Ava was born four years ago on September 1st . . . the day Hurricane Gustav pounded into New Orleans. Evacuating while 40 weeks pregnant is no joke, especially with all the drama/miracles we experienced. (I wrote a bit more about it for Ava's birthday last year plus great pics of her through the years!)
Once again we found ourselves preparing to evacuate as Ava's birthday drew near. Isaac was only a Category 1 hurricane, but it left us away from home for a full week because of no power, 4 days apart from daddy, an empty fridge, a broken fence, a little water in the church . . . and compared to most we were hardly impacted.
So in the spirit of "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" we decided to make the whole week a celebration for Ava's birthday! She got to see both sets of grandparents, was given some really fun prizes, and best of all got a call from daddy on her birthday that our power was back on and we could come home!
The week was fun, but several days without daddy coupled with being completely out of our routine was honestly wearing me down a bit. Thankfully the Lord gave me a precious moment on the morning of Ava's birthday both with Him and my girl!
I have been reading through the Psalms for the past few months asking God to give me a specific Psalm for each of our kids to be our prayer/vision for them and one that we would help them memorize. That morning I just happened to be reading Psalm 96 and it was God speaking so clearly to me as I thanked God for Ava.
This is her Psalm. Pray this for her . . . and really mean it.
This wouldn't seem a tough task, but I only had to get as far as verses 2 & 3 to make my breath catch.
"Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples."
Of course I want to pray this for my girl . . . this is why we were created, this is what we teach her our lives are supposed to be about. But a mama praying that her precious little girl would go to all nations and all peoples with the Gospel means complete surrender . . . for her and for me. It means letting go of comfort, safety, nearness. It means trusting her fully to her Maker.
So I'll admit that I paused a second and took a deep breath before I continued with this prayer. We have to choose to raise her in such a way that she will have a heart for the nations and desire for all to know the salvation that comes only through Jesus Christ. And as tough as this road may be for her/us to walk, it is the only one that makes sense in light of what Jesus has done for us.
This was a special moment in the heart of this mama, but it wasn't done.
When Ava woke up, I shared those few verses with her and that I was praying for her. We talked a little about what the verses mean . . . going to all nations to tell people about Jesus. I asked Ava what different nations she might like to visit to share the Gospel and her answer brought me to tears . . .
Oh mom . . . when I'm a mom I'm going to live in Ethiopia and take care of all the babies whose parents can't take care of them anymore.
So simple. So matter-of-fact. So the heart of Christ.
I'm praying great things for my beautiful daughter. I'm praying Psalm 96 and her vision of the future are truly prophetic words for her life. Like Mary, I'm treasuring all this things in my heart while at the same time wrestling with how to let go.
What a precious gift with which we have been entrusted! Ava is funny, smart, compassionate, quirky, and such a joy! (Check out this post for some of her latest funnies!)
I've got a bunch of pictures that capture Ava's week-long birthday celebration!
We got to love on cousin Penny while at Grammy and Paw Paw's house!
Grammy made Ava some birthday cupcakes! They also got Ava a new swing for the amazing swing set God provided for us!
And Ava got to eat her favorite "spicy" ice cream . . . mint chocolate chip!
We went to a wildlife/alligator farm with Papa T and Lili. They were content to let daddy feed the crazy goats!
We watch a whole lot of alligators being fed and they got to pet one. Standing by the wall was as close as my girl was willing to get!
Ava's princess cake!
Ava is still willing to read birthday cards before tearing into the prize . . . don't think that will last much longer!
My girl has been really into having tea parties lately. Lili got her a tea set of her own and we've already enjoyed several cups of
water tea. :) Papa T and Lili got a new swing for Ava too!
Aunt Sheryl got Ava a new baby doll who was immediately named Mary Poppins.
Daddy left on Thursday to head back to NOLA and figured we probably wouldn't be back by Ava's actual birthday on Saturday. He gave her flowers before she left . . . so precious! If you ask Ava what is her favorite color, she says "purpleyelloworange" as if it is one color. Chad couldn't believe that he found the perfect bouquet! She looked at the flowers, looked at her daddy with such love, and then threw her arms around his neck. I love watching Chad teach her how she should be loved by a man!
Uncle Clay sent Ava some new games to practice her counting, math, and reading . . . such a teacher! :)
Papa T and Lili got down the doll house that I played with when I was a little girl. Ava literally spent hours moving all the furniture around and playing with her dolls . . . as long as the door was shut with Grayson on the other side! The doll house stayed at Lili's house so it doesn't cause World War III at our house!
Chad and I got Ava, you guessed it, another swing for the swing set, but also got her a few prizes for our "school" time. I've never seen a girl so excited about gel pens and a "measurer" (ruler)!
Such a good birthday week, but nothing compares to being home with Daddy in the city we love!