Kirsten Grace – Month 12

Kirsten!
You are 1 year old today! Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

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This year has gone by faster than any year I have ever experienced, feeling almost impossible that 12 months have passed since you came (rather reluctantly) into our arms. It was a long, hard labor (nearly 28 hours after my water was broken) and I can’t say I’d want to do that all over again, but I am so thankful I did. Darling girl, you have been the most incredible grace in our lives. WOW. Being your mama is the greatest joy and the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I have no idea how someone can scream and cry and keep me from sleep for almost a year (well…closer to two with the pregnancy-night-pee-thing) … and still bring more joy and bigger grins to my face than I ever believed possible. Kirsten, you are a paradox of stress and relief, frustration and celebration, and I absolutely am head over heals for you.

Let it be known: I would not change one thing about you. Not ONE THING. (It’s as the eloquent poet Sandra Boynton says, “I love what you are, I love what you do, fuzzy little snuggle puppy, I love you!”)

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You are an investigator. You love turning the pages in books, preferring grown up books to your own. You examine toys and tissue boxes. You watch us play piano or guitar and you very intentionally mimic our movements. First thing in the morning when we greet you in your crib, you start pointing left and right, up and down, saying “Dah?”…asking us “what’s that, what’s that?” You know trees, cat, light, book, etc. You continually pull everything out of cupboards and drawers. We actually found you had bit through a Kcup and had coffee all over you. Yum. I also ended up bungee cording your dress drawers to keep you from dismantling your clothes 10 times a day.

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You love food. You have mastered the “squooshi” packets for eating yogurt and applesauce and cottage cheese, but for the most part you’d just assume eat what mom and dad are eating. You have adventurous taste buds. You seem to dislike most fruits, oddly enough, but will go to town on a bowl of chili.

You are musical. On the first day with your “band in a box” you had learned that the cymbals go together and which piece to use with the triangle. You love the “drum set” I made you out of oatmeal canisters, happily imitating our rhythms. You play the piano and guitar gently and intentionally. You sing. You could care less about TV unless the theme song to The West Wing comes on. (Let’s be honest, that is some brilliant orchestration. Good taste, little girl.) When I nurse you before bed I hum “Hush now, my baby” from The Prince of Egypt and whenever I stop, you make a few grunts to indicate, “Keep singing, please, mom.”

You have a vibrant personality. You laugh loudly, you cry loudly. You have a flair for the dramatic. You are hysterically funny, using your eyebrows and facial expressions like a second language. When you feel demanding (about food or wanting attention or demanding to be closer to your pal Landon L.), you screech with the highest pitch I fear all the dogs in the neighborhood will come running. You know what you want and are very unlikely to be a pushover.

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You are a lover. You want to be near both mom and dad all of the time (though no cuddling, please). You give kisses now with an opened mouth and a “Mah!” You still flap your arms wildly whenever you see either of us (or Landon, of course). You give your stuffed animals and other toys kisses too.

You may be an extrovert. You love people and happily bounce from person to person. You are joyful to be around and most everyone seems to enjoy being around you. I am thinking you lean extrovert also because of the way you refuse to be rocked to sleep. Once you’re done nursing, you won’t let me hold you and rock you to sleep. Nope. You want your bed, to decompress by yourself. This reminds me of my own tendencies – if there’s someone in the room I can’t help but interact with them. So to rest and relax, I need quiet, alone time.

You have 5 teeth, you stand without holding on, you’ve taken 1-½ steps. You crawl like a speed demon, take two 1-½ hour naps a day, and sleep through the night from 7-7. (Praise the Lord for sleeping through the night. Oh my gosh, I cannot thank you enough, Child.)

Kirsten Grace,

May you never doubt the Love of God,
The nearness of His Comforter, the Holy Spirit,
Or the friendship of Jesus.

May you be confident of your giftedness,
Humble in your confession,
Genuine in your love of all people.

May you grow in grace and in knowledge of God,
Serving him first, always.

Praying this for you,
Mama

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Kirsten Grace – Month 12

Kirsten!
You are 1 year old today! Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

IMG_9811

This year has gone by faster than any year I have ever experienced, feeling almost impossible that 12 months have passed since you came (rather reluctantly) into our arms. It was a long, hard labor (nearly 28 hours after my water was broken) and I can’t say I’d want to do that all over again, but I am so thankful I did. Darling girl, you have been the most incredible grace in our lives. WOW. Being your mama is the greatest joy and the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I have no idea how someone can scream and cry and keep me from sleep for almost a year (well…closer to two with the pregnancy-night-pee-thing) … and still bring more joy and bigger grins to my face than I ever believed possible. Kirsten, you are a paradox of stress and relief, frustration and celebration, and I absolutely am head over heals for you.

Let it be known: I would not change one thing about you. Not ONE THING. (It’s as the eloquent poet Sandra Boynton says, “I love what you are, I love what you do, fuzzy little snuggle puppy, I love you!”)

IMG_9299

You are an investigator. You love turning the pages in books, preferring grown up books to your own. You examine toys and tissue boxes. You watch us play piano or guitar and you very intentionally mimic our movements. First thing in the morning when we greet you in your crib, you start pointing left and right, up and down, saying “Dah?”…asking us “what’s that, what’s that?” You know trees, cat, light, book, etc. You continually pull everything out of cupboards and drawers. We actually found you had bit through a Kcup and had coffee all over you. Yum. I also ended up bungee cording your dress drawers to keep you from dismantling your clothes 10 times a day.

IMG_9761

You love food. You have mastered the “squooshi” packets for eating yogurt and applesauce and cottage cheese, but for the most part you’d just assume eat what mom and dad are eating. You have adventurous taste buds. You seem to dislike most fruits, oddly enough, but will go to town on a bowl of chili.

You are musical. On the first day with your “band in a box” you had learned that the cymbals go together and which piece to use with the triangle. You love the “drum set” I made you out of oatmeal canisters, happily imitating our rhythms. You play the piano and guitar gently and intentionally. You sing. You could care less about TV unless the theme song to The West Wing comes on. (Let’s be honest, that is some brilliant orchestration. Good taste, little girl.) When I nurse you before bed I hum “Hush now, my baby” from The Prince of Egypt and whenever I stop, you make a few grunts to indicate, “Keep singing, please, mom.”

You have a vibrant personality. You laugh loudly, you cry loudly. You have a flair for the dramatic. You are hysterically funny, using your eyebrows and facial expressions like a second language. When you feel demanding (about food or wanting attention or demanding to be closer to your pal Landon L.), you screech with the highest pitch I fear all the dogs in the neighborhood will come running. You know what you want and are very unlikely to be a pushover.

IMG_9840

You are a lover. You want to be near both mom and dad all of the time (though no cuddling, please). You give kisses now with an opened mouth and a “Mah!” You still flap your arms wildly whenever you see either of us (or Landon, of course). You give your stuffed animals and other toys kisses too.

You may be an extrovert. You love people and happily bounce from person to person. You are joyful to be around and most everyone seems to enjoy being around you. I am thinking you lean extrovert also because of the way you refuse to be rocked to sleep. Once you’re done nursing, you won’t let me hold you and rock you to sleep. Nope. You want your bed, to decompress by yourself. This reminds me of my own tendencies – if there’s someone in the room I can’t help but interact with them. So to rest and relax, I need quiet, alone time.

You have 5 teeth, you stand without holding on, you’ve taken 1-½ steps. You crawl like a speed demon, take two 1-½ hour naps a day, and sleep through the night from 7-7. (Praise the Lord for sleeping through the night. Oh my gosh, I cannot thank you enough, Child.)

Kirsten Grace,

May you never doubt the Love of God,
The nearness of His Comforter, the Holy Spirit,
Or the friendship of Jesus.

May you be confident of your giftedness,
Humble in your confession,
Genuine in your love of all people.

May you grow in grace and in knowledge of God,
Serving him first, always.

Praying this for you,
Mama

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Mary, Mother of God

Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a just a moment. Travel with me back in time…to a place of dusty roads and leaky roofs, a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business. The homes are fashioned from mortar and stone, the windows let the night sounds and biting bugs inside, the fire in the stove serves for cooking and warming. This is a time centuries before smooth roadways and fast cars, before the privacy of indoor bathrooms; a culture where women’s husbands were chosen for them.

 

It is in this town called Nazareth that we find a young girl, not quite a woman. Mary lives with her family and tends dutifully to her chores. She bakes over the open fire, carries water from the well in the center of town. And she kneels regularly on the dirt floor to pray to her God. Many times a day she and her family stop their work and return their hearts to a reverent silence. Mary takes a deep breath and utters a prayer she knows by heart. Her words aren’t cold and rote, however. Mary’s heart has been formed by her true faith in this God of her ancestors. Whereas many of her friends seem most interested in their dreams of future husbands and households, Mary lives a life that is devoted wholly to God. She knows the story of Abraham and the faith he had to bring his son, Isaac, to the altar. She knows about Noah and his faith to build the ark when everyone laughed in his face. She has learned of Hannah’s faith as she offered Samuel – her only son for whom she had wept and longed for – back to God in the temple. And beyond all of that, Mary knows this God. She knows of God’s faithfulness to his covenant. And she serves him out of devotion and love. Her prayers are heartfelt.

 

God sees this young woman and smiles. He has watched her grow up, steady and pure, a heart that longs for obedience and holiness. Throughout the centuries of pursuing a relationship with his people, God has waited. He has waited as his people have chosen selfish pursuits over faithfulness to the covenant He made with them. Occasionally He’s seen glimmers of true faith in a man or a woman, but the time wasn’t right. He was willing to wait.

 

When God sees the goodness of Joseph, a man born in the lineage of King David, he sees a man with humility and meekness. When this good man becomes the fiancé to the young and faithful Mary, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit come to a beautiful consensus, “This is it, the time is now. We will save our people from their sins.”

 

As Mary sits quietly kneeling during her morning prayers, she hears a voice, a gentle thunder in the room with her.

 

(The following is from The Message, Luke 1:26-38, with additions by me)

 

“Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
[highly favored by him.] You are Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.”


She was thoroughly shaken [fearful and confused], wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a [tremendous request to ask of you, a great] surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
The angel answered,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God.

Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

 

Could she even believe what her eyes had seen, her ears had heard? Her mind was racing with doubt and questions. What if I just imagined that? Why would God choose ME? But despite her youth, despite her uncertainty, Mary gathered up that favored faith of hers, and replied with quiet confidence: Let it be to me according to your word.

 

Could we respond with such graceful obedience?

 

Those first few months were especially difficult as her belly remained hidden, but the waves of nausea threatened Mary’s daily tasks. She felt more exhaustion than she knew possible, often falling asleep during prayers. Soon she began to feel these flutters deep inside her belly, confirming the truth of the angel’s message to her. Her heart quickened whenever she pondered this reality – in her womb the Spirit of God had conceived a child. She was the Mother of God.

 

Though she had found favor with God and had faith in his good plan, Mary fought back frightened tears from time to time, wondering what childbirth would be like. She had overhead midwives helping her mother and neighbors during their deliveries. It seemed so unknown…not to mention incredibly painful. And on top of those wonderings, the question loomed in Mary’s mind: was she capable of mothering the son of the Almighty?

 

Would any of us be up for that task?

 

Her belly stretched, her ankles swelled…her body walking through the beautiful motions of pregnancy without asking her for permission. In the weeks ahead, Mary and Joseph endured harsh criticism: Mary was shamed for this act of apparent infidelity, Joseph questioned for his loyalty to his pregnant fiancé.

 

It almost brought Mary to tears when she realized they would need to be traveling to Bethlehem for this census during the final weeks of her pregnancy. She felt awkward and uncomfortable these days. To carry a child is to be a vessel for new life; to allow your skin to be stretched, your organs compressed. To carry a child is to commit to treating your body with newfound gentleness and respect, treasuring the life that is transforming yours. Pregnancy is exhausting and wonderful, terrifying and tremendous all at once. And Mary really wasn’t looking forward to a long ride on the back of a clomping donkey.

 

As they traveled in silence, Mary treasured the reality of Immanuel – God with us – rolling and stretching and kicking her ribcage. She felt out of breath, her lungs running out of room inside her chest, and yet the Breath of God was inside of her. Tears welled in her eyes. “Thank you, God”…she whispered to herself.

 

The contractions started slowly, almost imperceptibly. Mary didn’t want to worry Joseph, so she kept her instinct to herself – the time had come for her baby to be born. They lined up to find lodging, and Mary’s heart plummeted as the rejections turned into an offer to stay in the dilapidated stable. “God be with me,” She prayed…knowing he was more present than her mind could understand.

 

For the next few hours, Mary breathed long and hard, her body responding to the intensity of the contractions. The animals groaned with her, as if offering their comfort. Working toward the pinnacle of birth, Mary responded to the prompting of God within her, pushing and straining and crying towards redemption. “Save me, Lord” she shouted in the moments of transition…and the earth echoed her cries for salvation. With one final push, the Rescuer – the Saving One – Jesus Christ was born! Mary grasped his tiny body with renewed strength and laid him on her chest. The two of them lay, skin to skin, breathing in the miracle. Life. Eternal Life.