Ana, to the EXTREME!

As of late, we’ve turned some sort of crazy corner with Ana. She’s gone from sweet little baby to an amplified version of a nonsense-chattering, baby sister chasing, willfully disobedient, sticky hands and mouth toddler. I love her just as she is, but wow… I’m exhausted. I’ve been telling myself these past six months that life is going to get easier when Emma is Ana’s age and Ana is even more grown up than she is now, but I’m starting to wonder if we’re entering the most difficult season of all. Ana threw her first fit a couple of weeks ago, over a baby toy that she didn’t even want after she took it from Emma, and… whew. Scary days ahead, my friends. I’m amazed and bewildered at the truth of what Wes has always said — they’re born fallen. We think they’re just perfect little angels whose lives we’re going to somehow mess up with our incompetent parenting, but in no time at all (and, oh, I would say it becomes pretty clear at eighteen months), they start showing signs of being HUMAN! I’m reminded and convicted even more that there is nothing inherently good in me on my own apart from Christ when I watch my toddler willfully throw her breakfast on the floor. Fallen! We’re all born to do what we want to do, right or wrong.

Lest you think I spend all day pointing at Ana and yelling, “PAGAN!” (although I was tempted to at several points today — when she was banging Emma’s crib against the wall while Emma tried to nap, when she opened up a package of spaghetti just to throw it all over the kitchen, when she did exactly what I told her NOT to do at least ten times in ten minutes), I’m trying to praise her when she shows an inclination to do something helpful, something kind, something loving. I’m convicted at how many times I say “no” every day, at how many teachable moments I let pass by because Emma’s crying, Ana is into something again, I can’t get anything done, and I want to pull my quickly-graying hair out and scream. I am, however, encouraged to know that every lesson I get right, every moment I spend teaching and building character and Christ-likeness into Ana — that this is all moving her closer to knowing God and being who He has designed her to be.

After a really rough morning with her, I put her down for her nap, glad that I would at least get a few minutes to rest. She laid down, diaper duck in hand, and looked up, expectantly. I prayed for her, thanking God for who she is, that He loves her, that we love her, that He’s given her good health, good energy, and a good, good future. I said “amen,” to which she also said “amen,” before giving me the best smile I had seen all day long. She may be selfish and intent on pushing every limit she possibly can at this point, but she knows that she’s loved… and maybe that’s enough for now.

So… how long do we have until this one turns sour, too?

Not long enough! (And thanks for the cool shades, Nana!)

Well, better go get something done while I have this hour (maybe?) to myself. We’re having a church-wide Super Bowl party on Sunday at (drum roll, please) the pastor’s house! Yeah, that was kinda stupid of me, cooking this up when we’ve still got boxes and disarray everywhere, but what better motivation to finally get everything in order than a hundred folks coming over to spend the evening with you? Exactly. I’m actually really excited about it. We LOVE the people here!

You should definitely read this book I’m reading. A few pages in, I almost stopped reading because I thought it was only directed at marriages in crisis, but it has some really helpful points for those in good marriages… and even for those who aren’t married! I’m only about a third of the way through, but it has really challenged me to not take anyone in my life for granted, to remember their good attributes over their faults, to be more affirming overall. It helped today, to look at Ana’s rather bad attitude and remember, above all, that more often than not, she does nothing but bring joy and happiness to us, to Emma, to everyone she sees and meets. See? I’m already convicted for getting frustrated! You should definitely read this book! (The one listed looks like a second edition with a slightly different title?… I have the one from 2006, which is Sacred Influence: What a Man Needs from His Wife to Be the Husband She Wants. Same author, so I think it’s the same book.)

Okay, now I’m really going to go…

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