Addison Mabel

My last pregnancy, my last birth. You were truly a miracle and a gift we never could have imagined deserving or living without.  You came out with a head full of curly black hair as opposed to your totally bald-born siblings. And you have smiled, showing us that little dimple, since day one. God knew we needed your constant sweet smile, precious Addi.

It’s been a tough weekend, little girl, due to your stomach flu.

But it was inexpressibly sweet to hear you utter “pray to God…I’m talking…I’m breathing…” as you gasped for air between each vomit session. Your tiny little faith is going to move mountains. I know it moves me often.

This morning when I offered to take you to the bakery and buy you a donut,  despite your illness and exhaustion you protested, “oh no, I wouldn’t want a donut when no one else was getting one. I’ll save my donut until we can all go and get one together”. Your sweetness, thoughtfulness and kindness blow me away and often reduce me to tears.

I love your tender little heart.

I pray that this coming year I still get just as many arms wrapped around my neck and legs wrapped around my torso full-body hugs as last year and that you don’t grow up too much to slipping your little hand into mine or stop rubbing our freckly noses together and dissolving into laughter at our special little “Eskimo kisses”. That your sweetness won’t be diluted by anything. That Jesus will continue to mean the world to you. And that you find a special friend this year that will play with you nicely on the playground enjoying your smiles and sing-songs along with you.

I love you more than words, sweet Addison Mabel. I cannot believe you are 6 years old. I wish you would stay “baby Addi” forever and ever. Just never stop giggling, bouncing up and down on your “happy feet” and hugging your mama, OK?

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I didn’t want to send you to kindergarten last year, but you did just fine. Not sure I did as well. I cannot believe how much and how WELL you are reading this year as a first grader–books seem to be your thing. (Barbies, kitties, puppies, and anything animal, cute, or little is too!) Words & pictures calm you down when a sibling makes you angry, and reading seems to make you happy. I am starting to think you are an introvert like me & Liam, and that’s ok. We can sit in the same room and read books forever together. I love how snuggly you are–you are the only child who is so overwhelmed by a good dinner that you have to give me a hug right then and there, who jumps into my arms at school, climbs into my lap almost anywhere and everywhere and just needs to get “centered” with a huggle-snuggle from her momma. You make me feel so wonderful with how much you love me. I am getting the biggest kick out of the little glimpses of who you are–you are going to be the most hilarious kid–your sense of humor is dry and sarcastic and throws us all into hysterics. I especially love when you try to jump into a convo that is a little bit above your head and you talk like a teenager and waggle your hand, it is the most adorable thing ever–the dimple might have something to do with that. I love your freckles that make you look like me and the fact that even though you’re 7, when you’re happy you still jump up and down on the same ‘happy feet’ that you kicked like crazy when you were happy as a baby. Never lose your sweet, loving, gentle, nurturing, not-afraid-to-love with gusto spirit little girl. And continue to seek to know and grow in your love for God and others, little girl. I love you with all my heart and will forever and never stop. ~Mom

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rockabye redemption

imgresMy  5 1/2 year old son asked me to sing him a song like I used to when he was a baby. We adopted him at almost age 2, so there aren’t as many baby rocking songs or memories as there were with my older three children.

It just so happened that my oldest daughter wandered into the bedroom during this nighttime routine, so I asked big sister to pick one of her favorite “baby rocking” songs for me to fulfill his request.

She chose “Rockabye Baby”.

I folded my 40 pound son up like an acordian to get him into my arms and began crooning and swaying.

I never do anything by the book and always try to add an element of fun to what I do. So of course in the song when we get to “the cradle will fall”, the “baby” is jostled, faux dropped and jiggled til there is copious giggling as we crescendo to the super silly, vibrato-filled finale of “cradle and aaaaalllllllll”, which ends the experience.

After catching his breath from giggling, my chocolate-eyed boy asked, very seriously, “but mom, who will save me? you have to finish the song and say who saves me”.

My jaw dropped open, but I couldn’t utter a word. On the inside, I was jumping up and down shouting “Yes!”, as epiphanies lit up like fireworks inside my head.

There’s something in each of us, not matter how young, that longs for redemption. 

Something groans inside our beings that won’t let us settle with a story that ends with a baby falling out of a tree. Something pokes us from the inside that won’t let us get comfortable on our pillows and jilts our peace not letting us settle for “well, that’s the end of that.”

You see, my little guy, he can’t live without knowing that something or someone comes along to save Him and finishes the story properly. He’s not content with falling out of a tree and being left there on his own with “The End” stamped on his forehead.

I pine for this for him. I long for this for him. I pray for this for him. For that moment when the he hits the ground and realizes that he needs someone to save him. To pick him up, brush him off, and tell him it’s not the end, but rather that it’s just the beginning.

Every Easter

This morning I woke up early. I wanted to get up and write, but with 7 kids mercifully asleep I didn’t dare risk getting out of bed lest they all be awakened from their slumber.

So I began to pray. As I thought and prayed about all I hadn’t gotten done yet on my list, the one I was most bothered by was the fact that I hadn’t finished the kids’ devotions for the month of April, including the Easter story. I felt a storm cloud of guilt and failure begin to build and head my direction, but I continued to pray and God lead me to think back on why I cling so desperately tightly to this particular holiday season.

My mind returned to Easters past–of me in my childhood in Haddon Heights, New Jersey shivering in the dell and sitting on freezing cold concrete slabs with my pink foam curlers in my still-slightly-damp hair listening to the pastor preach about Jesus rising from the dead as we watched the sun rise and turn the grey morning into a glorious yellow triumph.

I remember the year the dell wasn’t available for some reason, so the disappointed but die-hard church members piled into the stands of the public high school football field while our pastor stood on the track and preached to us. It was a little less climactic than being down in the dell…and a whole lot less artistic and natural, but we still went.

In Colorado one year my dad researched a route, timed and mapped a hike for our family that ended at the  top of a mountain where we drank Sunny D and white powdered donuts from our backpacks and watched the sun rise, each of us reflecting in our own silent way on the resurrection of Jesus and what it meant to us. How we looked forward to that sunrise–counting down the minutes, seconds, searching for tiny glimpses of light at the edge of earth-meets-sky, waiting for that first sliver of sun to spill over the dark crest of the mountaintop below us.

But this morning as I sleepily sifted through all of those sweet memories, I felt tears slip of my cheek and heard them quietly plop onto my pillow. I had no idea how poignant those memories from my elementary, tween and even teen years would be to me today at age 35. With little people of my own for whom I am crafting their childhood memories of Easter, and feeling like such a failure this year.

My eyes continued to quietly gush tears of how I long and yearn for a place to go take my family to eagerly await the sun rising on Easter morning they way I did as a little freckle-faced girl, and to talk about those years so long ago when God’s plan and Jesus’ sacrifice actually played out on this earth. But I feel  so unfamiliar with my new “hometown” and surroundings, that I don’t even know where I could or would go to make that beautiful memory happen.

Re-living those memories, I think understand now what I didn’t understand then. Why all the frail, little old gray-hairs in our church would get up so early to dress in their best, top it off with a winter coat and drag along a woolen blanket to sit on at such an early hour in the morning. Because they must have known then what I am starting to realize now.

Marrying, saying goodbye to familiar homes, taking and leaving jobs, birthing a firstborn son and two sparkly gigglesome daughters, adopting a big-brown-eyed little boy, saying shaky hellos, squeaking tear-riddled goodbyes, enduring depression, making hard choices, forging incredible memories, being hurt, having to ask for help, visiting third world countries, reveling in the mirth of family and friends, basking in the excitement of new adventures, persevering without context, crying and hugging around caskets, celebrating new births, smiling in proud parenthood, taking on challenges, committing to finish or leave well, and keening in the silence of loneliness, Jesus rising from the dead means more to me now than ever.