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In which we celebrate two years of Evelynn Joan

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It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since Evelynn was born here in my living room.

My laughter was uncontrollable (probably a bit hysterical, if we’re being honest!) and Brian burst into tears. They covered her with a warmed towel and a hat and after a few moments, Brian looked to see if it was a boy or a girl. He said, “It’s a GIRL!” and that sent all of us off again into gales of laughter and tears. I couldn’t stop thanking God for her. She was bright eyed and quietly alert. No screaming or scurrying. She gave a couple of little cries but just seemed happy to join the party and was simply taking us all in with her wise eyes.

We had a little family party on Sunday evening. I’ve learned by now to keep toddler birthdays small, short, homemade, and low-key. (Ask me how I know…)

But Evelynn – as usual – proves me wrong. She was made for parties. Not a single melt-down, not a single I-don’t-want-share fit. Being the centre of attention suits her just fine.

Evelynn birthday 2

 

party1

 

She’s a wild child, a force of nature, pure sunshine cut with straight mischief. She has never once slept in the minivan or in her stroller, there is too much world to see out there. Relentless delight, that’s this girl.

Mothering Evelynn has been a different experience because I’m pretty sure she’s our forever-baby, the last of the tinies. And so I hold on a bit longer trying to savour the all-too-swift babyhood and she runs away a bit faster to catch up, she never looks back, so it’s all bittersweet.

We ate chocolate cake and sang songs and we laughed and celebrated.

But today, I feel a bit closer to tears, remembering the day she came into our family like a baptism. She’s a toddler now.

Where did those two years go?

Evelynn Joan newborn pictures

Last year, I put together a little video of her first year with us. I write about Evelynn here.

Continue Reading · Evelynn · 19

In which I present a day with Evelynn (in four acts)

Someone loves her Happy Meal toy.

 

Act I

We are downstairs in our house, playing all morning. I announce lunch and head upstairs to the kitchen. Normally, all three tinies troop up after me. After two minutes, I realise Evelynn has remained below stairs. I head down to get her. And discover the fact that she has painted the entire room with the contents of her diaper. (Again.) (Because this has happened before.) (Many times.)

I pitch a temper tantrum. Then I clean her up, bath her, finish lunch for the trio, start laundry, and put her to bed for her nap.

Then I scrub the basement until my hands are raw. I open every window in the house, and a stiff wind blows through. It does not help with the smell.

Act II

Evelynn awakens from her nap, sunshine and delight, as usual. She toddles down the hall towards the playroom while I fold laundry downstairs. I assume she is in the playroom with her brother and sister. (Never assume with Evelynn.) Then I hear the toilet chugging. Investigate. Discover that she has stuffed paper towels from under the sink into the toilet, clogged it and flushed it repeatedly. It is now overflowing all over the floor.

I cannot unclog the toilet. I clean up the water on the floor and resolve, like any sane woman, to wait until my husband gets home. I shut the door, put up a baby gate to block her access, and we go out to get a coffee for me.

Act III

I begin supper preparations. Evelynn is nicely looking at books, luring me to complacency. I glance away to concentrate on the task at hand. (You see where this is going.)

In less than two minutes, I hear sheets of water hitting the floor in the other washroom. Gallop around the corner and discover that Evelynn has stuffed toilet paper into the sink, turned on the faucets and is now flooding the upstairs washroom. I turn off the water. I am standing in two inches of water on the floor. I use every towel and sheet in the house to sop up the water. I cannot get the water out of the sink.

In a fit of insanity/desperation, I attempt to plunge the sink. This only results in a gigantic backspray of sink gunk flying around the room, the majority of the gunk (of course) landing in my hair and in my open mouth. I freak out thoroughly and laugh until I cry.  I close the bathroom door and call my husband. He is home in less than 30 minutes.

Act IV

Brian unclogs the downstairs sink. Mildly remarks how it smells like poop in the basement. Brings in his wet vac and sucks up all of the water upstairs. Dismantles the entire sink upstairs and unclogs the drains with Evelynn hovering over his shoulder, like a disinterested observer. He reassembles the sink.

We put the tinies to bed and I spend the entirety of Friday night deep cleaning both washrooms, washing towels, and cleaning the basement all over again. I lament repeatedly her newly acquired skill of scaling the play pen. I am out of options other than constant vigilance.

 

Epilogue

Evelynn is the happiest nearly-two-year-old-baby in the world.  She is sweet, loving, funny, sociable, outgoing, and curious. And smart. (Oh, Lord, help us, SO SMART.) And I cannot stay even one step ahead of her because her mischief is uncharted territory. She is relentless, interested in everything except age-appropriate toys and activities, and utterly without fear.

I can only pray for the grace to ensure that, when she is all grown up, she is a benevolent powerful dictator.

 

 

 

Continue Reading · Evelynn, family, humour, parenting · 58

In which Joe wants to throw a party for Evelynn

 

Evelynn and Joseph

Me:  Well, Joseph, our Evelynn Joan is turning two soon! What kind of birthday party should we have?

Joe:  A dinosaur party! A hockey party!

Me:  Well, we should pick something that Evelynn likes a lot. Like …  maybe we could have a bathtub party because she loves taking baths so much? Or a cookie party? Or a Little Bear party? What does Evelynn like best in the world?

Joe: My know! We should have a Joseph party for Evelynn! She likes me best of all the things! I’m her favourite thing because my am her best brother!

#SeriouslyThisCloseToDoingIt

 

 

Continue Reading · Evelynn, family, Joseph · 13

In which the Kingdom of God is also a small family leading worship

 

Every Sunday, during Advent, one family gets up at the beginning of the church service to read the devotional, text, and prayer. This Sunday’s candle was Love, and it was our turn. So I carefully dressed Evelynn in her older sister’s hand-me-down Christmas dress, but the older two couldn’t be bothered: fashionista Anne wanted to wear harem pants and a lotus dress, pragmatic Joseph preferred his red hockey t-shirt.

Initially, I handed Brian the full reading and text we were given without thought. Probably I would stand, beatifically, madonna-like, no doubt, surrounded by my children, behind him, supportive.

This up-front-stuff is the part of worship that The Daddy does, I defaulted, without thinking, slipping into my old pastor-wife groove. It was my husband who said, “No, this is Advent, and it’s church, and we’re a family: we’re all in this. Together.” (Usually, he’s the one reminding me that those old ways don’t fit a Jesus-shaped life, not anymore.)

.Of course, Anne was thrilled. There is no timidity or fear in her, she dances through church. One day, a friend of mine came over to me, with tears in her eyes, and said, “I know it might be odd but I need to tell that I think I heard a word from God about Anne. I was watching her dance, and somehow, in my heart, I heard Jesus say, “I love to watch her dance for me. It makes me so happy.”

Isn’t Jesus happy when children are happy in his Presence?

Now, all on her own, Anne often goes into a quiet room, turns on praise music, and spins and dances, just her and (I imagine, I wouldn’t be surprised) an Audience of One, dancing with her even. (I cried when my friend told me that Jesus was happy about Anne’s dancing. I tucked another moment into my own heart, Mary-like, we know what it is to ponder and remember for the rest of a life.)

Joseph is my singer, my worshipper. He memorizes the words to songs, and is always singing under his breath. I didn’t realize how easily songs came to him until I heard him singing to himself all the time, just working on puzzles, singing all the songs I sing. He loves to sit in the very front of church, but I’m a back-row soul so we usually clash about where to sit in church. Every once in a while, we end up in the very front, and he watches and learns, and he wants me to hold him close during worship, so I sing the words right into his ears (and Brian chases Evelynn back and forth across the gym because, have mercy, that child never sits still). He told me, in his Cookie-Monster boy-voice, that he wants to sing songs always, and someday, that will be him making up songs and playing the guitar. His favourite song, his top-of-the-lungs-gracious-that-is-loud-bellowing-song,  is Matt Redman’s Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul. And he means every word of it.

So Anne ran on stage, and I followed in her confident wake, sedate, the matriarch of this little tribe. Brian handed the microphone to Anne, and my girl, she read it strong: “This morning we light the second candle and we remember Love.”

The sound of her girlish voice through the speakers, rang out, in bell-ringing-clear proclaiming.

Brian sat down on the stage beside her and Joe, and he read, in his midwest man voice, “In a manger on that incredible night Love was born. Mary held Love in her arms. The shepherds from the fields came to worship Love. Years later, Wisemen would come to bring gifts to the King Love. Here was Love born to us. Love grew and touched those who could not be touched. Love forgave those who would not be forgiven. Love listened to those who had no one to listen to them. Love prayed for those who did not love him. Love gave life to those who were caught in the grasp of death. Love willingly died so that our sins were removed, forgiven, and so we could be face to face with God.”

Anne took the microphone again, and prayed, “May we be teachable to love like Jesus himself.”

Then I took the microphone and began to read the Scriptures. I had Evelynn balanced on my cocked hip, and I wasn’t nervous. For once in my life, holding a microphone, I wasn’t nervous. My daughters, my husband, my son, were all here with me, there was no need to fear because this, this was communal worship: not a performance.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love,” I read from 1 John.

Then Evelynn grabbed the mic out of my hand and hollered “LOVE!” into it, bursting out laughing at the sound of her own loud voice. I laughed, too, relieved, and joked that we were raising a preacher in this one. (Seriously, this girl.)

“Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”

I handed the microphone to Brian, thinking we were done, but Joseph took his Dad’s arm, pulled it down to his wide mouth, and solemnly said, “A-men” in benediction. I lit the candles with a fireplace clicker thing, we walked back to our seats to sit amongst our friends.

I think the Kingdom of God looks like children, men, and women in worship together. We wait in the darkness together, so we worship together. Aren’t we all a picture of the restored life in the full light of day, how this new life means all are welcome?

So that the Kingdom of God is yeast and seed, and also a slender little girl, dancing for Jesus alone, and one little boy, singing songs, and one little family leading worship for the community, and one more candle burning, on a lampstand, lighting the whole room. It’s Angels on a hillside with common shepherds, and Kings in stables, and virgins having babies. It’s the uneducated Galileans as ambassadors for God, and murderous Pharisees as great apostles, it’s Mary Magdalene charged with announcing the resurrection, and little children as our examples.

So my children lead worship right alongside of the grown-ups, and their mama reads Scripture right alongside of the men, and their dad is the one who willingly gave up his own time in the lead, for the joy of giving his most-loved-ones a chance to worship out loud, too.

Isn’t it beautiful, all together? Isn’t it beautiful when young and old, male and female, rich and poor, broken and beautiful, all gather for Emmanuel, God with us?

Come, Lord Jesus, among us, and until you do, I have a little girl who wants to dance, and a boy who wants to sing, and a baby who wants to preach, a husband with a leader’s mind and a servant’s posture and a heart after God, and me, I am learning to be not afraid but to speak truth in love.

It’s just a small incarnational moment, hardly worth noticing for most of the world, but for me, this was a metaphor moment of life in the Kingdom, life in the glorious truth of worship in spirit and truth, Jesus-shaped leadership as servanthood, and so our family’s lighting of another candle within community, with their affirmation and prayers and participation, pushed back just a bit more of the darkness, and then we scattered back out again.

 

 

Continue Reading · advent, Anne, brian, christmas, church, community, Evelynn, faith, family, Joseph, women · 34