Happy 18th birthday to you! I know, your birthday has come and gone and here I sit almost a week later writing your birthday letter. It might be because I have been processing this emotional week we've had. You, turning 18 and then two days later leaving for another country, one where you'll be living for almost 7 months. Yes, a tad much for this Mama's heart. But this letter is not about me, it is for you. For you to read and feel loved and celebrated for the God gift that you are. Not only on your birthday when you entered this world physically but always, everyday, because you are a walking miracle. We all are, really.
This last year has been full, as they always are. Our move back to Franklin, homeschooling, high school graduation, speaking at the senior high retreat in MN, visits from your MN friends, a surprise trip to the beach with your mentor, a trip to Israel, family overload this summer, a visit from your besties, offering your hand lettered art to the world through an online shop and preparing to pack up your life for half a year. Change is a constant. The transitions haven't always been full of sparkles and unicorns but you have handled them with the same optimism you've carried since you were younger. There have been challenges and there will continue to be throughout life, but we can take heart because Jesus has overcome.
You, about 6 years old, blazing the trail on a family hike.
The photo above captures who you are. Unafraid. Willing to take risks and be different. Go where others haven't, can't or won't. And you bring everyone along with you. You are inclusive and you have never met a stranger. Your smile diffuses tensions and the way you love people is contagious. There have been times I've witnessed that first hand and it is gloriously beautiful. Just the other day I was chasing after you and the Lord stopped me in my tracks. Literally. I paused and watched and listened. You ran ahead, never looking back, moving forward and embracing the next with arms flung wide open. Then you jumped up on a rock and took a photo of God's creation. Don't ever give that up. Take that sense of wonder with you into whatever He has placed before you. The road blocks, the valleys, the mountain tops and everything in between. Share it with those you encounter. I can say confidently that you have made me braver. Rekindled my sense of adventure and brought that back to life within me. Thank you for that gift.
You and the ibex, ready to take on the mountains!
I might be remiss if I didn't mention a few favorites at the top of your list right now. Purely for documentation's sake. Since this letter is for you it may seem redundant but these likes have grown with fervor over the last year and they mark a season in your life, just like anything else. So here we go; COFFEE. And with that the hunt for the very best cup of coffee. Donuts. Rap music. Beyonce. Fashion. Art. Photography. Design. Current events, including politics, justice and dare I say even reading. Maybe not a like but you did finish a book in two days on our beach vacation. Hip, hip hooray from your word loving Mama!
So as you step into your year of 18 keep dreaming those God sized dreams. He has equipped you and will continue to do so. I pray that you cling to Jesus before anything else. I pray that when you make mistakes you tell someone. Learn from them and keep trying. I pray that you rest in the Spirit. I pray for your heart, that it be protected. That you share big love with all the people and that you remember always who you belong to before anything else. I pray for you. Everyday. I pray that all the things that haven't been said are revealed to you by the Holy Spirit in fresh revelation. I pray you know how very much you are loved.
I love you to the moon and back.