Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Welcome to FABULOUS 5!

 Dear Ivy,

Happy 5th Birthday!  It is hard to believe today you are "a whole hand!" This year is going to be brand new and so exciting.  You will have to dare to be brave and go into the 5's with lots of energy.  Five holds promises of kindergarten and lasting friendships.  Five is about understanding more about life- the importance of family, how to be a good friend, and grasping Jesus' love for you! Five is going to be fabulous- so welcome, my sweet girl, to the FABULOUS 5's!
 Seeing you grow up is so rewarding yet can be hard.  Four has been fun, but I am ready to kiss it goodbye.  At age 4, I saw you experience true sadness for the first time.  I never would have dreamed that my 4 year old could feel rejection- but it happened.  I wanted to protect you.  I wanted to let havoc reign over the person who hurt you.  But I chose to teach you the way my own Mama and your father, Jesus, wants us to react to pain.  We have prayed, you have prayed for the one who hurt you.  These prayers have made Daddy and I cry but sweet girl, you have learned to trust in His power.  At this little age, you learned something BIG, you learned that only God can mend a cold heart (when it is His time) and you learned that God's love is enough to sustain you!
 I am hoping as we start a new year, we won't be looking back.  You will look ahead at those who surround you and love you!  You have a family- that cherishes you the way you cherish them! You have a Mommy and Daddy that love you to the moon and back.  You have a little sister that wants to be just like you!  You have a Pawpaw who is so funny and promises to make more memories with you this year.  You have a Nana and Pops who make special trips to Orange Leaf for you and even make a delicious RAINBOW cake when you request it!  You have an Unc and Esie who think you are pretty awesome and soon they will get to introduce you to your 1st cousin- Baby Graham! And you have so many little friends and it is exciting to see the joy you experience with them.
 You will always be my little girl!  A little bit serious, a little bit funny, and a lot a bit fancy!  I love to see how you are super particular with art projects and the way you brush your hair but you are quick to make a big mess with a pile of dress up clothes and hair accessories.  I love how you described your personality as "someone who like patter-ens" during VBS- a little OCD... I think so!  It is fun to see your likes and dislikes change and grow as you mature in age. 
 Even though things have definitely changed some things are the same- you love taking pictures! You love treats! And you love to be outside!  You are the same little girl who was born with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's personality from the get go.  I don't know where the days have gone but I know through this adventure you are teaching me so much.  I am learning from my mistakes and growing each day into the Mommy I want to be for you.... for your sister.  You are the best, sweet IvyGirl! 
I can't wait to see what the FABULOUS 5's hold! Happy Birthday to you!
Love Always,

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Some of the best memories of my childhood were at Vacation Bible School.  I remember the energy as people made stories of the Bible come to life, I loved to have my friends around me singing the themed songs, and the impact really lasted a lifetime (Kendra, I can still see you dressed up for Fruits of the Spirit!!).  As I have transitioned from little girl to a Mommy of little girls, I wanted experiences like VBS for them! And this week I got to see Ivy experience her first Vacation Bible School and I got to have the new experience of being a crew leader to a sweet group of twenty 5th graders! 

 Ivy was excited to go each night and she has been singing the songs all week long.  She was happy to see so many friends' faces in one place and is already asking when the next VBS is!

Lazarus was brought out of the tomb after 4 days.... a reminder that God answers prayers in His timing!
  The theme of the week was perfect for all these kids- no matter what walk of life they come from- through everything TRUST GOD!  I got chills as the shouted through the roof tops...
"No matter what happens, Trust God!"
"No matter where you are, Trust God!"
"No matter what people do, Trust God!" 
"Now matter how you feel, Trust God!"

And if I am being totally honest, these words and these promises were a comfort to me as the seasons begin to change and my insecurities and overwhelming feelings tend to take over.  I need to remember that this is the time to "Trust God" and let Him lead.

Needless to say, I was tired after 5 evenings of VBS but the reward was beyond worth it!  To be able to see my little one thrive and grow in her love of Jesus and to hear her proclaim that "Vacation Bible School is like a vacation without going on a real vacation!" tells me that she loved it.  And the ultimate high came today when a new family joined our church and one of my 5th graders from the week was baptized along with his mom and brother!

God is so good!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

troubled heart.... no more

Like mother, like daughter...

 Ivy deals with fear and so do I. My fear is different, more of a fear of being troubled at heart (overwhelmed, worried, stressed, etc) instead of a fear of things that are scary. I know it is only July but my feelings about school starting soon and leaving Tula are starting to creep in.  I know you are all gasping- what about Ivy?- but just today another Mama/Teacher and I were talking about the difference.  I will miss Ivy, most definitely.  But I know what is waiting for Ivy when school starts back up!  The adventure of kindergarten will begin.... just like last year when the adventure of preschool was our anticipation all summer! Friendships are around the corner ready to blossom.  Learning will happen at a rapid rate.  Excitement will show in her eyes and out of her mouth the second I see her in the afternoon.  Stories will be shared, conversations will be had, and really I know being with her from August to May day in an day out is not an option.

But then there is Tula.

Little "Tuwa" is still so small.  So impressionable. So ready to soak up everything going on around her. This summer we have had adventures of trying new foods, exploring new places, and wow has the language doubled, maybe even tripled each week! School can't start yet, because our time can't be coming to an end.

It will rock her world to wake up early and to have to call for anyone other than Mama when she has needs throughout the day.  But I have to have faith that by the end of week one, we will be in a new routine.  Tula will be excited to go to "school" and be just excited to wrap her tiny hands around my leg when I show up to get her.

It just doesn't get easier to let someone else lead my child for the majority of her day.  I want to lead, but I know where I need to be and what I have to do and so I will lead my sweet baby by example just as I have done year after year for Ivy. I lead by example to trust in God and His obvious plan for my life.  He has been faithful to carry me from August to May while I answer to the name "Mrs. Smorstad" instead of "Mama."

He will be faithful to prepare my heart by August 15th for the students and families that await me.
He will be faithful to prepare my classroom.... even if I have not yet started... for our Welcome Night on August 13th.   He will be faithful to prepare a space for Tula at Wilmore Daycare and a heart that will be excited to love her. He will be faithful to prepare little friends that she will be able to tell me in the afternoons.

He will be faithful and I will have faith that it is all going to be okay.

I enjoy every day, every minute (even the hard ones) of my summer.  What a gift it is to have the time to answer to only "Mama!" But year after year, going back to work isn't any easier, especially to leave a little one so ready to follow my lead.  But I have to focus on a God so big who has called me to be more than a Mom.  He is my focus and His promises are the song of my heart right now.  And He has been clear this week, it is not time to go back to work, not yet- so enjoy the now and stop worrying about tomorrow. So for now I will let go of my troubled heart and let him lead me and my little ladies for the rest of my summer days, and the rest of my life :)

"Do not let your heart be troubled, trust in the Lord"
John 14:1

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fear Not

One little smile before the tears.

Ivy struggles with fear.  She has always been one of the last to go out on a limb and try something new because she is afraid.  Even as a baby.... she walked holding my hand for almost a month before letting go.  She never would have tried to climb, jump, or wonder off from us.  She always has had this fear in her heart but with bicycle riding it became a whole new level, a handicapping fear.

We started bike riding with a balance bike last summer.  Daddy thought this would make her feel more secure than training wheels, she would learn to balance, and then we would move onto a pedal bike.  She was timid at first, but quickly learned to balance.  She would keep her feet up for long stretches and ride proudly (no feet!) down a hill.  So we felt like it was time to move on up.

We purchased her new bike at the beginning of summer. Buts something about the pedals and the wobble of training wheels had my girl scared out of her mind.  The picture above was the one little smile I could get before she burst into tears saying she wanted us to hold onto her the whole time.  Quite a regression from what we imagined.  At first we responded to her fear with anger (I am ashamed to admit).  We threatened to take the bike back, Ivy cried because she had disappointed us and I thought about crying out of frustration.  Then we put it away for a few days and I had time to pray about my actions.

 Not afraid to go on a bike ride with Daddy.

My parents quickly reminded me who Ivy inherited her fear from, and it certainly wasn't her Daddy. So I had some reflection to do.... What do I fear? How do I respond to it?  What fears have I overcome?  

And I thought and prayed about the way I parent Ivy.  I had a choice- I could push Ivy's fear away by scolding or mocking and she would learn to control her fear in certain situations or around certain people (cough, cough... her mother) or I could empower her with God's promises.  As I thought about my own fears and the ones I have overcome, I thought about how I give my fears to God, I read scriptures on fear, I pray myself to see the end of scary circumstances.  I wanted to teach my girl to do that.  Not just in riding her bike..... but to use in any situation.

Not afraid to swim in the ocean with Pops.
So before trying out the bike again or playing in the backyard where there are bumblebees or swimming underwater..... I have started having a special time with my girl.  Ivy and I have a time of prayer, we talk about words and comfort given to us through scripture, and wow- her courage is present.

Have I not commanded you, Ivy?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, the the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of anything, for the Lord your God goes with you, Ivy ; he will never leave you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged... for there is greater power with you, Ivy,  than with him (the bike, the bumblebees, etc).
2 Chronicles 32:7

It is God who arms you, Ivy, with strength and keeps your way secure.
2 Samuel 22: 33

Then he said to you, Ivy, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."
Luke 8:48
Oh, the smiles, when she courageously rides her bike now.

This time with Ivy is special and has been a real wake up call to me.  I need to be slow to respond to my children so that I can use these parenting lessons to teach them and model Christ's love for us.  She has talked about over and over how God is with her when she rides her bike, has a bad dream, or is nervous.  She keeps talking about how God tells her over and over and over "Do not be afraid!" At church right now she is learning that "God will be with you wherever you go" and is seeing this is illustrated through several Bible stories.  She is bridging the connection between all these situations and I am confident that this will be a lesson that Ivy will use time and time again.  

Today Ivy will proudly tell you this about her bike riding....
"I can ride down a 12 house hill (the longest hill she has went down) and a couple of times I almost fell down but I didn't get hurt.  I think it is because Jesus is there, and there, and there (pointing around the room) and he is everywhere, so He catches me when I fall."  

Amen, sister!
Mommy is so proud of you, Ivy Girl!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hello, Goodbye

As long as it takes to say hello to my favorite week of the year.... A goodbye comes just as fast!

A week at the beach with my family is just the right mix of relaxation and fun. The girls were little explorers of Seaside from sun up to sun down. Ivy enjoyed the yummy tastes of sushi and crab claws and Tula couldn't get enough ice cream!

Memories were made and traditions were kept.... I am thankful to have been surrounded by so much love this past week.

We are on our way to home sweet home where we will say hello to the comfort of our own house but we are saying goodbye to our favorite week of the year.