Instead of our usual "month day" post... I wrote Phoebe a letter on her second birthday. Since this is the closest thing to a scrapbook I've got, I'm posting it here. It's long, and it's really for her... so you won't hurt my feelings if you don't read it! I'll update with birthday pictures soon!
My Dear Phoebegirl,
You burst into our lives early in July of 2006 when I discovered a second pink line on a pregnancy test. I was so unbelievably excited to know that you were coming, and yet I was terrified that I would have no idea how to be your Mommy. We spent nine months anticipating you...and all of that anticipation was worth it. We certainly weren't disappointed!
When you joined our family, we had a sense that God would do great things through you. Named for the Phoebe who delivered Paul's letter to the Romans (Romans 16:1), our hope for you is that you will one day be a servant of the Church. But already, God has used you to transform us as your parents, and to pour out great blessings on others.
I think the greatest thing the Lord has taught me through you is that I am not in control. While we seek to "train you up in the way you should go", you, Phoebe, have an independent spirit. You shattered my expectations of what my first little girl would be -- and I'm so thankful! You have been "far more than I can even ask or imagine". What a delight you are to all whom you encounter.
At two years old, you have blossomed into such a precious little girl. While it's impossible to describe you accurately, I'm going to try -- since this is about the best I can manage for a "baby book"!
Your daddy and I have prayed that the Lord would tender your heart, and that He would draw you to Himself at an early age. We see the working out of those prayers almost daily in you; God is gracious! You are learning to pray, even though it's hard to sit so still and quiet sometimes. You love to read your story Bible (The Jesus Storybook Bible), and you do so alone in the mornings and with us at night. You're especially fascinated by different characters in the Bible, which is no surprise -- you love people! Some of your favorites to find right now are Leah, David (and Goliath), Peter, and Saul (Paul). Your favorite story -- and you ask to look at it almost every day, sometimes many times a day -- is the story of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Phoebe, we pray that you have a heart that wants to wash the feet of others!
You have also been working so hard at sitting still so that you can join Mommy and Daddy in church. Last week we decided you were ready -- and you were! It is a blessing to worship with you, my little girl. We continue to pray that the Lord will draw you to Him so young, that you may never know a time that you didn't know Jesus. We would have "no greater joy than to know that you are walking in the truth".
At two, you are learning so much! You love to count -- sometimes even all the way to four! And Phoebe, you love learning about letters. Your favorite letter is P (for Phoebe, of course!), but you can name and identify so many more. Just today, you surprised me by knowing the letter M. You're especially good at finding letters, like it's a game of hide and seek. Before you went down for your nap, you wanted to practice writing the letter P. You are so enthusiastic! You also love talking about colors and shapes that you know, and you always are asking "What is it?" -- even if I have to remind you to use your words! Phoebe, you are always learning, always observing -- what fun it is to see you learn!
Phoebe, it seems like there's no limit to what you can do or learn -- even at two years old. You might be small, but you are always doing big things! You love to help out -- in any way that you can. Although we do a lot of playing and learning together, you seem happiest when you are working alongside me. We do so many things together in which you really are a helper. You love to unload the dishwasher, and now you even like to load it, too. Sweeping is always fun (but you're not so sure about the vacuum cleaner anymore). You can feed Jake all by yourself, with just a few reminders about how many scoops our big dog really needs. You're wonderful about picking up your toys and putting things away, but you almost always need to be asked. That's okay; Mommy needs reminders to pick up, too! But you don't need any reminders to wipe up messes at the table; I think your favorite "utensil" is a napkin. You've gotten very particular about little spills and messes when you're eating. And you love laundry day! It's so much fun for you to carry clothes into the kitchen and stretch up on your tippy-toes to drop the clothes into the washing machine. You always go back to get the clothes you dropped, too! The only part of laundry you don't seem to like is the folding part! Is that genetic?
Phoebe, one of my favorite ways to spend time with you is in the kitchen. You've started to be a great helper in the kitchen: eager and obedient! You are almost always involved in making dinner for the family, eagerly trying to drag your chair over to the counter where you can watch and do. (I hear, "Phoebe do!" a lot at dinner time!) Some of your favorite things to do are putting things into bowls, stirring, cracking eggs, and most of all, tasting! You helped bake your pink cake and make the icing, and your favorite part was definitely the tasting part. Every good chef tastes along the way!
Although we spend an awful lot of time working together, that isn't to say that you don't love to play, too! Like most things you do, you play big. Your favorite thing to do is to play outside -- whether it's twirling, digging, hunting rocks, or racing Daddy. You also love to read, both on your own and with us. And what a good pretender you have become! You love to care for your baby doll and push her around in her stroller, or carry her in her car seat. And you also love the new kitchen that you got for your birthday; just yesterday, you cooked up some hot dog soup! Phoebe, you also love to create things. (Maybe you'll be artistic like your daddy?) Already your artwork decorates our refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. You especially love to paint and glue things, and you just discovered the beauty of mod podge. No matter what you're doing, you make it fun!
Speaking of fun, you are so much fun to talk with! Just a few minutes ago, we were concerned that you might need help learning to talk. Silly us! You are the perfect talker, blooming at just the right time! And Phoebe, I love talking to you. You always seem to have something important to say, even if you don't always have the right words to say it. It seems like every day, I am surprised by something that comes out of your brain through your mouth. It's exciting to see you find names for things and to describe what's going on around you. You're even stringing some words together into short, toddler sentences! After your naps, I always hear "Dada home soon?" half a million times, until he comes through the door. But my favorite thing to hear you say? "I love you." (By the way, I love you too!)
God is really working on me through you in the area of relationships. Phoebe, your introverted Mommy is pushed into all kinds of social situations because of your sweet extroverted personality! You love to interact with people, and make friends easily. On your birthday we went to Panera for breakfast, and you might as well have been the official greeter for the restaurant! At the grocery store, you love to wave and make friends with shoppers and employees alike. Through you, we've really gotten to know several employees -- especially Papa and Miss Kim -- and I truly believe that God is working in lives through your delightful smile (and fashionable boots). You draw me into community all the time, and that's sometimes hard for me -- but I know it's what God wants.
There are so many people that you love so much. Your Daddy, of course, is your hero. From the minute you wake up from your nap, you start asking for him by saying, "Dada home soon?" You miss him so much when he's at work! And just recently, you've fallen in love with your little sister. It's taken time, but I think you love that she "tickles" you during diaper changes...and that she loves any attention you give her! You've started lavishing big hugs on her, and you're good at bringing her appropriate toys (even if you sometimes want them for yourself). You also love your Mops, Pops, Nan, and Boompah so much. You talk about all of them often, and are always delighted to spend time with any or all of your grandparents. Don't worry, they're just as delighted to see you, too!
Your affections are not limited to family, though! Your favorite friend is Callahan, and any time we talk about going to the park or going to play, you want to know if she's going to be there. You also love your Sunday School teachers, Miss Ann and Miss Sue. We will be sad when we graduate you up to the two-year-old class and you have to leave them...but don't worry, we're going to wait until Callahan turns two, too! Miss Katherine is also a favorite on Sunday mornings; she's watched you grow from tiny baby to confident toddler, and you've started to love her back! We are so blessed to have a community of people that love you -- and that you love back!
But Phoebe, just as we say every night... of all the people that love you, Jesus loves you most of all. He loves you all the time. He loves you when you pray, and He loves you when you thrash about in a fit of frustration. He loves you when you pull your Bible down to read it, and He loves you when you rip pages (on purpose) in your books. He loves you when you're happy, when you're sad, when you're lonely, and when you're afraid. And as great a delight as you are to us, you are an infinitely greater delight to the Lord.
Happy Birthday, my sweet two year old. This is going to be a terrific year with you!
I love you!
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.