I love you more than that

MY GIRL:
Annalise has had a prayer for as long as I can remember her talking… She has prayed for her cousins to live by her. Sometimes it makes her so sad that she cries. “Mommy, I just don’t understand. Why do some kids have their cousins live in the very same town, and my cousins live in another state and on the other side of the world?!? I might never even get to go to their house ever!”

It breaks my heart when her little heart is broken.

We’ve had discussions about it. God sent her Uncle John and Auntie Ko-Ko and her same-age cousin Ellia that she loves just so much, and Jacob’s same-age cousin Alyssa, all the way to Indonesia for a purpose. He has them there to do the job He wants them to do. So we pray for the job they’re doing there, reaching unreached people, building churches in jungles where people have never heard of a savior, being the hands and feet of Jesus in a land we’ve never seen.

And right now, God has her Uncle Ryan and Auntie Ky-Ky and cousins Riley and Mason in Nevada. And she loves them so much, too. So we talk about that God has a plan for them, and right now the plan is to be where they are. And that even though we miss them, too, we’ve been blessed to get to visit their house every once-in-a-while.

And we talk about how blessed we really are, that even though her cousins are so far away, we’ve been able to see them lots. And sometimes we get to Skype with them when they’re home. But right now, they’re here! And they even get to come to Annalise’s 6th birthday party, the first one since she turned one!

Just the same, Annalise still prays that she’ll get to have her cousins live here, just like other kids. And I don’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t think that’s going to happen, to just give up on that big request of hers, because God has Ellia in Indonesia. That is where they live now.

The truth is, some days it breaks my heart, too. Because while I didn’t always grow up with my cousins in the same town, we were just on the other side of the Cascades, and we got to see them often. They were a big part of my life, and one day, my prayer was answered to live by my cousins. We lived in the same town and went to school together for the last 5 years.  I even lived in their house for a while during college. God answered my prayer in a bigger way than I could imagine. I loved the blessing of them in my life, and I have longed for Annalise and Ellia to have a similar experience.

Well, it just so happens that one of the cousins that I prayed to live by and graduated from high school with and lived with in college, moved last year from Eastern Washington back to Whatcom County.

And it just so happens that a week ago, he became the head pastor at the church he grew up in right here in Ferndale.

And it just so happens that his middle child is Jilly, another same-age-girl-cousin that Annalise loves.

And it just so happens that when that cousin of mine got his new job as a pastor, they moved into the church parsonage in Ferndale. Which meant Jilly and her big brother Josiah got moved to a new school this week, which just-so-happens to be the same school I teach at, and more importantly, the same school Annalise attends.

Annalise was already bursting with excitement when she found out Jilly would be at her same school. And then, the unimaginable happened. Josiah was put in my class, and Jilly was placed in the same kindergarten class as Annalise.

Leading up to Jilly’s first day, it suddenly hit Annalise exactly what was happening, that this was not an “it-just-so-happens” event. “Mommy! Do you know that God is answering my prayer? I prayed for a cousin to live here. I really meant Ellia, but God answered my prayer in just a different way. And I never even thought about having a cousin in my school or especially in my class. God answered my prayer, but even better than I thought, because I get to have a cousin with me every day!”

And then, Annalise became sad again. Because, “What about Ellia, Mommy?” Ellia has the same prayer. She loves her cousins just so much. She wants to live in America, to be by her cousins, too.

God has not forgotten Ellia. Several weeks ago, He answered her prayer, too, also in a different way. First, He brought her here for 5 whole months, enough time to make lots of American memories, from the Northwest Washington Fair, to cousin’s birthday parties, to starting kindergarten, and she’ll even be here for Thanksgiving. But there’s more. While she has been living here, God called her aunt and uncle and a same-age-cousin for both her and her sister to Indonesia, to the same church she is a part of, in the very same city. She will likely attend school with her other same-age cousin.

God couldn’t move Ellia here to Annalise. But He gave Annalise and Ellia different same-aged cousins to not just live close by, but to be in their same school and same class. At the same time He did this, God brought two churches a new pastor, one in Ferndale, one in Indonesia. (And by the way, that church in Ferndale was in need of a pastor because the former pastor  had moved with his family to a place God had put on their heart… Indonesia.)

Answered prayer… Two little girls pray for a cousin. Two churches pray for pastors. Two families pray for guidance on where the Lord wants them. 

Strengthened faith… An impossible prayer answered. All those prayers answered, all at once.

God’s word lived out…  He who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine… I could have never imagined.

Here is what I’ve been reminded of:
1. Ellia and Annalise, your prayers have been answered, and God has big plans for you.
2. Pastor Elis and Pastor Andy and your families, your prayers have been answered and you have followed the Lord’s leading, and God has big plans for you.
3. Whatcom New Life Assembly, you have been given a new pastor, one you poured into as a child, and God has big plans for you all.
4. Indonesia, you are a land being blessed by two more wonderful families, and God has big plans for you, too.
5. God has not forgotten this land, or these families, or even the hearts of two almost-6-year-old girls. And God has not forgotten you or me, either. He knows the desires of our our hearts, and He knows our greatest needs. He has big plans for us, too.

MY BOY:
Jacob has this little saying that melts my heart. Whenever I say “I love you,” he responds with, “I love you more than that.”

“Jacob, I love you more than the moon and stars.”
“Mommy, I love you more than that.”

“Buddy, do you know I love you more than all the waves in the ocean? And farther than from here to Indonesia and all the way back?”
“Yep. And I love you more than that.”

“Hey kiddo! Come here. I love you so much!”
“I love you too, Mama. I love you more than that.”

I love that boy so much more than I can describe. But even if I could, he’d just say with his joy-inducing, heart-melting, God-awing smile, “I love you more than that.”

MY GOD:
He still answers prayer. Even prayers of little girls.
He still amazes with his creativity. Two girls, impossible prayers, answered in ways I never imagined. One boy, with a big smile, and even bigger words that melt every time.
He still can do and does immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

And when His plans are carried out, and are far beyond what we could imagine, it’s almost like He is saying, right to the heart of my almost 6-year-old girl,  “I love you so much Annalise. But I have different plans. I need your cousin where she is.  I’m not going to give you just exactly what you ask for. I’m going to give you more. Because I love you all more than that.

Remember His promises. Pray big prayers for His purpose and glory. But keep in mind, His plans might be a bit different, because He loves you more than that!

“14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” ~ Ephesians 3:14-21

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Catching Up

According to my calculations, today is supposed to be day 34 of my “40 days of Faith, Family, and Funnies.” I’m just a wee-bit behind. But c’mon. Did any of you think I’d actually complete 40 consecutive days of blogging? 7 days was a stretch, and frankly, it wasn’t even fun at that point. Life gets busy and time is always short. I did manage to squeeze in an 8th post about Jacob and his “boy tights,” making my goal 1/5 of a success. And I’d say 1/5 success is better than no success at all. (Like that positive spin?) I was only short a mere 32 posts, and really, now that I’m almost… well, let’s just say I’m older than 32…, 32 seems like such a small number.

But since my goal was 40, and since the reason I started this challenge in the first place was to focus on the things I am most thankful for (Faith, Family, Funnies… and Friends), I decided I’d catch up in one random blog post. So, below you’ll find a list of 32 randoms… mostly within those categories. Some other topics may have snuck their way in, too.

1.  First, a boy-tights update. For those of you that were so very concerned about my poor son and his undergarments, I saw boxes of long-johns at Costco. While I admit I quickly became that annoying shopper (according to my husband) who looks through all 6 bins (moving each one out of the way) to find the right size, I did so in a less-crowded Costco (Burlington) and without blocking the entire aisle or neighboring products. I also completed the hunt with incessant grumbling from the Husband. But here’s the deal: you don’t get to grumble about your son having to wear boy-tights and also grumble about your wife taking the time to look for long-john replacements of the correct size. It’s one or the other, Buddy.

Alas, there was not even one box left in all 6 bins that would fit, so boy-tights it is. Jacob doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he asked to wear boy tights just the other day.

2. The kids got to spend a day Christmas-crafting with my aunt, uncle, and my cousins’ kids. They were SUPER excited about it and had a total blast. Later that night when we were back home, Annalise said to me, “I had so much fun today! I wish I could stay at Auntie Jill’s for 100 years…  I would do it, except you would be dead when I got back. So I guess I won’t.” Nice to know she loves me enough to want to see me at least once before I’m dead.

3. While having a little fun with Jacob, I may have given him the impression he has magic powers that can cause doors to open and close at his command. The van door opens with the push of a button on the key fob, so when he was frustrated at not being able to pull it open I playfully told him, “Just tell the door to open.” He did. I pushed the button. The door opened. I really didn’t intend on it going much further, except that now he enjoys telling the van door to open and close often, and it works every time. Or at least when I’m in earshot and have the fob in my hand.

There have even been a few times where he’s headed out to the car first and I hear him yelling at the door to open while I’m still inside locking up. He stops yelling commands to the door, pauses, and changes his tone to his sweetest voice, “Door, could you please open for me?” I quick grab the fob and push the button. You know, just to reinforce the whole good-manners thing.

Well…. It’s all fun and games until you find yourself standing outside of Rite Aid trying to get your 2-year-old to the car, only to discover he is standing in front of the automatic doors, totally hollering at them in complete frustration to CLOSE! CLOSE, DOORS, WIGHT NOW! Only they won’t close… because, as I already said, he is standing in front of them. Ah well. At least his sister got a kick out of it. And we entertained a few customers in the process.

4. Today, Annalise spent some time being grumpy with a capital G. I had totally lost patience and was at my wits end trying to think of what to do with her besides lock her in her room forever when Jacob suddenly ran over to her, pulled at her sleeve as though he had just grabbed a loose hair off it, and ran towards the kitchen. I had no idea what he was doing until I heard the cupboard door under the sink slam shut as he hollers toward the living room, “Don’t worry, Sissy! I just took all your grumpies from you. And I FREW dem wight in da garbage! NO more grumpies!” Matt and I looked at each other in amazement and started to laugh hysterically. We had no idea where that came from. His own idea, I guess. He took those grumpies right off her sleeve and ran straight towards the garbage with ’em! I guess he’d had enough, too.

As though that wasn’t funny enough, just minutes later, Annalise (still very grumpy) was frustrated about something. Suddenly she let out a loud sigh, “UGH. Jay-cuh-ub!” (The 3-syllable Jacob always means the same thing, she is super frustrated with something he did or is doing.) “I think you actually threw away my happies! UGH.”

And there you have it, folks. The (already) grumpy girl found a way to blame her brother on her grumpies. It is his fault, of course, because he threw away the wrong thing. If you’re missing your own happies, you might want to check the garbage can.

 

Well, that’s it for “Catching up.” Yes, it’s only 4 stories. Did I say 32? That may have been over-estimating my time to sit and write (not to mention everyone else’s interest level.) So I think I’ll stick with four and call it good.

May you have a merry Christmas season full of kids who love you enough to want to see you (at least once), magic doors, and grumpies in the garbage.

Loves.

Summery Summary

I am a list girl.

I make ’em. I categorize ’em. I stick to ’em. I stress when they aren’t getting crossed off quickly enough. When I defer from them and accomplish something else, I add it to the list just so I can cross it off. When I begin tasks without a list and later make one, I always, always include everything I’ve already done so I can remind myself I haven’t wasted my time.

And just between you and me, sometimes, when I need a victory – a bit of motivation and feeling of accomplishment for having actually gotten something done other than referee pre-school fights – I add this to my list: Make to-do list. It’s an automatic win.

…I just had a thought. I should add that to my lists, too. Referee pre-school fights. Another guaranteed success. And while I’m at it, I may as well include change a thousand diapers and feed bottomless pit children

So at the start of this summer, when I usually make my long list of things to accomplish before school starts back up, I had a thought. I need to stop. The lists, while they just feel so good to cross off, seriously make me crazy when they sit, staring at me void of lines. A list of 27 items not crossed off is a list of 27 ways I’ve failed. 27 reasons to stress out – no, to panic – and start acting like a crazy woman because nothing else matters but those 27 stupid things. So, at the start of THIS summer, I decided to not make a list.

I decided that, then I made one anyway. It was 2 pages, 2 columns per page, typed in 12 point font. C’mon, what did you think? Addicts don’t often quit cold-turkey.

So yes, I made the list, but then I folded it up and set it aside. Available, but not in my face.

And then I made a new summer to do list:

  1. Live slowly
  2. Love deeply
  3. Laugh often.

Aaaand I stuck to it! Yay, ME!

Ok, so maybe I didn’t exactly live slowly, but I did attempt to live in the moment. I did live fully, enjoying the right now. And I loved and laughed. A lot.

What I didn’t do is write about it all. (Because I was living fully in the moment, remember?) So now I will attempt to summarize. Our 2012 summer and first few weeks of September:

  • July: Play hard. Beach, berry-picking, VBS, play-dates, walks, bike rides, Edaleen Dairy, slip ‘n’ slide, campfires at Grandma & Grandpa’s, and lots more.
  • August: Family. Long lost sisters! Cousins, cousins, and more cousins.
  • September: Back to routine. School/work, ballet & tap, Kids’ Bible Class, new (and also awesome) babysitter.

Our family’s personal highlights:

  • Annalise: Definitely not when she sprained her finger. Definitely moments spent playing with her long lost cousin, Ellia.
  • Jacob: Definitely not riding the dragon roller coaster at the fair. (They let him off – sobbing – after one lap.) His summer favorite is a tie between: 1) Getting a new dog. (Dog loves him. He loves her. Best friends for life… which (hers) may not be long if Matt has something to say about it.) and 2) Playing at the park with the new love of his life, Julianne. Too bad she’s about 17 years older than him.
  • Matt: Not sure he really had a summer. It was more like 2 full time jobs. But his highs were when we were around and he had time to be with us. Lows were when we spent a week in Nevada without him. 😦
  • Me: Hmmm… How do I choose? What’s not to love about spending 8 weeks not working and enjoying every moment with people I love? I know, lame. But seriously the truth.

Summer/September notables:

  1. Annalise went from a size 11 1/2 shoe to a size 13. And she is officially wearing clothing sizes that I remember wearing. Ack!
  2. Jacob didn’t learn his lesson and stuck a raisin waaayyyy up his nose. 24 hours of forced nose-blowing, pepper-induced sneezes, and flashlight shining up nostrils later, the long lost raising was recovered out of his crib.
  3. Matt shot 15 weddings and about 5,000 other shoots and spent every spare second of summer editing. If he wasn’t drinking all the coffee around here, I mighta thought he had fallen off the planet.
  4. I lost some weight before summer started. Good thing, because what once was lost now has been found. UGH. While I could blame my poor summer diet or seriously lacking summer exercise “routine,” I’d rather just blame my mom and sisters. Because really, I pretty much gain weight any time I am with them or when I stay at my mom’s. Clearly, it’s their fault.
  5. Izzy. She’s the new dog. a.k.a. “Dizzy.” She’s cute (part Yorkie), but I am embarrassed to admit that she is also part chihuahua. Just call me Paris Hilton. Yes, I do own doggie sweaters for her, but they were inherited with the mutt. A package deal. You can really start worrying if you see me carrying her in a bag. (She’d fit nicely in my current purse.) As my older sister says when she looks at her, “Yo quiero Taco Bell.”
  6. Minnie. She’s the new van. A mini-van. Love her. More than the new dog who may or may not have just peed on my couch.
  7. We *might* have alerted the staff in the polar bear section of the Point Defiance Zoo that there was a reindeer walking past our car in the parking lot. And the zoo staff *might* have gotten on the walkie-talkie to the keepers at the reindeer/bison exhibit to warn them of a potential escape. And that reindeer *might* have just turned out to be a regular old deer with velvety antlers. Who knew? (Not us, clearly.)
  8. While Jacob is great at spotting chewed gum on the ground in public locations (must be his closer proximity), only TWICE did he pick it up and chew it. But no worries… he put it back right where he found it both times.
  9. If you’re ever going to get pulled over for a driving a stolen vehicle, make sure you have several adults, 4 kids, and a dog with you, not to mention a trunk full of suitcases. You’ll look less suspicious. Oh, and make sure the vehicle isn’t actually stolen.
  10. Every minute of August was a notable. Lots of memory making with family. I am so grateful.

And this:

Thanks, Ann Voskamp. I feel better about #4 now.

To all, LOVES.

12 sleeps and snow

12 SLEEPS!    JUST 12 MORE SLEEPS!!

My sister and nieces are coming! The ones I haven’t seen in over 2 years!! The niece that Leesie longs to play with so much she named her imaginary friend then blue bat friend after her. And the other niece that I haven’t seen since she was two months old. THEY WILL BE HERE AFTER JUST 12 MORE SLEEPS!

Not that I’m excited or anything. Ok, I’m ecstatic!!!

And as if that weren’t exciting enough, we – my big sis and I – are taking a road trip with our 4 kids to see our lil’ sis in Nevada! I haven’t seen her in far too long either. Aaaaaaaaaannd, we will be meeting our brand new adorable baby nephew, Mason! Who hasn’t actually been born yet, but I already know he’s adorable. And my older sis and nieces will meet Mason’s big brother, Riley for the first time, too – even though he’s 1 already 1 1/2. And I will get to squish-kiss his adorable cheeks.

AND ALL THE 6 COUSINS WILL GET TO PLAY TOGETHER for the first time! Well, Mason will probably just want to sleep since he’ll be just a week or two old. Every party has a pooper…

Aaaaand, my mom will be there, too, because she is flying down to be there when Mason makes his appearance.

So to sum up:

Mom + her 3 girls + all six (by then) grandchildren on this earth (3 boys, 3 girls) + 1 husband (Kylie’s) = LOADS AND LOADS OF FUN AND MEMORY MAKING that hasn’t happened since… since everbecause the last time we were all together at the same time was 2 years and 5 months ago, and 3 of these babies – all the boy grandbabies – didn’t even exist yet!

Sadly, we will really miss dad, and 2 of the husbands (mine and Korie’s).

Hmmmm…. The 3 men that have been around the longest in this family are not going to be there at the reunion of the 3 sisters and mother + 6 grandbabies. I wonder if they have some wisdom from experience they forgot to share with Ryan…

Kidding, of course. They are all working. I know they – dad especially – would love to be there. Hoping and praying for a reunion next year that includes all of us.

I’ve done a few re-posts of Facebook notes I wrote over the last year to keep them all in one place. I only have a couple left. The one below was for my niece, Ellia, on her 4th birthday this past January. Since I get to see her in just 12 sleeps and she is on my mind constantly right now, I’m posting it today.

I LOVE YOU, Ellia!! I can’t wait to see you and your mommy and sis in just 12 sleeps!!!! (And YOU Kylie, Ryan, Riley, and Mason – just shortly after that!) This is one happy girl over here!!!

A Prayer for Snow – January 26, 2012

Last week, when many of us were waking up to inches of snow, my older sister and her family were “enduring” temperatures in the upper 80s. They live in Surabaya, Indonesia, where they serve as missionaries and pastor a church. Korie and John have two adorable girls (my adorable nieces), Ellia and Alyssa, who have spent most of their short lives (they’re just 4 and almost 2), over there.

 So while we were all posting pictures of sledding, snowmen and igloos, Ellia was praying for God to send snow to Surabaya. “Mommy, I’m afraid that I’m never going to see snow again!” she said. Even when she was told God would probably not answer her prayer for snow in their hot city, she said, “It’s ok, I’ll just keep praying.” (Now there is a girl with some faith.) Korie posted Ellia’s comment on Facebook and told all their Washington friends and family to enjoy the snow. I read the post and felt sad for my little niece who likely wouldn’t understand why God wouldn’t answer such a simple request for snow. (Oh, ME of little faith.)

So here’s what happened…

I was typing up a response to Korie, when I looked up and read the response above mine. A friend of hers posted something about fake snow that looks and feels like the real thing. I remembered seeing the same stuff when I went to Victorian Christmas. I was with some church friends at the time, and one of them had mentioned purchasing some in Whatcom County for her grandkids before Thanksgiving.

I called her up. She said she bought it at Grandiflora in Lynden, but that was before Thanksgiving. She doubted they’d still be carrying it now. I called there. No answer. It was the middle of a snowstorm and all the county schools were closed as well as some businesses. I figured Grandiflora was closed, too.

So I called Michaels. They were out and wouldn’t have it until Christmas. I called JoAnns. Out. I was actually ok with that, though, because I was without a car and there was a snowstorm, so really how would I get it anyway?

 I searched the internet and found a couple brands that were kind of pricey, and I didn’t want to add shipping costs on top of the shipping costs I’d have sending it to Indonesia. I figured I’d wait and when I came across it, I’d pick it up and send it to her. It just may not be until next Christmas.

Then I remembered Grandiflora had a voicemail box. I called them back to leave a message. Only this time someone answered.

I described the product I was looking for. She knew what it was but thought it was an odd request considering the weather. After all, I could just step outside and get as much as I’d like for free. She was kind, but said that although they had some packs left, they had already packed it up with some other stuff for next season. It would probably be very difficult to find, and the owners weren’t in. She didn’t even know where to begin to look.

So I began to tell her the story of my little niece’s childlike faith and her prayer for snow… only I didn’t get very far. I barely got the those words out when the woman on the other end nearly shouted, “Oh! It’s here! It’s here! God just directed my eyes RIGHT to it!” She seemed very surprised, because it was supposed to have been packed up, but there was an entire box of snow that had not gotten put away.

Perfect.

She set aside 6 packs for me and put the rest away. Now I just had to get through the real snow to pick it up … Thankfully, unlike Michael’s and JoAnn’s, Grandiflora is only a couple miles away and Matt would be home with a car before they closed.

Now here is what I love about this. Ellia was going to get snow. It was set aside for us to get. But even better, she was going to get it while we still had snow. Because my mom – who has never traveled out of the US/Canada – was going to visit Korie, John, Ellia and Alyssa. And she was leaving in three days.

Just the fact that she was going at all was a miracle. It wasn’t likely going to ever happen, but a wonderful friend blessed mom with a trip and didn’t give her a choice. Mom was going. Another wonderful friend blessed mom by going with her. They – and the snow – would be arriving the day before Ellia’s birthday.

We had just enough time to wait out the real snow, get the fake snow, and drive it (safely) down to Mt. Vernon to meet my mom and stick it in her suitcase as she was leaving.

Mom and Darlene boarded a plane and about 36 hours later, they were in Indonesia. It was evening there, and by the time they got to Korie’s house, everyone was exhausted. I don’t imagine there would have even been time for playing in the snow even if they wanted to. It would have to wait until the next day, Ellia’s birthday.

So guess what? Ellia got snow. It arrived on her birthday. With about 16 Indonesian friends who I’m guessing have never ever seen it before and may not ever again. My sister says it was a hit. They all played and played and played in it. They went outside and threw it in the air and at each other. A little boy who has cried the whole time every time he’s been at Korie’s before laughed and played for the first time. Ellia got snow. With friends. In Surabaya. On her birthday. Just a week after she first prayed for it.

You may be rolling your eyes. “Why would God answer that prayer?” And I’ll admit. I thought it too. “Poor Ellia. God won’t be answering her prayer for snow.”

But then again, why wouldn’t He? He is GOD, after all. Clearly HE is capable. But snow? In Surabaya? Just because a little girl prayed for it? That’s really just a child’s silly wish, right?

Here’s the thing. God answered Ellia’s prayer. Not in the way she expected, but it was answered nonetheless. Some may read this and chalk it up to a series of coincidences. But I know God loves us. He knows us. It says in Isaiah 43:1, “I have called you by name, you are mine.”   We are HIS. I am HIS. Ellia, YOU are GOD’s.

He not only loves us and knows us, but He delights in us. Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  We are HIS children. What father doesn’t take joy in the laughter of his children? What father doesn’t rejoice and celebrate the life of his child?

I will be the first to say that every request we bring to him isn’t granted. I’ve had some big requests go unfulfilled. It doesn’t always make sense. But I do know that His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). I guess when it comes down to it, I’m thankful for that. My ways are awfully selfish. And I don’t see the picture He sees. And I know God isn’t our magic genie to be used to grant wishes.

So why the snow? I know some people will read this and think, “God doesn’t do stuff like that. He isn’t worried about silly requests like that.” I’ve even heard friends say, “God doesn’t have time for those little prayers. He’s too busy dealing with wars and big stuff.” I say to you, don’t minimize the power of God. He is all-powerful. He is all knowing. He is supreme. And I am so thankful that he is not so distracted by the “big” events of the world that he has no time for me. Because not even the biggest events in my life can compare to the massive needs in the world.  If God was “too busy dealing,” he would never have time for me. Or probably you.

But he is not too busy. He is not distracted. He is not a distant God that only cares about “big things.” WE are HIS. HE cares about US. EACH of us. He is WITH us.

And he rejoices over us with singing.

Ellia had a little prayer with some massive faith. And she is God’s. HE cares about HER.

Sweet Ellia, GOD delights in YOU. HE was rejoicing over YOU with singing on your birthday. HE was celebrating YOU.

Happy 4th birthday, my beautiful niece.

They really should require some sort of license for this job

Another FB re-post from last summer so I have our stories in one place…

August 30, 2011

This note is the same Sassy Sauce story I posted a few weeks ago, which was then deleted when I decided I don’t like people judging me, but is now being re-posted because 1) People keep asking me to email it to them and I would rather they just have access to it so I don’t have to find it and find their email address, and 2) I decided I don’t care about the thoughts of those who are going to judge me based on this silly note and a one-time lapse in judgement. I’m a perfect parent every other day of the week. (Ha!)  And because seriously, this story is real-life, and if you can’t laugh at your real-life-self, then you are going to be miserable. I choose not to be miserable. Judge if you wish. Just keep it to yourself… 🙂

As a kid, my parents didn’t wash our mouths out with soap. Instead, we got “Hot Mouth” when our mouths were naughty. I don’t remember this for myself, but I do remember my younger sister Kylie getting it often for her sassiness. I think I also got it for that, as well as for sticking out my tongue, lying, or biting. (I’m not sure it has effectively rid me of sassiness, but I usually don’t bite. Feel free to sit real close.)

Really, anything that involved naughtiness of the mouth (swearing? Never!) was fair game for Hot Mouth. Hot Mouth is simply the tiniest bit of Tobasco Sauce on mom’s finger, which is then put on the suspect’s tongue. Naughty mouth leads to stinging consequences.

As a young teen, I thought it was so funny that Kylie got Hot Mouth often. Sassy lil’ thing.

As an adult, I figured I’d use “hot mouth” on my own children. Then I married Matt. He was against it. So, it has been more or less banned as a punishment in the house, because we agree on all consequences.

As I parent, I don’t find the sassiness quite as funny as I used to.

I think God must have a sense of humor and used it when he gave us the spunkiest (read sassiest) little 3 year old on the planet… with a great vocabulary and quick wit (think come-backs and last words.) It’s really unbelievable the things that come out of my darling little angel’s mouth. Thus, I have adopted the mantra, “Strong little girls make strong women. This is a GOOD thing.” Thank you, Polly.

Sometimes the mantra changes to “INCONCEIVABLY STRONG little girls make INVINCIBLY STRONG women.” It just depends on the day, really.

Needless to say, the topic of Hot Mouth has worked its way back into our child-rearing conversations. Is it a fair punishment? Is it over-the-top? (I’m NOT asking for your advice here… just sharing the focus of our conversation.) I have leaned towards: fair, not sure if I could do it though. Matt is always an adamant NO.

Rewind a few months. I have been spending time with a friend-who-shall-remain-nameless with a similar situation and a remarkably similar 3 year old. As we share our common issues and frustrations, we have also shared our current solutions. This nameless friend said she took the advice from another friend with children who are a little older now, and used “Sassy Sauce” to combat the sassy mouth. Sassy Sauce is the same as Hot Mouth, just with a much more appropriate name for the issues I’m dealing with.

Hmmmm… Sassy Sauce. Sounds more and more like something I could use. And I certainly am not worse off for having had it as a child, right?

I decided to “try it out” by dropping it into a few conversations with friends and family. Conversations usually morphed from discussing kids and our oh-so-strong girl, to something along the lines of, “So a friend of mine has a similar situation with her girl, and she started using “Sassy Sauce,” or Tobasco Sauce on the tongue as a consequence.” Then I’d quickly read the person’s reaction and decide if they thought it was a good idea or bad one. Just putting out some parent feelers and getting feedback. Although I’m not completely sure why I did that, I think it had something to do with gathering support in case I decided to take the idea of Sassy Sauce back to the table with Matt.

I did. He still didn’t like it.

I bought some anyway. Just in case. (Easy, Matt fans, I told him I had it after I bought it. And I would never use it – or any other punishment – without his permission. We are a team in this parenting fiasco.)

As the summer has progressed and my time alone with the kids has continued – time which I am SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL FOR – I have also had more opportunity to experience the sassiness of my strong girl… and she has had more opportunity to practice it. Which means she is getting REALLY GOOD at it. You may even say she is an expert.

…Wondering right now why SHE is getting better at it, but my parenting hasn’t seemed to improve with an equal amount of practice…

I mentioned Sassy Sauce to Annalise. Just to put it out there as a possibility. Not even knowing what it is, she was still terrified of it. The second she is sassy, I only have to look at her, eyebrows raised, and she instantly says, “NO Sassy Sauce! Please! I’m so sorry I was naughty with my mouth!”

Now mind you, I’ve never said I’d use it. I simply told her that I knew of other mommies that had it and used it when their kids were sassy. That’s it. I never discussed it again. Apparently it made a big enough impact. Either that, or Annalise has been talking to her friends that have experienced it already.

Fast forward to this week. All in all, it’s been a good week. But the sassiness is still there and is really draining. So I asked Matt if I could use it, just once, to see how it would go. A teeny-tiny drop of Tobasco sauce. It won’t make her sick, it isn’t abuse… Good grief, some people pour it on nearly every meal. (Again, NOT asking for your opinion of the matter here, just letting you know what I was thinking and the arguments I gave him.)

Matt, I’m sure feeling bad that I am getting the brunt of the sassiness as he works so hard with two jobs (which I am so thankful for and proud of him for), agreed…. reluctantly.

I didn’t use Sassy Sauce immediately. Instead, I sat Annalise down after a major sassy moment and told her exactly what would happen if she continued to talk that way. Sassy Sauce was now open for business, so-to-speak.

This morning, a little sassy mouth was warned that if it was sassy again, it would receive it’s first sassy consequence. Threats never deter Annalise, so she repeated her sassy comment, just to be sure I was telling the truth.

I was.

The drama that began in that moment – the moment she realized I don’t lie – wasn’t worth it. The drama that continued after the teeniest tiniest bit of Sassy Sauce touched her tongue (and I mean so-teeny-youcan’tevenseeit-tiny) – wasn’t worth it.

And then my motherly guilt kicked in. I felt so horrible that I caused my child (what I’m sure was extremely minor) pain in her mouth, that I gave myself some Sassy Sauce just to see what she was going through. (Not bad, really, but I do enjoy spicy stuff.) I could see why it would be frightening to a sweet – because she really IS sweet – little girl.

I felt awful. I gave her milk immediately. It didn’t work fast enough. She cried harder in fear (and a bit in drama) saying that “It will NEVER stop hurting! It won’t EVER go away!”

I called my sister. Who better to tell Annalise that yes, the stinging will go away, than the queen-of-hot-mouth, KYLIE? Annalise LOVES Auntie Kye-Kye, and I’m sure she could be calmed down by Kylie’s words of encouragement. “This will be a good lesson, afterall!” I tell myself.

Kylie didn’t answer.

How about I call Grandma? If Kylie is the queen of Hot Mouth, then the deliver-er of Hot Mouth, the queen-mother (that joke was for you, dad) would also have great advice, right? This only caused further howling as Annalise was afraid of her precious Gramma Kitchen finding out she indeed does naughty things and had a sassy mouth. (“What??” Gramma says, “Annalise ISN’T perfect??? -GASP-“)

What to do, what to DO??? Panic. Guilt. Tears…. from both of us. What could make this pain go away so we can actually DISCUSS why it’s important not to be sassy? What do I have the can cover the sting of too much spice???

Ice cream. (Don’t judge. You have not been in my shoes.)

I run to the freezer. I grab the only ice cream that is there… Haagen Dazs Java Chip. I feed the creamy COFFEE deliciousness to my 3-year old. How’s that for good parenting? (Again, not looking for your input.)

Stay tuned for future stories of Annalise being sassy and then quickly asking for ice cream. Even as I write, hours later, she is telling me her tongue “still stings a teeny… I might just need a teeny more….” I cut her off. I don’t even want to hear it. I’m already sulking.

Why anyone would leave me alone with these children is beyond me.

Needless to say, Sassy Sauce will retire. But the Tobasco Sauce will remain… I think I’ll start putting it on my scrambled eggs.