It wasn’t even 7am, and you were already hollering at me from the other end of the house, “Mommy!!!” I rushed to your side, it was clear you were not happy with me— and ready to let me have it. “I call for you last night, and you no come,” said little miss grumpy. I knelt down. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you Aria.” Now for your big right hook, “And you know what? Jesus no come either.” I was shocked. With enormous eyes, I held your grumpy gaze and scrolled through conversations to figure out where this was coming from. Stop Rolodex, I got it. At bedtime, we sometimes say “Mommy and Daddy are here, and Jesus is with you too.” I tried to piece together a perfect mommy response, but I didn’t have one. I really truly didn’t know what to say. I knew what I was supposed to say— Even if you can’t see God, He’s still with you. Right. It’s true, it’s comforting, it’s what we Christians say. But I didn’t want to. I didn’t want a blanket answer. I didn’t want a complicated one either. You’re two! You didn’t care what I said, but in that moment, I really cared. I didn’t know how to translate the years and layers of my faith journey with God into a toddler one liner, so I pulled your shoulders close, kissed your forehead, and said “I know.” I wanted you to feel understood. I wanted you to know you can share disappointments with me. I wanted you to know I’ve been there too. And I guess in that little moment wanted to take a stand against one liners and take a stand for some really wonderful conversations with you.
What if I told you I’ve seen my share of disappointments too, wished God did a few things a little differently, and prayed my share of what feel like empty prayers? But hear these words: Even still, with big conviction, I believe in God and his story in my life and his story in yours.
Darling girls, with great excitement, I invite you to discover God in all the depths and heights of this life. You will pray prayers that don’t appear to get answered, I know. You will wonder where God is in the horrible violence and atrocities around us, I know. And even though He is Emmanuel, God with us, you may feel lonely or experience incredible heartache, I know. So in that little moment by your bed, I wanted you to know “I know,” and that it’s normal and okay to ask questions and share your disappointments like “Jesus no come either.” Cause here’s something else I know to be true: Jesus is okay with it too. Naomi Mariam (4.5 years): *You have found something you love, drawing. You love it and you’re really good at it! Really good and so creative! You’ve even written and illustrated your first book, it was about Tinker Bell. It was darling! I was even able to read a few lines of your story, because you sounded out your words so well! One observation, you like to show me your drawing when you’re done, “Okay Mommy look!” and you’re sometimes hard on yourself if you forget a letter, or the drawing isn’t exactly how you envisioned. Sometimes you’ll run off to grab a new sheet of paper, “I didn’t draw it perfect yet.” *If I really want to capture your attention I tell you something to do in steps. “The first step, brush your teeth, the second step is getting dressed, the third step is doing your hair.” You just love this, and it will occupy you for a good fifteen minutes! You will repeat it to me a dozen times, and you’re very good at correcting your little sister who isn’t so keen on steps and likes to do things her own way. *Have I mentioned that you’re really good at the days of the week? You’re keeping track better than mommy! “Mommy today is Tuesday, we have ballet today, at 3 o’clock.” I am so impressed. And you’re equally good at the months of the year. “Mommy in July we are going to Arizona, it’s that way (you point east over our backyard), and it’s 4 hours away, like a lot of Frozens. But not as far as GrampBill’s house. That’s really really really really really really really really really far, like 9 hours, and a lot a lot a lot of Frozens, we’re going there in August. Then it’s Daddy’s birthday next, then it’s mine. My birthday is December 4th.” You might talk about your birthday everyday. I love you and your love for your birthday! *Aria suggested we watch the Mary Poppins movie. Daddy said “We don’t have Mary Poppins anymore.” I’m pretty sure you meant to ask “Mary Poppins expired?” But you said “Mary Poppins exploded?” Aria Ellen (You’re almost 3!!!): *You bring us crazy fun giggles! I don’t even know how to say this, but you talk like Eeyore sometimes. I can hear it now as you say “Okay okay okay.” “Oh boy.” “Okay, I pwomise (promise).” “Dats nah good idea.” (That’s not a good idea). Your sentences often end with a down tone, like Eeyore does. It kills me, in the most darling of ways! *You handed me a picture you drew. I said thanks. You said “Es my pweshuah.” (It’s my pleasure). So cute! *I pick you up, we are eye to eye, nose to nose, and you’re the first to say “I love you Mommy.” I’m so in love with you! *”I’m almost three, I’m not scared. I’m not scared of dragons.” *You got your super high fevers again this month. I don’t know how you do it, you’re so tough. Easter Sunday, we are at Urgent Care and they diagnose you with pneumonia. Only to find out days later, you actually didn’t have it. Another very confusing twist to your fevers. *I’m helping you in the bathroom, you say “Mommy don’t push me in the toiwet(toilet).” With a smirk you say “Don’t fwush(flush) me, okay? Das nah good.”There is something you do that totally amazes us. In the middle of the night it’s very normal to get a visit from you. At the side of my bed I’m startled by “I wah way with you.” (I want to lay with you.) Sometimes we cave to your cuteness, other times we say “Aria, it’s the middle of the night, go back to your room, close the door, and go to bed.” And this is the crazy part, you’re two years old, and you do it! You walk all the way back to your room, slam the door shut and you don’t come back again. *You’re still wandering off singing at the top of your lungs, oh girl, it is thee cutest thing! You have surprised us with some raise-your-eyebrow-good pitch! Perfect octave jumps and a really pretty clear tone! I love love love listening to you sing, Aria. Juliet Mae (8 months): Hello little darling, you are sharing your personality with us more and more! You smile so easily. You like the security of Mommy’s arms, but you also lean towards the action. You love being around people, but you also play great by yourself! It doesn’t take you long to crawl over to your sisters and play around their feet. *You are an amazing eater. At one dinner, you polished off more food than your older sisters! You ate almost an entire chicken breast all by yourself! You’re so good at eating we should enter you into a contest, we’d surely win something! *You started waving bye bye! You hear the word bye, and you are immediately throwing your hand up and waving it in the air. A few times we asked you if you are ready for a bath, and you darted right for the bathroom! Smart girl. *You sit in the bath tub like a big girl now. No more baby seats for you! You’re also learning how to pull yourself up! *You figured out how to bobble to music! You love music. And we love watching you move and groove to the beat! *You got two more teeth! (Eight total). *You rarely cry and never scream. Even being toted around San Diego for hours, you’re such a trooper, you fall asleep relatively easily. Honestly, you’re a dream! You light up rooms with your sweet smiles Juliet! You made mommy smile really big this month—for almost a week you slept through the night, 7pm to 7am. Amazing! Maertz Family Memories: *Joe celebrated Sam’s 33rd with a fancy potluck in the Pascalls’ backyard. *Hillsdale as a four piece. *While at basketball, Daddy got asked “Joe do you eat spinach? I’m just trying to figure out how you have so much spring?” *We discovered horrible house guests, termites, and thousands of them, fleeing from our garage one afternoon. Girls got a real life animal kingdom lesson as the lizard ate the termites, and the neighborhood cat came and… you girls were fascinated! *Mommy’s prayer at Ashley’s. *Ama came over and we shared a beautiful Friday morning on our back deck together. We drank tea, talked as moms and daughters should. It was perfect. *Amie and Tins came over, always too short. *I discover a new talent, I am a really good grout colorant applier person, like really good. Ha! Joe spends a Saturday filling our kitchen with filler pieces. *Spent a beautiful Sunday cleaning out garage and listening to Andy Stanley, followed by an IKEA trip for pantry doors and dinner. Against all odds, it was amazingly successful! *I got hit with a 24 hour flu, Ama really stepped in and loved on us! *Found 12″ wide walnut! This was a big deal. Open shelves installed, finally! *Family Easter walk to church with GrampBill! Aria burns up to a 104 fever on the way home. I rush her off to urgent care. Easter egg hunt in our backyard! *Bike riding around Ama’s and Papa’s house. *Naomi gets sick with Hand Foot Mouth, Aria two days later, and Juliet a few days after that, Juliet got it so bad. I lost it. Taking care of sick kids is really hard. In the midst of hard days, the girls and I find a bright moment eating snow cones together. That was a gift. *After months of ants, we got smart and got them sprayed! Huge relief. *Joe took two gentlemen from Yemen out to dinner in San Diego. (Your daddy is so cool). *Super fun at Kearny with Nick. Mark played a whole note drum fill on Take My Heart, so brilliant and so ridiculous. *Preparing for Orals, Joe cut out carbs. He got himself really skinny and smart.