Sunday, August 21, 2016

Happy Birthday, Eliana!!

Oh my sweet, sweet Eliana Joy... bear with me, Child. You mama is about to go on a bit! ;)

You know, of course, that my name is Christina Joy. My mama always said that my name meant, "the joy of the Lord is my strength." Growing up, I always loved my name, especially paired with my middle name, and considering the meaning. But I didn't realize until I was a bit older that when my parents gave me that name, that joy was what I was meant to claim.  You see, in my youthful interpretation, I always thought of it as an expression of where my mom was when I was born. My dad was working hard far away; she was home with three babies under three years of age... that can be hard and tiring work! She needed the joy of the Lord to strengthen her!

As I got older, I came to realize that I, too, needed the joy of the Lord to strengthen me... and even in my name, I was given the direction and the way in which I could find that strength in Jesus. What a gift.

Twenty five years separate each of us, my mom and me, me and you... and yet as she prayed and blessed me with that precious direction in my name, your dad and I were so honored to pray and bless you with your name, Eliana Joy. You know that Eliana means "God has answered me" and when paired with your middle name, I always think of it as "God has answered me with joy."

Of course, you could interpret your name as an expression of where Daddy and I were when you were born -- we were so, so thankful that God answered our prayers for a child with you! What a gift and what a blessing -- and that is an accurate interpretation.

But, Sweet, Sweet child... don't forget to personalize the meaning of your name. It's for you, too. And we've seen that in you in the last few years. You are so, so beautiful. You have such a sweet spirit, a generous heart, a forgiving nature, a humble strength that produces joy in leadership and in service. You've embraced the heart of God that forgives you of your sin, and in doing so, you've found that God has answered YOU with joy. What a treasure it is to see you walk in that strength and kindness. As John Piper says, "God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him." You've found a worthy God, and we see Him glorified in you.

During this morning's service when the pastor was talking about ministry and people, I started to think that I could easily replace the word "ministry" with "parenting" and the word "people" with "children." It is not always easy to parent (I know you've heard the stories of when you were a paint-peeling two-year-old!), but when we think of you (and your siblings, of course), you make it a joy to be a parent. Thank you.

Okay. Rambling done (maybe). Now you're twelve years old. Two-thirds of the way through this foundational adventure called childhood. Keep following your dreams, and don't be afraid to share them with others. You are a quiet warrior, a gentle leader, a humble joy... and we pray that you will be blessed with the knowledge and peace of how very, very loved you are, precious one!!

Happy, happy birthday, Eliana!!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Happy, happy birthday, Elijah!!

DUDE!! You're six!! You've been telling people all day that you're "TURNING SIX" today, and so you're five and you'll "act-chew-wu-wee (actually) be six tomorrow." Technically, you're correct, since you weren't born until 11:59pm. (I know, I know... I tell you that every year. And I also always tell you that these next 18 days are my favorite of the year because when people ask me how old my kids are, I can now say I have an 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6 year old. Of course, I have a few others, too, but their ages don't line up so nicely.)

ANYHOW, Little Dude, YOU are AWESOME!! We have had so much fun with you this year. (As I wrote that last sentence you ran back and forth in front of me 147 times while enthusiastically telling me some crucial information about one of the games that has your attention. I forget which one. But needless to say, it took me a long time to write that sentence.)

Enthusiastic is a great word to describe you. Energetic, confident, generous, compassionate and wholehearted are some others. So many times this past year (or two), I have told others how much I love five-year-old boys. Five-year-old boys are so sweet and loving, and they look at the world and see it for its very best. At least, if all five-year-old boys are like you, that's what they do. I have a feeling that I'm going to be saying some awesome things about six-year-old boys now.

We love you, Elijah. You're a gift from God. You love Star Wars and Luigi and the Wii U. You are tender and caring with babies and toddlers. Sammy is still your best friend, and you love the color green.  You'll take the time to stop and talk to anyone. You love people and know that they love you right back. And when given the option to pick any cupcake you want, you make sure it's the most beautiful chocolate cupcake you can find, and then you give it to your Mommy. (Well, you give it to Sammy and your Mommy to share, but then Sammy tells your Mommy she can have it all. Seriously. You boys are the best!!)

We hope you have an awesome year, Sweet Buddy, living and learning and loving even more. Happy, happy sixth birthday, 'Lijah!! We love you!!





Thursday, May 5, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sammy!

Sammy! Seriously?!? You're SEVEN!!

Huge!! Gosh, we're enjoying watching you grow up. You're steadfast and reliable, easy going and fun to be around. You're loyal -- you've loved all things Star Wars and Mario and Luigi for how long now?

You are oh-so-sweet to your mom and in this last year or so, you've added your youngest brother and baby sisters to your list of sweet devotions. You also never forget to pray for your Grandmama and Grandpapa whenever it is your turn to pray. (Thank you. That means the world to me.)


Elijah is still your best buddy but you've broadened your horizons and enjoy playing with "the big kids" or chatting it up with random friends (and your parents' friends count as yours!) or strangers, even, if they'll let you tell them what's up with your favorite video games!

You're huggable, lovable, and wonderful. We thank God for you and truly enjoy how He made you -- and who He is making you to be. You're a precious gift, dear son, and we pray that you have the best year yet!



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's Talia!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Announcing Talia Joy

After throwing us a number of curve balls, yesterday our sweet "Spaghetti" finally graced us with her presence.

"Talia" is Hebrew for "dew of Heaven." We are pronouncing it like the name "Natalia" but without the "Nuh-" at the beginning!

We thank God for His abundant kindness and protection!


Talia Joy
8 lb 9 oz
21" length
8:48 p.m.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Happy happy birthday, Jeremiah!

You're three years old now, JJ! Yay!!

You bring delight to everyone who knows you. A man of few words, your shaggy hair and assertive expressions say it for you.

You don't know it now, but we begged God for you for a long time... my pregnancy with you followed a dark year of loss and grief, and we would not be the same without you. You bring a bright joy to our family, as I'm sure you well know how much your older brothers and sisters adore you.

Not one to keep all that love to yourself, you shower your baby sister Keanna with all the affection and attention you can.  And as my enormous belly has grown with your "other baby sister," my belly gets much of that sweet JJ love too!

We love you, Jeremiah, and we thank God for you. As you grow older, we pray that you hold on to your sweetness and joy and that you know how very cherished you are... not just by your family and friends, but by the awesome God who created you and sent His Son to die for you, that through faith you might have eternal life! Tomorrow we celebrate His rising from the grave, and we pray that for you, too -- that you would trust in Him and have life!

Happy, happy birthday, sweet son! We love you!



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Happy Birthday, Selah!

Our sweet, beautiful, dancing butterfly -- you're eight years old!!

Birthdays are such a stereotypical time for us parents to stand amazed at the quick passage of time... and it's true. So quickly we've gone from your "perfect birth" (according to Daddy's memory, at least!) to today. But it's so easy to remember the fun stages in between. Our happy baby, our bouncy toddler... the staggering ages in between where you've struggled to both stand out and to fit in with your older siblings.

And on this birthday (even if we are posting this letter a day late. Ahem. Sorry, kid!), we want you to know that through it all, we love you. Very, very much. And we're thankful for the daughter that you are and the daughter you are growing to be. We've loved seeing you grow in your relationship with Eliana this past year... we delight in the affection you show the "babies" and the sweetness you have with younger children.  We're thankful for how sweetly you love your mom and dad.

And we're thankful for your continued growth in maturity... and cheerfulness. We love you and we love the bounce in your step!

May your next year bring you greater peace, greater joy, and greater trust in the goodness of God and His perfect love and care for you, dear child! Happy, happy birthday, Sweet Selah! We love you!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Recognize these kids???

Special thanks to Bernice Creager and California Special Districts for including Eliana and Mikey in their latest video!






Monday, December 21, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Keanna!

It's hard to believe that it's already been one year since you were first placed in our arms, we first kissed your cheeks, snuggled you close, and ran our fingers through your hair. It's hard to believe that it's been a year since you made your appearance and stole so many hearts.

I watched you, today, as your eyes lit on Daddy and you wiggled with everything within you, your already huge smile completely dwarfing the rest of your face, squealing and arching your body in his direction, anticipating him gathering you into his arms. I watched his eyes twinkle in response and a smile take over his countenance as he cooed a greeting at you.

We see that joy when you call "Elw-ya-ya-ya" (Eliana) and "IiKkkkk" (Mikey) when you want to play. We see that delight when Jeremiah comes in to give you a hug and a kiss and you pet his hair, grabbing on as you hug and kiss him in return.

We see the tenderness that blooms when our rough-and-tumble boys fall head over

heels for their baby sister and want to tell the world just how adorable you are. We see the care that each of your big sisters loves to dote on you. We see how sweetly you love extended family and friends and how much they treasure you in return.

And we thank God that He chose to gift all of us with YOU. You are a joy and a delight, a go-getter and a sweetheart, and in your short time with us, you've brought life and love and hope during some sad and dreary days.

We love you and can't wait to see God's good plan for you as you grow... but no rush, Sweet Girl. Take your time. We're enjoying each day with you.

Happy, happy birthday, Buttercup! We love you!!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Happy Birthday, Danny!!

One of these days, we're going to realize that our little kids are getting bigger. I can't believe that you, Danny, our THIRD child, are nine years old today. That's halfway to all grown up (at least going by current and locationally determined societal standards)!

You're sweet and smart and witty and fun. You never lack energy, which is not too surprising considering that you were never a laid-back child; it was full-speed ahead during my pregnancy with you and you weren't much of a sleeper as a baby. You've always been go, go, go!

But you do love people and love to stop and relate to those around you.

You're getting super good at piano this year and you have finally convinced us to get you some new wheels. We can't wait to see what this next year has for you!

Our greatest desire for this next year is that it sees us all loving God and through Him, loving others better than we do now. That's our prayer for you, too, sweet Danny. Love Him, first. Everything else comes out of that.

We love you, Danny, and we thank God for you!! He knew what He was doing when He gave you to our family. Have a very happy birthday!!