One of the recurring themes woven throughout the book I wrote with my friend, Wendy, is the idea that life ebbs and flows, and with each changing season we find ourselves facing new joys and new challenges.
When Wendy and I wrote Life Creative, I had just given birth to my fourth born, a cherubic little baby with gigantic princess eyes, and a precious disposition. Because my other three children were older, the newborn phase was completely different that fourth time around.
I actually had some space in my days thanks to school schedules, nap schedules, and a general rock star quality to life that year.
But alas, Wendy and I were on to something when we wrote the following words:
“As the ocean ebbs and flows with the pull of the tide, so do a mother’s days, pulling away for a time, then gathering back close to the shore of family life. It’s not always easy. In fact, it is anything but easy. Constantly riding the waves of change, high and low tide, looking for our rhythm. Sometimes this in-and-out pull happens gently, while other times we crash like the white-capped waves. And through it all we learn to practice our unique artistic gifts like a spiritual discipline. These are the moments when we learn to drop anchor.” Life Creative, 2016
Once gain, the ebb and flow of life has brought with it a new phase – one that has me feeling less like a rock star and more like a psychotic squirrel on crack.
My cherubic baby has morphed into a wily toddler overnight, still with the gigantic princess eyes, of course. Only now those eyes of hers stare at you with a mischievous gleam, which can be quite unnerving at 3:00 in the morning.
She’s discovered that she can climb from her crib, and with this discovery a whole new world has opened up that she didn’t know existed. It’s also revealed something about her that my husband and I didn’t know until now:
Our daughter is a ninja.
She has an ability to pull herself out of bed and walk out of her room in absolute silence, so stealthy that when we wake to find her by our bed, or turn the corner to find her standing completely still in the dark, we nearly jump out of skin.
This new phase has turned an already crazy phase of life into a crazy and unpredictable phase of life.
Between our sports/homeschool/middle school/church/travel/ninja-toddler schedule, I have less time than ever before in which to work.
For many years, this little corner of the internet was the place where I worked out how I saw the world. It was my place to share thoughts, share funny stories, share heartaches, and to keep a record of our crazy life.
But the world has changed, blogging has changed, and my season of life has changed, and I need to be more careful with my quiet moments, which I’m mining out like gold right now.
Many of you who get these posts delivered directly to your mailbox signed up for this thanks to one of my book launches last year. Some of you are fiction lovers and are likely confused by the writer girl with her ninja toddler.
Others are creatives who, like me, have precious few quiet moments in your day, and you need to be judicious with where you spend those. So what to do with the writer girl and her ninja toddler?
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I’ve been her mom for 365 days. I’ve been looking at her face, memorizing it daily, locking up all the unique nuances that make her so special for one year. When I close my eyes, I can see her perfectly. I hear her voice, the way she jabbers constantly. She sounds like a turkey half the time, and I know the words.
I know when she’s fussing at me, and when she’s just trying to communicate.
I know that she reserves her smiles for only those times when they are warranted and deserved. She won’t just give a smile away, and she’s endearing for it.
I know her laugh, the way it gets stuck in her throat and comes out a tangled mess of joy.
I know when she’s excited, the way her mouth forms a perfect ‘O’ and her feet kick in anticipation.
I know that she doesn’t care for most foods unless they are fruits. And cake, apparently.
I know that she prefers being awake to sleeping.
I know that she lights up when her big brother comes into the room. He’s her protector, I can already tell.
I know that she gives her sister knowing smiles, like they already share a secret to which the rest of us will never be privy.
I know that her other brother, the one who used to be baby until she came along, is her very favorite playmate.
I’ve learned a lot in 365 days. I’ve found that our family is better as a unit of six. I’ve found that I’m stronger and more capable than I thought as I managed this household with a traveling husband and no grandparents around to help out.
I’ve learned that I really prefer to have grandparents around to help.
I’ve learned that having a baby with older kids is quite lovely. Everyone should try it. *wink*
And above all that I’ve found in these 365 days that I just cannot imagine life without her.
Today we celebrate Annika, and the joy that it is to calls her ours.
Tia is learning fractions, which means I am relearning fractions again. I didn’t get them the first time around when I was in school. Nor did I get them the second time around when Sloan started working on them. Either the third time’s a charm, or there is officially no hope for me.
Annika is a quarter of the way through her first year (TAKE THAT FRACTIONS), and she gets exponentially sweeter by the day. She has found her voice, and is determined to make herself heard in this crazy house of ours.
“K” is here, and we’ve had such a sweet weekend together again. It’s different when you host a second time. We know one another now, so there’s no learning curve. It just feels natural to all be together.
There’s lots I could say right now, but I’d rather just show you cute pictures of my baby and save the words for 2015. It’s going to be a year of growing, I can already tell.
Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m praying that your days will be merry and bright, and filled with Christmas cheer.
Six weeks ago, we welcomed our fourth child into our family. It’s been a whirlwind month and a half as we’ve adjusted to having a baby in the house once again. I forgot how much work small babies are. Mother’s amnesia is a real thing, and it is the only reason that the human race is still alive, because bringing a baby into this world is insanely difficult.
I was actually surprised how fully and completely I had forgotten that.
Annika has brought a lot of joy to our home. She has filled a void in our family, and given us a sense of being whole. Perhaps not complete, as I will never completely close the door on adoption as an option for expanding our family. I just can’t say we would never do it, but for now I can say that I feel whole, whereas a year ago at this time I did not.
When we found out we were pregnant, I began to pray that the Lord would reveal his mercy and grace to us through this child. My heart was still in a place of tenderness after the terminated adoption, and I laid a fervent prayer before Him each morning as I fought through morning sickness, through discomfort, and through the insane heat of the summer months.
“Reveal your mercy through this baby.”
As Lee and I batted around name ideas, I continually returned to “Annika.” Every time I said it out loud, I felt a swell of joy move through me, and when we found out we were having a girl, I just knew that was supposed to be her name. Once we’d settled on the first name, we moved to the middle name and I suggested such options as “Hope,” “Grace,” and “Joy.”
None of those felt right, though, and we ultimately decided we wanted to honor Lee’s grandmother by giving Annika her name. Annika Rachel immediately felt right, and we were able to pray for her by name.
And still I prayed for mercy and grace as the Lord continued to heal my heart.
Shortly before Annika’s birth, I decided to look up her name to see what it means. I probably should have done that first, but I didn’t. I just loved the sound of the name. I didn’t even think to look up the meaning in the early months.
It didn’t matter, because the Lord in His goodness gave us the name we needed most for this daughter of ours. The name Annika means “Gracious, Full of Grace, Mercy.”
There is not doubt in my mind that this child was meant to join our family for such a time as this. Her arrival has brought the sweetness of God’s grace and mercy into our lives, and each night as I feed her in the quiet dark, I pray that the Lord will reveal His grace and mercy to others through her.
We are tired these days. Life is crazy, and somedays (most days?) I am entirely overwhelmed with it all.
But I’m covered under the banner of mercy and grace, and each time I pick her up, I’m reminded that God is so very good.
He is Gracious.
Full of Grace.
And I am thankful.