Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tonight You are Queen, Forever You Are a Princess

Hannah girl,

Burks 2012 Homecoming Queen!  Your mama is so excited for you!!  Today has been so fun, and I'm so grateful the Lord allowed me to have a front row seat.

Hannah, my prayer for you is you realize what an opportunity the Lord has given you.  Your classmates, your friends, your family will all be watching you and how you handle the gift you have just been given.  I pray you stay humble.  I pray you use this opportunity to show all of us around you that this crown you have just been given is a gift from the Lord Jesus.

Hannah, there is no crown that could ever be placed upon your head that will ever compare to the crown that was placed upon the head of Jesus.  His crown didn't sparkle and shine.  His crown was full of thorns that caused Him to bleed and suffer for your sins.  And because of the crown He wore as He died upon the cross, you will always be a princess.  A daughter of the King of Kings.

I pray you don't look at this as a popularity contest you have just won.  Hold your head high, Hannah girl, and show them Jesus.  Show those who are watching you Who lives inside of your heart.

We achieve nothing without Him.  Being Homecoming Queen will one day fade away, but being a child of the King is for eternity.  You will always be a princess, and that is far better than being a queen.

I love you so much.  But my love is nothing compared to how much Jesus loves you.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mama

It has never entered my mind that one day I would be celebrating my birthday without my mama, much less my 40th birthday.  It seems like it was just last week we were laughing and talking about how this is a "milestone" year.  The last milestone birthday I cried for a month, and she was teasing me about it.  I've always taken it for granted, and honestly, until this year I never realized what a blessing it was to share her birthday.

She was a blessing I took for granted.

Rather she is a blessing I took for granted.

Twenty-six weeks ago today Jesus called her home, and it was on a Wednesday.  I'm not sure why the Lord chose for the first birthday I would have without her to be on a Wednesday.  Wednesdays are still so hard for me.  They continue to be a reminder of the day my life was changed forever.  In two days she will have been with Him for 6 months, but she still continues to bless me every day.  The legacy she left us is full of more blessings than I can count.

I found this photo last week.  I remember this day well.  It was just a Summer day we had gone to visit her.  This picture sums up her relationship with my girls.  She loved them beyond all measure, and they love her right back.  One of the things I am most grateful for is the story this picture tells.  They gave her so much joy.  They could always make her smile.  They know she loved them.  She not only told them, she showed them.  She also gave them much joy.  She provided much laughter for them.  When Sara and Hannah talk about her today, they laugh and smile.

We talk about her a lot.  We want to remember her.  We laugh, we cry and we are grateful for the many blessings the Lord gifted us with in her.  Her life mattered.  She touched more people than I will ever be able to count.  More than I will ever possibly know.  I continue to learn more and more about her through the people she touched.  And the Lord opens my eyes a little more each day to what an amazing, strong Mama He gave me.  A Mama who loved Him deeply, and wanted everyone she met to know her Jesus.

I wish she were here.  I wish we were sharing a chocolate, chocolate chip birthday cake.  I wish I were stressing over what gift I was going to buy her instead of picking out flowers to put in the vase on her grave.

But I am grateful she gets to spend this birthday with Jesus.  There is no better place to celebrate.  Although it hurts so deep, and the pain is so intense, it's a blessing to know she's in Heaven.  I am sure she's having a party.  I imagine she has collected a group of people to sing.

My mama loved to sing  And she loved The McKamey's.  We would tease her that she was a groupie.  If the McKamey's were singing within 200 miles, she was there.  Their style of music isn't my preference.  I'm more of a Casting Crowns, Mercy Me, David Crowder, Indelible Grace type of girl.  But not my mama.  She was a McKamey's fan through and through.

I was sorting through my email yesterday.  I've let it pile up over the past several months, and as I was clearing it out I ran across an email she sent me on February 21, 2012.  Exactly one month before she died.  When we spoke on the phone that day she was telling about a song she wanted me to hear.  She said she was going to send me the link to the video on YouTube.  I grumbled.

"Mama, you know I don't care anything about hearing one of their songs."

"Well, I want you to hear it and let me know what you think.", she said.

One of the first things out of her mouth when she called the next day, "What did you think about that song?"

I actually barely listened to it, and I'm surprised I didn't delete the email.  Surprised, and so grateful I didn't.

My Sovereign God knew the night she sent this to me it would mean nothing to me.  I wish I had remembered song when we were choosing music for her funeral, but He knew I would need it later.

I imagine my mama is in Heaven singing a lot like Peg when she gets excited ... when she is full of laughter, kicks off her shoes and swings her white hanky.

Happy Birthday, Mama.  I miss you so much the heartache is seemingly unbearable at times, but it brings me much comfort in knowing you are home with Jesus.  I didn't tell you, just like I failed to tell you so many other things, but thank you for sending me this song.  Thank you for confirming for me what I already knew, by His Amazing Grace you are home.  I love you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy 17th Birthday, Sara bear!

Sara bear,

Today you are seventeen.

SEVENTEEN.  One night I was holding you in my arms for the first time, and when I blinked you were SEVENTEEN.

As I have watched you grow over the years, my heart becomes more and more full of love for you.

6 weeks

At 6 weeks you were sleeping through the night.  You've always loved to sleep. I would sit and rock you for hours while you slept just so I could stare at your precious face.  I could not wait until you were 6 weeks old, so I could take you to have your first professional picture made.  Mama Gaile bought you this dress.  She bought it before you were ever born.  She was so excited, and told me the day she gave it to me she wanted you to wear it your first Sunday at church.  You did.  Complete with the matching socks and headband she bought to go with it.

10 weeks

This is your first Christmas picture.  Even though you were only 3 months old that Christmas, you were lavished with gifts.

3 months

Look at that sweet face.

6 months

At 6 months you were sitting alone, and when you would fall over trying to reach for something, you would push as hard as you could with your feet trying to move yourself along the floor.  When that didn't work, you would just roll yourself wherever you wanted to go.

Mama Gaile also bought this dress.  The socks she bought to go with the dress you wore to church on your first Sunday still fit, so you wore them with this dress also.  You even wore the same headband.  This was your first Easter dress.  I know your are horrified at all the ruffles.

6 months

Your future was so bright, you even had to wear shades at bedtime.

7 months

We went to visit Mama Gaile at work the first time you went trick-or-treating.  She was so excited to show you off to all of her patients.  And mommy and daddy were so excited to eat all of your candy for you.

9 months

As you grew, so did the size of bows I made you wear.  And you became more and more precious to us with each passing moment.  Just look at those sweet cheeks.  Mercy.

11 months

Your second Christmas.  You kept reaching for those bears, and we were barely able to keep you on that block long enough to snap this picture.

12 months

This picture was taken the night of your first birthday.  The day you turned one you started walking.  Notice the black eye.  Your fell that afternoon at your birthday party on Mama Gaile's porch.

12 months

You have always been so happy.  Looking at this picture I just want to scoop you up and kiss those sweet cheeks.

13 months

Daddy was for sure you would love soccer as much as he did.

15 months

The beginning of a beautiful friendship.  Pop Pop bought him for you for Christmas.  You had just ripped Pooh out of his box and threw the box on the ground.  From this moment on he went everywhere with you.  Everywhere.

18 months

I know, I know.  Your hate this outfit.  Every time you see this picture you point that out to me.

22 months

This was the first of several dress Grammy smocked for you.

2 years

Your second birthday party.  Notice the underwear.  And no, I didn't leave you in your pajamas that day.  You just had to put them on as soon as you opened them.  The gift opening was put on pause while you dressed yourself, and when  you opened the underwear, they had to put on too.  You did eventually learn they go under your pants.

2 years

Pop Pop and G.G. bought you this outfit.  Guess where he bought it? : )

2 years

When we got home from having your 2 year picture made, You insisted I take your picture with Pooh.

2 1/2 years

Have I mentioned how precious you are, and how I love you more and more every day?

2 1/2 years

 2/1/2 years

This is your first trip to the beach.  You loved it.  We were visiting uncle Skip and aunt Marilyn in VA Beach.

2 1/2 years

I'm not so sure why daddy thought it was a good idea for you to paint your nails by yourself on Pop Pop and G.G.'s white chair.

2 1/2 years

There once was a day you and daddy didn't butt heads so much.

3 years

This picture always makes me laugh.  You were so over the picture taking, and when you were told to look in the mirror this is the face we got.

When I asked you to say cheese, this is what I got.

3 1/2

I love this picture.

3 1/2

Daddy was hopeful you would love soccer, but you spent more of your soccer "career" attached to daddy ... or standing in front of the goal holding the ball in a the middle of a game screaming, "Take my picture, Mommy!".  Once soccer made you sweat, you wanted to quit.  Sweating has never been your thing.

3 1/2

So, Mama Gaile tried to make you a singer.

4 years

I'm sure you'll have something to say about this outfit.

4 1/2

Your first school picture.  Preschool actually.  This picture looks like a mug shot to me.  It better be your ONLY mug shot.

5 years

By looking at this picture, you would never imagine you could throw the huge temper tantrum you threw at your 5 birthday party because the other kids were picking up "your" candy that had fallen out of the pinata.

5 years

This is Mister Monkey.  He was the class "pet" in kindergarten.  When you were rewarded for good behavior you got to bring him home, and at the end of the night you (rather mommy) was supposed to journal what you did.  Well, we lost Mister Monkey that night.  After looking for two hours, including tracing our steps back to where we had eaten dinner and ran errands, we found him hiding behind the end table in the livingroom.

5 years

Your first time being a flower girl.

6 years

6 years

Your second time being a flower girl.

6 1/2

You've always loved being a big sister.  Hannah might bug you sometimes, but you love her to pieces.  Notice she's wearing the same pajamas you got for your second birthday.

6 1/2

This picture is full of so much love and joy.  Mama Gaile loved you so, so much.  This makes my eyes fill with tears and puts a smile on my face at the same time.  I always wanted you to have the type of relationship with my Mama like I did with hers.  I am so beyond thrilled you did.

7 years

One day you were 7, and it seems like when I woke up the next day we were buying your first car.

16 years

This picture cracks me up.  You are so full of excitement, but look at Hannah's face.

16 years

Your junior year.  Hard to believe you were once bald.

16 years

I've never seen two people butt heads the way as you and daddy often do.  You are definitely just like him.

16 1/2

Now you are a senior.  I have loved watching you grow and mature.  When I looked into your sweet face for the first time, you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life.  I thought my heart would burst with love.  With each passing year you have become more and more beautiful.  I love those blue eyes, and your smile lights up the room.  But I love the beauty in your heart even more, Sara bear.

I love being your mom.  I love how sometimes you still call me mommy.  I love how you come home and give me a play by play of your day, and they way you share your heart with me.  I love watching your love on other people.  You have taught me so much.  I find myself becoming full of fear wondering if I taught you well.

But then one day I walked into your room and discovered this.

I stood there cried.  I realized in that moment I had no reason to fear.  I have failed you as your mom.  But Jesus will never fail you.  Looking at what you have surrounded your mirror with I am certain you know that.  I am so grateful you love Him, and your realize more and more every day your need for Him.

I pray you always run to Jesus.  I pray you know He is all you need.  That He is the only one who will NEVER, EVER fail you.  As much as I love you, He loves you more.

Happy 17th birthday, sweet Sara bear.  I will always love you from the tippy, tippy top of your head, to the tippy, tippy bottom of your toes.