Our God is still in the miracle business, as Ezra has made it to his teenage years.

(Side note: I officially am a mom to three teenagers. How?)


He entered this world tiny and rocking the hairy wizened old man look. 


I remember meeting his eyes the moment they placed him in my arms and being struck by how alert and aware he was. He was so wide eyed. And, oh, he has a dimple! I was so endeared by those wide blue eyes and dimple.


Little did I know how divinely placed that dimple was. 


He was the happiest baby ever. He never (outwardly) expressed any separation anxiety. He lived to smile and wrestle with his Daddy and eat all the fruit and make car noises and take delight in learning early how to push his big sisters buttons.


And now he's 13. 


He still loves to smile, but never for pictures without threatening from me. He still loves to wrestle with his Daddy, but actually gives him a run for his money. His sweet tooth remains strong. No more car noises, but he has strong car opinions. And he has developed mastery over learning how to push every siblings button. 


I've made no secret about how the Lord has used Ezra to sanctify me. Nothing has humbled me more than my parenting journey with this boy. He reveals to me daily how little control I have over anything outside of myself, my reactions, and my choices. 


And so, my endearment to him has moved beyond his dimple and wide blue eyes into a Holy acknowledgement of how needed he has been to my soul. The Holy Spirit has used him to reveal my pride and therefore allowed me the possibility to move to surrender...freedom. 


My dear Ezra,


You will already hate this letter because I called you dear. But, you are dear to me and you'll just have to get over me saying it. You are entering the teenage years and I am so stinkin excited for you. I catch glimpses of the incredible man that is coming...I saw it in the dedication and hard work you exerted this Summer as you mowed lawns with your brother. I see it in the passion and motivation you display when you fully immerse yourself into mountain biking or learning a new piano or violin composition. I see it in the serious way you have taken to your service on the Kidsrock team at church. You are funny - keep working on the timing thing. When you figure it out, and you will, it will serve you and those around you well. My prayer for you this year is for a soft and teachable heart. I love you and like you.


always,


your Mom


p.s. Stop getting so huge.












* endless requests for icee pops

* school slowly winding up: math and reading

* making homemade salsa with too much cilantro

* helping Meme with house renovations

* reading stacks and stacks of books

* soccer starting, then stopping...

* wearing masks 

* the boys mowing

* becoming very familiar with the orthodontist parking lot (we've got 2 braced faced teens now)

* prepping for Women's bible study 

* playing jackbox games

* early mornings spent talking with Jeremiah on the back deck, joined by our resident feathered friends

* Zoe asking for things in a high to low order..."Can I have 7 or 6 _____?"

* cello practicing

* Stewartsville library afternoon runs

* Ezra's mountain biking obsession

* getting excited for vacay

* minecrafting with friends

* quiet early coffee morning routines

* LIFT 4 workouts

* making plans, but holding them oh so loosely

*feeling settled. but not satisfied

* swims at SML









 

She's nine today. 


I walked down photo memory lane of her last year, in hopes of choosing two or three good ones to share.


I narrowed it down to 23. 


She's still our animal fanatic. F.A.N.A.T.I.C. I'm pretty sure if there was a legitimate way to monetize her animal impersonations, her college fund would be set. 


Her moods are still as volatile as a southern summer afternoon. You will always know how she feels about you, how she feels about anything...which, is mostly an amazing trait. Unless she doesn't like you. Awkward.


Her days are spent reading, drawing, playing with her stuffed animals, surviving her older brothers, and playing with friends and cousins any chance she gets. 


Despite (or perhaps, because of) the age difference, she shares a special friendship with Ella. They just upgraded their room together with new loft beds and a new-to-us desk (which she promptly insisted on painting peacock blue). Fitting.


She's made incredible strides in all school subjects over the last year, but reading is her favorite.


She's my buddy on a lot of evenings when the big kids are gone and I love how she will ask me, "so, Mom, what should we do tonight?!" 


She's so stinking full of life, living up to her name every day.


Happy nine years Zoe Elizabeth, you're kinda a big deal to all of us.



Still crazy about animals.


























These are unprecedented days, but I won't insult your intelligence by summarizing what we have all been living through for the last 4 months. You already know, you already get it.

Lately, the preeminent conversation amongst my circle of people is the one of school choice for the upcoming year. And wow, what a discussion. All the options and opinions floating out there will make your head spin.

Spoiler alert: I'm not going to add one more opinion to the mix. I don't know if you should choose option 1, 2, or 3, or if you should homeschool, or if you should send them to private school. (Nobody likes to be "should-ed" on anyways, am I right?!)

But I am going to encourage you to remember a few things as you consider your options and ultimately make the decision you feel the Lord is leading your family into:

1) This decision doesn't have to last forever. 

Seems obvious enough, but in the heat of decision making, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you aren't chained to this decision for the rest of your life. If it's not working for you or your child, or new options open up for you down the road that will be better for everyone, you can change your mind. Don't overcomplicate. Make the best decision for the right now you find yourself in.

2) Don't give yourself too much credit.

In these pressure filled days, we can be led to make a decision with an impaired sense of perspective. Let me let you in on something: Whatever decision you make is not going to send your children down an unalterable trajectory. To think otherwise is to ultimately place yourself in the seat of sovereignty that only God occupies. You aren't in control. May you find some freedom in the truth of that.

3) Who you are as you make this decision is more important than the actual decision.

Your children are watching from the front row as you navigate these choices.  And while, yes, your decision is important, don't lost sight of what is most important. In a world where fear is predominant, you have been given an unprecedented opportunity to show your children what it actually looks like to trust God, to have peace that passes all understanding, and to relinquish your perceptions of control.  In the hearts of your children, this too shall last long after any pandemic has passed.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Bonus: Don't lose sight that the very fact that we have choices is an evidence of the privilege we live in. I've met momma's all over the world who are consumed with surviving. Food, clean water, and maintaining a roof over their heads occupy their days. This doesn't minimize your situation or decision, but hopefully re-orients your perspective to one of gratefulness and the inherent abundance we are living in, despite the weirdness of this season.

A Haitian private school, 2018




Image result for image of in remembrance

She would have turned 10 this week.


In our family, for your 10th birthday you get to choose between a go-all-out friends party or a day trip experience (think Amusement park, etc.) with just the family. Ella chose a friends party, the boys chose the adventure, and we probably won't know what Zoe will choose until the day before.

It's always the not knowing that stops me: What would Myla have chosen? Friends or adventure? Cake or cobbler or pie? Would she have been into books or animals or art or sports or...

It's such a strange hollow feeling to miss someone you never knew.

I'm reminded, that walking into this week, I must drink again from the stream of sorrow that cannot be fully remedied in this life.

And yet, I do not want these lingerings of grief to be eased, for in them I see the sureness of the presence of God - I feel Him weeping with me. In them is found a sweetness. A gift to hold thoughts of her. She is not forgotten.

Her short life still bears impact: the beginning of my re-making into a Christ-follower more sympathetic, more compassionate, and deeply more conscious of my frailty and daily dependence upon Jesus; as one more invested in the hope of  the resurrection of the body and the return of the King, than ever before.

My dear Myla,

     My heart treasures you and the short time I held you in my body. 
You are missed and loved and remembered.

Always,

Your Momma

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There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.
- Archbishop Oscar Romero

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 34:18

Eli.
Started strong. Quietly enthusiastic in his quintessential Eli way. Half way up.
A glance down. 
Recognition of how high he is slowly spreads all over his face. 
Upward motion halted. Need to come down apparent.
Stuck.
Unable to let go. One hand gripping at all times.
Watch the others come down, all the others, with his very own eyes.
Others offer encouragement, you-can-do-it's, and eventually...pleadings.
Still stuck.
Paralyzed.

Me.
Started strong. Nothing but patience. We've come so far.
Heart hurts that he feels stuck.
Hate that he feels anxious, fear.
Mingled with pride...look how high up he got!
More patience. Some pleadings.
I know he will get down.
It'll just be on his terms, his time...or when his arms give out.
And I'll be here for the landing.
I'll always be here.
My role as his mom played out in this: I provided the experience, the lesson, the equipment, the encouragement, and a pair of eyes to watch.
He has to climb. He has to trust. And, eventually...he has to jump.
I just hope to get to see it with my very own eyes.

Conclusion.
He did it. 
He let go.
We high-fived.
I asked what he was feeling up there. 
He answered...anxious. 
I answered...I understand.
We come up with a plan. Try again. This time only climb to a lower level.
He did it. 
And did it again, one handhold higher.
And again. And again. And again.
Hands blistered. 
Time to rest.
Pride felt, by both of us. 
More than walls were scaled today.
I'm just so very thankful I got to see it with my very own eyes.