  Isn’t that incredible?  So we were just out enjoying a beautiful walk and having a conversation with our friend and because of it, things started happening in heaven!

I hope you remember that throughout your life.  Every day I pray that you would not only know who God is, but have a relationship with Him.  It is without question, the biggest prayer I have for you.  It trumps everything else because I know that if you have a relationship with God, He will see you through EVERYTHING else…no matter the circumstance.  I know, because it’s happened to me.

Oh my little lovebug, I love you more than you will ever know.  I am treasuring every moment with you and can’t thank God enough for blessing me with you!!!

AML,

Mama

Run with perseverance…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

I have recently started trying to hone the practice of praying specific scriptures over my life and the lives of others.  This morning I dug out my trusty scripture box and pored over the countless verses that God has drawn my attention to over the years.  I flipped through each one and selected nine that are just perfect for this season in my life.  I also found scriptures for Gilbert, for William, for friends and extended family.  Some overlap and I pray the same verse over multiple people, while others are specific to individuals in their present circumstances.

I stumbled upon Hebrews 12:1-3 and set that card aside for me.  I have read those verses, spoken them, and reflected on them throughout my life, but they called to me with new significance this morning.  The message of running a race with perseverance perfectly fits this season of motherhood and I seized upon them.  As a new mama, I am in a marathon, not a 5k, and need God’s continual provision to remain faithful in living as the wife and mother He has called me to be.

When I prayed these verses out loud this morning, I imagined myself running in an actual race and vividly pictured the scene.  Hair in a pony tail, sweat running from my brow, I could see myself jogging along, the sound of footsteps and shallow breaths filling my ears.  When I got to the portion about “fixing our eyes on Jesus” I paused to consider what that would look like in my scene.  Am I looking ahead of me?  Looking at Him running beside me?  Running with my eyes up to the heavens?

The more I thought about it, the more I pictured all of the other things that would be vying for my attention as I ran along.  Different portions of the race would yield different temptations to take my eyes off of Him and focus elsewhere.  Knowing myself, there would be times that the temptation to check out the crowds to my left and right would steal my attention.  Are the people around me cheering or are they snickering about how slowly I am running?  In other moments, I know I would be tempted to look down the road—how much longer do I have to go?  Are there hills up ahead?  In still other times, I would be tempted to look behind me, indulging in pride about how far I had run.  Look at me!!  These are common temptations I face every day in the race I am running—I’m not even going into the distractions that come when obstacles arise, when weariness sets in, or when the weather changes.

There are so many other places to set my sights that I have to be intentional every day to focus my eyes on Him.  For me, this means taking a cue from Psalm 5:3 and going to God in the morning, before the day is in full swing.  I complete Bible study homework, read scripture, and spend time just talking to God.  There is a noticeable difference in the days that I do this—I am more centered, I have greater peace, and my perspective on life is tremendously impacted.  Without this focus, I frequently veer off course and barely limp along.

This is a race and running well requires dedication.  While I am not competing against anyone else, I am called to take every day that God blesses me with and run it faithfully.  This will not happen by accident, I must be intentional.

In the end, I decided that fixing my eyes on Jesus, means that I am running while looking directly in front of me.  That’s where I imagine Him to be—a few steps ahead so that He can guide me along the path, while in the perfect position to encourage my every step.  What a mighty God we serve.  Oh that I would be so faithful to train my eyes on Him alone.