2011 in review

As long as January isn’t quite over, then I think there’s still time enough for letting January be a time of reflection and resolutions. Without further ado, here’s my review of 2011 – in the format of a Christmas letter (which we did not send out this year).

THE (un-sent) NELSON 2011 CHRISTMAS LETTER

What a year for the Nelson family, full of headlines and milestones as we completed our first year with our twin daughters, Lucia and Alethia, and became increasingly rooted in Norfolk, Virginia, at Trinity Presbyterian Church. A few of these, in chronological order:

  • Lucia and Alethia learn how to roll over
  • Heather returns to work as a part-time counselor at Trinity Presbyterian Church after an 8 month maternity leave
  • Seth turns 30 (without the fanfare Heather sought to give him, his request)
  • Reverend Seth Nelson baptizes his daughters, Lucia Elizabeth and Alethia Sarah
  • Lucia and Alethia begin solid foods – pureed peas and bananas are the favorites
  • Trinity Presbyterian Church votes as a congregation to promote Seth to “Associate Pastor”
  • Davis Family Kiawah Week 2011 introduces the twins to the beach; their favorite activity: eating sand
  • Lucia and Alethia learn how to crawl
  • Seth and Heather baby-proof their home, finally giving in and moving all valuables up a few shelves and moving toys into the living room
  • Seth and the other assistant pastor at Trinity “hold down the fort” while our senior minister takes an 8-week sabbatical during July and August
  • Seth and Heather celebrate their 5th anniversary with a brief overnight getaway to the Chesapeake Bay, while Hurricane Irene makes its way toward Norfolk
  • The Nelson family evacuates Norfolk for Aunt Maryann and Uncle Glenn’s house in Raleigh, NC, as Hurricane Irene is predicted to make a direct impact
  • Their home and neighborhood are spared; however their 11-year-old car breaks down – they purchase a newer one with much needed extra space 
  • Lucia and Alethia turn one with a ladybug birthday party; Lucia loves her cake – Alethia does not
  • Alethia takes her first steps and begins walking
  • Heather returns to Wheaton College for her 10 year reunion – leaving the girls (and Seth) for the first weekend since their birth
  • Lucia takes her first steps and begins walking
  • Alethia and Lucia begin talking – favorite words are “ball,” “dog,” “baby,” “bath,” and “door”
  • The Nelsons travel to New Jersey for the girls’ first Christmas with Grandma & Grandpa Nelson; then they travel to South Carolina for New Year’s with Gigi & Pops

This captures the events of our year – and what a year! – yet falls far short of describing the fullness of our days. How I (Heather) am learning how to embrace my new calling of full-time mom without losing my sanity (which involves lots of prayer to a God who is always near, many great friends with similarly aged children, “Mrs. Becky” who watches the girls biweekly, a husband who takes my calls and rescues me when I’m really desperate, weekly women’s Bible study and baby music class). How Seth’s gifts continue to be grown and developed through his responsibilities training teachers, developing Sunday school curriculum, leading community group ministry and our missions team. How we are both learning the how’s and why’s of disciplining infants-turning-into-toddlers whose wills are exerting themselves strongly. The books we have been enjoying this year: The Help, One Thousand Gifts, Loving the Little Years, The Foundations Trilogy, East of Eden, among many others. One thing the girls are already showing is a shared love for books and “reading” like their two bookworm parents. They will often sit and just flip through board books for 10-15 minutes at a time (an eternity for 15-month-olds!). Then there’s the growing delight in Lucia and Alethia as their personalities continue to emerge, like Lucia who giggles often, waves to strangers while shopping and gives a “cheesy smile” upon request and Alethia who calls every stuffed animal “baby,” stays close to mommy in new situations and enjoys learning new skills like walking backwards (her latest greatest).

Although it’s an often quoted cliché, we are finding it to be quite true for this stage of our lives: the days are long, but the years are short. We find it hard to believe how big our girls are, increasingly thankful that these 5 week premature babies eat sooo much and are in 50th – 70th percentile for weight and 90th – 98th percentile for height. It is a gift to watch them grow and to be their parents. And it is a gift to be in a community, both locally and long distance, of ones who love us and them so much. Thank you for being part of this community!

 

What Every Mom Wants For Christmas

I have reached an age where I do know that Christmas is much more the presents I receive (at least most of the time I believe this – ha, ha). It is certainly more about the joy in giving gifts to others, which reflects the joy of receiving THE gift of God-wrapped-in-human-flesh. However, I could not pass up the opportunity for a little humorous break to reveal what’s on my (secret) Christmas wish list this year:

1. Regular nap times that last in duration of at least 1.5 hours so that I can get something done in addition to showering and making my bed

2. A few days where I don’t have to do laundry

3. Being able to wear an outfit twice before having to do said laundry (meaning it has escaped the dangers of being a tissue for a snotty nose or a spare burp cloth for the surprising spit-up or the overflow for diaper leakage)

4. Diapers that will change themselves

5. High chair trays that magnetically catch all flying food – keeping it from landing on the floor, carpet, clothes, or the other twin

6. Sippy cups that really are spill-proof

7. A night out without having to arrange for a babysitter or figure out instructions for said babysitter (Seth’s giving me this tonight with the help of a dear couple from our church – thank you!)

8. Guarantee of an illness-free week (or month if I’m really dreaming)

9. A day off without feeling guilty or wondering how my babies are doing without me

10. Probably the most important one, hence, it’s #10 – The perspective to realize that these sometimes clingy, fussy, sleepless 15-month-olds will one day too soon be 15-year-olds who have no need (in their minds) or desire to spend time with their Mom. And so the GRACE to enjoy each day with these babies as the gifts that they are.

parenting princesses

 It shouldn’t take even the casual observer long to notice the princesses in this picture. At the moment this photo was captured, they are both occupied with attempting to take off their *distasteful headbands* [read in a British accent] that aren’t quite to their liking at the moment. But, my, aren’t they pretty in them?! I only wish they would keep them on for longer than two seconds.

It’s a small picture of life in our home these days. This trivial matter didn’t cause much fuss on that Sunday morning, probably because both sets of grandparents and an aunt and uncle were visiting and kept them otherwise distracted. And, really, having the girls keep their adorable headbands on isn’t a battle I’m going to fight every day. (at least not in my sane moments) As babies-turning-toddlers, however, there are many more “princess” moments that we are (ahem) dealing with right now. Like the 10 second delay between me putting her in her high chair and then moving into the kitchen to get the food to place on her tray. Or their propensity to explore the world and find the off-limits areas especially appealing (tall floor lamps, electrical outlets, and the dishwasher dial among their favorite). It never ceases to amaze me, in a frustrating way, how they can have a nursery full of toys but be inextricably drawn back to the nightlight in the corner or the diaper pail that seems tasty.

Seth and I are in a whole new world of parenting. Some days it feels like sink or swim, and many days we think we missed those swimming lessons we needed. Where is the instruction manual that should come with a baby?!? We are eager to learn and are finding these resources immensely helpful for this stage of parenting, as our need to discipline and instruct moves more into the foreground, replacing the “let’s just survive” days of early infancy. Perhaps this is a strange blog post after over a month without writing, but I had to start somewhere and this is where I’m living these days … welcome! So – those resources are:

Paul David Tripp’s “Getting to the Heart of Parenting” DVD series – we are loving this series from one of our professors we had during seminary days. I love how gospel-focused he is.

 

 

 

 

“The Obedient Child: A Practical Guide for Training Young Children in Confidence, Character, and Love of God” by Ken Wilson – My mom shared this now out-of-print book with me, and I’m finding it immensely practical for dealing with the younger years.

“Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches” by Rachel Jankovic – My mom gave this one to me as well. It’s a recently published book that really “gets it” as far as how to encourage moms through her short 3-5 page chapters that are both witty and challenging.

“One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp – This memoir is not just for mothers by any means. She beautifully invites all of us into a life transformed by “eucharisteo” so that mundane becomes glorious. I am savoring each page of this gift given to me by my best friend.

 

And one last thought about parenting princesses. When I see their tenacity to return to what we are clearly instructing them is dangerous (they will often shake their head “no” as they approach the very task we have told them not to do) or their impatience with our momentary delay in meeting what must feel to them like an immediate need, I am reminded of the very first princess in whose footsteps I follow daily. Eve, who bit of the forbidden fruit though she was in fact surrounded by Paradise itself. And I see in them a mirror of my own desire for what’s beyond my reach and my impatient demands  to have right now what my good Father will provide in the future. He loves princesses like them … and me!

A year ago today …

… I was trying to fall asleep in a hospital bed on the labor and delivery floor while being monitored for contractions and my babies’ heart rates. An IV line administered medication seeking to slow and stabilize contractions as well as antibiotics in case the babies had to be delivered. Various monitors beeped and nurses came in and out while I *tried* to drift off. Seth and I had planned to spend that night in our newly purchased home – our first home to own – but instead our house sat vacant except for unpacked boxes and furniture. I had not left the hospital bed since being admitted that morning after a normal OB appointment revealed indications of possible preterm labor.

I remember feeling both great anxiety and inexplicable peace. Anxiety that our daughters would be born at only 25 weeks along (and, no, I was not ready for that in any aspect of it) and anxiety at how my life had been altered in the course of a day (no traveling to my brother’s wedding, no more working through August as I’d hoped, no helping with unpacking and settling into our new home). But mixed with this, and in fact overriding it, was a sense of peace as I knew my Shepherd was with me there. He was caring for me and He was caring for our yet unborn daughters. And so eventually (in between nurse checks), I was able to drift off to sleep. If only for a few hours.

To think back on that day a year ago brings a wave of gratitude for God’s faithfulness to us, not only for the healthy daughters who now are exploring every inch of our house as they crawl and who miraculously waited 10 more weeks before birth, but also for so many of you who cared so well for us in this past year. Which prompted the letter of gratitude below – please receive it as a small token of our appreciation:

Dear friends and family,

A year ago today was quite a momentous day for us – the day we moved into our first home and the day I began what would be 10 weeks of bed rest before the birth of Lucia and Alethia on September 8th, 2010.  So much happened in such a short period of time: Seth had to find others to supervise our move in his place so that he could join me at the hospital while the doctors tried to discern how imminent my pre-term labor would be and how to stop or slow it down. I felt perfectly fine although my body was trying to go into labor to deliver our 25-week-old twin daughters. We were terrified many moments throughout that day as we awaited more information. A few days later, we were relieved that I could be discharged from the hospital but unsure how long before I would deliver and how we would make it day-to-day as I endured strict bathroom-privileges-only bed rest.

You stepped into our lives at this point and helped us. You were the hands and feet of Jesus to us as you unpacked boxes, painted walls, completed tiling projects, did laundry, cleaned our house, brought us meals, visited me on the “long days of the recliner,” went grocery shopping and ran errands for us,  including picking up our baby furniture for us. Not to mention your constant support through your prayers and words of encouragement to us. And you didn’t stop after the babies were born, but continued to bring meals and provide help as needed. As we tried to remember all of you who had provided assistance for us, there were well over 100 people (and I’m sure we’re missing a few).

“Thank you” feels so flat, but we wanted to again tell you how much we appreciate your ministry to us during this difficulty. Our healthy daughters are themselves a testimony of your help to us and your many, many prayers on our behalf. So – thank you again, and know that you will always have a special place in our hearts for the way you met us at our time of need.

In humble gratitude,

Heather & Seth

my life in piles

So I will be the first to say that this won’t be a profound blog entry, but it’s very indicative of life for me in the now. And perhaps a bit humorous as well. I finally found the perfect metaphor (that actually isn’t merely metaphorical) to indicate how life has changed since having twins. Read on …

My season of life as a mother with 9 month old twins who works (very!) part-time as a counselor and distance education instructor could be summarized by one metaphor, that’s actually also quite true literally: PILES. In order to open my laptop to write these musings, I had to clear off piles of old Christmas cards, unread mail, coupons, photo albums, Father’s Day gifts in the waiting. [note: this was originally written last week – pre-Father’s Day – those gifts have now been appropriately distributed] And to actually get to my desk, I had to move the piles of unwashed laundry from the doorway, carefully making sure I did not mix them up with the piles of washed laundry yet to be folded. There are piles of books beside my bed that I hope to get to one day when “I have time.” And piles of magazines I would like to peruse “when I have a minute.” A growing pile of “to-do” lists on sticky notes littering my desk. Piles of bills and receipts yet to be accounted for in our budget. Outside my office door are piles of baby shoes, shirts, socks that have migrated up from downstairs but have yet to be put away into their closet. And downstairs holds piles of toys and stacks of dishes – which would still be there except for my amazing husband.

And now let’s move into the electronic realm: layer upon layer of unanswered and in many cases unread emails. There is a “pile” of three voicemails from this afternoon that I haven’t listened to yet. The unending “to do” list on my iCalendar, with items that have been and may remain for weeks, months, years?  A heap of quizzes yet to be graded, counseling notes yet to be written, invoices yet to be sent out.

If life wasn’t cluttered enough already, these physical loads are metaphorical for the emotional and mental items that pile up in my head. Of people I want to be in touch with but have lost touch with (since “the fog” of the past year descended), of decisions and plans to make about the girls’ one year birthday party and our 5th anniversary and my 10th college homecoming (which all occur within a two month time period this fall), and of all the things I wish I had time to do but don’t.

Sigh … words from David Powlison’s devotional thoughts on Psalm 131 meet me right now. Here’s part of the intro to this article (well worth reading in its entirety, by the way):

Amazingly, this man isn’t noisy inside.
He isn’t busy-busy-busy. Not obsessed. Not
on edge. The to-do list and pressures to
achieve don’t consume him. Ambition doesn’t churn inside. Failure and despair don’t
haunt him. Anxiety isn’t spinning him into
free fall. He isn’t preoccupied with thinking
up the next thing he wants to say. Regrets
don’t corrode his inner experience. Irritation
and dissatisfaction don’t devour him. He’s
not stumbling through the mine field of
blind longings and fears. 
He’s quiet.
Are you quiet inside?

Its essence is about not concerning myself with more than what I can do. With being content with my limits. And so I ask for the daily sufficient grace yet again, trusting it will be there as I need it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

birthday reflections – a year of extremes

 

Today was my birthday (or still is, as a matter of fact, for two more hours). Due to my husband’s work commitments, I ended up having much of this afternoon and evening by myself with the girls – and now that they’re in bed, alone to reflect on this past year. Certainly a much quieter birthday than years past (like the year I had three surprise birthday parties!). It was definitely the messiest birthday dinner I’ve had, since my dinner guests smeared food all over their faces and threw it on the floor before deciding that their patience was up about halfway through my meal. But such is life with 9-month-old twins! And for all of the “inconveniences” or frustrations, there is an unspeakable joy that comes with having them in my life. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

More reflections on this past year, which has been the year of extremes, follow:

Time is a strange thing, how it seems to speed up and slow down, yet keeps constantly ticking along. And birthdays are a reminder of that. As I think about life as it has been radically re-defined for me in the last year, I cannot imagine it any other way. I could not picture a life absent of the gifts of our twin daughters. And they are the gifts that have come with an equally heavy load of responsibility. God has given with them the gift of seeing a new depth of my need for Jesus Christ, exposing the places of false comfort I have sought for refuge instead of my Rock. I have found out how solid my God is when life has felt shaky. Literally – when we wondered whether these girls would make it far enough along before their birth.

This past year, more than any other so far, I have lived the extremes. God has shown me both extremes of resting in simply being (through over two months of bed rest) when I could not be active and of resting when there was no time to rest or sleep or do anything but survive and help these babies thrive.  There have been days that felt endless because of lack of activity and days that felt endless because of an absence of anything but activity. I have gone from lonely days to days when I wished for one moment alone. I have had months of anticipating the twins’ arrival and preparing for life to change dramatically and all the months since of reflecting and processing and adjusting to how their arrival has transformed our lives. I can remember what it was like to believe the illusion that I alone was in control of my schedule, my to-do list, my sleep, and could choose how to spend free time. The illusion has been exposed and those days are like a dream.

And yet the other extreme to the life-turned-upside-down adventure that parenting has been is the joy I have felt. I didn’t know how I would see these little faces and fall instantly in love. And how, six days later when we had to take our babies to the ER of the Children’s Hospital, a deep-seated fear would grip me as I realized how fragile were the lives of these little ones who had my heart.Then the relief I would feel a week later when we all arrived home (again) and Seth and I placed them in their crib to nestle next to each other, free of monitors and IV lines.  During that week in between, I experienced the wrestling of faith to entrust these ones to the God who cared about them more than I do and who had compassion on me that went even deeper than mine for them. Yes, it has been quite a year. The end result? More awareness of my weakness. More clinging to Christ for strength. More joy independent of circumstances. I can only hope and pray for more of that in the year to come. Only this coming year, I’m not planning on doubling our family size as in the year past!

the hidden glory of baptism

This past Sunday, our daughters were baptized by Seth. I was surprised only that I did not cry. I had a delayed response – all the emotions broke through Monday evening, which is a fairly typical emotional pattern for me. But what a moment it was! It has been good to reflect on the poignancy of their baptism – and I imagine that I will be doing so for quite awhile.

As an introduction, in the Presbyterian church we do not believe that baptism saves in and of itself, but that it is a sign that our daughters are part of the visible church because they were born to Christian parents. This means that they will  not be communing members of the church until they each make a step of faith for themselves – saying that they personally need Jesus to forgive them of their sin. As I was reviewing its meaning, I found this quote from “On Being Presbyterian” by Sean Michael Lucas helpful:

“The sign of baptism is rooted in God’s larger unchanging purpose in human history. From the very beginning, God has been redeeming a people for his own possession and for his own glory. While God certainly calls individuals to himself, he has, from the very beginning, especially emphasized the relationship of professing believers and their households, and their place within his larger and unchanging purpose of redemption. … [baptism] is  God’s act of initiating us into his visible people … because God’s promise is offered ‘for you and your children’ (Acts 2:39).”

Lucia and Alethia’s baptism seemed to be  as much about Seth and my promises to raise them in a gospel-saturated home as it was about their receiving the sacrament of baptism. Below are the vows that we made:

We acknowledge our child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit.

We claim God’s covenant promises in her behalf, and we look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for her salvation, as we do for our own.

We now unreservedly dedicate our child to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that we will endeavor to set before her a godly example, that we will pray with and for her, that we will teach her the doctrines of our holy religion, and that we will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

So with all of that said, below is a poetic musing on this past Sunday –

ordinary moments become
extraordinary
water, sprinkled, dripping down
the sweet innocent
baby skin

claiming the promise
that the sin hidden beneath
such innocence
needs a Savior
she who is yet unaware
will need the grace
poured upon her
like the water
from her father’s hand

she will need Grace
from her Father’s hand
coming through the
nail-pierced hands of
His Son
to save and to cleanse
like the water alone cannot.

the water does not cleanse
it sets them apart
by grace through faith
for grace
through their faith one day
in the Savior they need –
the One we need
to make such vows.

they smile
wriggle
look curiously
as the water drips down
“an odd time for a bath, Daddy!”
if they could speak
they will not remember
this moment
but we will
and all who witnessed it
we are to testify
to this sacrament
to fulfill our promises
to them.

as they are unaware
and receive this gift
unasked for
unacknowledged
I see myself in them.

This is grace: I accept
the gift I don’t know I need
I am unaware
as my Father pours his mercy upon me.

dressed in white
simple elegance
a picture of the Bride
awaiting her Groom
and we pray she will
know His voice
when she is old enough
that she will see
His love pursuing her
that she will say “yes”
“I do”
this is all we ask.

and I walk away
feeling as if I have
witnessed
glory
hidden
in a common
ordinary moment
taking on
eternal meaning
by the grace of a glorious God.

a steep six-month learning curve: the first half of year one with twins

A few weeks ago (ok – actually almost three weeks ago now), our twins turned 6 months old. Since it was also the day after their Daddy’s 30th birthday, we didn’t really have a huge fanfare for them in celebration. Yet I’ve found myself celebrating various milestones and achievements – mostly along the lines of, “Yes! We all made it through half of a year!” So as I’ve had various thoughts flit through my head, I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve learned in six months, both humorous and heart-rending:

I’ve learned …

  • that I can survive on MUCH less sleep than I ever thought possible
  • how to cut a baby’s finger nails without cutting their fingers
  • changing diapers in the middle of the night is rarely worth the wake-up – that’s why “dry max” was invented. we often push the 12-hour limits unless it’s of the smelly category (thankfully the girls usually save those for the day)
  • hearing my babies’ cries can induce my own tears or anger, depending on the moment
  • how heart-wrenching “crying it out” can feel
  • the twins are more likely to synch their schedules together than to synch their schedules to my plans for them
  • our twins’ average length for a nap is 45 minutes
  • it is so tempting to compare my babies/parenting to others and feel either self-righteous or self-condemned
  • guilt is part and parcel of being a mom: whether you feel guilty for how you feed them, whether you co-sleep or not, whether you work or not, for wanting time alone and then when you are alone for being apart from them …
  • I will only take the girls out shopping with me if I am ready to answer, “so … are they twins?” and the ensuing questions, “are they identical or fraternal? … do they have the same personalities? … how do you tell them apart? … ” etc.
  • they love music, dancing, and clapping
  • Lucia and Alethia have very different personalities which require different care and nurture
  • feeding solids really doesn’t help babies sleep through the night
  • feeding solids is REALLY messy
  • the church nursery is a wonderful way to care for families (they had their first experience there last Wednesday during our weekly women’s Bible study)
  • a double ear infection means a cranky baby who has a difficult time sleeping & eating
  • trust my instincts – so glad I took Alethia to the doctor to get diagnosed with her double ear infection the day I did
  • I cannot be a good mother without my amazing, supportive husband alongside me and being such a great father
  • we need our community to raise these girls
  • there is nothing better than my baby’s smile at me
  • I can choose to get things done during a day or to be present with and attentive towards my babies – usually not both (at least not well)
  • babies get cold quickly!
  • parenting is impossible without God’s daily and moment-by-moment grace (which often includes sending help just when we need it)
  • it’s 10:30 pm and I really should have gotten to bed an hour ago – because the girls will be waking up at 6:30 am regardless of when I go to bed … so off to bed I go!

the best Christmas (and New Year’s) ever

It just wasn’t about the presents this year. Not that it has been for a long time … at least a couple years. (ha, ha) What was so sweet about Christmas was being with family – and having two new additions to our family. Alethia and Lucia didn’t know Christmas was different for them than any other day ~ except for the way their routine was mixed up a bit and there was more large-group family social time (and fewer naps and a later bedtime) than normal. They did sleep a tiny bit later than normal, which was their Christmas gift to Mommy (closer to 8:00 am than 7:00 am). But we knew it was a different day, and the best part of Christmas was seeing their smiles first thing in the morning.

I must say that New Year’s Eve was not the most memorable of them all … or exciting. Having twins really ties you down to the house. And we were actually traveling back from South Carolina, and so it served as a bit of a reality check for how much our lives have changed in a year. What normally is a 6.5-7 hour trip took us 10 hours (!), meaning that we got into town around 8:00 pm. We put the girls to bed and then sat down for dinner. However, the slight problem with dinner is that there was nothing for me to eat. Seth had a pizza, but I had inadvertently bought a pizza that I couldn’t actually eat (I can’t eat red sauce – quite limiting, I know …!). And after determining that all our pantry held was beans & rice or Ramen noodles, neither of which seemed very appealing, I ended up having a bowl of cereal for my New Year’s Eve dinner. Seth and I just had to laugh at the entire evening. And as we sleepily toasted the new year with a glass of champagne (an hour early so that we were semi-awake), our hearts were full despite the meager “celebration” for the new year. For truly we felt as if we had the best gifts the New Year could bring asleep in their cribs in the bedroom beside us.

And, yes, I am just now posting this when January is more than halfway through because, well, that’s life with twins. I started the post on January 5th, if that counts for something. !

a few stolen moments for an Advent meditation

Peace. Quiet. Calm. Rare commodities in our house full of three month old twins. Yet commodities much less rare now than in the first few months. Three months really is a good marker as far as it getting easier to parent twins (just like all my friend said it would be).

And so I take these moments for an Advent meditation. What’s struck me this season is the vulnerability Jesus subjected himself to in becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Our daughters are completely dependent on us. Without our 24/7 attention, they would be unable to grow and thrive. And Jesus, the God of the entire universe, became like us. Started off at the same place: dependence. Utter dependence on the ones HE created. Allowing himself to be weak and helpless like the babies we gently cradle in our arms – the One who is the only source of life and breath and strength. Knowing better than we know ourselves the depth of our sin and weakness, Jesus willingly took on humanity beginning in infancy and entrusted himself to one of us. Knowing how the end of the story would turn out, he stepped down into our world so that he could rewrite the story of a broken humanity. Redeem us. Give us hope. Show us the glory of the only God.

Beginning as a baby. And so perhaps there is more glory and grace to be found in the faces of our little ones than we knew. For this is where Jesus’ fullness of glory began, too – clothed in the face of a child.

“And of his fullness, we have received grace upon grace.” (from John 1)