Dear Jackson // Eleven Months

Dear Jackson,

What a little man you have become. Life has been busy around here and since you turned eleven months on April 12, I am writing this on May 3. Yes, your birthday party is 1.5 weeks away and I am telling everyone that you are one year old. So this letter is going to be super short because I am feeling really guilty. But in my defence, your pictures were taken semi- close to eleven months so that is a win!

Highlights from this past month:

1) YOU ARE WALKING! It started with standing up and falling towards us, then baby steps (still totally falling forward) then within two weeks you are fully walking around our home. It is so incredible to watch you concentrate and try to figure it out. It's a joy watching you learn and discover.

2) You love putting toys into other toys and stacking. This is one of your favourite things that you do multiple times a day. You will put your toy balls into containers and shake them, carrying them around. You will put your soother in my used tea mug and then take it out again. You are starting to build towers and play with puzzles and you are getting the idea that certain toys have a function and a place and aren't just used for "shaka shakas." This also means that you think things go in the toilet

3) This is Daddy's favourite. You love how your voice echos when you talk into a mug, any cup or any bucket. You will talk into it and then pull back and think it is the coolest ever

4) You started waving hello and goodbye and when we yell "yay" you wave both arms in the air. Aunty Livi gets all the credit for teaching you this skill.

5) You love talking on your cell phone. You pretty much use any toy and put it to your ear and smile and we exclaim "hello." You also love FaceTime and face timing the family.

6) You learnt how to high five... yet you don't clap and I've been trying to teach you to clap for months and months!

Love that you are learning and growing so much. Praying for you daily, that you would know Jesus' love through me and that I would rely on Jesus for all my parenting strength.

Jackson you are a JOY. I am so in love with you. Thank you Jesus for allowing me to be Jackson's momma. What a good good Father you are.

Love you my sweet 11 month old (11.75 month old:))


There is so much more than this...

I'm not even sure what to title this post. But I want these words written down. I need to process them in my little space on the internet. I want to preach this message to myself and come back to it over and over again when I get caught up in the mundane motions of life. My heart is extra heavy today seeing the poverty, pain and hurt in this world.

Let's live sold out lives for Jesus, He is the only thing that matters. I hope this letter encourages your soul as this reminder has for me. Remember you are loved and your life has purpose. There is so much more to life.


You need another reminder so here it is. You have one life to live. You could die at any moment or Jesus could come back at any moment. You are on this earth in 2017 today for a reason. You have purpose. You are God's child and set apart for good works that God knew about before this earth was even made. But seriously girl, you need to spiritually wake up more. There is way too much you are missing when your eyes shift even for a second back to the things of this earth. The things of this world are attractive, they are luring, I get that but God, God is so much more. And you know that. You love Jesus with every part of your being. You need His word daily and there are so many people you get to encourage on a daily basis who look up to you in your faith. You're a pastors wife and are in full time ministry and you hurt for the least of these but girl, your focus can slip, your eyes can shift off the Kingdom and I am typing this out to tell you to use each and every day for Jesus.

Don't get prideful or stuck or caught up that you are doing enough. Don't think it's enough that your heart already physically hurts for people who don't know Jesus yet. Don't get prideful that you are leading bible studies and mentoring girls and already doing lots for Jesus. Don't get prideful that you are running a teen girl conference or that you are excited to put different ministry programs in place. I know you aren't but even for one second if you think you are great or this has anything to do with you and its not all because of Jesus it will cost you. Stay humble, keep your eyes fixed on eternity. 

Yes, God is so real and tangible in the mundane moments. Those sweet moments where you get to do the dishes each evening and just pray over people in your life. Those moments folding laundry, thanking Jesus for clothes, and running water. But these moments often turn into grumbling, and your sinful heart shows itself. Thoughts of wishing you had a dishwasher or the ministry you could do if you had your own home. Thoughts of comparing yourself to others and what they have, and their gorgeous home and successful ministries. Maddie, remember nothing on this earth is coming with you when you die. You take nothing. Build treasure in eternity, not here on earth. I know it's hard, I know for even one second it seems so tempting to dream about the earthly stuff but it will fade it has no value. 

Each morning is a gift. Every breath you breathe is a gift from God. You know you have the Holy Spirit, God living inside of you, people should notice you are different. People should see the way you love this world and ask "why". They should question the sacrifices and the way you live your life because Jesus and His word says everything that is opposite to how the world tells us to live. But Maddie, not all people will like you. People will reject you and that is OK. The New Testament is all about suffering. Your crazy love for Jesus, people will reject you and even hate you for it. That's OK, remember they killed all the disciples and Jesus for this faith. But some will see the hope you have, the assurance that you know there is more to life, and ask for the answer. These moments are what make life worth it and Jesus so real when you get to look into their eyeballs and tell them they are loved and valued and that Jesus is real, He's enough and to follow Him with everything, no turning back. Maddie live for these moments, crave the good things of God.

And Maddie remember you don't need to go back to Africa to find that passion again. You're ministry is right where you are, here today. There are people who need Jesus and His love right where you are. Serve well. Serve in Jesus's strength alone, because let's be real, you know better than anyone else you suck when you do things without Christ and are end up just so exhausted and useless. Remember that although North Americans and the North American church comes across as "not needing God", remember that they do. They are desperately searching.  Just because we have retirement funds, running water, electricity, food to eat and malls with thousands of items they still are hungry for Jesus. People are waking up every day in NA wanting more. Be Jesus to them. Shout it from the rooftops with the way you love them and remind them that what they are searching for is found in Christ. 

I know you want to spiritually shake people and yell at them to 'wake up' because we all only have one life. So I'm 'yelling' at you now. Stay awake. Stay fixed on Christ. He could come back tomorrow and their are still people who don't know Him. Stop fussing about the little things in life that don't matter and start awakening your eyes, your church's eyes and others around you of the poverty and pain that we live in. Thousands of people are dying every day from preventable causes, people are sold in slavery, human trafficking is a sickening industry that you can't even fathom and babies are being killed without ever having the chance to live. Don't get overwhelmed with it all because you can't save anyone. But let it sink in. Let it hurt. Don't get blinders on and not remember what is happening in Elmira and around the world. Have a righteous anger about it all and then do something about it. You aren't called to do it all but you are called to do something. To give and to love and to share Jesus with whoever will listen. 

So please girl, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and live each day as if Jesus is coming back. Set your priorities, the way you give and what you do on that fact alone. You have grown so much in your faith and your journey is remarkable. It doesn't seem too long ago that you were kissing all the boys and getting your worth from boys and not Jesus. God really does use the most messed up people like you to live out a story of grace and redemption. Now that you understand a fraction of God's love, continue to give it away. 

Fix those eyes on Jesus Maddie girl. You have the hope inside of you, continue to give it away.


Dear Jackson // Ten Months

Dear Jackson,

Seriously? Ten months! You are growing so fast. I can't believe it. I feel I've mentioned this before but the days are super long and the weeks go by in the blink of an eye.

I just re read your nine month letter and there isn't many new things to add. You have just progressed in all the habits you've started at nine months. You still use your walker to walk around everywhere. Last night you took one step towards me which was super exciting but still no where near holding your balance to walk.

You now eat 1/2 puree food and 1/2 cut up food. You still only have two teeth which is proving to be difficult when trying to feed you because you can't really chomp at it yet. But you LOVE feeding yourself. It is one of the only times you are quiet. Since you love feeding yourself you don't like when I do. The only way I can get you not to cry when we do puree food is by watching music videos or daniel tiger neighbourhood. Even when you are full out crying if I play "deep cries out" by Bethel Kids you instantly get mesmerized and stop crying, allowing me to continue the feed. Many parents are anti tv/screens before age 2 and I've read up on some of those reasons but I believe in choosing my battles and eliminating tv is not one I want to tackle. I want to be sensitive to it so we try to only watch music videos when you refuse to eat. And I keep telling myself it's a phase so hopefully you will like to eat food again, or we will just stop doing puree.

You've definitely been growing a bit more. We bought you clothes way back in September and now its March and we haven't had to buy anything...yet... but now it seems that some of your pants and clothes are tight which makes me excited that we get to go shopping again! I weighed you (on our home scale) and you hit 17 pounds! It was exactly 17.0 but hey we got there and that is exciting! Most people comment on your size and how you are still so tiny but I love it. Also for practical reasons you have been able to fit into your carseat all winter long which makes my life super transporting you everywhere.

You still know the same words, still aren't clapping (even though I've continued trying) and I guess the new word would be "come." Yes, it sounds like a dog but when I say it and wave my hand to come to me you normally do. It's super cute.

You now sit in big part of the grocery carts. When we head to costco you love looking around and scratching all the grocery items. One of my favourite things is when you go grocery shipping with Daddy. Mark likes to shop (cuz he is so picky and I don't mind one bit!) and he takes you on a Daddy/son date. It is the cutest and you are always on your best behaviour. It is really easy taking you out as long as you have slept and ate.

Breastfeeding has changed a bit. I don't feed every 3-4 hours anymore just morning and night. This has worked well this past month and you have transitioned so well. You get distracted even if you hear the slightest noise and I think you are slowly outgrowing it. I feed at 5am when you wake up and then you fall back to sleep for another couple hours and then I feed right before you head to bed. I hope to continue this as long as possible. I was worried about stopping breastfeeding right before I go back to work but this transition has been pretty smooth so I can continue with those two times.  Other than the two feeds, you just drink water during the day and still get all your nutrients from your food. We've tried countless sippy cups and the one that you love the best is a gatorade water bottle that Dad and I drink from. You only want to drink the same ones we do. We tried for a couple weeks and then just gave up and bought you on like us. You love it, except it isn't child proof so if I'm not watching you water goes everywhere!

There is always something to disrupt your sleep but we are getting there. Just recently I figured out if I put a soother clip on your pjs' that when you wake up in the middle of the night you will find it and go back to sleep. This could be a game changer because when you wake up in the middle of the night you are still crying for a good long time. You weren't soother dependent before but I think with your teeth coming in (hopefully) you have liked it more and now you know how to put it back in this has been super helpful.

You are the best baby and I love hanging out with you every day. Just thinking about heading back to work makes me super grumpy and emotional but know that God is in control and has your sweet life in His hands, and God has the very very best for you.

I love you more and more each day, not what you can do for me but because of who you are my baby. I think about that parallel with Christ. He loves you and me just the way we are and nothing we do for him or can do for him changes his love towards us. I always think I need to do great things for Jesus and being your momma has given me fresh perspective on how Jesus must feel towards me. It is beyond comprehensible the love God has for us. Thank you for letting me learn such sweet lessons from you Mr. Jackson. I pray every day you will grow up knowing Jesus and his great love towards you.

Happy Ten Months My Baby Boy,

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