Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Wazowski!

Happy Birthday, Mikey!

It's your last pre-teen year. You're growing up before our eyes ... It seems like every time I look at you, you're a bit taller and you're quickly closing the distance before you fly past me!

You're smart and funny and you give great hugs. You're sweet and tender with the babies, rough and tumble with just about everyone else.

You're compassionate and thoughtful.

And as time keeps passing way too quickly, we see you growing in responsibility and ability. It's been fun to see you cheerfully taking on new challenges!

We're thankful for you, our eldest son! We pray that you continue to grow in self-control and patience, wisdom and discernment. We pray that you continue to grow in love and compassion. And we pray that all of this is fueled by a genuine growth in your love for God and His holiness.

We love you, Mikey, and we hope that you have a great year!

Happy, happy birthday, Wazowski!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Happy Birthday, Eliana!

"Just wait until they're teenagers!" I've heard that a few times... Now that wait is over: Our firstborn is thirteen.

Well, dear Eliana, let's rock it. Stick with us. We'll stick with you. We love you, and we're for you. As you continue this transition from child to young lady, please remember that we're on your side. You are a gift, a treasure to us.

You're beautiful. You're talented. You're smart and hard working. You're self disciplined. You love to learn and explore and teach and wonder at this world.

And dear, sweet daughter, the most beautiful thing about you is when you stand in awe of your Creator, and graciously, humbly, clearly exhort us and your other loved ones to stand in awe along with you.

One thing you'll never hear me say is, "Oh, I'd give anything to be a teenager again." (Don't worry. I'm sure you'll hear others say it. Just not me.)  I had a good childhood. I had the loving support of friends and family. I knew the Father's love. But despite that, I still say that these years you are facing are hard. I fully expect them to be rough.

These years are years that you spend a lot of time and energy becoming the person that you are growing up to be, and that is hard. You have temptations and emotions and frustrations and imperfections all warring against the person that you are striving to become. You'll win some battles and you'll lose some battles, each and every day. There may even be seasons when you feel that you can't win for losing.

Just hold onto the One who will hold on to you. When you fail, turn to Him. When you succeed, turn to Him. When you feel like you are all alone and no one understands you, turn to Him. He will never leave you or forsake you. And He knows your heart better than you know it yourself. He is for you, because you have put your hope and your faith in Him. And with Him, you have all you'll ever need.

But, your daddy and I won't mind if you lean on us, too. I know you're an independent and strong young lady. But we love, love, love being in your life. Please let us hold on to you, too. And remember that we're here for you, too. You might have to get a little loud to get our attention sometimes, but we're here for YOU. Always.

And on a side note, I know this year has been hard on you too, dear daughter. It's been a rough one. But I thank you for the ways you've grown in love for God and for others. It's been a blessing in the midst of storms.

We love you, dear Eliana. We pray that this year you will know true joy, true peace, and true love and true comfort, more and more each day.

Happy, happy birthday, Eliana!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, Elijah!

Oh, Elijah. You've never met a stranger, and everyone loves you. Even better, you know it.

It's finally your birthday. You've been counting down since January. I'm glad we made it ... I, and about everyone else that you've been able to tell that you were turning seven, which is just about 100% of the people you've talked to in the last eleven and a half months.

We love you, Elijah. You're fun, you're happy ... you love life and people, and you're the very first to volunteer to pray, every time we ask. I love how you always use your prayer time to thank God for your family and for His goodness to all of us. He is good, and we are thankful.

So, you're seven. You're starting second grade soon and we know you'll hit it full stride, like everything else you do. Keep at it, Son. We love you, we're proud of you, and we're so thankful that God gave YOU to us.

Happy, happy birthday, 'Lijah!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happy Birthday, Sammy!

Oh, Sweet Sammy. You're eight. And we are so proud of the delightful young man you are growing into.

I was thinking about you today ... happy and content, quiet and at ease. You quickly take responsibility for your actions, and you love to grow. You blend in well with our crazy family. But never think that you are anything less than completely precious to us.

You've always been a sweet and happy child, and it's been delightful to see you grow in areas of excitement. You're really starting to get the hang of school and you always try hard at whatever you're working on. Of course, you also love video games and Legos and Star Wars and you love sharing your passions with those around you. And we all love hearing about what's going on in your head.

You're sweet and tender with the little ones in the family. And you never forget to thank God for His kindness and to pray for those you love. Thank you for that. You always bless me with your prayers.

There's no denying the fact that you, dear Sammy, are growing up. We love you and we're proud of you. Remember your joy in knowing God's love for you, son, and remember His great sacrifice in sending His Son. As you keep your focus on Him, He will guide you and take good care of you.

Happy, happy birthday, Sammy! We love you!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Happy Birthday, Talia!

Our sweet, beautiful baby girl...

You're one, now. I'm not sure my heart can handle that. But I guess as parents, we don't get to decide these things.

You have been such a beautiful blessing this past year. There have been a lot of losses and heartaches, but you have been a joy ... our "dew of heaven."

I commonly describe you as our very first laid-back girl. You're an easy baby ... you sleep well, eat well and love life. You dance and sing and talk and laugh. Even when you get a birthday tooth and you want to be held all the time, you still are delightful and will cheer up when your siblings sing.

We love you and we're so thankful that God gave you to all of us ... you are a sweet and perfect gift!!

Happy, happy birthday, sweet Talia!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Happy Birthday, J.J.!!

Jeremiah Joseph ... It is your fourth birthday. And we are so very thankful that you are part of our family!!

Lately, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the season before you were born.  We were busy with six little kids, and we had recently moved into our new house which required a LOT of work and that kept us busy, too. But it was a sad season ... we had experienced great loss, and my heart cried out to God, asking Him to give us another baby. And your siblings were crying out to God and asking Him to give them another sibling. And I know other voices echoed ours.

And do you know what God, in His generous kindness did? He gave us YOU. (And then your baby sisters. And more recently, a baby brother that went to be with Jesus before we got a chance to meet him).

You were a chill, laid back baby even before you were born, and we have loved every second of getting to know you. You're happy and tender, sweet and caring. You love fully and laugh fully. (And you're a good sleeper. Which is probably why you have gotten away with sleeping on the floor in Mommy and Daddy's room MUCH longer than any of your siblings ever have. Ahem.)

You've been working hard to learn how to talk this year, and your very first and favorite sentence was and is, "I. WANT. HUGS!!" I'm pretty sure your next sentence will be, "I want TOAST," but that's a story for another day.

You love airplanes these days. Your Grandpapa is happy about that.  Whenever you run, you're arms go out as wings and more recently, you've started spinning an arm in front of you as a propeller and making awesome engine noises when you're trying to get my attention.

We hope you have a wonderful year, dear son. We hope you run and jump and laugh and play and hug and eat ... and we hope you know how very loved you are. We have a good God who gives good gifts. And we are thankful for you!!

Happy, happy birthday, J.J.! We love you!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Happy Birthday, Selah!!

You made it! You're nine years old!! Isn't that AMAZING?!?

Selah, you are such a beautiful, delightful daughter. You're full of life and love and fun and creativity. You're kind and thoughtful, bouncing and adventurous. You are an amazing big sister. You're a great little sister. You are a good friend. You are a joy.

And we're so thankful to have you as our daughter. 

We hope you have a beautiful year. We hope you grow in knowing how very, very loved you are. Even when your mom is grouchy. Even when your dad is distracted. YOU are fully, wholly, wonderfully loved. We love you, but more perfectly, God loves you. And we hope that with each passing day, you become more knowledgeable, more secure, more rested in knowing the height and width and breadth and depth of that love.

And we hope and pray that in that knowledge, you continue to blossom and grow. Because you are a precious, precious gift. And we are so very thankful for you.

Happy, happy birthday, Sweet Selah! We love you!!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, Kiki!!

A long, long time ago, there was a mommy and daddy who had a little girl. Then they had a boy. And another boy. And then another girl. Then they had another boy. And another boy...and a couple years later aNOTHER boy. And then, they had a precious, sweet little girl (YOU!). And then aNOTHER girl. But let's get back to YOU!

Two years (and two days -- sorry for the belatedness of this post!) ago, you broke our streak and bounced joyfully into our world. There was GREAT rejoicing by your older sisters and your brothers...oh, they cooed.

I don't think you've stopped bouncing since. You are a bundle of joy...You sing, you dance, you babble up a storm. You bat your eyes and stomp your feet. You love to be carried and happily yell at "Yaya" (Eliana) or "Mi'gey" to chariot you up and down the stairs, even though your little legs work just fine.

You and JJ have been inseparable since Day One. You're his voice when he's not yet ready to talk, and you've gotten him into more mischief then his happy-go-lucky, laid-back self would ever have even thought to discover without you.

And with Baby Sister...oh, you're a bucket of sweetness. Your older siblings have taught you well how to cuddle and kiss and love on the babies...and you happily accept that role!

We love you, Sweet Girl. You are a gift from God and a joy to our hearts, and we are so incredibly thankful that He saw fit to add you to our crazy household. You fit right in and add a sweet spark.
Happy, happy birthday, Keanna!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Family Movie Nights

Have you ever had that awkward moment when you're showing a great movie from your childhood to your kids only to discover you didn't remember that particular scene, language, etc. being in the movie?

Or maybe there's a good movie that would have been truly great if only Hollywood had cut out a few things.

VidAngel solves these problems by letting you filter streaming videos. You can even customize your filters. It's a bit confusing at first, but basically you buy the movie for $20 and then sell it back within 24 hours for a $19 credit. Net cost per movie is $1.

We've watched a few movies now this way and have been very pleased with the results, so thought I'd share in case anyone else is interested.

Please note there is an ongoing legal dispute.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Happy Birthday, Danny!!

Hey there, Danny -- you're ten!!

You're growing up so quickly... and really, Sweetheart, you're doing a great job. You're sweet and attentive to your friends and family, you're eager to help out and you're typically cheerful about doing your chores, your schoolwork or what have you.

You're thoughtful and kind and you're funny. Even Talia thinks so. You get her to laugh more than just about anyone else!

And you're ten! How in the world did that happen?? It seems like just yesterday, you were my sweet, littlest baby...all cuddled up... and now you're pretty much ready to take on the world!

Just remember, in the process, that you're not alone...we're here for you, Danny. We've got your back.
And you don't need to be like anyone but who God created YOU to be. Your name means "God is my judge," and we want to remember that. This world will judge you, no doubt, as people like to do that to one another. But at the end of the day, you are accountable to God and God alone for your thoughts, your actions, and your deeds. And He is a righteous and good judge, a loving judge who made a way for you...He knows your strengths, and He knows your weaknesses. And He knows that where you fall short (and believe me, we all do), He has made a way for you. That's why Jesus came to this earth, and lived a perfect life on your behalf... so run to Him and know His love and His peace!

Love you, sweet buddy! Happy, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Happy Birthday, Wazowski!!

It's your golden birthday, Dude (and if, like me for much of my life, random readers have never heard of a golden birthday, it's the year of life that matches up with the day of the month on which you were born. For example, Mikey was born on September 11, so his eleventh birthday is his golden birthday. At least this is what my Minnesotan husband tells me. But it's cold in Minnesota. So there's that)!!

Mikey, you are one awesome kid. You can try my patience like none other, but then you flash your darn dimples and, yeah. I'm a sucker for your dimples. And your crazy bear hugs. I'm a sucker for those, too.

This last year has been a really good year for you. You've grown a lot. You can still try our patience like none other, but you seem to be growing in wisdom and self-control. We see more and more evidence of those characteristics in your life. You're also more quickly taking responsibility for your action and seeking a resolution. That's a sign of great maturity. Well done, son. Keep it up!

You have commentary for any and every subject matter that comes up, regardless of your level of expertise in the area. Seriously -- you should talk to your dad about getting your own YouTube channel. I'm pretty sure we could make some $$ off of that.

You challenge me and remind me so much of myself in so many ways. You're good at debate and you're quick to justify and defend. Just remember to justify the just and defend the weak and the righteous, and you will do well.

You're also passionate, emotional, and intense (and these are qualities that I've been accused of a time or two in my life, let me tell ya). And do you know what? Those are GOOD qualities. God created us with a full range of emotions. He never meant for us to be apathetic and disinterested in matters of this world. Just remember that our thoughts are the tracks that carry our emotions in the directions that they will go. So take your thoughts captive. Choose compassion, grace and kindness over self-interest and self-righteousness. Choose gratitude and contentment instead of self-pity and frustration. Choose mercy over anger and bitterness. Control your thoughts, and let those drive your emotions.

Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

You have an amazing ability to put your thoughts into words, and when you grasp a concept, your enthusiasm in contagious. I love seeing you learn, and I love learning from you.

We love you, Mikey, and we are so proud of you. We thank God that He made you just the way He did. You're a gift to us, and we enjoy you so much. May you continue to grow more and more into the man He created you to be. Happy, happy birthday!!