Dear Levi

As I sit here, drinking my afternoon tea, I am pondering you my son.

My third baby. In such a short time, there were three. During a time when life was very uncertain and I was scared. I wasn’t sure God had things in control and didn’t feel I could trust Him. And then a baby.

A baby who changed everything. A baby who changed the course of my life.

laughing

You may be tired of this story, son. Tired of hearing the same words from this Momma. But who can ever tire of hearing of God’s sovereign grace over a life fraught with sin and pain?

God chose you, my son, for a great work. And he sent you to us as a baby to show me just how much He cared for me, for my heart. God is neat like that. Just when we think He doesn’t hear or know or see, He reaches down just in time and proves us wrong.

I knew in that moment when they yelled, “He’s still attached!” And when I felt your wet-warmth seep into my soul. And when I stared into those dark blue eyes in the middle of the night because you were confused as to when you should be awake. And a few months later when God whispered through His word to this weary heart. I knew. I knew there was more to it than what I was seeing.

“So we fix our eyes NOT on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

In this great big maze of life sometimes we get lost and all we can see are the wrong turns, the dead ends and the unpassable wall that’s in front of our face. We think there is no way out. That there is no purpose to the wandering. That somehow we were forgotten and handed the short end of life. It’s easy to only see the bad, the hard, the suffering. But those are not the only things. And we must tell our eyes not to land there because there is so much more. So much.

Even in the midst of those hard moments, when the breath is knocked out of you and you may be crying. Yes, even then, there can be joy. It may come as buried treasure, you may have to hunt for it, but it is always there. And just like a diamond that is hewn out of a black rock, it will shine blindingly bright in the midst of depressing darkness.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show the all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Why do I write these grown up words to my seven year old boy? (SEVEN!!??)

Because you were my buried treasure, Levi. You were the light that began in the dark and hidden place. You were the hope that fluttered inside me. You brought the joy to a weighed down momma during the long stretches of night. You were the gift on my very own birthday. A gift of fulfilled meaning the very moment you came to be.

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God sent a baby another time in history who changed everything. A baby who changed the course of this world.

A baby born in the midst of great darkness whose purpose was to break open the light. To kindle the flame of hope and to ignite joy.

“For God, who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

And because of that gift, we can find joy. Always. Even in and amongst the sorrow. How sweet of him to use another baby, you, to bring a smaller salvation to my soul. To bring the light of his face into the every day. To encourage me not to lose heart and that nothing, even the hardest of moments, are not wasted.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

I know that some of these words you may not understand right now. But I know that one day they will make sense and that is why I want you to have them now. You are precious. You have purpose. I promise.

I love each day I have with you. Sometimes I wish I could just drink you in, so that you would seep deep into my pores. It is strange sometimes for me to think that you are your own, thinking and feeling little person and no longer a part of me. I guess that might sound weird to you. But this momma-heart makes me sound that way sometimes. Letting go is a hard thing. And a wonderful thing. But sometimes it just feels strange and I’m not sure I like it. It starts the minute the cord is cut and it is a cutting that continues with every year that comes and goes by. Each year you are a little more of you and a little less of me. And really, that is so good. But it makes my heart twinge just a bit, ‘cause I wonder if it’s enough.

 View More: http://coastlineimagery.pass.us/judah

But again, I’m talking grown-up.

For now, just have fun playing with Lego’s and shooting your bow and arrow. And riding your bike and playing with friends, telling jokes and being silly. Enjoy going to school and learning cursive and a little Latin. Be a good big brother and a good little brother and a brother to a sister who sometimes drives you nuts. There is still so much divine tucked in all these beautiful, childhood wonders. Glory in them, my son. And I’ll worry with the other.

I seriously can’t even tell you how much I love you and just how thankful to God I am for you. You most definitely win the “Best Birthday Present Ever” award!

Happy Birthday!!

Love,

Your Momma

Dear Olivia

I think I may have blinked.

I didn’t listen when they told me not to.

Somehow you are ten now and I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

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I finally figured out how to be a mommy to little’s. I know what to do when my baby or toddler cries. And what to do when they need a nap. I understand what it means to lose a favorite toy and what must be done to retrieve it. I’ve learned to be calm(er) when nothing I do seems to make it better. I breathe more often. I know how to pray for the little years, for protection and perseverance and to give thanks for the chaos. I’ve grown into this mothering-of-little-people and it fits quite well.

But this. I don’t know quite as well.

I was watching you as you ate your birthday dinner. I had to look twice because I wasn’t sure I was seeing the same girl. This one looked so grown up. So very pretty and mature. It makes this Mama’s heart quiver just a bit.

I remembered back to when I was 10. I remember being in 4th grade. I remember curling my bangs every morning and using way too much hairspray. I remember playing on the play ground at school and flipping my cocky ponytail around. I remember the layered socks I wore and how I had to scrunch them down just right. I remember making fun of my best friend because I thought it would make this boy I liked like me. I remember her face. I remember mine and how I promised myself I would never do that again. I remember going to a different church. And listening to the Bible preached for the first time. I remember all the notes I took and how I couldn’t wait to tithe my money. I was so proud of myself and told all my friends. I remember reading my Bible for the first time and understanding that it was written for me. I felt the weight of it all and it would make me cry. I remember missing my friends when we started to homeschool. I remember playing house with my dolls and wishing so much to be a mommy. I would even put a blanket under my shirt and pretend to be pregnant. It was all I ever really wanted out of life.

And you, my girl, made me just that. A mommy. So thanks!

When they told me you were a girl I was so happy. I wanted a girl. But it made me a little scared too. Raising a girl takes so much. It’s such an important job. And I wasn’t sure I had what it takes. Part of growing up as a mother, means realizing you never will have all that it takes. That’s the scary part I think. Knowing that we are just stewards of our children, that God is the real parent and the results of our parenting rests assuredly in His hands. These things may not make sense to you right now. But one day, when you are on the phone with me, crying because your baby wont sleep, or because he just hit you for the first time, or you’re afraid you are losing him or her, you will remember these words and it will all make sense to you then.

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I tease you all the time and tell you that “Mommy knows everything!” And sometimes I do know more than you think I do. =)

But really, sweetie, most days I still feel like that 10 year old girl and I’m playing house. But this time it’s for real and it makes me pray all the harder.

It’s a funny thing, this growing up. Your body gets bigger and goes through so many changes, but your inside stays the same for so much longer. I still get nervous and scared about things. I get my feelings hurt too. I wish I could have my own box of cereal and read all day. I want to swing on the playground and play with my friends. And I still use too much hairspray. I wonder if I’m pretty and if people will like me. I still feel peer pressure and make unwise choices. I cry. I want to talk for no reason about absolutely nothing and that makes me feel better somehow. I want to be wanted.

Do you ever feel those things? Do you ever wonder if you are enough, if you belong, if you are loved? Do you want others to like you and think you are special? Do you want to feel important and needed? Yes?? Oh, good. That means you are a normal girl. =)

You will feel a lot of things. Sometimes in the span of just a couple of minutes. It’s how God created us and it’s a normal part of growing up. And this Mama, she understands. Because I think I’m still growing up too.

God understands these moments too. He understands our wonderings if we are enough and He’s not afraid to answer them. He tells us in Isaiah 55:

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“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you.”

God invites us to a Tea Party of sorts. He has everything there all pretty and scrumptious and waiting. We must simply come. Come with our nothing. Come to Him when we are thirsty. Thirsty for recognition and approval. We must come to Him when we are hungry for friendship and love and the things that do not satisfy. We must not waste or ‘money’, our time and effort and desires, on the things that will only leave us empty. We must come to Him and ‘eat’ from Him, for He only has good things to give us that will make our very souls delight in.

So often we settle for the crumbs on the floor. We sit under the table and hide. From Him and all that is good. To be a strong woman of God, you must trust in His goodness. That means opening your heart to Him and drinking deeply. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” We must. Because only then will we not settle and will want for nothing.

Take it from this grown-up-girl. There will always be so much that we will not have, whether it’s material things, emotional, relational or otherwise. This is a broken world we live in. One that does not offer complete satisfaction. Only God can offer that. And you can have it.

These are my words for this tenth year… and every year. You are never too young to learn this vital truth.

I can’t believe I am a Mama to a 10 year old! I am so glad it’s you. Happy Birthday. I love you.

Love,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Your Mama

Dear Judah

Your first birthday has come and gone. More than two weeks have gone by… and I’m just now sitting to write your birthday letter.

I’m sure you would understand if I gave the excuse, “I’ve just been too busy or I’ve not had a moment to…”

Because that would be true. The past few weeks have been very busy.

But it wouldn’t be entirely true. 

This excuse might not make sense to you. But my mommy-heart hasn’t been quite ready to write your first birthday letter. And my mommy-heart can be a tricky thing.

This past year has been such a joy for me. I just didn’t want it to end. I haven’t wanted to admit, really admit, that your first year has come and gone. But it has. And I can say it now, if not a little quietly.

A couple of years before you were born I was somewhere. I can’t remember where now, but it was away from home. I had Olivia, Deacon and Levi with me and maybe Daddy too. We were busy and there were lots of people buzzing about, so I counted.

I counted the heads. One… two… three…

I counted again. One… two… three…

Everyone was there, but for some reason, I couldn’t shake that feeling that someone was missing. I looked around, waiting to see who it was that I was missing… but you weren’t here yet.

That kept happening. Sometimes I would get a little panicky about it. And then I would feel a little silly. So I decided to pray and ask God why it was that I was feeling that way.

And then He showed me.

I’ll never forget the first time I thought that I might be pregnant with you.

I was downtown and wanted a coffee. But as soon as I walked into the coffee shop, I didn’t want coffee anymore. So I got tea. But it just didn’t taste right, so I threw it out.

I paused for a moment. Hmmm… could it be? A few days later we would know for sure.

I remember laying in bed with my hand over my tummy and my tears streaming down into my ears. My heart was so full. Yes, that mommy-heart of mine. That one that can be so tricky. It was so happy and full of joy and I wondered who you would be.

I thought of your forming body and that verse that talks about God knitting you together. I pictured His hands at work, even then, in the hidden place of my womb. My heart rejoiced.

I didn’t know then that you would be a boy, but I knew if you were what I would name you. I would name you Judah, for my heart was Praising the Lord.

I thought I was done having babies. That’s what we had said. We had even given all of our baby things away! My heart was content with that. But I’m so glad God decided something different. For my heart has been full of praise since the moment I knew you were on your way.

As you grow, you will learn that God is always working and preparing us and those around us for… something. Sometimes it may seem like a small thing, an unimportant thing. But looking back you will see that it wasn’t unimportant after all. That God had a plan for that something and used it in a very big way.

Adding children to a family is a special thing. It is also a very natural thing. And although every baby is a miracle of God’s creation, it is also very normal and not unusual. I know I may be sounding a little wishy-washy. I blame it on my mommy-heart. It can sound that way sometimes.

But what I’m trying to say, is that God used the very natural occurrence of having a baby to do something big in the heart of this mommy.

We are all born for a purpose. God plans the time and place and family He places a baby in. It’s never an accident. I want you to grow to believe that, David Judah. He numbers our days before we ever see one of them. And God has a book that He writes all these things down in. He knows us. He loves us. And He uses our lives to change the lives of others.

And God is already using you, sweet boy. To encourage this mommy-heart. To confirm God’s blessings over my life. To whisper… I still hear the cries of your heart. Cause sometimes, this mommy-heart cries.

And just as I held you those long hours and days and months when all you did was cry…

God is holding me.

And when I didn’t sleep at night, but nursed you instead, breathing you in…

I remembered how God never sleeps, and always tends to our needs.

And when my heart would expand to yet another size and the tears would stream down at your first smile….

My heart would be refreshed at the thought of God’s favor over His children.

I have praised the Lord, my son. I have praised Him with my whole being for giving us you. I have praised Him for another chance to be a mommy.

I have praised Him for 10 more little fingers and toes…


And for the way you just wanted to be held all the time and how you don’t mind wearing your jammies to the park….

And for how you loved your first Christmas, even though you napped through the family picture and mommy forgot about you needing to be in it! And the way you are so good at eating your food all by yourself….

 
And for your chubbily scrumptious cheeks (sometimes I eat them!) And for the way you LOVE your lovey (it truly as magical powers) and suck your tongue when you are sleepy…

 





For your ears and your duck hair and the way you meow every time you see the kitties…

 


For your new teeth and the way you love to play in your Pack N’ Play… (and how you love balloons!)

 For the way you love your Uncle B. and how you ROCK a faux hawk!

For how I don’t have to see your smile to know you are smiling! And the way you are mommy’s helper in the kitchen (and yes you are wearing a tie here =)).

 
I am praising Him that you are my fourth blessing (whether you like it or not).

And for the way you are trying so hard to stand even though you’d rather just sit on my lap and smile.

And for how much you love to play with your toys and your brothers and sister. And for how you knew exactly what to do with that cupcake (eat it) and that number one (throw it on the floor).

And for how simply beautiful you are. You take my breath away. I love you my son. Thank you for filling this mommy-heart to overflowing. Happy Birthday.



Dear Levi

Levi and I both recently shared our (6th and 31st) birthdays in February. Craziness ensued thereafter, which is my explanation for the delay in posting his letter.

Dear Levi,

I’ll never forget the excitement surrounding your birth.

I couldn’t believe it was my birthday! You were going to be born on my birthday! I just never would have thought that possible!

I told all the nurses there that we would share the same birthday. They were excited too. I was so glad that Dr. Fontana was on call that night. Because he was the very same doctor who delivered me when I was being born! How special.

But you’ve already heard this story many times…

How you interrupted our super bowl party when I thought I was in labor a few weeks before…

How you interrupted my birthday dinner at Nana’s with contractions when it was for real…

How Dr. Fontana was there…

How we didn’t have a name for you yet…

How you were still attached to me when they went to take you away…

How God named you Levi…

But have you heard the part about me falling in love with you?

There is something that happens to a Mama when she has a baby that is both miraculous and obvious. Did you know that her heart grows, doubling in size from what it was? Did you know that I felt it do that? And then it starts to ache just a bit as it continues beating. Because it now beats for an extra person. One more than it did before.

You were placed on my chest, all white and wet and wailing. I remember the warmth of your little body as my hands enveloped you. And the warmth of my heart as it grew to yet another size. I breathed you in and kissed you. You were heavenly. As close to heaven as I will ever be on this earth. Holding my little one all wet for the first time. It’s my favorite.

Your head was so dark and your face so Qualls. And I knew no Marcy was there this time either.

I had been so nervous about adding another one to our family. But after you were here I felt silly for feeling that way. You were just a joy. And you smiled so easily. And fit in so well. And we just loved you so much.

You are now a big six year old. That is so hard for me to believe. I remember you being born so vividly, so it’s hard to believe that it was six years ago.

I love who you are and who you are becoming. You are my favorite 6 year old, that’s for sure. You are learning to read this year and you put Lego’s together so well. You are our little comedian and you love doing stand-up shows for us. And boy how I laugh until the tears come down! You sing along to the worship songs in the car and know every word. And you always ask me, “What’s that song again mom?” And I know, because I know you and I say, “Bless the Lord Oh My Soul?” And you say, “Yeah, that one. That’s my favorite.” It’s my favorite too.

You want to feel important and be heard and sometimes there are tears because you are feeling a little lost I think. I love you then too. And when you can’t find your shoes or your socks even though you just had them on and we are now late. I love you then too. Or when you just want to stay in the car, but we have to go into the store and we wait and wait… I love you then too. And when there’s dirt under your nails and your hair is sticking up and I notice this sitting on the front pew at church. I love you even then.

Because you are my little guy and my heart beats for you. There is no love like a mother’s love…

Well, maybe there is.

God’s love for us is even greater. We are all His favorites. All the time. Even in the middle of our biggest fits and we have to go in time out. He loves us even then too… especially then.

Never forget that. God loves you no matter what. And that’s why I can too.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy. This Mama’s heart still aches just a bit when I kiss your blond fuzz head. And it always will…

Dear Olivia

My sweet girl had a birthday last week. We celebrated her 9th year. It’s surreal almost, how fast this life goes by. While in the middle of it, it sometimes feels like it’s moving sooo slow! And then you look up from your day dream and stinkin’ 9 years have blinked by!
 
I know you all experience it and I’m not alone in this. But every birthday is just seems to catch me off guard – again. Maybe one day it wont, but I’m not going to hold my breath!
 
Here’s my birthday letter to my girl…
 
 
 
 
 
When I look at you now, I no longer see my baby. Although, you will always and forever be my baby girl…

 

I see a beautiful young girl, blooming into womanhood.

 

How can this be?

 

When you were asked if you felt older the day of your 9th birthday and you said “Yes, I do” I believed you. You seem to look older even.

 

It’s almost as if you are starting to shed your ‘locust’ shell and are climbing into the unknowns of growing up.

 

I loved watching you become a big sister again this past year. You love to be a little mother. And Judah thinks you are his mother sometimes I think! You are so sweet to him and helpful to me. What a good big sister you are.

 

You are in 3rdgrade this year! You are writing in cursive and reading bigger books and learning your multiplication tables. And now that you are going to Holy Trinity, you are even learning Latin and Astronomy and Greek Mythology! I am so proud of you, sweetie. You have been so brave these past few weeks starting in your new class. You made friends your first day and are working so hard. You are like a bright star in the sky, shining brightly wherever you go. Don’t ever be afraid to shine your light, the light of Jesus.

 

I was so excited for you when you started going to your new school. Even though I knew you were a little scared. I just knew that you would love it so much and do so well. And you do and are. Sometimes things change and we change and because of that our plans change. But just because those kinds of things happen, it doesn’t mean that God changes. He always stays the same, no matter what. And He always knows what’s going to happen, even before we do, so nothing is ever a surprise to Him. That’s part of why we can trust Him. Because He always has things in control and always uses the things that happen in our lives for His purpose and for His glory.

 

He has such great plans for you, sweet girl. Because you are so special to Him. He had you be born on the exact day and in just the right family, and oh how glad I am for that.

 

So when you have moments of doubt. When you aren’t sure of your way or you wonder why things are going the way they are. Know that God knows exactly what is going on and what it all means and why, even. And He hasn’t forgotten you or why He placed you where He placed you.

 

We all have moments like that, especially growing up like you are. It’s tough sometimes and we don’t always understand what we are feeling. But that’s ok. It’s just part of it I guess.

 

Mom and Dad will always be here to help you through it. We don’t always do it perfectly, but you already know that. We still wonder what’s going on sometimes and what it all means! Even Mom and Dad. That’s why we all need Jesus and to be reminded of His love and grace and that He is always there leading and guiding us.

 
 

My favorite times is around the table doing our devotion. I’m glad we are still able to do that even though you are going to school. I love that you love the Bible and are learning it.

 

My other favorite time is at bed time when we snuggle and tickle and giggle and get too rowdy and Dad has to calm us down. I love running my fingers through your hair and kissing your forehead and cheeks. I love feeling the top of your head just beneath my chin. You are getting so tall. And soon you will be taller than me! But most people are, so just remember that!

 

Yes, you are a beautiful young lady. But always remember the most important side… the inside. Your heart. We all have to do heart checks because that’s where everything we say and think and do comes from… our hearts. It can be a beautiful place and an ugly place all at the same time.

 

So as you become more aware of your outside and wanting to look pretty, don’t forget about that inside that can start to look ugly sometimes to. Going to Jesus everyday will cleanse your heart and reading His words will renew your mind.

 

I am praying for you sweet girl. Every day. As you grow up and go to school and love your brothers and help mommy. It’s a big job, but you do it so well. And I’m so proud.

 

Happy Birthday, Livie Rose.

 

I love you.

 

Love, Your Mama

Dear Deacon

Seven years old, huh?
 
I don’t think anyone gave you permission to go and turn seven! Nope, not me.
 

 

 
Thinking back over this last year I realize that you are truly becoming a young man. You are no longer the little boy that used to snuggle so closely on my lap. And although I miss that sweet fuzzy-headed little boy, I love this young man that you are becoming.

 

 
 
 
You are still trying to find your place and you have a long way to go, but I see such promise in you, my son. You have a tender heart, you love deeply and you are determined.
 
 
 
 
Those are such good qualities to have. You can’t be a good man without them. You can’t be a good leader without first becoming a good servant.
 
 
 
 
One thing I want to challenge you with for this year and really for the rest of your years is what we read in our devotion just the other morning. Do you remember?
 
 
 
From 2 Samuel 10:12 –
 
    “Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.”
or as the KJV says “Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people…”

 

“Be Brave!” Joab told his men. They were going to war and I’m sure some were scared. He had to remind them that God made them men! And they needed to play the part. It’s hard being a man. It’s hard being a good man.
What does it mean to be brave? Will you have to go to war? Maybe you will some day. And yes, you would have to be brave. But even if you never go to war with guns and grenades, you will still be fighting a war. A war for family and a war for God. And you must fight!
 
 


 
 
There was another passage we read. It came from 2 Peter 3:7-8:
 
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”
 

I know you don’t have a wife yet. You better not! But you do have a Mom and you do have a sister! God was kind to give us to you so that you can get some practice time in! One day you might find yourself married, and guess what? You will have to play the man.
 
 
 


It takes bravery to show respect and kindness, to be compassionate and to put others before yourself. But I challenge you, to Play the Man!
I love you, my son and I am so thankful God chose to place you in our family. He could have given you to anyone in the whole world! But he saw fit to give you to us. What a gift you are.
 
 
 
Happy Birthday, Bud. I hope you feel special today. Because you are. Very Special.
 
 

 
Love,
Your Momma
 

May I Introduce

David “Judah” Qualls
Born May 23, 2012
at 6:26 in the morning.
He weighed 7lbs. 1oz
and was 21 inches long.
Our hearts are beyond full. And as his name Judah tells us to, we are praising the Name of the Lord!

He sure took his time on deciding to make an appearance. But once his mind was made up, he was done wasting time. He got down to business and so did his Mama.

I woke up around 3am to a couple of hard contractions. But didn’t take them too seriously until a little after 4:00 when I decided to call the midwife. We made a plan to meet at the center at 6:00 since it takes an hour for us to get there. Shortly before 5:00, the time we had planned to leave, I suddenly felt an urgency to get there. We quickly threw the rest of our stuff in the van and peeled out of the drive way. I was thankful to have my mother-in-law riding in the back with me. Her presence and her arms and hands were an amazing support to me.

The hour in the car was quite intense to say the least. I was praying we would just get there.

Ten minutes or so before we arrived, I knew something was changing. Denise, calmly encouraging me, said we would be there soon. I was so relieved at the the thought of the car ride being over. But before I could rejoice for long, my contractions began to roll over into another with hardly a pause in between. I knew it had to be soon. Just how soon would be the surprise of my life. 

As soon as we made it into the center, the midwife told me I was 8cm dilated. We ‘walked’ down the hallway. I tried to stop and breathe through the contraction, but I think Jill knew there would be no time. She and Dustin taking each arm, hoisted me to the back, as my feet shuffled to keep up. In my trance-like state, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just stop.

I heard voices telling me to do this and that. Get up on the bed? Is that what they said? But I was only allowed to do what my body told me to do. “I want to get in the tub, ” I told them. She said no. “There’s no time.”

I found myself up on the bed surprised by the sudden change that was taking place in my body. The concentration and focus took every ounce of my energy. And I had to push.
This being my first unmedicated delivery I was surprised by the intensity of it. I had no choice. There was no stopping it.

Jill, my amazing midwife, was not caught by surprise. She answered my surprised, “I have to push!” with a calm, “Do what your body tells you.”

And I did…
With the aid of one midwife and his daddy and before you could say lickety split, Little Man was HERE!!

Fifteen minutes after arriving at the birth center, Baby Judah joined our anxiously awaiting family.

I have found it amazing each time we have had a child that you don’t have to try and love them. It doesn’t take any work at all. It just happens. It’s so natural. Easy. I love that. Your heart swells to another size. Just. Like. That.

I knew I wanted to name him after my Daddy. David means Beloved of God and my Daddy is beloved of me, so it fits nicely.
But we will call him Judah. I wanted the name of this baby to represent where God has brought us and the amazing work he has done in our hearts. I hope Leah of Genesis doesn’t mind us copying her. We tried other names with similar meanings. But Judah is what my heart settled on from the very beginning. It means to Praise the Lord.

We aren’t just surviving through life, through marriage, through parenting. We aren’t roommates or cellmates or mates for life because we have to. We are walking together hand in hand, because we want to. And we are praising. With our hearts, with our lives, within our marriage and young family.
Praising the name of the one who has brought healing and hope. Granted forgiveness and renewal. And now another one of us as testimony to all He has done.

David Judah,

What a special blessing you are to us already. Even the thought of who you would be 9 months ago was enough blessing to make this Mama weep in praise.
And you are here now. And oh how deep our love runs for you.
I am loving getting to know you. How precious you are.
I love you, my sweet son. My heart overflows.

Last Days

It hit me yesterday.

As I was opening baby shower gifts and holding tiny blue clothes in my hands. It finally hit me. Hard.

Baby boy is on his way and will be here very soon.

How soon, we don’t know for sure. D-day is 4 weeks from now. But my babies have always been 1 -2 weeks old by the time that day finally rolled around.

It was strange as reality crept up the back of me and landed on top of my head. I think it messed up my hair just a bit, because I felt a little disheveled.

I had been tired that morning after not sleeping well the night before. It’s funny how he’s already keeping me up nights. I fully anticipated a lengthy nap that afternoon.

But as soon as I got home, the nap was no longer needed. Instead what was needed was baby clothes washed and sorted, thank you notes written, and the kitchen de-cluttered.

Nesting has begun. And just in time too. I’ve been worried that it just wouldn’t happen because of my extreme lack of energy.

I am excited and anxious and can’t wait to meet him. To know what his name will be. To see who he looks like. To experience labor in a very different way.

God will provide what we need as we need it. So I’m not worried. But trusting does take work.

So in these last days, we are working hard at trusting, waiting patiently and finally washing baby clothes!

Happy Birthday to my Man

We have celebrated many birthdays together over the almost 10 years of marriage
and the 5 years of dating before.
Never have I known what to get you. You’d think by this time I’d be better at it… 
So sorry that I’m not.
But even though I’ve never been good at gift giving, I hope you know how
much I love you and how thankful for you that I am.
God has brought us so far and has done such a beautiful work in our marriage.
I am thankful for your hard work and faithfulness to us. Thanks for not quitting.
I am so thankful for the way you provide for us, the stress you endure, all you have accomplished. You make me so proud. So very proud.
I love your sense of humor and the fact that I get you, when not many
others do. You make me laugh every single day.
I love that I learn more about you each day.
I love to hear your thoughts, to know what you are thinking.
You teach me so much.
I love your courage. You aren’t afraid to do what needs to be done. Or say what needs to be said to stand up for grace and righteousness. You challenge me.
I LOVE that we are having another of us. I can’t wait to see what he looks like.
I love that our boys look like you, walk like you, talk like you and love what you love.
Thanks for loving our kids. For changing diapers, for putting them to bed, for getting up the million times it take to make sure they are still in bed! For disciplining and talking with them.
For praying for them.
Thanks for making chocolate chip cookie bars and coffee every morning
and dinner sometimes when I can’t. For doing our grocery shopping.
Thanks for hanging pictures and doing the things that matter to me, even if they don’t matter to you. For telling me I’m beautiful when I feel like a beached whale.
Thanks babe, for loving me.
And for making me feel loved. You are the gift.
I love you.
Happy Birthday

I Called Him Fat Man

Today I want to write about my brother just a bit.

You see, it’s his birthday tomorrow and birthdays always trigger memories for me. About the person who is having the birthday. And about what they mean to me.

I am trying to get better at writing these down. Maybe one day all my family will have a birthday post… maybe.

I was 3 when Hunter was born. I don’t remember much about that time. What I do remember mostly comes from pictures. So I remember he was fat. Very fat. And we called him Fat Man (as in Bat Man). We’d even sing the “Na na Na na Na na Na na Na na Na na Na na Na na …. Fat Man!” theme song to go with it. He loved it.

We played a lot together growing up. I remember always loving him. We would play Sunday School and line our stuffed animals up and tell them about Jesus. We would sing songs that we made up and record them on cassettes. We would play in the woods – A LOT. We built tree forts and dug deep holes (deep as in 6ft. deep) and played war and swung from rope swings. So much so that I wanted to be a marine when I grew up or a police woman, either one.

When we moved out to Seabrook, we loved the dirt roads and never wore shoes. We crabbed and fished and even almost got stranded in a canoe when our anchor didn’t quite reach the bottom when we stopped to eat a sandwich. We played man hunt with friends and roller bladed and rode bikes and always, played in the woods.

I remember being really scared once. Hunt was around 7 or 8 and he got hit in the head with a baseball bat at baseball practice. I held his glove tight while I waited for him to come home from the hospital. I couldn’t put it down because I was so scared. What would happen if he didn’t come home? But he did.

He scared me another time when he fell from about 30 feet up in a tree when the rope snapped. He landed on his back and the wind was knocked out of him. And the wind was knocked out of me. And then I started screaming and ran to the house to get help and I don’t remember but all I could scream was, “Hunter’s DEAD!!” At least that’s what they tell me. But he wasn’t.

And then he just made me mad when my boyfriend (now husband) would come over to see ME and would end up goofing off with Hunter instead. I loved going to youth group Friday nights because Hunter couldn’t come with us. But then he became old enough and he started coming too.

By then I didn’t mind so much. Because I still just really loved him.

Then I remember he started hanging out with this girl. And I remember feeling so relieved because I just wasn’t sure who he’d end up with. Especially after hearing all of our growing up years that he wanted to get married in his truck and live in the woods. I was a bit worried.

And when I’d try to get him to confess his love for this girl, he would deny it and tell me they were just friends. He was such a liar. I mean, they were just friends, but he really WAS madly in love with her! I knew this for sure when it was her birthday and he asked me what I thought he should get her. He hates buying people presents, I thought. Yep, a dead give-away.

That’s me on the left with my arm raised, we were singing. Hunter comes next (see why I was worried), then there’s Dustin, see why I loved him? And believe it or not, that’s Ames with the short hair, see why he loved her?

And they did get married. But it wasn’t in his truck. And I guess you could say they did live in the woods. So it seems he picked the right one.

But before the woods, he graduated from college. The first Marcy to graduate from college. And I was so proud. I wonder if I every really told him that. I was sad that I wasn’t at his graduation. I remember having to be somewhere else out of town, but I was going to try and make it anyway, and then it started pouring rain and I had a nursing baby and it just didn’t happen. But he had his girl and I knew he didn’t need me.

I remember another moment when I was so proud. We were in Ukraine. It was my first trip there, the trip that captured my heart. We were a team of five and we went to do English camps with college students. Man it was fun. Our last Sunday there we traveled to the town of Litin. We gave our testimonies and then the guys were asked to preach. I remember looking over at Hunter, he was writing on a scrap piece of paper. I quickly realized, he was writing out his sermon. He should have known better, they always ask the guys to preach! He was nervous. And he did his nervous thing, he looked as if he was about to cry. But he wasn’t. That’s just his nervous look. I think I cried a little though. Just a little, as I listened to him preach. Somehow that scrap piece of paper ended up in my Bible and I kept it for a long time. In fact, I think it’s still there.

I’m not sure why this picture is so blurry! But this was us, Ukraine 2006.

And then the woods.

I remember hearing it for the first time. That they were going to leave, him and his girl and that we wouldn’t know where they were. That it was dangerous and he was taking his gun. For 6 long months I wouldn’t see him or know where he was. He would be hiking. The Appalachian Trail. And I was scared again. Kinda like when he got hit in the head. Or fell out of that tree. I’m his big sister, it’s my job to be scared a little. It’s my job.

But it’s my job to be proud too. And I was. So proud. This was so HIM! And I wished I was going too. Like I would have when we were kids.

I remember praying for them in the middle of the night, now nursing another little baby. That he would be safe and would come back home. What if he didn’t come back home? But they did.

And life was normal after that. We had our families and now our little sister had a family of her own. And we had grown up and it was just a little bit weird but so good at the same time.

Then I was hearing the words again. They were leaving again, but this time to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I was a little upset. Ok a lot upset. I wanted him here. I didn’t want to have to be scared for him anymore. I wanted things to just be normal, safe. I mean who has a brother that hikes two stinkin’ trails for 6 months at a time!!

I guess I do.

yes, he’s wearing a skirt.

I told him I was mad. But of course I waited until the day they left. I know, such good timing. I didn’t even give him a good good-bye hug. I felt hurt. And if I was being honest with myself I would have said that I didn’t want to be left behind again.

A lot of words were spoken. But I remember him saying that we both had that adventurous spirit in us and it was ok for him to go. Just like it’s ok for me to go when God calls me. So I had to let him go. And I did.

So I started to pray. This time it was during the day, no nursing babies this hike. But I wasn’t as scared as I had been before. Because I had let him go. Finally. And if they didn’t come back, it was because God would take them home. And I was strangely at peace with that. But they did come home, I mean to this earth-home. And again, I was so proud.

It’s been 27 years that I’ve been a big sister. Mostly all fun. But some of it has been hard. Loving involves hurting sometimes. You know, like having a heart ache.

So thanks for putting up with this bossy big sister of yours for all these years. I like to think it’s made you into a better man. So, your welcome, Amy!

Another reason why I love this guy –

And another –

Happy Birthday, I love you Buck.