Where do the years go? Today we celebrated 9 years of life for our first-born, Ashtyn Grace. This is the first time I’ve really, really thought: “She’s growing up!” Though I grieve some of the sweet things of the past like her short, bouncy curls, little baby teeth (that are no more!), and how “easy” life seemed when it was just she and I – it really is so much FUN to watch her grow and morph into this beautiful girl who loves people and is burdened for the lost and who reads books to her baby brother and rocks him before bed at night. This girl who asks hard questions about her faith and spends her own money to buy gifts for those that have less than she, who asks about our homeless friend when it’s raining or cold outside, who devours books, and is starting to notice the “nice, good-looking boys who love Jesus.” This girl and her heart is so beautiful to watch. The Lord is cultivating in her a tenderness and compassion that has changed me.
This year, we were supposed to make a trip to the American Girl Doll store in Atlanta. As God would have it, this also happens to be the year where pastor-husband is searching for another call and currently getting another degree. This is a season where we need to be extra careful about our “extra” spending. We talked about having to cancel this trip which was to be her birthday celebration and I dreaded telling her – knowing she would be sorely disappointed as any 9 year old girl would. A few days ago while we were running errands, I felt the Spirit’s prompting to talk to her about it. She knows that this is a tighter season for us as we regularly talk and pray together as a family. After explaining it, she looked up at me with compassion and a sweet smile on her face and said “It’s ok mommy. I understand. And whatever we decide to do for my birthday, I don’t want you and daddy to worry about spending alot of money.” Wow. It humbled me, that I expected the worse – and the Lord was faithful, working in her heart. She taught me alot about life right then and there – that it’s not about how much we can give our children, but what is cultivated in their hearts as we help them to face real-life with the Gospel.
One more quick story of God’s faithfulness in this little girl HE is shaping. Some anonymous person sent us a $30 giftcard to Target in the mail. It was such a sweet reminder to our little family of God’s constant care and tender love. We showed it to the girls and thanked the Lord for it. Today, we tucked that little giftcard in a birthday card and that was her one and only gift – she could pick out something she liked (we knew full-well, that $30 could go a long way on other things but felt the Lord provided it for such a time as this.) As she was picking out a little doll in Target tonight, she looked at her sister’s and said “This doll is $17 and that means I will have some money left-over. I want to buy something for Jada and Ellie.” What God provided for our family, she wanted to share with her sisters. This is the kind of girl she is. The tears flow as I tap at these keys on my old Dell laptop. Ya’ll, this is of no doing of our own and I don’t share these stories to boast in us – but to boast in Christ. I can’t explain how humbling and beautiful it is to watch the Lord weave this magnificent tapestry in the lives of our children – today, namely Ashtyn. That He is at work on those days when laundry is up to the ceiling and kids are crying at the Math books and babies are snotty and throwing tantrums on the floor. In all of this mess, all of the discouragement, God is working. He is for us and if He is for us, who can stand against us?
Happy Birthday Ashtyn Grace!
(in place of the trip, Ashtyn chose 2 of her friends to have “High Tea” here at home. It was a wonderful celebration!)
Morning visit and donuts from Mimi and Papa!
Lovely flowers from her daddy
Dancing with daddy
I love her beautiful hair.
Ellie really enjoyed the “fanciness” of this tea party!