Bennett’s Year Six Birthday Letter

Oh My Bennett!

Happy birthday! Now that you are six, you will have to use two hands to show it! You’ve finished kindergarten and your second year in CC, this time with Mrs. Sickmond. In keeping with tradition, you dropped the “Mrs.,” and just always called her “Sickmond”! We went through our first year with a “real” math book, and it’s been so fun to watch your math brain work. You totally aced it. You’ve also graduated to independently reading chapter books, your favorites being Magic Tree House and Hank the Cowdog. You frequently walk around with your nose in a book, and you’re sure to keep a few on hand in the car for those “long” trips to the grocery store. Just like me, you typically have several books going at once. I just love witnessing your excitement over Jack and Annie’s time travels and Hank’s adventures on the ranch. Your love for reading makes my heart so happy!

On the other hand, you are also always on the go! You create elaborate superhero adventures with Luke every day, protecting the household from bears, monsters, and bad guys. Sometimes you have to swim oceans and climb mountains to do it, but I always know I’m safe with you. You are, after all,training to be Superman. I’ve been so impressed by your dedication to exercise and endurance training in this endeavor; you even conquered White Rock Lake by biking around the whole thing – 9.3 miles – on a bike with training wheels! Incredible. Since then, Daddy took off your training wheels, and you have officially ridden your bike without them! (We won’t talk about the fence that got in the way and slowed you down.) You’ve also learned how to stay afloat in the water, swim short distances, and swim down to the bottom of the shallow end to retrieve diving rings. This year, you played for the Red Sox, and we were so impressed by how much you’ve grown. Not once did I see you put dirt in your pocket this season! You really stayed focused and played hard for your team. You had a lot of fun trying out soccer, too! Oh, and another big milestone: This year, you went on your first real hunt with Dad – full camo and everything. You guys are definitely two peas.

There are so many other things to remember about this year:  The joint jumping celebration with Liam every time you see him; going on adventures with the Bennies at every opportunity; looking forward to GC every week (and very especially when it’s a cookout); going to work with Daddy and taking such wonderful care of his patients; losing two teeth; finding out that you have a new little brother on the way to love and, eventually, to wrestle with; and so much more. It has been such an incredible joy to watch you grow and to learn more about how God made you. I am inspired by your compassion, your energy, your helpfulness, your hospitality, and your forgiving and evangelistic heart. You are an incredible blessing in my life, and I thank God for you every day. Here’s to another year of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus! I love you so much.

Love,

Mommy

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Luke’s Year Two Birthday Letter

Lukie Babe!

It’s your birthday already, Punkin Doodle! You sure have had a big year! You have grown so much — to size 3T, to be exact — and you are showing your personality more and more every day.

You LOVE animals, and you routinely dump out Bubba’s entire animal box onto the living room floor. You don’t exactly love cleaning them up later, though.

You LOVE to read every book you can find — especially The Big Hungry Bear — but you don’t really love it when people won’t read to you ABSOLUTELY RIGHT NOW!

You regularly sing and dance, and it’s never quite okay for the music to stop playing. It’s always, “Uh-oh! Mom! Mom! MAMAAAAA!”

Mama cuddles are your favorite, especially right after you wake up, but you usually don’t want cuddles from anyone else. (And that’s usually okay with me!)

The rest of your time is filled with drawing; coloring; building; going on bear hunts with Bubba; playing catch with Daddy; asking Mama if you can watch

Mickey, Owlegories, or Letter Factory; and discovering letters all around your world and telling people what they say. You are very busy and very focused, whatever it is you find to do!

Lukie Babe, you have brought such spirit and joy to our home in the last two years! You see the donkey in every horse, and respond with a resounding HEE-

HAW! Your cheeky smile lights up our world, your “mohs” charm us, and your “oh” in

place of “yes” delights us. You are stalwart in every way, and I’m so glad God made you that way. I can’t wait to see how He will continue to use you to point others to His goodness, grace, and joy. It’s a very great honor to be your mama. I love you so! Happy birthday, Punky!

Love,

Mommy

Bennett — Year Five Birthday Letter

Dear Bennett,

Nope. You’re not turning five. You’re not going to start kindergarten this year. It’s not allowed. I’ve changed my mind. Growing up this fast is now completely against the rules, okay?! Don’t you do it!

I can’t even wrap my mind around how big you are and how much you’ve grown. Over the past year, I’ve had my first taste of being Mama to a “big kid,” and it was crazy exciting! You played on a real t-ball team with real uniforms and a real team name — the Knuckleballers — and a real coach named Justin Wade, who wasn’t your dad. How in the world did you get a coach with your dad’s name? So funny! And for the first time, I got to take you to practice every week and spend my Saturday mornings watching you run the bases (and sometimes put dirt in your pocket). Watching you play t-ball was so much fun!

You also finished your first year in Classical Conversations. You had the best tutor ever, whom everyone else calls Mrs. Buffington, but you simply dropped the “Mrs.” right from the start and just called her “Buffington” all year. She was your absolute favorite, and I’m pretty sure you won her heart, too! You learned so much about so many things, but your favorite subjects were History and Latin. Your best two history songs were about the Industrial Revolution (“Watt’s steam engine, Cartwright’s power loom…”) and the Cold War (“In the 1980s, ooo ooo ooo ooo, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher…”). And I’m not sure if you loved Latin because the future tense had “bo” in it, or because of Hannah the Hippo! Either way, our first year in CC was a blast, and I was so excited to watch you learn and grow with all your new friends.

Much to your mama’s surprise and delight, you started reading chapter books by yourself this year! It started with Nate the Great and Henry and Mudge, and now you’re into Magic Tree House books. It makes me smile every time I see you reading, and I love how enthusiastically you read aloud. Never stop reading! You will learn and grow so much!

This year was also a year of traveling. Early on, we went to Mexico, and you couldn’t stop talking about how you wanted to live there because it was the best place ever. Last month, you went on a guys’ trip to Georgia to watch the Braves play, and now Atlanta has taken Mexico’s place in your heart. Whenever people ask you, you can’t even seem to remember much about Colorado, where we were only a week ago, because all you can think about is Atlanta!

Bobo, you’re my best Bo in the whole world. I love you more than all the eyelashes, all the doorknobs, and all the worms. [Reader: That’s just an inside joke.] I love you infinity plus infinity plus infinity. Thank you for being my Bobo and for teaching me every day how to love more like Jesus, and thank you for being such a superheroic big brother for Lukie to look up to.

Happy not-birthday, because you’re SO not allowed to turn five today! Happy Tuesday!

Love,
Mommy

Luke — Year One Birthday Letter

Dear Luke,

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WHAT? There is no way that you’re turning one already! Weren’t you just born the other day? Yet here you are, Mr. ONEderful, Mr. Independent, Mr. I Have Ten Teeth and I’m Ready to Eat All the Food! Lukie Babe, I can’t believe that you’re so big, but it sure has been a fun year learning all about who you are and what delights you.

First of all, my heart swells watching you and your brother! You just adore him. Since you’re on the move now — so very close to walking! — chasing Bennett is probably your favorite thing besides eating blueberries. Sometimes he even makes you laugh so hard that you can barely breathe! I love how much you boys laugh and play together, and I pray that you’ll always be best friends.

1486671434999Speaking of laughing, you have the sweetest smile ever, and it’s made even sweeter when you decide to really turn up the cuteness by crinkling up your nose. I hope you never lose that squinchy-nosed smile, even once you figure out it’s my weakness.

Oh — and books! Oh my goodness, the Lord gave me another boy who devours books! I love that your eyes light up when I ask if you want to read books with Mama, and that you will read book after book after book with me. You’ll sometimes even just sit and “read” by yourself. Be still my heart!

But you’re no homebody, that’s for sure. You love to be outside, and you’re always just itching to get into the dirt and grass and discover the world. Sometimes you just look up and point out the window. I just know that as soon as you have the words, you’ll be asking me all day if you can just go play outside! And you can barely contain yourself watching Bennett play t-ball. You just point and lean toward the field like you’re ready to run the bases. Be still your daddy’s heart!

My jovial, cuddly, expressive, sweet, little punkin, I am so very thankful for this year with you. It has been so fun to watch your personality unfold. You bring so much light and joy to our home, and I am so excited to spend a lifetime watching you grow and seeing how you will bless others in the same way. I love you so much, and I am so thankful to be your mama.

Love,
Mommy

My Oracle for Luke

This morning, we had Luke’s baby dedication at our church. It was such a sweet time for our family to pray over our littlest boy and over us as we publicly promise to teach him about, show him, and lead him to Jesus.

Four short years ago, when my biggest little boy was a baby, I was inspired by an oracle in Proverbs 31 that King Lemuel’s mother taught him. For Bennett’s dedication, I wrote him an oracle — my heart’s burden for him. Today, I shared my heart’s burden for Luke.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

in Him is the light

the true light

the only light of life

but His people have not known Him

loving, clinging to darkness,

those made in His image reject Him

but He shines

and our darkness cannot overcome His light

so–

not everyone hides

you, O my son, what about you?

son of my womb, son of my vows–

created for Light

named for Light

dedicated to Light–

know who you are!

leave foolishness for fools,

worldliness for the world

seek Wisdom,

Truth and Goodness

receive Him

believe in His name

cling to Him

and He will give you the right to be His,

not born merely of me,

but of our Majestic Messiah-God!

be a Light-receiver

and a Light-giver

O, my son,

join with those ancient and eternal citizens

who, with Him and for Him,

SHINE

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Proverbs 31:1-9

John 1:1-5, 9-13; 3:19-21

Matthew 5:14-16

Bennett — Year Four Birthday Letter

Dear Super Bennett,

Happy birthday! You have had such a big year that I don’t even know where to begin. Not only did you keep working the garden with Daddy so that we could have fresh food, but you also helped him build a fort so that you could have the most awesome backyard ever! This year, you had your first t-ball lessons, started learning piano, and went fishing and ice-skating for the first time. You’ve also grown in your songwriting, as you sing impromptu, original songs to God nearly every day.

After very much hard work, you accomplished two huge feats this year: you joined The 100 Club, and you can read! Numbers and words are the foundation for all types of literacy, so I’m so excited that you’re now on the doorstep to a lifetime of learning.

Most importantly, this year you’ve proven that you are the best big brother ever! From the moment you found out that little Luke was growing in my belly, you 100_5784loved him and helped me take care of him. (Do you remember how you used to try and shove food in my mouth so Luke could have a snack?) You even picked his middle name; it certainly couldn’t be “Evan,” because then we’d have to put him in the oven! After all that, it had to be Bryant. And now, Luke Bryant sure thinks you are the funniest, coolest, superheroey-est guy around. I would have to agree.

And here’s something really awesome I can’t forget: by your side through all of this has been your (imaginary) friend, Boggyx! With blue hair, yellow skin, red fingernails, pink ankles, and every cool and fun thing you could think of, he’s definitely a great buddy to have around.

Super Bennett, you are totally super! You’re kind, tenderhearted, creative, smart, fun, hardworking, hospitable, worshipful, and faithful. I can’t believe you’re growing up so fast, but I guess it makes sense. The world needs all the superheroes it can get! I’m super-blessed to know you and even more blessed to be your mom. Thanks for being you.

Love, Mommy

 

Soon

13576827_10100713984985605_422606740353858805_oIf this guy had a tattoo, it would read: ADDICTED TO CUDDLES.

He can’t help it; it’s in his genes. After a wonky day where he missed his morning nap and only had a few snoozes here and there, I put him down for what I thought would be a solid afternoon nap. Forty-five minutes later, “MOMMY!!! MOMMY!!! MOMMY!!!” (Okay, no. He doesn’t say that, but that’s what he means.) When I scooped him up and saw his little red-rimmed eyelids, I knew he needed more sleep, and that he needed a little extra help.

So we wrapped up in our favorite wrap and gently bounced. As I patted and petted and hugged my little bundle, I had this thought:  One day soon, he will be in another woman’s arms when he’s worn down. When the world becomes too much for him now, I am his refuge, but that won’t always be. And then — I’ll admit it — with a brief flash of future jealousy, I wondered how I will cope with only hearing from my sons once a week, or every other week, or less. How does a mother’s heart survive this trauma, knowing another woman has stolen her son?!

Refocus.

Oh, this is how You planned it, Lord. Fashioned in a woman, birthed of a woman, nourished through a woman, nurtured by a woman, destined for a(nother) woman. Oh, let her — this other woman — let her be humble and kind.  Both girls — Bennett’s and Luke’s — let them love You fiercely and love my boys fiercely. Let them let their husbands and help their husbands be good men. Let them be humble and kind and holy and brave and strong.

I breathe in his scent, hear his soft snores.

Thank You for these boys, this royalty worth dying for. Thank You for entrusting me with this high and holy calling. Help me to get them ready, for time is so short.

If I had a tattoo, it would say: SOON.

Soon, no one will be pulling at me or screaming for me.
Soon, no one will call me “Mommy.” (Or “MOMMYYYYYYYY!!!”)
Soon, I won’t have to remind anyone that our hands are for showing love and kindness and so are our words, or that God gave us toys so we can share them.
Soon, my chances will be gone, and I’ll hope what I did was enough.

Soon is a word I use to focus myself.

Today, it was a bittersweet moment as I imagined the future. Knowing it will come so soon, yet determining to savor sweet baby breath. Hoping for faithful daughters-in-law, yet cherishing chubby cheeks, wrists, ankles. Soon, this baby will be a man. But right now, he’s a baby, and there’s so much beautiful ahead of us. This is such a good moment. Keep rocking. Keep praying. God is good.

Yesterday, it was a desperate moment as I despaired the present. A preschooler in the other room needed me while I held an inconsolable infant while I internally counseled this tear-soaked woman on her fourth day of fever and sickness with this one word: SOON. Soon, you will feel better. Soon, the baby will stop screaming. Soon, what the preschooler needs help with, he will be able to do on his own. Soon, your babies won’t need you quite so much, and that will be good, but hard. This moment is also good, but hard. Keep rocking. Keep praying. Keep crying, too; it’s okay to fall apart sometimes.

Soon, Mama. Soon.