Shaping Little Hearts, part 6


Today I’m sharing the final installment of the “Shaping Little Hearts” series. I’ll leave links at the end of this post if you want to read any of the posts you missed or read from the beginning.

Praying Specific Prayers for Your Children 

I once heard an interview with Ruth Graham where she stated that sometimes she was so tired after a long day, all she had the energy to pray was, “Lord, be with the children,” before she collapsed into bed and fell asleep each night.

Many times in the exhaustion that parenting small children (or any children for that matter) can bring, I find myself struggling to know what to pray for my children as well.

A couple of years ago, I started keeping a list of specific things I could pray for my children to give me a starting point for days when I simply didn’t have any brain power left. I’ve gathered these from many sources over the years and will continue to add to my list as the years go on. Today, I simply wanted to share a few ideas with you that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful when I’m not sure what to pray. Now, these aren’t worded super-fancy or anything. Just simply a list to help me (and you) start the conversation.

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Sweet summer days! 

  • That they would have a heart of obedience toward us.
  • That they would make wise choices even when tempted to do something wrong.
  • That they would have a strong conscience.
  • That they would have a heart of obedience toward the Lord.
  • They would accept Christ at an early age (and have assurance of their salvation as they grow up).
  • That we would have the assurance that they’ve truly accepted Christ if they do and know how to disciple them as they mature in their faith.
  • Once they accept Christ, that they would not have any periods of rebellion, but that they remain steadfast in their faith all the years of their lives.
  • That they would never struggle with sexual sin in any form and would remain pure until marriage.
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The world’s first doctor’s office/salon combo. 

  • That the Lord would make His will known to them for their careers.
  • That they would seek after what He would have them become instead of chasing after money or success.
  • That their future spouses (if they decide to marry) be believers and that they not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.
  • That their future spouses would be seeking first after the Lord and as a result be a great partner for them to do His will together with.
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Blowing Rock, NC 

  • That they are best friends growing up and remain close all their life.
  • That they have compassion and patience for one another when playing together or having to share.
  • That they be willing to share without resentment.
  • That they be kind to one another even when they are irritating each other.
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Grandfather Mountain, NC 

  • That we have a heart of compassion and patience towards them, even when they’re disobedient.
  • That we remember to react without anger, but instead remember to use disobedience to teach and train them in the way they should’ve gone.
  • That we always forgive any offense and don’t rehash it every time they repeat it.

I hope this list gives you some ideas of your own. I’d love to hear how you pray for your children in specific ways. If you have a similar list or specific things you consistently pray for your children, leave them in a comment below. I’m always looking for ways to cover them in prayer as they are growing up.

Thanks for following along with the “Shaping Little Hearts” series the past few weeks. If you need to catch up on any of the posts, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

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The Shaping Little Hearts series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

Shaping Little Hearts, part 5


If you’re just joining us, this is a six-part series on the blog. You can catch up on posts one, two, three, and four. Next week, I’ll be wrapping up the series by talking about how to specifically pray for your children in their day-to-day and for their future.

Today, I wanted to touch on something that seems pretty small in the big scheme of the day, but can make a huge impact on little hearts.

Hymns & Praise with Little Ones

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“Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18b-19 (NIV) 

One of the easiest ways to help your children remember something is to make up a song about it, right?. They learn their ABCs that way and goodness knows, they can pick up every annoying Disney song within 5 seconds of hearing it (seriously, Elsa, let it go already!). So, why not let songs help our children better understand the character of God and the meaning behind Jesus’ death and resurrection as well.

Right around the time Finn was about a year and a half old, I stumbled upon Listener Kids on Youtube and taught him that version of Jesus Loves Me (If you follow me on Instagram, you can see a video of him “singing” it on the Oct. 4, 2014 post).

Shortly after that, we also taught him the first stanza of “Amazing Grace”. We kept it very simple, but we felt it was important to get those two truths in early—Jesus loves us and God has grace and mercy towards us, even though we’re sinners.

As the years have gone on and I’ve noticed how easily the kids pick up what we play on the radio, I’ve been really convicted that we should be listening to more songs about God—songs about His promises to us, His faithfulness, our need for a savior, how our sins are covered by His blood.

I feel like it must be stated that we are pretty laid back about what our kids listen to. We like all kinds of music in our house and obviously don’t play anything inappropriate around the kids, but they listen to a wide variety of music.

I don’t want anyone to dismiss what I’m saying here by thinking we’re only playing old-fashioned hymns as a way to be more spiritual. Under God’s grace we are free to listen to anything we want. However, I do find it to be really helpful in times of distress or when I want to bring peace into the house to have songs playing in the background that remind us of God’s truths. It just tends to make everyone calmer and reminds me that any strife or difficulty we’re having in the day is only temporary.

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The other day, I caught Finn singing “O Come to the Altar” to himself while he was playing. Ryan has only played that around the kids a couple of times but Finn had learned the chorus. That provided more evidence to me that we need to be even more  intentional about the songs we play around the house or while running errands. 

Like I mentioned, we enjoy a wide variety of song styles, but here are a few of my kids’ favorites that they ask for at nap time, bedtime, or in the car:

  • Feel It by TobyMac (This is on repeat in the car most of the time)
  • Softly and Tenderly performed by Joey and Rory (this plays at naptime/bedtime)
  • Come Thou Fount performed by Hillary Scott (I often rock Lydia to this one for her nap.)img_2095
  • Trust and Obey, I Stand Amazed, & What a Friend we have in Jesus all performed by Chelsea Moon and the Franz Brothers (I typically play this while I’m doing things around the house and they are playing).
  • How Great Thou Art performed by Carrie Underwood (because c’mon, she rocks it!)
  • Anything by Jeremy Camp

I would love to hear from you all on this subject. What are some of your favorite hymns, psalms, or worship songs? Comment below and share your most cherished songs from when you were a child or that you shared with your children.

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The Shaping Little Hearts series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

 

Novel on Sale! 


Hey Everyone! 

Wanted to share a quick post to let you know my novel Finding Grace is on sale right now until July 4th at midnight. 

It’s normally $17.99 on Amazon but will be just $7.50 (plus shipping) during the sale. 

It likely won’t be this cheap again for a long time, so grab a copy (or two) while you can. 

Click here to purchase

Happy 4th of July! 

Shaping Little Hearts, part 4 


Welcome back! If you’re just joining us in the “Shaping Little Hearts” series, you might want to catch up on posts 1, 2, and 3 before reading today’s installment. Today I wanted to share with you how we use regular, everyday situations as opportunities to share the gospel with our children.

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“helping” me with the grocery list.

Gospel Conversations

If you’re reading this and thinking they are those kind of parents who have a Bible verse for every situation or always have the exact right response to their children’s questions about God, Jesus, and the world, you’ve barked up the wrong tree.

We have to be very intentional with our time with our kids and make it a point in our heart and a matter of prayer to even be able to recognize opportunities for us to share little glimpses into the gospel.

Let’s face it, the demands of small children can be very distracting. They often ask questions that we’re not prepared to answer. Or questions that we haven’t yet discovered an answer for ourselves.

I’d encourage you not to let either of the above situations deter you from attempting to, “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Today, I’ll share two examples from our recent experiences just to show you that  conversations about God don’t have to be contrived or even planned out. There are so many instances that lend themselves to these type of conversations, we just have to be paying attention.

The following is an actual conversation I had with Finn (4) at the dinner table one day. It was around Easter, so the cross was fresh on his mind. Ryan was running late from work, so it was just me and the kids eating dinner until he arrived.

Let me preface this conversation by saying Finn is the type of child who wants brutal honesty. If you try to sugarcoat things, he’ll continue to ask questions until he gets an answer that makes sense to him or until he’s tired of thinking about the topic. The approach below may not work for you and your child. I’m just sharing a personal experience.

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Finn: Why were those men hanging next to Jesus on the cross?

Me: They were thieves, remember? (I knew they’d just read this story in his Sunday school and we’d been reading about it at home.)

Finn: What’s a thief?

Me: It’s someone who steals something that’s not theirs, which is wrong. Back in Jesus’ time, they used to hang thieves on a cross as punishment. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong, though. He had to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.

Finn: (in between bites of mashed potatoes) How come the one thief went to heaven with Jesus’ and the other one didn’t?

Me: (Let me add here that I just blurted all this out without really thinking it over, but the Lord gave me the words Finn could understand. You’ll see what I mean in a sec) Remember, the thief asked Jesus to remember him when He went to heaven? He meant that he believed Jesus was the Son of God, so Jesus said that the thief would be with him in paradise or heaven when he died because he believed. The one thief believed in Jesus so he joined Him in heaven when he died. The other thief chose to reject Jesus and God, so he had to spend an eternity separated from them in hell.

Finn: (ponders all this for 2 seconds) What’s hell?

Me: Well, hell is an awful place. It’s hot as fire and there are people crying and screaming and gnashing their teeth. That’s kinda like hissing.

Finn: (still eating and still pondering) Why are they hissing?

Me: Because they’re miserable. Not only are they in a terrible place, but they’re not with God and Jesus.

Finn: gives a little satisfied nod, which means he’s tired of the topic, and finishes his meal. He’s excused from the table and goes off to play while the rest of us finish our meal.

After he left the table, I thought to myself, Well, that’s not a conversation I expected to have at the dinner table. Thank you Lord for a child that can handle blunt conversations.

The only reason I share this conversation is that I wasn’t expecting it, yet the Lord gave me the words to say that made sense to my four year old. I’m convinced that happened only because I’m always praying to have the answers to Finn’s abundance of daily questions about life.

We don’t ever want to shy away from hard or uncomfortable questions from either of our kids. We want them to come to us any time they have questions and not fear that we will reject them or make them feel stupid. Apparently those hard questions have begun at four years old. Yikes!

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Now, before any of you freak out, not all gospel conversations have to be so heavy. I’ll share another example of how being intentional in conversation can allow for an opportunity to share God with your kids.

My kids love the movie Trolls. And, if I’m being honest, so do I. Singing, dancing, hugging—sign us up! 

Anyway, I picked up a couple of those blind bags that have a little troll doll in them at Target one day. Both kids were with me, so I really hoped I grabbed some trolls they’d like. I sort of felt around the bag to make sure I could feel a troll face and some hair, but there’s no way to know what you’re getting in those bags. We checked out and I loaded the kids into the car before I opened the bags.

I let Finn pick which bag to open first and handed Lydia the other. He opened his and it was Branch (his favorite). I opened Lydia’s for her and thought, please be Poppy, please be Poppy. It was…Poppy!

Both kids were super happy and excited. If I’m being honest, my first thought was “Thank you, God. It’ll be such a pleasant ride home now.”

I walked around the car and climbed back in my seat and I was struck by how sweet it was of God to allow me to find the exact ones the kids wanted. It’d been a really long, rough week at our house with the usual drama created by a toddler, a preschooler, and an exhausted mama.

So I just simply said, “Wasn’t that so sweet of God to help Mama pick up the exact trolls you wanted. He knew you wanted Branch, Finn. And He knew Lydia wanted Poppy. Wasn’t that great?!”

Finn gave me an enthusiastic, “Yeah!” and then went on admiring his new toy. Gotta love him for humoring Mama for just a second there.

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God has helped me see that sharing Him with my kids doesn’t have to be difficult, awkward, or orchestrated in any way by me. He will provide plenty of organic opportunities for us as parents. We just have to be ready and willing to see them and take advantage of them.

My hope with this post today and the “Shaping Little Hearts” series in general is to help you discover, like God has shown me, that we don’t have to worry about how we present things to our children. We don’t have to stress about what questions they’ll ask or how to bring up the gospel to them while they’re little.

We just have to trust Him. Wake up every morning, grab Jesus by the hand, and say, “Prepare me for whatever comes today.” I truly believe God will honor that when we ask. He will equip us to do the work He has called us to in raising little ones. He is always faithful.

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The “Shaping Little Hearts” series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

 

 

Shaping Little Hearts, Part 3 


If you’re just joining us in the “Shaping Little Hearts” Series, you can catch up on the first two posts here & here. You can also see an inside peek into the Child Training Bible we use.

Praying with Your Children

I really think there’s no right or wrong way to teach children to pray, but I know it’s always been helpful for me to hear how others do things, so I thought I’d share with you today how we incorporate prayer into discipling our kids.

First of all, let me say that I realize that praying out loud is not everyone’s cup of tea. When I was younger, I used to be so self conscious about praying in front of a group that I almost couldn’t do it without bursting into tears. As I began to become more mature in my faith, I realized that it’s not really important how articulate I sound or even how spiritual because God knows what I mean and it’s not my responsibility to impress others with my prayers. I hope that realization is as liberating to you as it is to me.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to, “Pray without ceasing.” And Matthew 6:6 instructs, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

We’re also given The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, so I think it’s safe to say even the disciples struggled with knowing the right words to say sometimes.

Our main goal in showing our children how to pray is to teach them how to communicate with their Heavenly Father. How not only to ask for what they need, but to listen to what God is telling their hearts as well.

Here are a few simple ways we model this:

  • Mealtime prayers — Three opportunities each day that allow us to show gratitude for the food we’re eating. Any time Ryan says the mealtime prayer, he also thanks God for the sacrifice of His son for our sins and salvation. This makes for a nice moment to reflect on the implications of the gospel, even for just a few seconds. Finn likes to say the mealtime prayer sometimes, so we just ask who wants to pray. Lydia prefers to repeat after whoever is praying so there’s usually a tiny echo accompanying our mealtime prayers.
  • Bedtime prayers — We want our children to drift off to sleep each night with a sense of security and peace, so before bed we all get down on our knees and pray:

Now I lay me, down to sleep

I Pray the Lord my soul to keep,

Guard and keep me through the night,

And wake me with the morning light. Amen.

We’ve done this since Finn was around 2 years old, so both kids have memorized this prayer. We’ve also explained to them how important it is to be respectful when we pray, so no mumbling or speeding through the prayer to be silly.

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  • Spur of the moment prayers — Any time one of the kids doesn’t feel well, is acting in a way they know they shouldn’t, or we hear of someone in need of prayer, we try to stop what we’re doing and pray in that moment. This can be something as simple as, “Dear God, we’re having a rough day. Please help us to be patient with one another and have the self control we need to make good decisions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” The kids usually just sit and listen to me say it. I don’t make them join in unless they ask to, but boy, do I notice a difference in everyone’s attitudes and moods when we take a couple seconds to ask God to help us.

We feel so grateful for the many opportunities we have to pray with our children throughout the day, so I hope this post has been helpful. The most beautiful thing about praying with your children is that you’re showing them what a rich and meaningful relationship with Christ is all about. Communicating with our Creator and Savior is a wonderful privilege afforded to us all.

Thanks for stopping by to read the third installment of the “Shaping Little Hearts” series. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be talking about filtering conversations with your little ones through the gospel, the importance of hymns and praise, and specific ways we can be praying not just with our children, but FOR them.

Have a fantastic week!

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The “Shaping Little Hearts” series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaping Little Hearts, Part 2 


If you’re just jumping into the Shaping Little Hearts Series, you can read the first post HERE.

First, let me begin by saying I’ve never been one of those moms that knows what to do in all situations. You know the ones that instinctively know how to put a baby on a schedule, perfectly potty train in a weekend, and make enough freezer meals in one day to last a month. It’s just not me. I pretty much feel like I’m stumbling through motherhood, trying to do the best I can, and relying heavily on the Holy Spirit to give me guidance and direction as I try to lead my children to Christ.

That’s why I’m so incredibly thankful for others’ brilliant minds that have created resources I can use to help lead my family into a deeper relationship with Jesus and resources I can use to help support me as a parent as I try to shepherd my children according to Biblical standards.

I”ll start with my favorite resource first:

Scripture Talk

Scripture Talk is what we use to memorize Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). The DVD contains ten Bible passages for you and your kids to learn using hand motions to help you remember each verse. We recently memorized the first passage (Psalm 1:1-6). Each passage follows this format:

  • Introduction of the whole passage from the kids (who are adorable!)
  • A fun, engaging mini lesson from one of the teachers explaining the Scripture passage (the teachers are young and energetic, I think Kate, who created Scripture Talk, was 17 when they filmed the dvd).
  • Verse by Verse practice (The verse is stated again, then there are two chances to practice it again with hand motions taught by one of the teachers)
  • The last section of each passage is practicing the passage in its entirety.

I have always wanted to have more Bible verses memorized that I actually do. I can usually remember enough of familiar Bible verses to look them up on the internet, but I don’t have very many that I know word-for-word by heart.

The key for me personally is adding those hand motions and I think it’s been key for my kids as well.

We have used this DVD for months because I wanted to take my time through each passage and really give myself and the kids plenty of practice with each one before moving onto the next.

I don’t force either of my kids participate in the DVD unless they want to because I always get a little push back from one child who used to love doing it and now wants to see how much power he has to control his activities. Every day when I say, “Ok, I’m gonna go do Scripture Talk in the living room,” this child always says he doesn’t want to do it. So, I just reply, “I know, I said I’m going to go do it. You can join in if you like or just keep playing.” Lydia follows me happily into the living room and tries to do the hand motions and say the words with me. Somehow, despite not wanting to do it, Finn always wanders into the living room with his toys and either just plays and listens. Or he stops whatever he was doing before and watches Lydia and I practice. Both kids can repeat the verses we’ve learned so far once you get them started with the first set of hand motions, so my reluctant participant has learned them anyway.

The Bible in My Heart 

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via milestonebooks.com 

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I colored the pictures myself, but you could also use it as is in B&W. 

The next resource we use is actually a coloring book from Rod and Staff Publishers. Each page starts with a verse that begins with a specific letter of the alphabet. I simply read the verse, read the little story (which is always about a Biblical character trait), and then I’ll ask the questions at the end. It’s always very informal and I usually tie this resource into our Bible time. Right now, I’m using the Rod and Staff Bible Stories to Read as our Bible reader. I’ll talk more about using the actual Bible with small children in next week’s post, but for our Bible time for school right now I’m using the Bible reader and this coloring book. It’s short for those little attention spans, but very meaningful.

Little Jewel Books

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via milestonebooks.com 

The Little Jewel books are another great resource from Rod and Staff publishers (I adore them if you can’t tell). All the stories are very wholesome and entertaining, yet filled with great character lessons and reminders that God is always with us and we can turn to Him with any problem. For me personally, I am sometimes very quick to try to solve a problem without praying about it first or seeking Biblical wisdom, so these sweet little books both provide a reminder for me and lesson for the kids about trusting God.

The Child’s Training Bible

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You can find the Child’s Training Bible kit here

This resource is more for me than the kids at the moment, but it’s basically a really easy way to have a few Scriptures on hand for various issues or struggles you might have as a parent or your child might struggle with. For instance, if you’re child is afraid at night, all the verses on fear are highlighted in blue and tabbed in blue so you can find them quickly. You would then just read the verses to your child and talk about why they don’t have to fear anything. Or if you’re like me, I like to have it on hand for myself to know how to deal with certain behaviors my kids are exhibiting so that I know how to help them. Or in many cases, help myself overcome the same negative behavior like complaining or anger.

The kit only comes with the tabbing cards and detailed explanation for how to tab your Child’s Training Bible. You can purchase whatever Bible you like (in your preferred translation) but I would recommend you use a 9×13 Bible like they suggest so that the tab directory fits perfectly into the front of the Bible. You will also need to purchase some tabs and matching highlighters, but if you’re obsessed with office supplies like me, you may already have that stuff lying around the house.

So those are our current favorite things to use for shaping the little hearts for Christ at our house. If you have some favorites you’ve used with your family, feel free to share them below.

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Join me again next week for more in the Shaping Little Hearts series.

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“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 

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The Shaping Little Hearts series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

For more ideas on Biblical resources for your kids, visit the Little Paper Crown Youtube Channel.

 

Dear Lydia


dear lydia

Dear Lydia,

You’re just a little over two years old now, but you have the soul of an 80 year old woman. Ha ha. You’re wild about life and live every second to the fullest. You want to do everything Finn does or be like Mama, including wearing matching hairstyles and outfits. I hope you never outgrow that.

Favorite Color: Purple

Favorite Toy: Ariel doll, along with other babies. All of which must be wrapped up in blankets at all times.

Favorite Food: Cherry Tomatoes, you have “may-mays” with almost every meal.

Favorite Activities: Building pillow houses, climbing and jumping on the furniture, reading, pretending to write, dancing, playing outside

Here are a few other things we’ve noticed about you:

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You love your brother SO much! 

You are each other’s favorite playmates, but you argue like an old married couple. You’re often wagging your finger at him and saying, “No, Shin!” (you’re still working on the ‘f’ sound)

You have a fabulous sense of style and are quite particular about what you wear. You love a good accessory like hats, headbands, bracelets, and scarves. Your favorite is a pock-pock (pocketbook) and you’re still obsessed with shoes.

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Bringing back the 80’s 

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Cheesin’ it at Easter. Notice the toe nails. 

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The Rootin-est, Tootin-est cowgirl in all the land. 

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Fox hat, check. Tutu, check. PJ top, check. Flower sandals, ready to go! 

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Whenever you wear your sunglasses, you say you’re “soop-soop” cool (super cool). 

You’re very affectionate, always holding our hands while you sit on our laps. You often ask us to hold your feet too. You like to hold hands during naps, but if I’m not available to do so, you simply hold your own hand.

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Holding your own hand 

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You play well on your own and have a great imagination. 

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You’re a little mama to Finn, always making sure he’s ok. Here you were inspecting his ear. 

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You love to be silly, like wearing Dada’s shirt as a dress. 

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OR designing an Indiana Jones themed wedding look. 

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You’re very patient and go along with most anything we have planned. 

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You are our little foodie, always wanting to try anything we’re eating. 

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You love chocolate and will usually share with big brother. 

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You still love to play tuck-tuck, but now you want to play on the big bed. 

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You love it when Dada is silly with you and you love to be high up on his shoulders. 

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You love to read just like brother and will often look at books by yourself. 

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Barnes and Noble is one of your favorite hangouts. 

 

Other fun moments to remember:

  • Although you are super-girly and affectionate, you’re also tough as nails. One time, you were playing with a friend who’s twice your age at the Chick-fil-a playground. He picked up your purple socks, which you had thrown to the floor, and put them on. You chased him up the slide, pulled him down to you, removed the socks, and sauntered victoriously to the other side of the playground. Your friend thought it was funny, but I bet he won’t try that again.
  • You love to tell stories like your brother. Your first story was: “Once upon a time, a little deer came in Mama’s house and walked around. It ate Jazz (Mimi’s dog) and drank Jazz’s water. Then it said, “I love you.” The End.” A masterpiece!
  • If you can’t say the last syllable of a word, you simply double the first syllable. Our favorites are: tine-tine (tiny), Cap Cap Mer Mer (Captain America), bell-bell (belly).
  • You may become a nurse when you grow up. You always want me to put healing balm and a bandaid on any boo-boo you incur. And you tell us your bell-bell hurts and you need Digize (an oil for tummy issues).
  • You don’t miss anything in a conversation. Once, after Sunday school, we asked what you learned. You said you learned about Je-Je (Jesus). We asked what you learned about Him and you replied, “He ‘gives our sins.” (forgives) So, it seems you’d been paying close attention that morning.
  • You’re a great helper, often loading the dishwasher with me and helping me put groceries away.
  • You like to pretend to write and were writing a letter to me one day. You asked for help, so I said, “Well what do you want to write?” “‘Jus enny thang” (just anything) was your reply.
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You are a sweet and helpful little girl.

You are the sunshine in our days! We are so thankful for you and your brother and glad that God chose us to be your parents. We can’t wait to see even more of your dynamic personality in the months to come. We love you to pieces!

Love,

Mama

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You can read the other letters to Lydia here.