It still gets me that whenever I go shopping for you I have to walk past the toddler girl department to the older girl clothes. I so often find myself looking at you and wondering how all these years have gone by so quickly. You are in this delicate little slice of life – caught somewhere between little girl and big girl. There are times when you can be so silly and playful and childish. The next minute you will do something that displays such a wealth of maturity that I can hardly recognize you. As we sit here teetering on this edge, you and I, I want to tell you a little bit about who you are on this, your eighth birthday.
You are a reader. Oh goodness do you read. Over the summer we would get piles of books for you and you would read one a day. Many nights we would find you still reading when we were ready to go to bed. You’ve cut back a bit now that school has started, but you still love a good story. Your favorites are anything about fairies or princesses. I just finished reading the last book of the whole Chronicles of Narnia series. In every book you have to read a bit to get to the place where Aslan makes his first appearance. Your face would light up each time I said his name. Maybe it’s just a story. Maybe it’s just a nifty series. But maybe it’s one more way I can help you understand the One who made you and who loves you.
You are a patient teacher and friend. You still want to be a teacher when you grow up, and I still see those special teacher qualities in you. You love to help someone. Just a few weeks ago we did nursery together and honestly you were thrilled to take care of the other kids. You never fail to notice the little ones and you dote on them and smile at them and love on them so tenderly.
You are a wonderful sister. Let’s be honest here – you and Maddie are either the best of friends or the worst of enemies. Most of the time it is the best of friends, but there are battles. The two of you still play legos every single day. At night I can often hear you giggling together down in the basement of this new house where your rooms are right next door to each other. I am so glad Maddie has had you to make this first year of school a little easier. And you still adore Hunter. I keep waiting for you to grow tired of him or to be not quite so crazy about him. But you love that boy so intensely. You love to help him with anything. You always tell him how cute he is. You are the most loving and caring big sister he could ever hope to have. I know that both of your siblings love you fiercely in return. It is YOU that they want on the days they are home and you are not. When you walk in the door, they are overjoyed. And you always have a smile for them.
You are a thinker. Before you do something, you really consider it. If you are going to draw a picture, you imagine it and plan it all out before your pencil touches the paper. You like to gather all the pieces of information at your disposal before you take any action, so you are often asking me what I would do. Sometimes I tell you. Sometimes I encourage you to decide for yourself. That’s always a delicate balance.
You are brave. This past year you were approached by someone offering you a ride while you were waiting for the bus. My dear girl, we are so thankful that you said no. At school you were having trouble finding friends to play with during recess. I asked my Coffee Break ladies to pray for you. You came home from school last month to tell me you asked some kids if you could play tag with them, they said yes, and now you are having the best time at recess every single day. You played soccer this fall and you loved it even though you knew absolutely nothing about it at first. With each passing game you improved and by the end you were scoring goals and having a blast. You are quiet and people mistake that for shy. I’ve even labeled you that way myself. But recently I decided it is not shy – it is observant and calm. I have learned that you will go talk to others, but first you want to think of something to say. I am trying to simply let you be you and not push you before you are ready.
You love to create. There is no end to the perler bead creations, the rainbow loom bracelets or the pictures and cards that you make. If people are coming to our house, you plan ahead and make them a gift. You love the creating. But more than that, you love the giving. There’s nothing in it for you other than the joy of giving. What a beautiful echo of the One who gave it all because of love.
I don’t know fully what you will be like when you are grown up. I glimpse the future you now and then – your quiet composure in social settings, your sweet delight in little ones, your compassion and care for anyone who is hurting or needs help. Celebrating your arrival 8 years ago was intense and surreal and sweet. Celebrating you today is just as joyful and filled with thanks. You make me smile, make me think, make me shake my head and make me love you more and more with each passing day. Your tender heart and spirit are a wonderful joy to all of us. I am so thankful for all the steps we have walked together, and yet I know that I am ever letting go, little by little. It is not something I could do were it not for the promise that God will go with you. I pray you will always be aware of the way He is walking beside you even when I cannot.
Happy Birthday sweet girl. I love you so!