Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ava Elizabeth is 4!

She is a whole lotta happy.  Her laugh is infectious and her desire to chase me around tickles my funny bone without fail.  She is full of BIG FEELINGS.  She is sensitive and a gift giver and thrives on physical affection and words of affirmation.  She makes us laugh with her funny faces and her grown up words.  And she runs faster than any three year old I know.

She has also been my most...uh...challenging child.  STRONG-WILLED. I would put her up against any strong-willed child on any day.  I used to say my other kids were strong-willed when they threw tantrums or did something out of their ordinarily compliant nature. I had NO IDEA what that meant before Ava Elizabeth. She's the one who has won me a morning all to myself every week.  That precious Thursday morning that my husband offers because he knows it will help to preserve my sanity.  And even though projects on various inappropriate surfaces has both drained our pocketbooks and our sensibilities, almost nothing brings me more joy than her ability to knock me over with a fierce hug from a full sprint. (Did I mention how fast she was?  I am literally knocked to the ground.)

I could never have imagined how our life would change when God added her to our family.  She has brought such a focus.  We have thought more about how to love intentionally and how to parent in a way that leads our children to Jesus...because we know he is her greatest hope...AMEN, parents of strong willed children???  Of course, this is true about our other kids, too.  We know it is.  After all, I was our other kids...those people pleasing ones (aren't they dreamy sometimes?) and I know how much I need Jesus...because of that people pleasing part, among other sundry things. We are better parents, more thoughtful, because of her.  We are better people, reminded daily that we need Jesus. We are far better as dependent, needy people on our knees than we were as independent people thinking about how great of a job we were doing.

Because of her, we have learned more about the freedom that comes from recognizing all the ways in which we are screwed up. We have learned to repent. We have learned to throw up our hands and exclaim, "Sweet Jesus, she is yours!"  Because that is actually true, even when we don't recognize it.  She has taught us that our parenting leaves a little to be desired but that we are loved just the same.  And we are learning how to live out of that place, rather than the "trying to be perfect parents" place. It's teaching us to relax and to be content with what Jesus is doing in us and in her.  That he is always at work for our good.

She's taught us all of that in only 4 years and there isn't a minute I would trade.  I'm tempted to erase that.  To say that, of course, I would trade all the minutes that I have made her feel less than wholly loved.  I would never want her to feel that.  But I also know that those moments, recognized and confessed and waking her up to ask forgiveness, have humbled me, have been places where Jesus met me in the face of my daughter.  "I forgive you, mommy." Hugs, tears (mine), and forgotten.  She is Jesus to me in those moments.

My hope is that she sees Jesus in me, too. That for all the times that I fail her, one overarching theme of her spunky life is that she has a mom who loves her fiercely.  That she has a mom who always forgives, who sees the incredible beauty in her, who is quick to hug and begin again.  And that, above all, my life points her directly and indirectly to Jesus, who meets all of her needs and who never fails to perfectly love all of her.

In Latin, Ava means "bird-like".  It fits.  She flies high, flitting here and there and is almost impossible to keep up with.  But, she likes her nest.  She likes being home and snuggling up.  Plus, did I mention how fast she was?  So fast that she may as well have wings.

In German, her name means "desired."  I can tell you without a doubt, she was that.  We wanted and loved her from the beginning.

In Hebrew, the language from which her name originates, Ava means, "breath of life."  She has added life to our family in so many ways, especially by deepening our life in Christ.  My prayer for her is that she would find real life in Christ and that her whole life, every breath, would be lived in praise to Him.

Happy Birthday to my sweet, sassy, filled with LIFE, Ava Elizabeth Marey!  In quiet moments at your bedside as you've slept, Jesus has whispered beautiful things to me about your life and your future.  I'm so glad he chose me to have a front row seat!