Joy

It’s officially three minutes into our daughter’s due date and I’m flooded with emotions and thoughts that I want to capture before I fall asleep.  I actually just snuck out of bed to come write this post.  The last few weeks have been a blur of surreal excitement as we’ve made the final preparations for our girl.  There have been so many precious moments that I want to remember and jot down before I forget them all, but tonight I felt the need to share this while my sentiments are fresh.  I actually don’t know what to say or where to even begin.  I just know that my heart is full of overwhelming joy.

Just down the hall, my two oldest nieces are snuggled up sleeping in my guest room.  Ave, my ginger-haired and freckle faced teenager is wearing my t-shirt, and my AK with the cutest button nose and rosy cheeks asked to sleep in my warmest pair of socks.  I watched them a little closer today as they giggled and joked with each other.  It’s a lot harder these days, but I can still imagine them as young babies.  How did they get this big this fast?  I often wish that time would stand still or slow down just enough for me to remember every single detail of their smile.  Seriously, they capture my heart.

After I tucked them in tonight, I said a silent prayer hoping they know how much I will always love them.  I’m beginning to understand that the line drawn between being the fun Auntie that spoils them, and the responsible adult that wants what is best for them is delicate.  I’m thankful for so many years with them to “practice” being a parent.  I know everything will be different with my own, but they have taught me so much.  One thing that I hope I can teach them, and eventually our daughter one day, is that it’s okay if you aren’t always happy.  As much as we want to protect the sweet innocent ones in our life, they learn that all things aren’t fair.  We get hurt, there are difficult days, and things don’t always turn out the way that we want.  In fact, there will simply be times when we will be sad.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have joy.

There is a beautiful and glorious difference between happiness and joy.

Joy shines through the darkness.  Joy is fought for, gives hope, and fuels faith.

Tonight, I am filled with joy at the anticipation of Anderson Marie’s arrival.  I want her to know as soon as she can understand how thrilled we are for her to join our family.  I also want her to know that she has two amazing families that are forever joined through the miracle of adoption.  Charles, Ande’s birth grandfather has told me since the first time that we met that he gets his joy from seeing our joy.  He won’t let us forget that our excitement and gladness brings him comfort.  The Lord is taking an unfortunate situation and creating good.  He is turning our sadness into joy.

My heart may burst from all the joy that I can’t contain.  In these last few moments as we wait for the birth of our daughter, I’m going to soak up the time that I have left loving on my big girls.  They are helping the time pass quicker, and definitely keeping me busy!

Come quickly though, Ande, we are all ready to meet you!

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Mother’s Day

I’m sure there are dates on everyone’s calendar that seem to loom above the rest in an I’m-dreading-you-but-I-know-I-need-to-act-happy-for-others-kind-of-way.  If you don’t have one, will you pretend for me, so I don’t feel like I have less than human emotions?

Mother’s Day has been one of those days for me for the past 5 years.  For the last three of those years, I’ve had a sweet little reason in Heaven to celebrate.  Do you know how hard it is to celebrate that?  I’m know some of you don’t have to imagine.

This year for Mother’s Day, Brad told me a few days before that he had to unexpectedly work all weekend.  We were both incredibly bummed, so he literally had to help me pack up and convince me to head to the Upstate for the weekend.  It was a sweet and thoughtful gesture on his end.  He knew I didn’t need to be home alone to ponder my thoughts.  I was able to conspire with my younger brother and his lovely wife to meet me at mother’s house to surprise her for the weekend.  I even stopped at my sister’s house on the way and kidnapped my youngest niece.

It was a relaxing weekend where we crafted, watched movies, and stayed up late talking.  The Bitty niece kept us thoroughly entertained too.  My favorite moment happened on Saturday afternoon. I wondered into the living room to see what Bitty was up to.  She had her back turned to me, and she was obviously getting into something.  I looked an realized that the basket of baby goodies that my grandmother had been saving for me was scattered on the floor.  As I walked up to Atalie, she turned around and said “Bibby, help please!”  In her hand was a pack of paci’s that she was trying to rip open.  I tried to explain that Nanny bought those paci’s for Bibby’s baby.  She was utterly confused, and proclaimed, “No! Ata’s paci!”  After several more attempts at explaining that they were not for her, she looked at me and said, “Ata is Bibby’s Baby!”  So I opened them I let her have a paci, or two.

This is the ONLY picture of her that didn’t turn out blurry because we were laughing hysterically!

Ultimately, the big smile on my Mama’s face was more than enough to help ease the pain that comes along on the second Sunday of every May.  I woke up that Sunday morning to my phone ringing.  It was my precious hubby calling to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day.  In his voice, I could hear his compassion, understanding, and love.  We talked for just a few minutes before he had to go, and together we dared to hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be our last Mother’s Day without a sweet baby in our arms to help us celebrate.

pulling an Auntie shift

Anytime I get to play Auntie Lib is always a favorite of mine.  My sister asked me to keep the nieces while her and Nate went to plan their church’s summer mission trip in Boston this past weekend.  And by weekend, I mean Saturday through Wednesday.  My shift obviously included three school days, which I have managed to pull off successfully multiple times before.  My crazy fabulous Auntie skills came through again, regardless of the fact that I got very little sleep.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of visual documentation from our glorious week together, and what I do have is from my cell phone.  The picture above is the only picture I have of all three girls together.  Atalie was on a major sugar high, Ave had just gotten home from school, and sweet AK stayed home from school with a fever that day.  But let me back up  and start from the beginning so I can chronicle a few of our adventures.

If I recall correctly, it had only been a few minutes since her parents had left, and this little honey was already asking for sugar.  She knows I usually cave to any of her requests.  A few things to note about this picture:  her hat (size 3-6 mths) worn over her hairbow, the hair band-thingy used as a bracelet, and her necklace that matched her outfit and her popsicle perfectly.  What you can’t see is the purple strand of drool from her chin to her knees.

The next notable event would be Averie’s soccer game.  The two year old packed a bag bigger than my pocketbook filled with snacks, jewelry, princess figurines, and my lip gloss that she found in my car.

AK took a book.  She read the entire time while Atalie and I cheered Ave on from the sidelines.  Atalie occasionally stopped eating and applying lip gloss to love on her sissy.  My duties that week included getting Atalie ready for her spring school pictures, and baking cookies for her class Easter party.  She looked super adorable (her pictures had already been taken at this point, don’t worry) and came home with a bag of goodies.  Before I knew it, she had proudly opened three suckers, and wanted to pose with her hand on her hip.

This trip was especially special for this Auntie because I got some quality time with each of my girls individually .  One night when the two youngest went to bed early, Ave and I were able to stay up and have some girl talk.  She is growing into a young lady so quickly that I wish I could slow things down before she is too grown.  But I cherish the sweet girl talks that we shared.  I hope she’ll remember some of the advice that I gave her, and come back for more talks even when she’s my age.  AK and I got some great craft time together. She’s got the family gene combined with a thoughtful giving heart, so she made her mama and daddy a welcome home gift.  She made a jewelry holder from an old frame and twigs, and painted a walking stick with her daddy’s favorite bible verse.  Ata and I spent some time playing pretend.  We put on make up and played (a lot) of princess-like games.

I can only hope that my girls have as much fun as I do when we get to have our “weekends” together.  We usually end up staying up a little later than they are supposed to, eating too many sweets, and dancing around the living room with scarves after the sun has gone down.

Just so I don’t forget, here are a few funny lines from the week:

Please don’t lick your sister’s home work.  Do you want another popsicle instead?

Don’t eat the lip gloss.  Ok, I guess you can put it in your hair.  That is a better option.

And my favorite:

(At 4:30 in the morning as Ave’s alarm clock is going off…)  (Libby) Averie!  Why is your alarm going off two hours early!?  (Ave) I just want to make sure I get up on time. (AK) Aunt Libby is here, you will be up on time and at school early.  Please turn it off!