A Letter to My Daughter on Her Seventh Birthday!

It's been awhile since I have posted anything.  The summer has just gotten away with me but I did want to make a little post dedicated to our daughter, Ezrah who just turned seven in June.  As always, we had a little birthday party with our family.  It always seems just right to have a small, uncomplicated get together. 

Even though I am more for small gatherings there are two traditions that we always stick to.  

1.  A new birthday dress.  Having two girls is just extra fun and mine happen to love dresses.  So for the two of them I always try to find a special dress for them to open first thing.  That way they get to wear something new and fresh that makes the day feel unique to all the other days of the year.  

2.  A homemade birthday cake.  This is near and dear to my heart because growing up my mom always made us birthday cakes.  Her time and effort always made our birthdays feel extra special.  I was so excited to carry on the tradition when I started having children of my own.  This year I found this gorgeous floral design from Cake Style and did my best to replicate it.  It was so much fun and I think Ezrah really loved it! 

I can't believe that our girl is seven!  With each passing day she grows further and further away from being "little"  She is becoming such a young lady.  One thing that I am quick to admit here and really anywhere is that I feel things very deeply.  I tend to get extremely emotional and while for the most part, for me, it feels very healthy I am learning what stages tend to make me feel overwhelmed.  

One of those things is watching my children grow older.  While I will never ever intend to forget their time as babies or toddlers, time itself will simply never yield.  As a mother I have found that it is far to heavy a burden to constantly be saddened at the passing of time.  Don't get me wrong, I occasionally let myself sit in that space.  As mothers we need a bit of that too, maybe just to remind us to focus on what's in front of us while it lasts.  

With all that said, on my children's birthdays I try to be extra intentional about focusing on who they are in the current moment.  

So, without further ado...

Here are seven things I love most about my Ezrah girl, my big seven year old, right now. 

1.  I love that you alway insist on being kind.  Even though you are human and you're not perfect, it's still your go-to.  The world needs more kindness and I just know that you are going to do your part! 

2.  I love that when you set your mind to doing something you practice and you practice until you finally get it.  It has been a pleasure watching you learn how to do cartwheels, how to draw, how to ride your bike.  You really (and I mean really) put your mind to anything you wish to gain, nothing seems impossible to you.  Girlie, it's my prayer that you will always go through life with that childlike faith and the willingness to do hard work.  You will change the world like that. 

3.  I love that you can and will make friends with anyone.  You get that from your daddy.  At any given moment our house will be occupied by a different kid from the neighborhood who came trailing in behind you.  I can tell that in all of the years to come you will simply love people and you will love them well. 

4.  Here I must admit that I am being a bit biased but I love that you are into fashion.  So early on in your life and you already show signs of having your own unique style.  Whether you layer several tulle skirts together or reinvent a t-shirt to be worn in complete contrast to its original design you always come to me, proud of your creation.  It makes my heart so so full to watch you be you.   

5.  I adore the sound of your laugh.  The other day you had some friends over and I stood at the end of the hall and listened to you just giggle and giggle.  I thought to myself, "what a joy it is that this girl is my daughter!" 

6.  I love that you cheer your siblings on.  Whether it is seeing Isaiah walk or Hadessah riding her bike, you care about their progress.  You are always in the front row with a big grin and words of encouragement.  You love them so well and it will be such a joy to watch your friendships grow over the years to come! 

7.  I love how your hair shines red in the sunlight.  That hint of strawberry makes it seem as if you're glowing.  The other day you said to me, "mommy, I love how God made my hair." I certainly do too.  I hope you always remember that God made each thread of hair unique and beautiful in its own right and that because of it you will never have to compare yourself to anyone else.  

Happy birthday, Ezrah you are so loved for exactly who you are! 

Enthroned Above the Waters: God's Sovereignty in a Time of Unrest

"The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned, King forever.  The Lord gives his people strength; the Lord blesses his people with peace." 
-Psalms 29:10-11

Today as I was studying my Bible this verse stopped me in my tracks.  Admittedly, over the past few weeks I have had a hard time picking up my bible.  Ever since I had to start home schooling my first grader it's been pretty stressful.  I have always considered home schooling but certainly not with a three year old and a nine month old running around!  It's interesting because being in God's word has become essential for my life and when I neglect it because I am tired I feel anything but eased.  But God is always a patient reminder.  I go to scripture because it's there that I find true rest.  It's there that I am filled. 

Over and over again it's been proven.  When I give Him my time, my heart, and my mind He answers me.  Opening up to Psalms 29:10 gave me pause because it is exactly what I needed to hear from the Lord in this moment and maybe, just maybe you needed to hear it too.  

"The Lord sits enthroned over the flood."  What a picture for our current times.  It would be inaccurate to say that I am merely stressed about teaching first grade.  I think we all can agree that our world feels upside down at the moment.  First we were hit by a novel virus that affected our families, our jobs, major life events, travel plans, the list goes on.  With it came a wave of fear that left many paralyzed.  Next came an even greater grievance.  Our nation watched as a violent act of racism once again occurred at the hands of our law enforcement.  With it came more fear and anger leaving us with the urgent question:  how does this happen?

It seems that we have entered into a time of labored breathing for great flood waters have rushed into our path.  Many of us are anxious and on edge as we've seen division arise out of the current events.  I have myself wrongly lashed out in frustration.

Yes, the waters are deep but the Lord sits over them.  COVID-19, racism, violence, division, these are certainly not from God, in fact He is deeply grieved by what He sees in the world but take heart because He has overcome the world.  We must remember that what we see is not a battle between flesh and blood but rather a battle of the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:12).

Another translation of Psalms 29:10 reads like this:  "The Lord rules over the deep waters."  God is fighting in the spiritual realm and though we cannot fully understand as we look out on our times we can rest in the knowledge that He is sovereign.  God rules over evil and it will not prevail.  He is the one thing in this world that we can be certain of.  An unchanging, mighty force who calls out, "When the earth and all its inhabitants shake, I am the one who steadies its pillars." -Psalms 75:3.  Whom else should we run to?  Where else should we seek shelter?

We feel a great exhaustion but let us remember our God who is greater.  Let us take to prayer and to the reading of His Word so that we may recall His faithfulness.  Even as flood waters recede they are going to leave behind evidence of ruin.  We have got to rebuild and it is only by recalling the past faithfulness of the Lord that will give us the confidence to press forward.

I have been mentioning the Psalms throughout this post but another great place in scripture to be in this season is the book of Nehemiah.  I urge you to read it yourself but I will sum it up here.  In Nehemiah's time, the Jewish remnant that had returned to Israel post Babylonian exile was facing a huge problem:  Jerusalem's wall had been destroyed.

Nehemiah, who was still living in Persia was deeply grieved when he heard the news so he returned to his beloved city to lead the Jewish remnant in rebuilding not only the wall of Jerusalem but also in the rebuilding of their communities and their law.  Nehemiah was able to succeed in bringing restoration and unity by seeking God's provision and faithfulness.  It is only when we seek His provision that our hands are able to build.  Our power is sourced from He who sits over the flood.

And here is the glory of it all:  God used Nehemiah and His remnant people to stabilize Jerusalem, which would make way for the life and ministry of Jesus 500 years later.  Let's dwell on this for a moment.  Jerusalem's restoration in that time would eventually impact the Man who's flesh would split open on our behalf.  God is always in the midst even if we don't see the promise for 500 years.

Imagine what promises we could usher in for generations to come if in this moment we seek the provision of God and choose to rebuild.  Let us confess our need for the Lord in this moment and may we wait with hopeful anticipation to see His divine intervention in the heart of our nation and our world.  He is bringing peace and unity in way that our eyes have not yet seen.

I am expectant and I hope you are too for God is enthroned above the waters and it is He who steadies the pillars!

A Sense of Pretty: Notes on a Beautiful Life

Big news!  This is the Life is getting a new name!  I've been thinking on this for some time and finally felt peace enough to go through with it.  I started this little blog back when I was a senior in high school which, hard though it may be to admit, was ten years ago!  I fell in love with writing then and here, on the cusp of my 30s I still love it but for some reason I felt like I needed something fresh.  I wanted to come up with a name that better encompasses everything that I desire to share in this space.   So without further ado...

This is the Life is becoming A Sense of Pretty:  Notes on a Beautiful Life.

I am a four on the enneagram and yes, I am aware that many of us have over used the enneagram to the point of unhealthy obsession but just hear me out.  Over the past year or so it has truly helped me better understand myself and to use that understanding to work towards the things I am most passionate about.  As an enneagram four one of the things I value most is beauty.  To see, and to create, and to experience beautiful things.  I've always been on a mission to create a beautiful life and share it with others.  It's one of my greatest joys.  And while yes, that means sharing physical beauty such as my home, or my style, or my skincare routine it also means sharing something else; or rather someone else.   

Christ is the center of my life and it is my greatest mission to, in all that I do, point back to Him.  And that means writing about those tougher moments in life.  Those moments that reach in towards your gut and twist but for the purpose of bearing fruit.

Difficult trials that produce beautiful endurance. 

Hard lessons that produce beautiful character. 

Deep valleys that produce beautiful faith.  

In the current age of social media it has become all to easy to feel ashamed by life's difficulties but why should we feel ashamed at something that Christ promised we'd face? (John 16:33)  In this fallen world our marriages are going to rock, our mental health is going to be challenged, our children are going to rebel, our finances are going to fail us.  But take heart for He has overcome the world.  For those who run to the cross, ugly always washes away to reveal the beauty of our Savior.  In Him is freedom and in freedom shame cannot hold its grip.  I have chosen to be raw in this space because more people need to know that.  More people need to know that beauty is most certainly found in the pretty and the polished but it's also found by walking through the filth.

When I die I want to say that I refused to provide a limited view of God and that I lived a life reflecting the beauty of both His creative and redemptive nature.  That's my hope.  So as we move forward with a fresh start I hope that you would come here trusting to see God, that you would most certainly find Him, and that you would come again to see more.

Here's to a beautiful life!