Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I'm Not Thankful For

I read Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power of Positive Thinking, when I was in High School and I know now, looking back, that it's probably a lot of bologna, but at the time it really did transform my thought processes, and the way I chose to see things.  And we are commanded to give thanks IN all circumstances (not "for" all), and to "rejoice always."  With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd share a few of the things that I'm not thankful for, but am. 

I am thankful for our broken dishwasher.  That our landlord seems to have no intention of fixing.  I hate doing dishes, but I hate piles of dirty dishes even more, so I do them.  Regularly.  I'm finding that the time I spend standing at the sink can be a much-needed parenthesis in my day . . . time to think and get my head straight.  Time to ponder the most recent problem, time to creatively think of a solution, time to plan the rest of the day.  Time, especially, to pray.  

I am thankful for the emotional onslaughts my three-year old is currently giving us because, when I am the most exasperated, the most unsure of what to do, the most overwhelmed by the problem, I am given a glimpse at just how dependent I am on the Lord for wisdom and grace, of how desperately I need Him to work in the hearts of my children.  It drives me to my knees.  Now, I choose to see these times as God's gracious reminders to pray hard for my family.

I am thankful for the intensely difficult first two years of Sami's life, because after so many sleepless nights nothing else seems too hard.  

I am thankful for our apartment.  At the time of our life when most people are moving into a larger home, we downsized to a two-bedroom apartment this year.  I have found so many reasons to be thankful for this:
-I am thankful that we aren't trying to sell a house right now.  We've been there, and it is not fun.  
-I am thankful that this apartment allows us to be so free.  We didn't even have to sign a lease, so, in theory, if we wanted to move to California next month we could . . . or we can at least dream about moving.
-I am thankful for no maintenance.  Our evenings and weekends are completely ours, we can spend them however we wish and not spend them doing house repairs or raking leaves.
-I am thankful that our home is so small.  It takes me one hour to thoroughly clean it, or a few minutes a couple times a day, and I have lots more time for other things.
-I am thankful that we live here with small children.  My kids can play all over the entire house and I can have my eye on them, there are no steps to chase them up or formal rooms to worry about them messing.
-I am thankful for simplicity.  It was a very cleansing process to get rid of any and everything that was not "useful, meaningful, or beautiful."  
-I am thankful that less space means fewer toys, for my children and us.  We go to the library instead of buying books, wear-out the toys we have, and find creative ways to play.
-I am thankful for the coziness.  
-I am thankful for fairly low rent, and no mortgage!

I am thankful for a tight budget, because I kind-of enjoy the challenge to be creative, it reminds me to feel grateful, and actually helps me to be content.  (Simplicity is a blessing!)

I am thankful that Sami no longer naps . . . No, sorry, I'm still not thankful for that. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Blog's bumper sticker: "Please don't give up on me, Jess isn't finished with me yet"

One time I was going through some old books and a little slip of paper fell out of one that I probably read last when I was in the fifth grade, and it was a list of things that I could do that day, things like "ride my bike, read, paint, plan a party," and the funny thing is I'm still making those lists and they still include somewhat the same things.

I have an inability to prioritize.  Sometimes I am paralyzed by it.

There are just SO many things I would love to do!  
bake, read, write, blogs, comments, facebook, become informed, advocate, help people, make a difference, make all my own Christmas presents, do fun things with my kids, bazillions of ideas I run across on blogs and I want to do them all!!! . . . and simplify.  Did I mention simplify?  Oh, and be fully present with my kids.  And be a more supportive wife.  And study my Bible.  Pray more.  Journal.  Adopt a child.  Or ten children.  And invest more in mine.  Have more authentic relationships.  Re-prioritize old friends.  Invite people over.  Playdates.  Have a party.  Exercise.  When do I exercise?  Be more creative.  Catch-up on email.  Don't just email, write.  Buy a card.  Or make one. Figure out twitter.  And everything else.  Work on my blog.  Post more.  Post better.  Comment more.  Subscribe.  Subscribe.  Subscribe.  Catch-up on my reader.  Comment.  Check my email. Refresh.  Find a way to make some money.  Pray about making money.  Be content but still try to make some money.  Look at our budget.  Again.  Clip more coupons.  Give more hugs.  Laugh more.  Be more patient.  Am I remembering everything?  Teach Sami to write her name she doesn't know how to write her name yet.  Christmas.  Decorate.  Traditions.  I must begin our family traditions.  Meaningful Christmas.  Simple Christmas.  But still memorable.  Which means food, and presents, and decorate.  But simple.  Music.  Does Sami know jingle bells?  Last year I forgot jingle bells.  Anna.  I think I'm neglecting Anna.  She's so content, what does Anna need?  Sensory toys.  I should make her some sensory toys.  In a box.  A treasure box!  I'll paint a treasure box and make her some sensory toys!  Because this year everything must be wood or felt and handmade. By their mother.  Right after I finish this post.  And get Anna who's crying.  And give the kids quality time.  And educational time.  And plenty of creative time.  And go buy more laundry detergent.  And finish the laundry.  And pick up the house.  Again.  Before Jim get's home.  And after we have a nice quiet evening.  With quality family time.  And my husband and I have quality conversation.  And I finish the dishes because my dishwasher's broken.  And why is the house a mess again?  If I could just get up earlier.  Tomorrow I'll get up earlier.

And I'd really like to have a clean house, healthy meals, and be a good mom at the same time.  

And my three year old doesn't nap anymore.  Ever.  What do I do with a three year old who doesn't nap, has her sister asleep in their room, and isn't allowed to watch too much t.v.?  

I'm getting zero alone time.

And getting nothing done.

If this blog is growing increasingly lamer, this is why.

I'm working on it.

I don't want to give up my blog.  But really, for my own sanity, something needs to go.  

I'm just trying to figure out what.

"Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom . . ."
Psalm 90.12

Friday, November 21, 2008

When saw we thee?

Today I thought I'd write about motherhood.   But then I ran across this link from this precious person, (several other profound links from her today) and my mommy-mush seems much less important.  I think you need to look.  
"You realize how absolutely blessed you are by the fate of your soul coming down the chute in the United States of America," she says. "You wonder: Why did this happen to me and not to them?' '' 
I can't stop thinking about Matthew 25, when it says
the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  (vv 37-40)  
There has never been more information.  Did you click the link?  You saw it.  I see it.  We know, and SEE the hungry and sick and imprisoned every time we turn on our television or click on our computer.  There is no excuse that we didn't see.  

It struck me that these verses immediately follow the parable of the talents, really it's the same passage.  Why have I never noticed this before!   Is this not the most profoundly simple and direct answer to the question, "What should I do with my life"?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

any ideas?

I give up and have to go read to my daughter . . . I've looked on help topics, changed my feedburner . . . does anybody have any suggestions?

(The world really will be ruled by technology-Lords one day.  They will be fourteen year old boys who will encrypt their secrets and only leak out random useless information in twitter updates to the starving masses).

what about now?

annoying . . . 

testing

this is so annoying

OneWAP

Sunday marks the occasion of this blog acquiring it's TENTH subscriber.  Oh yes, it's true.  One Wild and Precious Life is in the double digits.  (Dooce and The Bloggess , One WAP is in the neighborhood).

But I've been made aware of some technical problems (apparently if my blog is in a sidebar roll, it says that the last time I updated was three months ago), and being the techy-guru that I am, I'm pretty sure that when I begin fiddling with buttons that I know nothing about, there's a good chance my blog or who knows my home and entire family may be deleted from the earth. 

So, to my ten loyal subscribers of which only two is myself and my mom, if you don't receive another post from me in the next day or so, please come back and subscribe again . . . and hopefully www.jesstock.blogspot.com will still exist and not have landed into the URL of somebody's blog about algebra, or household pets, or something equally disturbing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I know this is true

I am tired of being so flaky.  I have been indecisive, uncertain, and afraid of offending people for too long . . . ok, for ever.  So, I'm working on a list of some things that I do believe.  I know there must be a few things that I don't question . . . here's the first that come to mind:

I believe in:



Beauty (that makes my heart adore Him)

the Bible

(end of the B's)

My daily, hourly need for forgiveness

Grace

The Cross

Mercy is always the right choice . . .well, usually . . . (there I go!)

That I have the sweetest, loveliest, most lovable little girls ever

the possibility of Peace

Wal-mart isn't the savings place (I always buy more when I go there)

It is possible to live on one income (for us, but of course not always)

Art can save lives

There are miracles everywhere

The grace you give to the world returns to you

Optimism

That it's impossible for me to blog when my kids are awake

I'm going to keep thinking on this . . . more to come

Monday, November 17, 2008

Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.  -G.K.Chesterton
 


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Baking Bread

Be gentle
   when you touch bread.
 Let it not lie
   uncared for, unwanted.
So often bread
is taken for granted.
There is so much beauty in bread-
Beauty of sun and soil,
Beauty of patient toil,
Winds and rains have caressed it,
   Christ often blessed it.
Be gentle
   when you touch bread.

-Author Unknown

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kiddio, one of my favorite blogs for kids crafts and ideas- check it out! had a great post this week called Keeping your Sanity when Your Spouse is out of Town.  There are so many useful ideas for mothers who have to be a single parent from time to time.  And full-time single parents?  All my respect!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Staying Alive

Thick grey has settled over Ohio now, and we'll exist in a mushy dark world for oh, about the next six months.  It's sorta like how moving into an underground bomb shelter must feel, knowing that you won't see outside life for a long long time, unsure of your own survival.  Fog has settled in my mind and I feel like I can't think, I've fumbled around all week and spent a lot of time feeling lost and confused and irritated and like I'm doing nothing well.  I'm sure this state of mind is triggered by environmental factors, but it's made worse by hormones as well. Which is just one more reason why I LOVED lactating and wish I could do it for the rest of my life.

So I'm in a funk and struggling to find my way out.  These are some ways I'm coping:

Get out of the house.  Somedays, just being in the car with both kids strapped into carseats is the easiest part of my day.  I like to plan trips around NPR so I can actually listen to something without interruption for a few minutes.

Go outside!  Even if it's cold, it's not too cold for little bodies to run.  We went to the park yesterday around 4:00, came home, ate supper and I gave them LONG, extra warm baths, and they were both asleep by 7:15.  This is a miracle.  (I have had to give-up expecting naps from my three-year old, but this usually pays off with easy bedtimes).

Create!  I have growing lists of projects I want to dig-into, and on days when I just can't get it together, we break-out art supplies, don't think about the mess, and let COLOR heal us.

Turn-off the computer.  Somedays it is a black hole, and I find myself drawn to it too much through the day, checking email, doing quick searches or reading in short bursts, that ends up wasting a lot of time and keeps me distracted from my kids . . . it creates anxiety and I am trying have more times when it is shut.

I do much better when I have weekly goals for myself.  They keep me motivated, and I don't waste as much time when I know what I want to accomplish.  I try to plan these at the beginning of the week.  My week fell apart this week because I didn't have a clear plan for what I wanted to get done.

Get more sleep.

Light candles, make a cup of tea, wear sweats.  

Chocolate helps.

Read fiction.  I have gotten really bad about just reading things I think I "should" read, like parenting books, etc., and then find myself not making time to read because I'm not as absorbed in them.

Write about it.  When I am ticked, sometimes writing a letter to the person, but not sending it, can help.

Pray.  Pray for peace.  Pray for self-control.  Pray for a guard over your mouth.  Pray for a pure heart.  Repeat. Be thankful God's grace is greater.

Find your favorite people to be with.  And a babysitter if you have to.  (I had TWO- count them, TWO girls' nights out this week.  I am not normally so blessed, but this week, They Saved Me).  This is also where Nana and Papa come in; they're all of our favorites.

Learn something new.

Even when you don't feel like it, (being patient with my kids, being a fun mom), act like you do. 

My husband has been working out of town the past two months (I haven't wanted to publish that but he's finally done now and will be home again during the week!  So stay away psycho-paths . . . ).  To cope, I tried to do fun things we wouldn't normally do, like go shopping and out to eat, or anything to make the evenings go faster.

. . . oh no,  I just looked at the calendar and realized that we're only half way through November!  What are some ways you cope with winter?  Or find your way out of the funk?

"My worst fear is that there is no PMS and this is my personality"
-a mug my mother got me. . . was she trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From Fourth Grade til Now

There Isn't Time!

(Eleanor Farjeon)

There isn't time, there isn't time
To do the things I want to do,
With all the mountain-tops to climb,
And all the woods to wander through,
And all the seas to sail upon,
And everywhere there is to go,
And all the people, every one
Who lives upon the earth, to know.
There's only time, there's only time
To know a few, and do a few,
And then sit down and make a rhyme
About the rest I want to do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What are you learning about God? Part3


There is a large population of Amish in the area where I grew up and now live.  After living among and working with the Amish my entire life, I still cannot understand why they view cars, electricity, and telephones (but not cell phones) as sinful.  Or why the Amish women continue to submit themselves to head-coverings and simple dresses (even in the dead of winter, as they are riding bicycles to work).  Usually, when I ask younger Amish today why they hold to such strict religious rules, they only say that it is their tradition, a matter of being separate from the world.

I have a great deal of respect for the Amish and their simple ways.  There are lessons we all could learn from their frugality, modesty, hard work, and sense of community.  

And I have to believe that there was a day years ago when the Amish had very good reasons for the way they interpreted remaining "separate from the world" and choosing to maintain a very simple lifestyle.  Surely with new technology came new fears, new appearances of worldliness, and the Amish church was probably very sincere in their attempts at being a holy, set-apart people.

But along the way their desire to please God was formed into laws and they stopped.  changing. 

Change is necessary in every generation.  Every church experiences change, must change, must question the rules of their culture and let go of the things that no longer have life in them. 
Christ called it pruning the branches that don't bear fruit.  

There was a time when wearing your nicest clothes on Sunday represented giving your Best to God.  Maybe it was born out of a period of depression, when there weren't many nice clothes and so one outfit was kept for Sundays.  But over time, when the outward appearance became a religious "measuring stick", it became apparent that this had become a dead branch and not a life-giving branch, and had to be pruned, to the chagrin of many in the  pantyhose-tugging older generation, who still (I'll assume the best here) were adorned in their uncomfortable Sunday finest to reflect the place that Christ held in their lives.  

I posted a letter from Jim Wallis to James Dobson . . . 

These men represent change in our generation.  And change is scary.  

James Dobson has been a voice for morality and the family for many years.  Many of us were raised by parents directly influenced by his teaching.  But James Dobson will not speak for the next generation.  God is raising up new leaders, with new vision, who are seeing things that our parents missed, or are speaking out against traditions or rules that no longer have life in them.  (It bothered me that  Dobson inferred that the "younger evangelicals" were responsible for swaying the vote to Obama and therefore, apparently, ushering in the doom and destruction of America.  Surely Dobson himself went against certain traditions in Christianity when he began his ministry??  It seems to me, judging from history, that this is how God works).

I really believe that God works in the youth of a culture.  I think that God gives the young among us eyes to see hypocrisy, and ears to hear what His Spirit is saying to the Church.  We would do well to hear them.  (I've heard a theory that some of the disciples could have been as young as 12 or 13.  I like to think of this when I see our youth, and I wonder sometimes, if I am already too old to really "get it," and if the best thing for me to do is to step back and learn from the "prophets" of our youth ).  

On Election Day morning I opened my Bible to this:

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Psalm 90.1
and,
For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations. 
Psalm 100.5
Praise God!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder.  Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe.  Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his, to the Father through the features of mens' faces.  Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number.  I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to see the wonder of it all.
Joshua Abraham Heschel

Friday, November 7, 2008

What are you learning about God? Part2

It's about Jesus not religion.  

I was always warned about the "other" religions, but I'm learning that it's not that simple.  Religion is a matter of your heart.  Anyone, in any church, can become religious.  It's quite easy.  

Religion happens when any church or any believer refuses to change.

But because the Youth Group Girl with a guilty conscience is still in there somewhere, and because my whole life I have been SO trained to protect, guard, defend . . . BEWARE OF CHANGE, . . . I have these moments of panic when I think, I must be so wrong.  No one else sees it like this . . . the heart is deceitful, I must be deceiving myself . . . I've become what I've been warned about . . . and the temptation is there to crawl back into what is familiar, popular, safe.

But how do you know the difference between "holding fast to sound doctrine," and having the "eyes of your understanding enlightened . . . "?  

Because . . . as much as I fear change, following Christ requires it. . . there is just so much to say here . . . 
I daily ask God to change me, to reveal any hidden sin in me, to open my eyes to see Him more clearly, understand His Truth more fully . . . .
We are to "walk" in the Spirit" and "keep in step" with the Spirit.
God is always doing a "new thing," it is up to us to "perceive" it.
We are told to GROW . . . "grow in grace and knowledge."
God is always working in ways we could not expect.  

A spiritual life that has stopped growing and changing is stunted, sour . . . religious.
A spiritual life that must rely on another person for truth is parasitic, fetal . . . religious.
A spiritual life that grows around unresolved anger or unhealthy emotions becomes cancerous, legalistic . . . religious.

After many years and many churches, I've learned to spot religion, and recognize it in myself as well

When I am religious, I am insecure.  I worry more about my appearance, like how I look physically, or if I've said the right thing, made the right impression.  I care more about what people think of me. When I am abiding in Christ I know that I am wildly loved and accepted, and that is such a safe place.

When I am religious, I doubt myself and my own relationship with God and the Bible, and therefore reading Scripture is less exciting and more dutiful.  When I am abiding in Christ, I find Him everywhere, His Word echoes off of everything I see and do.

When I am abiding in Christ I find the freedom to create.  When I am religious I can only maintain.

Religious people are angry.  Abiding in Christ I find the grace of love, joy, peace, patience . .. .

When I am religious I feel "called" to more, serve more, do more.  When I am abiding in Christ I feel called to harder things, like loving my enemies, and doing good to those who hate me.

In religion people know Truth, and use Truth to criticize, slander, gossip . . . people who are walking with Christ know Wisdom, which is gentle, peaceable, easy to be entreated . . . .

Religion makes me skeptical.  Christ makes me hopeful.
 
From silly devotions and from sour-faced saints, Good Lord, deliver us.
-Teresa of Avila 

(I thought I wouldn't have to put a disclaimer here but maybe I do . . . Jesus, salvation, sin, the Bible . . . the foundation doesn't change).


What are you learning about God? Part1

I've been really meaning to write my own thoughts about the election this week . . . but now it's Friday and that is SO three days ago . . . so I thought I'd rather answer this question that I ran across, because the two are closely related.

"What did you learn about God this year?"

But, I'm going to re-phrase the question to, "What are you still learning about God?"

(Okay this is the long-winded boring part where I tell about all of my painful church experiences (because I'm the only one with a painful church story . . . blah blah blah . . .).  

Abbreviated version:  Christian home.  Started out Mennonite . . . Free Methodist . . . Non-denominational . . . Nazarene College . . . taught at a Christian school . . . then an interdenominational school in Haiti . . . came home and met a Baptist missionary . . . then he became a pastor . . . married him anyway . . . recently left the ministry . . . currently searching, stretching, growing, loving . . . . 

I know that I met Jesus when I was in the third grade.  When I was a kid I was probably even more devout than I am now.  I did my devotions every morning like my life depended on it, witnessed to my friends, went to youth group like, every day, didn't have sex or do anything fun, felt guilty all the time, offended some people I wish I hadn't, put a Jesus fish on my first car, was voted most likely to be a missionary.  

So then I got my first experience with something ugly and hurtful that happened in a church and directly affected me, and I was devastated.  Then another thing happened.  Then something else.  So God allowed all of these hard church things to happen in a couple different churches in a really short amount of time to an insecure chubby girl whose whole life depended on her church.

And it broke my heart and for a while I wallowed and felt rejected and lonely, but every morning I got up and tried to read my Bible and figure it all out and pretty soon I realized that yes everything had changed but really nothing changed, because God was still my God and in fact He seemed even nearer than in my Youth Group days when I was so right and everyone else was so wrong.  

So this was just the beginning of a recurring theme in my life:  that just when I think I have God figured out, I think He and I are all good and everything makes sense and I'm about to hang some curtains and decorate . . . that this is when I start to hear him knocking again and I look around and realize that once again I'd built a box and left Jesus out, and once again he's outside my box knocking and hoping I'll let Him in (because He's so very Good like that.  He just keeps knocking) . . . and I have to say that every time I've come to the place of opening the door, that a great gust of wind has entered in with him and blown everything apart around me.

This is where I stand today; feeling unfamiliar, exposed. 

But I've been here before.  And that's the other recurring theme:

I always find Him more beautiful, His truth is more dazzling, The Gospel bigger, His Word more alive.  

Life with Him is safer, and more dangerous, than before.  Harder, and more glorious.

(to be continued . . . )

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

". . . if she had just said she was a lesbian."

The story of a Baptist pastor's wife who voted for Obama

Christine is a pastor's wife who has not only dug-into her Bible to understand how to believe, but has a lifestyle to match.  (Crazy, I know).  Her blog is worth subscribing to- it never fails to intelligently convict and inspire me.

(My own opinion coming soon . . . if my big three year old ever decides to nap again . . . ).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Donald Miller tells why


A lot of what he says here is my story, written much more eloquently than I ever could.  I even went to the camp in Colorado that he refers to! 

For those seeking to understand "younger evangelicals" with the "potential to sway the vote to Obama," this article will provide you some insight. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jim Wallis to James Dobson

There is a lot that could be said about the election, but too much already being said.  

As a Christian who grew up in the James Dobson era, this letter is important.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Anna Full of Joy

Dear Anna Joy,

I can't believe you are one year old today.  

This was a hard year but it was a joyous year.  You arrived on a sunny Friday, because Fridays are happy days.  Party days.  The end of work and the beginning of play.  And that is so You, my Anna Joy.

You didn't have a name for a long time.  I had a stack of name books by my bed and I would just look at you and wonder . . . your Dad was gone that day and it rained and I was alone with you, just amazed and wondering how to put a name on this miracle.  

I knew that it had to be a graceful name because in the womb you danced so gracefully.  I imagined that you would grow to be elegant and kind and quietly joyful.  I still do.  

Anna.  For it's purity and grace.  The way it sits on your tongue between a breath and a song.  And for the wise women I read whose names are some form of Anne, beautiful women who have wrestled with God and beauty and who are still laughing, still prophecy-ing and giving thanks, still spotting Jesus even in their old age, like the prophetess Anna.

Joy is for the joy we believed in when I was so sick that I thought I'd rather die were it not for the hope you gave me.  And because you taught us about the Cross, the pain that Christ endured for the joy that was set before Him.  You were a prophetess even then, for we didn't yet know what pain was still ahead or I'm sure we don't know now what we will be asked to endure . . . but the Joy!  Yes, you remind us everyday that there is joy on the other side and this year, Anna, you were my peaceful, sweet spot of pure joy through it all.

You have lots of names, of course.  On the day we brought you home Papa called you Peanut and it stuck.  Sister calls you And, which seems so appropriate.  Or there's the longer version, Anna-Full-of-Joy-and-Happiness.  I love your name, Annie.

I love you for your eyes that shine and for your impish grin that precedes wild giggles and how you seem to already have a knack for practical jokes.  

I love the way that anything that sounds like music will make you dance, even the dishwasher.  

I love how you lay on the floor and kick your legs when you're sleepy, and the way you cuddle up and suck your thumb when I hold you . . . and then for the way that you go to sleep and stay asleep that is nothing short of the greatest act of mercy a child can have on her parents.  

I love that your default is set to joy, the joyous approach that you have to life.  You burst into our world last year with your laughing eyes and charm, and our world is brighter, lighter, more joyful because of you, Sweet Anna Joy.