The countdown has been going for weeks now. The double-digits are finally here.
You will never be a single-digit age again.
A chapter of your girlhood is coming to an end and I have to admit . . . It tugs at my heart strings.
To be straight-up honest, I’ve noticed so much change in you this past year it’s difficult to sum it all up in your annual birthday letter but I’ll at least try.
Your eyes sparkle when you talk about animals. They always have but as you grow older, your bond with God’s creatures deepens and I know, just know how a mother knows things, that you will indeed become the veterinarian you’ve dreamed of becoming since you were four years old.
And if you don’t, that’s OK, too.
But whatever you do, Sis, do it with the intent to first serve God then others. Of course, you need to be paid so you can survive but we’re called to follow the great commandment even in our professions and even if we aren’t allowed to be “open” with our faith.
There’s a fine-line between the separation of church and state and the stripping of rights and freedoms.
No one can ever take your voice away, Sarah. Ever. Of course, there’s responsibility in that as well but just know that no one can tell you you can’t openly pray if you want to openly pray. No one can tell you to stuff your Jesus down deep if you’re in a private conversation on a municipally-owned sidewalk.
No one can tell you your way is the wrong way just like you can’t tell someone else the same.
The difference between thinking something and actually saying it out-loud is a fine line, too.
Please remember that in the end . . . love always win.
Love came to the world in the form of a baby. Love died for you. And love lives through those who have accepted love from someone who washes over us with a grace so deep, we could almost drown.
And, of course, like all years, we’ve had some challenges to overcome.
There’s been a bit more “girl drama” and with that comes hurt feelings, sad tears and damage to self-confidence.
But here’s the thing, sweet girl . . . No one has the permission to name who you are unless you grant it to them.
It’s God who names who you are.
The sooner you understand this, I mean really, really understand this, the sooner you’ll walk through this tough world with a sense of peace.
When you allow the one who created you to also be the one who names you, then you will never, ever be shaken.
But just know that being shaken and being hurt are two different things.
Being shaken means you have lost faith and aren’t able to trust God. Being hurt means you have been failed by another who is just as flesh-disabled as you but you still trust in His love, His goodness and His faithfulness.
So many confuse this as I have in the past. There are days we feel shaken and wonder why we do since God promises we won’t but in actuality, it’s the hurt making us feel this false and unreliable emotion.
If you trust in the Lord, Sis, trust me . . . You will never, ever be shaken because you simply can’t be.
I watch you giggle with your friends and act silly with your brothers and if you must know, it brings me great joy. You’ve always been a little serious, the one who carries the weight of the world upon those small shoulders, the one who takes care of the two ragamuffin brothers packed with snips and snails and puppy dog tails.
So to hear you cutting loose, to hear you telling silly jokes that don’t always make sense, is just so, so good.
Lastly, my precious daughter, I can’t write this “reflection of your past year” letter without mentioning the loss of our sweet Ellie girl.
I’m so sorry I can’t shield you from the deep pull of grief. You have no idea how much I desire to do so because I don’t think there’s anything that stings worse than the loss of something you love so much.
I’ve dreaded this day, this time when you’ve had to learn about grief through experience, because there’s nothing I can do to take it away.
When you’re sick, I can give you medicine and make chicken soup. When you’re tired, I can suggest a bath with lavender and put you to bed. When you’re hungry, I can make you something to eat.
But grief is a whole different animal.
Grief is horrible and beautiful. Grief is a thief and a giver. Grief is painful and nurturing.
The only way to escape it’s clutches is to close one’s heart. And the closing of one’s heart is the closing of one’s soul.
I know it still hurts, love. It probably will always sting just a bit when you remember that loyal friend who has stood by you since birth.
I can’t take it from you but I can give you even more love because my love for you, my beautiful daughter, will never run dry.
Even death will not separate my love for you.
I am so proud of the girl you are and the one you are becoming.
It is an honor to be your mother. You, my dear child, are nothing short of evidence of God’s mercy and grace.
Happy Double-Digits, my sweet girl. Now stop growing-up so fast.
I love you more than you’ll ever know,