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!!