6 years old


There you are, my six year old girl. 

It's absolutely true, what they say. You blink and, in that instant, 6 years have gone by.

6 years ago, at 6:41pm, they handed you to me for the first time, laying you right down on my chest. I close my eyes now and I can see that moment like a home video in my mind. I remember what I felt to hold you that first time, taking in every aspect of you, and feeling so giddy about your head of hair.

You were beautiful. You were here. You were ours.

As they rolled me out of the delivery room, moving me into recovery, with you snuggled next to me and your daddy walking right beside us, I just remember the greatest sense of peace and a very special kind of gratitude coming over me. 

To be given your daddy and then for us to be given you? Utter grace.

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And now we are here, opening the door to your 6th year. I can't wait to see what's on the other side. Something tells me it's going to be a rather wonderful year.

The other day daddy and I asked you what you were most excited about in turning 6 and you responded, without a moments hesitation, "Holding my baby brother." Sweeter words I've never heard.

Soon you will get to do just that. You will get to hold the answer to the quiet prayers you've prayed and the tender hopes you've carried. Daddy and I couldn't be more ready to see that moment. I know it's going to be just like the one I described on the day you were born. Utter grace.

And you, sweet Little Bit, are going to be the loveliest big sister. With all the plans you are already forming and communicating to us about what you are going to do with baby brother and teach baby brother and show baby brother, I know all the more that this little boy is so very blessed to have you.

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My mind is playing all the memories from this past year of your life like a slideshow as I write this to you, Little. We have seen the Lord work in boundless ways in you. Through the heartaches and the struggle, the victories and the celebrations, the many many "new things" you have tried and done, the countless ways you've been brave, the deep thoughts you've begun to have and slowly shared with us, the ways you've stepped out of what is comfortable to you, the ways you've loved those around you and learned to  respond when they love you, the beautiful truths that you are mulling over in your heart, the way you gently speak truth to us, the hundreds of times you've helped, and the desire that you have for all people to know God. It has been stunning to watch Him work so masterfully in your heart. I pray that so soon your heart comes to know His love for you is best, His knowledge of you is the deepest, and His desire for that eternal relationship with you is the greatest hope.

I love seeing all the pieces of you come alive even more with each year, all the characteristics and qualities of you that God knit together inside of me in just the way He had always planned. Those pieces of you are a tool He uses daily in my life -- you challenge me, you encourage me, you inspire me, and through you He shows me so much grace. Utter grace.

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To have you as my daughter, my hour by hour sidekick, my little companion, is to have a tangible picture of that utter grace looking right at me, with expressive blue eyes and the most contagious belly laugh. It's beautiful.

So on this, your 6th birthday, know this, my darling Anna Kate: I am so very thankful for you, so very proud of you and forever changed by being your mama.

Happy Birthday, my Bit!!

I love you with all my heart.

recipe || champagne-vanilla cupcakes

There is always a reason to bake cupcakes, but when your sister and her boyfriend get back in town for school, your mom and little brother come for a visit and your little brother hasn't been to visit in 5 years, and it's your birthday and wedding anniversary month, I'd say the reasons to bake cupcakes are without argument.

If you've never made cupcakes with some sort of bubbly in them I encourage you to do so now. The alcohol bakes out and you are left with fluffy, light baby cakes that are perfect for any sort of party or shower or Thursday afternoon.

I prefer using Prosecco or another bubbly wine like Moscato because the flavor of champagne is not everyone's cup of tea. We chose to use a different icing recipe since the custard frosting was a bit more involved than we had time for and this buttercream frosting is tried and true.

Cupcake Recipe from Food Network*

Buttercream Frosting Recipe from Pinterest

*I used vanilla rather than the vanilla bean this time around

Pipe out some frosting and add a few decorative edible pearls and voila!, my darlings! Simple elegance in cupcake form.

Happy Baking, lovelies! 

8 years

Happy Anniversary, husband of mine.

It's coming, Babe. Our first decade is almost here. It's cray. What is this weird phenomenon, though, that makes us go, "Eight years!? Can you believe it!?" and then quickly be followed by a discussion of how "surely it must be longer than 8 years" because life before each other has begun to get extra fuzzy. Whatever it is, I like that it reminds me that, at the beginning of all time, the Lord picked you for me and me for you and had us planned for each other all those many many years ago. You're my person, for always. I like that.

This past year was a bit of a doozy, just like we talked about on our date the other night. It was definitely bookmarked by a lot of tears and a lot of pride showing up and a loooooot of having ourselves shattered. But we leave the past year changed, the good kind of changed, knowing more about each other, knowing more about Jesus, and understanding a lot more of what He meant when He told us how to love.

We've learned to stop taking things so personally, to "believe all things" and not read more into each others words than was said. We've learned that our little family must have margin and that family trips, the 3 of us, need to happen much more and date nights need to always be way high up on the important things scale. We've learned to laugh at ourselves more and put pride to death and say "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" even more quickly. We've learned to parent with more patience and grace and make the everyday moments, the simple things, really wonderful. We've had our fear of men ripped out of our hearts to an even deeper place, and wow, has that ever been freeing. We've picked up books more than the tv remote and put our phones away more often. We've played more games and made more crafts and kitchen messes with AK. We've learned that having a puppy is one of the most self-revealing experiences one can walk through. We've learned that we can't be "all things" to each other and that neither one of us possesses any superpower that allows us to handle everything perfectly all the time. We've learned to be more humble, to choose gratitude, to fight for contentment, and to daily look back and say, "The Lord is faithful and so very good. He's got us."

This past year, this doozy of a beautiful year, will forever, in my mind, be the book whose spine reads: "refined." The definition of refined is: "with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing." We've left those unwanted things behind us this past year, Babe, and isn't that wonderful to know!? I love the hopefulness of that.

You, my darling man, make life better. You just do. I still do sit and think back on that day we met and think about I couldn't believe that youwanted to come talk to me! Not in a self-deprecating way, but just in the way that I somehow knew, even then, that you were the best man I'd ever met. I'm so glad for that parking lot meeting. I still get butterflies when I think about it. I know I always will.

In the weighty and wonderful pieces of life, in the past year of marriage and every one leading up to it, in the hardest things we've faced and in the pieces of life that sit at the top of our favorites list, the Lord has done exceedingly, abundantly beyond all we could ask or think. That's who He is, even when He shows us that in ways that don't make sense to us. And as we live these days, I'm just so truly, awfully, immensely thankful that He put us together. He's got it all, Babe, and we get to watch it unfold together. No where else I would ever rather be. 

Happy 8th Anniversary, J. You're my favorite.

I love you.