You have now completed your seventh year of life. Your years are racing by and all I can do is write words and snap pictures in an effort to soak it all up.
This past year was a big one for you. You finished up kindergarten and became a first grader. And now all of a sudden you are reading books (!) and doing addition and subtraction flashcards and learning so much so fast. You are tenacious about your schoolwork. You love to practice reading each evening in bed and you absolutely insist on going through your addition flashcards each and every night. Your Dad and I spend a lot of time working on reading or math with you after your brother and sister are put to bed. I’m glad this is so important to you because that time spent with you is very precious to me. You are a smart girl who tries hard and does well in school.
When I went to your parent-teacher conference just a few months ago, your teacher told me just how wonderfully kind and compassionate you were. It was music to my ears. It’s more important to me that you are kind and thoughtful than that you are super smart or academically superior. This caring quality in you amazes me constantly – mostly because I don’t feel like you got it from me. Your eyes are so often on others, watching them and empathizing with them. Movies are sometimes hard for you to watch because you FEEL everything on the screen in front of you. Your tender heart and sweet spirit are such a blessing to everyone around you. I love the way you mirror Jesus this way.
When you are home, you spend hours upon hours playing with, reading with, talking to, laughing with, and teaching your little sister. She isn’t quite so little anymore, and sometimes that means the two of you butt heads. But you are still wonderful little friends and I love hearing the way the two of you can imagine together. You make cities out of legos or blocks and then spend lots of time creating stories together. She loves you so very much and misses you terribly while you are gone at school. I hope and pray that you will always be good friends to each other.
If I ask you what you want to be when you grow up, you tell me you want to be a teacher. And that sounds pretty much perfect for you. You love to do “school” with Maddie where you patiently teach her how to count or add or write letters. It amazes me how patient you are in your little lessons. You also encourage and cheer her on as she learns. If she doesn’t get something (sometimes it is beyond her age-level) you never make fun of her. You come alongside her and help her – showing her and praising her efforts. I can tell you have had some wonderful, Godly teachers simply by the way you speak and act when you play school. I don’t know if you will be a teacher when you grow up, but it certainly does seem like God has created you in such a way that teaching would be a terrific fit for you.
While there are so many hours spent with Maddie, we must not forget about the awesome addition to our family this past year. You badly wanted a brother. And on December 17, I watched your face as you walked into my hospital room. It lit up with a huge smile when you spied the baby in my arms. You sat in a chair and your Daddy placed Hunter in your arms. And you fell head over heels in love with that little guy. From the very start, you were completely smitten with him. You talked so sweetly, rubbed his soft head, held his tiny hands. I loved those moments but figured they would be short-lived. I was wrong. You are as crazy about that little boy as you were the day you met him – maybe more so. You love taking care of him, playing with him, giving him a bottle, feeding him. Countless times you have been such a huge help to me as you have cared for him. I am beyond thankful – overjoyed – that Hunter has you for a big sister. You spoil him rotten with love and kisses and attention. Never in a million years did I think you would be this crazy about a baby brother – but I love it all.
You are a cooperative, well-behaved little girl. You have your moments, of course, where your independence comes through loud and clear. But you are very helpful to me and a very responsible child. When given a challenge, you meet it head-on. You never shrink back or give up. You are a finisher. You want to do things well. You are extremely clear on rules and boundaries and it bothers you a lot when someone is not as disciplined as you. Please understand I do not think you are perfect. There are times you are disobedient or stubborn. But those times are fairly rare and we don’t punish you very often anymore.
You love princesses. You want long hair. You like dressing up. You are imaginative and creative. You tell great stories. You like building with legos. You love with your heart on your sleeve. You are strong and brave. You love raw vegetables. You love to play outside and catch bugs. You are exactly like me in some ways, and totally opposite in others. You are your own wonderful self. Totally unique.
I love watching God shape your life. You face struggles and challenges and though it hurts me to watch you go through them, you handle them with incredible grace. So many of my most favorite things about you are evidence, I believe, of the Holy Spirit working in your heart.
In kindergarten you had to memorize Psalm 23. We worked on it for weeks – saying it together several times a day. And then one night, we were having a party with some family and I asked you if you would say it for us. You stood there and said every single word so perfectly, so calmly, so beautifully. When you were finished you looked at me to see if you got it right. Reagan, I couldn’t speak, my eyes were full of tears, and I was fighting off a sob. But I nodded at you and mouthed the word “perfect”. It is my deepest prayer that you will always walk in his presence, just as that Psalm recites. And whenever I hear the line “my cup overflows”, I think of you – how wonderful you are and how every day of your life is such a blessing to me.
I love you so sweet girl. And Jesus loves you even more.