To My First

I realize I never wrote a post for Gabriel on his birthday.  It was hectic trying to get everything ready to our trip to Israel that I couldn't find the time to sit and write something meaningful for my special, special boy.  So here it finally is, two months late!

My dear Gabriel,

You were my first newborn, my first crawler, my first toddler, my first introduction to this motherhood thing.

You were the first I said goodbye to at the church nursery, the first I left with someone other than myself, the first I took to Mother's Day Out, the first I cried over as I watched you go off into the world without me, even if it was only for a short period of time.

You were the first one to take a piece of my heart with you as you left my arms.

My mind is struggling with the reality that you will be a full-fledged preschooler soon.  In a few short weeks, you will leave the nest, test your wings, discover that you don't need your Mama as much as we both thought.

It begins, this letting go.  It excites me and it breaks my heart all at once.

You are entering a new stage of independence.  You will learn to do more and more things on your own, need me for less and less, although I hope you'll want my help for a wee bit longer yet.  You still need help getting your shoes on the right foot, but you've started saying, "I'm going to pretend you didn't tell me, so I did it all by myself."

Over the last year, I have watched you grow taller, yes, but I have also seen you become more tenderhearted.  You take care of your baby brother with such sweetness, always ready to share or play with him.  You have started getting along more with your little sister, too, which warms my heart.  I know she isn't the easiest person to play with!  Oh, and you love to pick your Mama flowers -- melt my heart!

You're so helpful.  I can always count on you to give Asher his sippy cup, pacifier, blankie, a different toy, or something that he's dropped.  You love to run and get a diaper or wipes for me, too, always proudly proclaiming, "I like to help you, Mommy!"

Only a few months ago, I would have called you shy, but I have seen you blossom as a four-year-old. You're still not the biggest talker, but you suddenly have much more to say to people other than your family.  You make friends more easily now, which makes me so excited for your coming days of preschool.

I love how you're always ready to "make a deal."  I'm not exactly sure where you first heard the phrase, but now you're always telling me things like, "If I share my candy, I don't have to share the Kindle, is that a deal?"  

You are constantly learning.  I can practically see the wheels turning in your head when you listen and you like to know that I understand what you say.  "Does that make sense, Mommy?"

You just turned four in May, but you already insist that you're almost five.  I guess that's fair, because when I look at you, I see a boy who is almost ten.  Almost fifteen.  Almost twenty.

When you have a little boy of your own, you'll understand just how quickly time flies.  And I'm sure when you look at him, you'll want to slow time down just a little, like I do when I look at you.

I love you more than you'll ever know, Mighty Man.  You'll always be my first.

Love,
Your Mama

Some of my favorite pictures of your fourth year + fifth summer.

Picking Mama flowers! 
Love this smile.
Soccer stud!

Beach babe!

The zoo might be your favorite place in the world.
Just wait until SeaWorld this summer!
Proud of your first Lego car that Daddy helped you build.

Lessons from Galilee


Lately, the Lord has been speaking to me about stepping out of my comfort zone, out of the "boat" where I feel I am safe.  

I don't know where (or to what) He's calling me yet, but I know the call is coming!  He's been using practically everything to speak to me!

I began to hear this message while I was in Israel, standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  As I stood there, wind tugging at my hair and my clothes, I tried to picture a terrifying storm over the peaceful lake, to imagine the fear of the disciples as they struggled to keep their little boat afloat.  And then, to see Him, walking across the tumultuous waves... wow!


As I stood in the gentle surf, I prayed that God would give me Peter's faith.  I know that if I'd been in his sandals, I would have clung to that flimsy boat helplessly, begging Jesus to calm the storm with His words like He'd done before.  But get out?! Yeah, right!  I'm staying right here, where I feel safe!

But fortunately I wasn't on that boat.  And I have the advantage of having read the story.  I know what happens when Peter decides to get out.  He walks on the water, too.  Yeah, he gets scared, takes his eyes off of Jesus, and begins to sink.  But he walked on water, y'all.  

And I have the power to choose that outcome for myself...
if I choose to follow where my Savior calls.


Over Independence Day weekend, I devoured the book Water Walker, by Ted Dekker.  (First part is free for download here.)  Without giving too much of the book away, Water Walker draws a parallel between physical storms and the storms of life.  We live in our little boats, thinking we're safe from drowning in the water, but in reality, the boat creates a false sense of safety.  

I am no more safe in a canoe than I am actually in the water during a storm.  In fact, I am less safe there if I have specifically been called out of the boat.


And then, this week in my devotional, I'm reading about Jonah and how sometimes storms are used to get our attention.  This one part stuck out to me:  God is flushing you out of hiding from behind the perceived protection of your flimsy umbrella.  And then: We are more fearful of the task itself than of the consequences of our disobedience.

What.  

Yeah, basically the same thing He'd been speaking to me about the boat.  Only now there were consequences to disobedience.  I was stricken, convicted.  I immediately wrote in the margin, "I am Jonah!"  But I don't want to be a Jonah.  I want to be a Peter.  

I want to be the one who discounts the fear, the boat's safety, the impossibility of the task.  I want to be the one who boldly says, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water!" (Matthew 14:28 MSG)


So that's been my prayer the last couple of days, that God would give me the courage to accept His call when it comes, that I would look above the rising waves and see His hand held out to me.  

I want to trust that He has prepared me for what He's called me to do.

(And yes, if you were wondering, all these pictures are ones I took of Galilee.  It's just that beautiful!)

July Printable --- FREE

Hello again, blog!

It's been a long, crazy month with two cross-country road trips, an international trip, and then the day-to-day life with three littles.  But I promise I have some posties in the works for y'all!

For now, though, I'll just share this patriotic print I designed to celebrate Independence Day this coming weekend.  I love both the promise of the verse as well as the reminder to pray for our nation, that we would continue to be a nation that honors God.


Just download, print at home or at a copy&print center, and frame!

June Printable --- FREE

I'm sharing another one of my favorite scriptures with y'all today in the form of a free print!

I believe that God has a special place in His heart for children.  They are special to Him, and as such, should be special to us, as well.  So, whether you have one child or many, claim the blessings that He has promised.  Children are a reward from Him.

This print is kind of masculine, so it may just be what you're looking for as a Father's Day gift for a special man in your life.  I may end up using it myself... ;)


Just download, print at home or at a copy&print center, and frame!

A Dream Come True

Y'all.

I'm going to Israel.  On Tuesday.

I am not even sure if my mind adequately comprehends what I am about to do.

I've always loved the land of Israel, always had a desire to go.  Ever since I was 9 or 10 years old, I have been dreaming about the day I would see the land for myself.

I want to go where history began.  I want to see the land God chose for the people He chose.  I want to walk where the heroes of my faith walked.  I want to be the place where my Lord stepped out of eternity into time, where He grew, and lived.  Where He died, where He rose, and where He is soon returning.

The fact that I'm actually going hasn't quite set in yet.  I've already spent some tears in anticipation, but the bulk of my emotions will probably hit me halfway over the Atlantic.

Speaking of which, if you think of it, please say a prayer for me.  I struggle with minor travel anxiety and I would love to not be affected during this trip!  I get knots in my stomach and have trouble eating whenever I am in new places.  And since Israeli food is so yummy, I would really love to eat a falafel every day that I'm there. ;) Thanks, y'all.

(And if you think of it, please also pray for my children, that they won't miss their mama too much while I'm gone!)

I purchased a new journal for my trip, and am prayerfully anticipating the Lord speaking to me a lot while I'm in Israel!  Hopefully I'll be able to turn His voice + my thoughts + notes from our trip into blogs when I get back.


If you'd like to keep up with my journey, you can do so via my Instagram feed.  I will have wi-fi at the hotels and plan to post pictures and thoughts each evening.