Basically since she was born, we’ve been sweeping Susanna’s hair across her forehead to keep it out of her eyes.
(Ok, maybe the “sweep wasn’t so dramatic her first few months)
Lately, we’ve used adorable little clips.
Which she usually removes whenever she notices them. Consequently, there are clips all over our house.
In anticipation of her second birthday and a beach vacation, we decided to get her some bangs.
I think they accentuate her already voluminous cheeks!
In addition to Susanna’s updated hairstyle, our summer is looking good on the prefield front. We’ll be traveling to PA for Essential Missions Components, which is a huge relief and accomplishment for us. We hope to maintain some momentum for support raising through the summer with a 50/50 challenge (more on that later), and then, after little Austin joins our family, we’ll be full-time prefield, aiming to leave for the field as as soon as possible. We appreciate your prayers as we anticipate life on missionary support, especially since we’ll be starting out only half-funded. We feel a tremendous amount of peace and excitement for this next step of the journey though, knowing that it is an opportunity to trust God even more.
After writing a letter to my wife on our blog, I received a lot of feedback on how good people thought it was. I also heard from a few people that I should do it more often. Ideas don’t come as quickly and as often to me as they do to my wife but I will be making my best efforts to be a larger part of our blogging experience.
Tonight was much like any other night. I came home from work, played with Susanna and caught up with Rose about the day. We had dinner together and the time came to put Susanna down to sleep for the night. Usually we put her in her PJs and then help her brush her teeth and tonight was the same.
She played a bit longer and then we went back to her room. I held her on my lap and Rose read a few stories to her. We prayed together and then turned out the light. I handed Susanna to Rose so she could put her in the crib but Susanna reached back for me, desiring to be put to sleep by her daddy. I obliged. Rose kissed Susanna good night and left the room.
The next part has been a little tough for me the last couple of days. My little girl rests her head on my shoulder and rubs her eyes. She is extremely tired and I know that she will go to sleep quickly once she is in her crib. I begin to lift her up to place her in the crib and immediately she clutches at me and begins to fuss a little bit. I hold her a little longer and then make the final move. I lift her over the crib rail and she begins to cry. I know I need to leave because if I stay she will refuse to sleep for a while. I find it hard to walk out though because she wants to be with me. To be held by me. To spend more time with me.
I walk to the door and begin to exit. I look back and my baby girl is crying and reaching for me. It is hard to do but I leave and close the door. She cries for about 30 seconds and then it is quiet. She has laid herself down in the crib and is off to sleep for the night.
I leave because I know that she needs to learn to fall to sleep on her own. I leave because I know that it will be the best thing for her. Knowing those things doesn’t make it easier.
As Rose and I go through pre-field we are learning very much about God and his plans for us. I wonder if there are times when God leaves us to a learning experience. Not leaves us in the sense of goes away. I don’t leave Susanna. Rose and I are very aware of her presence in the room just down the hall. We are ready to answer her call if she needs anything at all. God leaves us to learn something. I’m sure that I cry and fuss and occasionally reach out for him. Does he shed a tear because he loves us and doesn’t like to see us in tears of our own? Does he desire to run in and fix all of our problems right away and hold us close even though letting us struggle just a bit will help us more in the long run? I’m sure the answer is yes.
God is perfect. My thoughts for what he may or may not feel are probably flawed but I think I have touched on his character. Being a parent allows us to see the relationship God has to us more clearly and I believe the things I experience as a father help me understand my Heavenly Father even more. I do hope that I will show the correct gratitude for my learning struggles and situations. Just as I love Susanna, God loves me and is doing what is best for me. Praise you LORD for your love and teaching. May I always love you and thank you as I should.
It is the desire of my heart that Susanna would believe Jesus. Whenever I read her little toddler Bible, I say, “listen, Susanna, this isn’t a story. This is God’s true Word!”
But I fear the thing I most desire for her is the thing I model most imperfectly for her.
This week, she has been getting up extra early. Oh how I have hated it! But a couple days ago I realized it might be that she wants to spend time with her daddy. Just as Chris finishes his morning routine, she cries out. I get her up, change her clothes, and invite her back to bed with me. That lasts a minute, but she wants to hug Daddy’s legs while he shaves, makes his lunch, pours his orange juice. He used to lean against the back of the couch to read his Bible, but now the two of them sit on the couch together. She watches cars out the window and Daddy reads, and then we all pray together before saying goodbye.
When she was sleeping later, did I get up early to spend time with my Daddy? Not usually.
The number one heart change I need is to trust God that the day has begun the way He intended it. Whether it begins with an early wake up, a grumpy, whiny, tear-stained face and immediate toy-throwing, or smiles, giggles and a calm breakfast, the day belongs to the Lord.
At the half year milestones of Susanna’s life, I have an odd way of focusing on the negative parts. I distinctly remember having a really hard time when Susanna was 6 months old. She desperately needed but would not stick to a schedule, she regressed in night sleep, and she didn’t offer very many smiles. That might not sound like a big deal, but a baby’s smile can change Mama’s mood, and Susanna continued to stare like a newborn, even at 6 months. I felt out of control, and died my hair a dark brown as a way of gaining control. That was fun, and fine, but when it grew out, I realized that my hair is darker post-Susanna. I have some of the same feelings today, but I have more peace; more awareness that “this too shall pass.” I’ll focus on the positive instead.
At 18 months, Susanna is better than ever. I love her personality so much, and I am desperate to know her better.
She dances. I say, “Susanna, do you want to listen to some music?” and she says “Yeah!” and points at the stereo in our living room. She isn’t partial to any type of music, as long as she can wiggle. We listen to Breakfast with the Beatles every Sunday on the way to church, and the other morning Chris turned it on in the house. Susanna went crazy! She spins, bounces, shakes her hips, and bops her head.
She loves. Susanna recognizes people and she wants to greet them and hug them and love them. She is unabashed about her love for her Daddy, her Grandma Duryee, her Aunty Siri and her cousin Ryan, especially. But she is open to cuddles with Papa and GG in Oregon, stories with Gramma Great (Winnie) and friendly faces in the nursery. I am so grateful for this.
She is healthy and strong. In 18 months, Susanna has had a few colds, one ear infection and one respiratory infection. Considering I rinse her pacifiers maybe once a week, this is an accomplishment.
Shestudies, evaluates, and works hard. Here’s a video of Susanna playing with her new Mega Blocks. I have similar videos of Susanna with other new toys, and it is so neat to see that although she is definitely a little busybody, she can sit down and focus on one thing.
She learns. Susanna knows where her nose, belly and eyes are. She raises her arms when we say “touchdown” and she knows how to “stop” “be careful” and “be gentle.” She can fold her hands to pray, point to her bed when she’s tired, and get a clean diaper from the basket.
She waves. By far her favorite thing to do is wave. She waves hello, bye bye and to no one in particular. Sometimes I think she sees angels the way she walks around the house waving and saying “haiii.”
This one thing is… she doesn’t have any words. On command, she can sign “more,” “all done” and “please,” but not on her own. She says “yeah” “hi/bye” (they sound the same) and shakes her head no, but none of the other sounds that come out of her mouth are real words. Her hearing is excellent, her social/emotional skills are off the charts, her fine motor skills are above average and her communication is just right, except for speech, which is about 29% delayed. Some of this is perhaps because we pretty much meet her needs before she even makes them known. Chris and I don’t really “do” frustration so we prevent it at every turn. The result? No need for words. Ha! We are working on not asking questions that she can reply with “yeah.” We’ve felt she was on the edge of speaking for so many months, so we are anxious to reach this milestone, but we are not worried. We are learning too.
What a blessing our baby girl is. The other day, I put her hair in pigtails and Chris went crazy over how cute she looked.
She is a regular Cindy Lou Who. I pray that her heart would be as sweet and kind as that fictional character’s as well, and that God would use Susanna’s life to bless others greatly. She has already flipped our world upside down.
We have parenting philosophies, parenting books, parenting methods and parenting blogs all dictating to us how we should parent. Parent with grace, with love and logic, with respect, with discipline and training.
Chris and I have a preference for family-integrated ministry that will enable us not just to parent our children but to disciple them as well. What a responsibility we have, and what a joy it is to parent knowing that the Lord is on our side. He knows our children and loves our children better than we do!
Susanna is only 16 months old, but I have some invaluable parenting advice. I am so sure of this parenting tool that I want to share it with the world. It’s twofold, and here it is:
Don’t give unsolicited parenting advice (if advice is solicited, be specific and brief. Perceive whether it’s advice that is really being sought. See number 2.)
Constantly give unsolicited parenting affirmations.
Young, Christian parents should seek older people and their advice in parenting. But young, Christian parents should love their parenting peers by praying for them and affirming the good things they’re doing. Trust the Lord with your friends’ kids too. And if you simply must advise a friend you think is struggling, tell them to ask the Lord for wisdom.
There’s no story behind this post. It’s just my plain, humble opinion and a reminder to myself as I walk this journey with my friends.