Losing my jewels

When I turned 7  years old my grandmother decided to give me a sapphire (my birthstone) ring.  I am not sure how or why but somehow this was decided upon as a good idea.

I currently have an 7-year old who, until recently wanted to be a mermaid when she grows up.  I can’t imagine trusting her with such an expensive piece of jewelry.  But never-the-less, when I was 7 my grandmother thought I could handle the responsibility of taking care of this expensive gift.

You can imagine my 7-year-old-self receiving a piece of jewelry that sparkled and glittered and made me look like a princess.  I CHERISHED IT!

My mother who was certainly grateful but I’m sure slightly terrified that her 7 year old has been trusted with this the ring sat me down to make sure I understood this responsibility and to also give me a rule in how to care for it.  

I was given only one rule.  The rule was to make SURE the ring was kept in the safe place.  My ring had two safe spots, it stayed on my finger most the time but when I went swimming or took a shower, it stayed in my jewelry box, on the second shelf, where it was safe.   Those places were determined my “ring’s safe place.” And didn’t need to be anywhere else, EVER.

A few years went by and the magnitude of what I have been trusted with faded and I became careless with my gift. 

One day we went to the beach. Right before I ran to the ocean I looked down at my hand and realized my ring was still on my finger.  I had this inner turmoil in my mind, my mom said the safe places were my finger and my jewelry box.  My jewelry box is back home in Atlanta and I’m afraid if I leave it on I will loose it in the ocean…also I heard somewhere sparkly things attract sharks?  Either way I’m not going in the ocean with my ring. 

I didn’t tell my mom but I told myself JUST THIS ONCE, I’ll take it out of the safe place.  I put my ring in the pocket of my mother’s cover up hanging on the back of the beach chair.

You know where this is going….

Later that day I was searching everywhere.  Tears falling on the sand as I searched every inch surrounding the beach chair desperate to find what I lost.

 I was careless ONE time.  I thought I knew better, I thought I could do as I wanted and have no consequences. My gift was lost.

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Photo credit Ashly Cathy 

God has given us each a gift,  A RARE, precious, expensive I would even say sacred jewel, and that is our body.

 Our body, made to be shared with a life partner is given to us as a gift.  We don’t realize how rare, expensive and precious our gift is.  And sometimes we think we can take our bodies “just this once” out of the safe place it will be fine and there will be no consequences.

God gave us ONE rule regarding our sexuality.  Keep it in its safe place. Just like a fire, in a fire place it is beautiful and helpful.  In the middle of my living room, a fire is destructive and leaves scars. 

‘Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.’ 1 Corinthians 6:18

Do we think God gave us this command because He is mean and doesn’t want us to have any fun?  Or maybe it’s because He genuinely knows what a precious jewel you have been trusted with and he knows the consequences when it is taken out of the safe place.

 You were designed to become one with one.  Your body is treasured, cherished and unique.  Sex is a gift to be shared in the safe, trusting and mutual respect of the covenant bond of marriage.

You are worth immensely more than what our culture has taught you.  You are a jewel my friend.

What if Mary had said no?

Thank you  Foreverymom.com for re-posting this on your site!

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What if Mary had said no?

Have you ever considered this?

Mary who is engaged to be married is being told by an angel that she is to carry the Lord’s son.  There are about a million things she can be worried about.

Not only is she facing possible execution, her fiancé leaving her, and ridicule…  In the unlikely event that everyone believes her, I think it would be totally valid for her to think: What about me and my plans?  I am about to get married!!  I don’t want to have to alter the wedding dress!  I like being a regular girl, everyone is going to ask me tons of questions!   I really am too busy for all this right now!  God can you find someone else?

Can you imagine this in today culture?  What with all our “plans and schedules”  I’m afraid we would just be too busy for such a task!

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But instead of any of these excuses she says:

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be with me just as you say.”

I think Mary “got” something that we often just don’t comprehend.

It wasn’t about her.

She had the amazing privilege to be the mother of Jesus because she was willing to be “the Lord’s servant.”

This is HUGE

And her self-sacrificing doesn’t end there.  Imagine you have agreed to carry God’s baby and it comes time for you to deliver.  I don’t know but I’m thinking maybe an angel comes and offers a big palace for me to deliver and it is a totally

Imagine you have agreed to carry God’s baby and it comes time for you to deliver.  I don’t know but I’m thinking maybe an angel comes and offers a big palace for me to deliver.   Totally pain-free child birth complete with people fanning me and feeding me grapes would also be nice.

But as we know, she has to make a long journey on a donkey only to find there is NO ROOM for them at the inn and she has no choice but to deliver Jesus in a manger.

You would think Mary would be shouting,
“UMM HELLO HAVING GOD’S SON HERE??? Can someone ELSE sleep in the manger for crying out loud?!!”

Yet Mary knew this wasn’t about her…it was ALL about Jesus. 

Every piece of her story, her pain, and even her frustration was all part of the beautiful story that we still remember today and will remember for generations to come, not because of her, but because of Jesus.

While I certainly believe Mary was the one God choose but what if she had said no.  She would have been free to do live her own little “important” life not to be “inconvenienced with the fear of being stoned and shaming her fiancé and family.   Yet her own little plans and agenda would have died with her generations ago and we would never even know her name.  

Making His name famous, furthering His kingdom, and doing HIS work.  His name is the only one that will last through the generations.  Why is it so hard for us to realize this?

Father my own little Kingdom is just laughable really.  Take my oh so important “plans” and use them for YOUR glory.  My plans and kingdoms will fall, but your Lord never will.

Mary was truly the Lord’s servant.  She put her own plans, fears, and excuses to the side.  None of that matters when the God of the universe has other plans.

Media Minimization March week 1 what I have learned so far

Our first true test of this whole media minimization came quickly.  The second day of March was on a Saturday.  It was the first Saturday in ages we had NOTHING planed.

Not a birthday party, baby shower, or a single thing on the agenda.  It was FREEZING outside and we are sticking to 7 hours TOTAL of any screen time at all per WEEK.  (click here for why)

Sooooo what’s a family to do?

We got creative.  We went swimming under the dome at the local park, we did puzzles and went for ice cream after dinner.

I was worried the kids would rebel against the whole idea but they kind of like it.  The great thing about kids is their ability to go with the flow.  When the screen time is up, it’s up.  And it’s time to get creative.

For me, I have had a hard time justifying what is “work” and legitimate internet time and what isn’t.  So the rule obeyer in me (she’s very small but still there) decided to give up instagram and any status updates (facebook or twitter) for the month as well.  Those are much more of a sacrifice for me (I miss you instagram) but in sacrifice we grow BIG time.

You know how many people have missed my updates?  Let me count…..Hmmm…..ZERO.  Not only can I live without social media, it can also get along just fine without me.  

Bryan is limiting TV and other media as well.  We have MANY more conversations in the evening without computers or TV’s to compete with.  This whole experiment is way more tolerable together.  We hold each other accountable too.

But it’s not all happy puzzle time and ice cream either .  Media is not all bad.  Here are the cons I have experienced:

1) Status updates are kinda handy.  Anybody know how to fix a fridge?  And if you had to pick one would you choose a trampoline or swing set for your backyard?
(updates I have wanted to post lately)

2) I don’t take near as many pictures.  I never realized it but I was taking pictures mostly for social media purposes.  Please humor me and tell me how cute this little collage is of Ava at the mall the other day.  She was dancing in front of the mirror.

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At the end of the day this teeny tiny, hardly mentionable “sacrifice” helps remind me of the millions of people who have so much less than me.

Everyday, several times a day, when I stop myself from thumbing through my phone, I am reminded of HOW MUCH we have.  We are blessed beyond measure.  If limiting media can help remind me to enjoy the HERE and now, be present, and become less distracted…then I am all for it.

Media Minimization March

We didn’t start this whole idea with the goal of a clever title…but the 3 “m”s is kinda catchy if I do say so myself.

Have you heard of this book called “7” by Jen Hatmaker?  I’m kinda in love with it.  She takes 7 areas of her life lived in excess: Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress.   They spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.”

A few months back we did stress, and observed the “seven sacred pauses”

For the month of March we are cutting back our media.  Media has a way of sneaking into stealing away our life.  It is very subtle but it happens everyday.  We decided cutting back media is a great way to re-focus on what we value as a family…each other.

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In the book, they cut out 7 different forms of media completely for the month.  We decided to just cut all media back to a total of 7 hours a week.

What does this include?  For us we decided “media” was anything with a screen (music is permitted).  It gets a little tricky because,  of course, a computer is how we both work.  But thanks to a handy site called rescue time  it will automatically track where we spend our time online.   And true work will not count toward the 7 hours.

I almost choked on the air when my husband originally suggested we use our phones as just PHONES.  We have only had smart phones for about a year but I seriously think my iphone is as magnificent as disney world and cheesecake all wrapped into one.

Ultimately we decided it was impractical NOT to use all of the handy things a smart phone lets you check, but it would all count toward our 7 hours per week.  Toggl is an app that will keep me accountable there.

And of course TV.  I’m not much of a TV fan but the rest of our family is.  Cutting back on the TV for the kids means more work on us but I am really excited about all the alternatives we will discover with the default of TV gone from the line up.

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I originally thought 7 hours was a generous plenty (about 1 hour per day) but when you start to time ALL YOUR MEDIA into one hour…it’s not that much.

So far..it is going surprisignly better than expected.  I am learning a lot but that is for another post.  For now…my time is nearly up.

Have you every had a media fast/minimiztion?  What did you think?

Life lessons and temper tantrums

It was bed time and I was trying to get two little girls dressed for bed.  Ava, our spit fire 3 year old, was determined to wear her tinker bell nightgown this particular evening.  Which is all fine and good except that tinker bell night gown is sleeveless and it was 30 degrees outside.

She stammered her foot down with all the passion of a 3 year old that needs some sleep and yelled, “I WANT TINKER-BELL!” Then proceeded to cry as she threw her self on the floor.

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Can you picture this scene? She is adamant that the tinker bell night gown is what she “needed” that night.  She thought she knew what was best.

As her mother, I try not to bust out laughing at the drama scene.  I wait until she is done, then explain why a long sleeve night gown is a better choice.  If she is still locked in on the tinker bell, I can let her get her way and freeze all night long, or hold her down kicking and screaming while I put on a warm pajamas.

I wonder how often our heavenly father sees the same scene in my life.  I am headstrong and SURE I want one thing, but God always knows better.

Sometimes he lets my bull headed opinions win out and I am stuck with the unpleasant consequences.

But sometimes, as a loving father, he puts up with my kicking and screaming, my impractical arguments and immature reasons.  He “dresses me warmly” even when I am too stubborn to realize it is what I need.

Sometimes I realize his good decision and sometimes I don’t, but I am learning more and more His ways are higher than my ways.  I just have to have a little faith.

Has this been a familiar scene in your life?  What have your children taught you about our Heavenly father?

Capturing 2

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Our precious Ava turns 3 today! Her baby curls are growing out and her legs are growing long, loosing their cute little chubby nature. As much as I think I will never forget the cute little things she says and does time passes and many things are quickly forgotten.  Here is my best attempt at Capturing Two!

Dear Ava, Our full of personality little girl. You love to follow your sister everywhere she goes, yet you are independent to the core. You spend at least half an our a day putting you baby dolls to bed, checking on them, “reading” them a story…then…they are awake!

You say funny things like Pepper-minuite for pepermint. Your favorite place in our house is behind the recliner. Yesterday I cleaned up crayons. goldfish, a calculator, and all your pajamas stuffed in a bookbag.

I think it’s just a ploy to stay awake longer but most nights when we put you to bed you say, “Wait!! I need to give my sister some love!” And I think it’s too cute to say no.  It’s better than your earlier “two’s” when you would take all of your clothes off when you were supposed to be sleeping. We put your zipped up (footless) sleepers on backwards, where they to fix that…one time you still got out of it.

You make us laugh with your determination to wear crazy things and think it’s perfectly normal.

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You are a mini-me in so many ways.  You don’t mind getting dirty digging up worms in the garden yet you are often spotted cleaning the floor with a baby wipe.  No one can tell you what to do (a good and bad trait).  And you love taking care of people.

This picture pretty much sums up every afternoon:myWPEdit Image

Precious Ava, you are such a gift. Your dad and I love your silly ways and your gentle spirit. Happy Birthday sweet girl!
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What our 4 yr old taught me about the scary stuff

There is this really annoying yet oh so true verse in James that reads, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” James 2:1

I recently had a first hand experience as an amazing 4 year old girl helped me to find joy in the trails.  

It started as a fun evening dip in the kiddy pool.  The girls best friends and next door neighbors had come to join us.

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Then we headed to the back porch for popsicles.  Hannah and her best friend Amy were sharing a chair.  I was right there beside them.  I must have been watching the younger two when all of a sudden I hear a SMACK on the concrete slab.  Hannah had for some reason stood up in the chair to reach for something, lost her balance and fell on her head.

We immediately called the after hours nurse.  While I was on the phone with the nurse hannah started getting very sleepy, then she vomited.  The nurse said she would have the doctor call me.  A few minutes later the doctor called and told us to let her sleep, if she vomited several hours after the event it was probably something more serious and she needed to go to the ER.

Two hours later (9pm) I woke her up, she answered all our questions, seemed fine and went back to bed.  At 11 pm, she got sick again.  We called the nurse back and she said we should go to the ER.

Bryan insisted I stay and get some rest and he would take her.  I was nervous but I knew he would take good care of her.  At 1 am he called me to let me know some very scary news.  Hannah had a skull fracture and her brain was bleeding.  They wanted to transfer her to a more capable hospital an hour away.

I think I went into shock.  I only had that experience once before when I was in a car wreck in college.  I started FREEZING and shivering like crazy.  I packed my bags, woke up Ava, and got to the hospital all in about 10 minutes.

Bryan took Ava back home and I got in the back of an ambulance beside our baby girl to travel to the hospital.  This was my sweet but scary view:

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I know this picture looks scary but she was not unconscious.  She was just trying to sleep it was around 1 am after all.

My emotions were going crazy, I was on adrenaline overload, I wanted to cry and throw up but I know I had to be there for her.  In this time, when I needed it most, Hannah taught me something precious.

I leaned over and asked, “What do you think about all this Hannah?”

“This is cool!!” she responded.  My nerves were immediately calmed.

When we arrived at the hospital the doctors were talking back and forth about fractures and bleeding and all this scary stuff.  All I could do was watch.   Hannah sweetly and calmly answered all of the nurses questions.  She obediently lifted her arms, moved her legs and did everything they asked her to do.  She had the staff fall in love with her.  Nurses were bringing stickers and any type of goody they could find.

After a few hours of test, poking, and prodding it was silent in our little section of the ER.  And Hannah was finally able to get some much needed sleep.

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At about 6am we finally got a room.  She was first admitted to ICU

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But she was doing so great we got a regular room that same day.

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The doctor said her injuries would not require surgery and she would be totally fine!!!

We had to stay in the hospital a total of two night but our amazing little trooper is now home.  Besides getting sleepy early she is acting totally normal.  Our only problem now is trying to convince her to take it easy!!

It was quite a journey.  Today you never would have guessed our little trooper was in the hospital just a few days ago.

So what has the scary experience taught me?

1) I have a whole new respect for parents of children with major illness.  We saw so many children facing much larger giants than a skull fracture.  I passed by this mom wearing a shirt that said, “My son is my hero”  When your watch your baby go through such things…I get it now.

2) We have AMAZING friends.  We had so many people reach out to us during this scary time.  I now know how important it is and will make sure I am more intentional about checking up on people in the hospital.

3)  The little things matter:  Child life specialist, a job I hardly knew existed are some of the most amazing people on the planet.  Their job is to help kids feel more comfortable in the hospital.  They answer children’s questions about being in the hospital, then ask her about her favorite toys.  A few moments later they come back with toys!!!  They are priceless!  This made Hannah, and mama, grin from ear to ear.  I could go on and on about what a wonderful impact they made while we were there.

On a side note there were also two retired men who came around every friday doing magic tricks for the kids.  They humbly said they do this because they can only play golf so much…but they make more of an impact than they know.  I am telling everyone who will listen about how happy these two groups made us feel.

4) God made our bodies as incredible machines:  Hannah had a skull fracture with internal bleeding.  It sounds very scary, yet outside of some pain and anti-nausea meds there is not much doctors can do.  Her precious little head will heal on it’s own, good as new.  I’m impressed God.

5) Hospital food isn’t so bad

6) Family members freak out when you call at 6am

7) It takes a while for your body to “de-stress”  I have been doing lots of deep breathing the past few days.

8) I am not in control.  While part of me wants to construct a giant hamster wheel for her to live in protected from everything around her.  I know that is not feasible.  She is God’s daughter before she was mine.

This is something I never would have wanted, and never want again, but God always uses these situations.  I have learned a lot.  And this little girl…is my hero:

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Choosing to cheat

I told my husband the other day I could stay up all night long and still have way too much on my to do list, to which he responded, “shorten your to-do list”

Profound!  Simple, maybe even obvious but I thought it was brilliant…he’s a smart guy.  I think all of us have expectations we place on ourselves that don’t REALLY have to be done. 

Andy Stanley wrote a book called “choosing to cheat” The premise states that we cannot possibly do everything so we must cheat in one or more areas of our life.  There are simply not enough hours in a day or days in a year to do and be everything we want.  We are then faced with the choice to decide what is most important.

Although we don’t see it this way it is even a little egotistical to think we are soooo important that we must get so much done.  If the world will keep spinning and no one will be physically harmed if we don’t complete the task then is it really THAT important? 

Cheating suggestions:

Housework:  Everyone has different “must does’” for a clean home.  I think it is essential to take a moment to define what a clean home is to you.  What is most important and what areas can you cheat? It will just get dirty again anyway!

The Internet:  Rescue time is a free internet service designed to keep you accountable for how much time you spend on the net.  On average it rescues people from almost 4 hours of time a week! 

Television: Along with the internet these are the two biggest time suckers for most families.  Be intentional with your television.  Ask is this show WORTH my time?  Give yourself a number you are comfortable with for hours spent per week in front of the tube. 

Extra activities:  If your kids are in soccer, dance, karate, football, and piano all at the same time you might want to take a step back and ask what is most important and what is not.  Or maybe you are the president of the PTA, the bible study leader, the volunteer and the helper for EVERYTHING in your city.  Just incase you need permission…It’s okay to say no.
(ouch I am so guilty of this)

Work more effectively:  No matter where you work: in an office or at home there are ways to work more efficiently.  4 hour work week  is a book dedicated to helping your work more effectively.

Barter anyone?:  You can’t do it all but together we can.  Babysitting is a great way to trade services.  You watch my kids and I’ll watch yours.  I have a friend that does all my monogramming and I make her little girls hair bows.  PERFECT!! 

What is a skill or service you can offer?  Trading is much more fun that spending money and is a helpful way to get what you need by “cheating” 

Share your thoughts: In what ways do you “cheat?”


The real St. Nicholas (Santa is not Satan)

Today’s post is a re-post from a very popular Santa is not Satan post from last year.  I hope you enjoy!

If Christmas is the day we celebrate Christ’s birth then where did “Santa” come from?  Are Christians to ban Santa trinkets, sweaters and wrapping paper to show our loyalty?  I think a little education is helpful on why or how the whole Santa thing came about. 

Who is St. Nicholas?

His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.

He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return.  He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

And that (in a nutshell)  is how we have the legend of Santa Claus.  I don’t know about you but that Santa doesn’t sound like such a bad guy.   He has certainly become over materialized but isn’t everything in our culture? 

St. Nicholas would have NEVER wanted the legend of him to be greater than the Jesus he served. 

That is where our job as parents is to teach our children about Christmas, the importance of Jesus’ birthday, and about the real “Santa Claus.”  The only list he was making and checking twice was those whom he could serve.   In fact how amazing would it be if everyone knew who the REAL St. Nicholas was and how he was such a model of Christ. 

Personally, we tell our kids about the real Santa.  We say people dress up like him today because the amazing person that was St. Nicholas.  Sure Santa is fun but we don’t pretend that he is coming through the chimney.

At the end of the day “Santa” is not Satan.  Getting caught up in banning Santa clothing, wrapping paper and decor is just plain silly in my humble opinion.  The real Santa can teach us a lot about our Lord through the servant life he lived.

Let’s show the world what Christians are FOR instead of what we are against. 

St. Nicholas was an amazing example of what we are FOR…Christ’s love.

I just ran across this blog that has a very clever family tradition of playing “St. Nick” and anonymously giving gifts around their town.  I love it! 

Join the conversation.  What are your thoughts on Santa? 

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Dear Hannah, on your birthday

Precious Hannah,

I can hardly believe four short years ago you were born.  Your daddy and I were told our lives would change forever but we didn’t believe it until we we met you. 

We were told we would experience love on a whole new level, but we didn’t know it until we held you

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I remember the day we took you home from the hospital.  I looked at you,  fast asleep in your bed. I was a new mom, overwhelmed with emotion.  I barely knew you yet I would do ANYTHING for you. I didn’t understand how someone so small that couldn’t even (yet) love me back had just become such an important part of me!

Then God whispered…that is a glimpse of my Love. 

God has a crazy BIG, selfless, HUGE, relentless, and unexplainable love for his children.   If my imperfect self could love this child SOO much, how much more does God love me! 

 You have grown into such a precious little girl.  You love all things girly, pink, and princess.  You love your baby sister and you are so considerate of others. 

 

  You say funny things like, “When I grow up I want to be a mermaid, and if that doesn’t work I want to be Rapunzel let down your hair”  You also say you sister wants to be a water buffalo…yes a water buffalo…random I know….you got it from a book.    

You are a very social little girl and love to play with friends.  When friends are not around or your sister is napping you have imaginary “brothers and sisters” that have a “tall tall airplane” and you play with them often.  We have yet to get a clear answer on their names or residence but their parents names are Katie and Bryan so we feel pretty good about that.  

  

Everyday you request to wear a “beautiful dress” and you usually change clothes about 4 times a day. 

You love to play school, dance, and “baby and mommy.” 

 

(I absolutely LOVE this picture, Thanks Grandma!  Nice snap!)

You are a precious gift.  I am overwhelmed and honored that God chose me to be your mom.  You remind me of His big crazy love everyday. 

Happy Birthday Hannah Grace!

Love,

Mom