(A little late, as her birthday was in January!)
Double digits WHAT?????? It has truly been a joy this past year to watch you grow and change. You’re slowly finding your place, joining in the dance. Your beautiful smile shines a little more all the time, and you’re pulling yourself toward us, pulling away less frequently. And I’m grateful to God for it and for you.
You’re tasting joy, and your whole face changes when you do. You relax, you grin, and you know peace. You tell us you know that joy is from God. I know you still don’t want him, and I understand why. But you know the source of the happiness, and I still believe one day you’ll be ready to embrace it completely.
My prayer for you this next year is the same prayer I have for me—to stop fearing. This one word, fear, is a powerful little booger. It rules us without us being aware. It stops us from embracing who God wants us to be, and just like your mama, it’s taken over your mind. It’s a hard one to fight. We fear what others will think of us, we fear not being good at something we try, we fear bad things happening to us or those we love, we fear ourselves because we know what we’re capable of.
But it’s not supposed to be that way. Jesus came to defeat fear and to replace it with a freedom greater than the freedom we also celebrate on this holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., a brave man who fought hard for freedom for his people. He loved Jesus fiercely, and that love gave him the power to fight through his fears even to the point of giving up his own life, much like the one who strengthened him through it all.
But the freedom Jesus gave us wasn’t just a freedom for all people to be equal. It was a freedom from shame. A freedom to show all our cards, to confess our failures, to embrace tomorrow, to know who we are, to walk in a new identity because our past doesn’t define us anymore. It’s a freedom that makes us princes and princesses of the kingdom of God, his adopted children with the same inheritance as Jesus, so what others think of us is a moot point.
Your single digits weren’t always good to you. As always, Dad and I are the soldiers at the forefront on Team Heaven. We will fight harder for you than anyone else. But our general is King Jesus, and my hope is that you’ll be able to embrace him, his freedom and his joy, in your first year of double digits.
I love you more and more every day, my H-Dawg.
Mom and Dad
I pronounce your nutrition good:
Victoria: Does the milk in my tea tepniptly (technically) count as milk for the day?
Me (reading): “Napoleon believed at that moment it was destiny for him to become great.”
Making up sentences for a spelling test:
Me: Pounds. The boy weighed 100 pounds.
Josiah: 100 pounds?!!
Victoria: She’s just making up stories for spelling. A boy didn’t ACTUALLY weigh 100 pounds.
(We’re obviously a little late getting this up since her birthday was last month!)
You beautiful, beautiful girl. How happy I am to celebrate you today! I feel like I’ve watched you grow more in the past year than any other of your years, and not just in height. Though Holy Guacamole, you’ve certainly grown a ton in that area, too. I think you’re only two inches shorter than me now, and wearing the same size shoe. Sigh.
I’ve see three big changes in you since this time last year. First, your faith has grown by leaps and bounds. You’re developing more of an awareness of your own sin and are more willing to confess it, sometimes on your own without being prompted. You love to help others understand Jesus, and the times your eyes fill with tears and your voice catches because you’re in awe of Him or you’re moved by others’ love for him or you hurt for those who are weak are the times you’re the most gorgeous. True beauty, not the artificial kind we work so hard for on the outside.
You’ve grown in maturity. You could almost run my house at this point. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and just a general understanding of how the house works day to day. You know how to care for others well and have gotten to practice with some babysitting jobs, and you do it with skill. You care for others in your friendships, too, more often than not putting yourself last so others can have the best.
The third is how much you’ve become my friend. I’ve always loved any time I get with you, but as you’re growing, so are your conversations and the depth of your heart, and I find myself simply enjoying our talks and thinking of you at times more as a sister than a daughter. There are still a few years left before that transition is complete, but the glimpses of our relationship when you are a grown woman fill my heart with gladness.
One of the most encouraging things for me as a mother is watching how much you strive to be like me. I love you for it. But don’t cheapen your goals. God has gifted me with much grace, but it’s so so pitiful in comparison to him. Look to him more than you look to me as your example. You’ll see some of him in me, but you’ll also see plenty that should be in me. Focus your eyes on eternity, remembering always who you are, and laugh with joy. I’ll be standing beside you cheering you on every step of the way.
If this is what I’ve seen in the past year, I can only look with excitement to what’s coming in the next year. Rejoice in the Lord my sweet girl who’s quickly, so quickly, becoming a woman. Keep chasing after Jesus. He’s ready to welcome you at the finish line.
With deep love,
Mom and Dad
It’s not cheating:
Miriam: You don’t have to use that part of the game.
Courtney: Yes, you do!
Miriam: No, I mean you don’t have to use it if you’re not going to follow the rules.
Ready for a hair commercial:
Liam: I was out of my shampoo, so I actually used three different kinds that were in the shower. But I really like the way my hair feels. It’s really soft!
Courtney: I bet you used conditioner. Did you?
Liam: No, I checked to make sure they all said “hair” on the bottle.
Liam talking about grades:
Liam: F stands for fail, right? Or maybe it stands for phenomenal!?
Courtney: If you think phenomenal starts with F, then you probably deserve that grade.
Demonstrating how much the little boys struggled with phonics:
Courtney: Josiah, what does “dumb” start with?
Me: Okay, Aiden, what does “Mom” start with?
M___: Do you have any hippie songs? You know, like with banjos?
Bill (confused for a couple of beats ): Do you mean hipster music?
Bill: Miriam, why didn’t you change clothes like I told everyone to do?
Miriam: Oh, I didn’t hear you say that.
Bill: I guess I should expect at this point to have more and more times of kids claiming they didn’t hear me.
Miriam: What did you say?
The first time our newest daughter walked through our house:
C___: Wait! I thought you said there was a church in your house!!
Referring to Cain’s adversaries being punished seven times worse than he was:
Victoria: Why did God punish Abel [Cain] by making people pay $7 if they killed him?
After Esther got dish soap in her eye.
Bill: Well, go to Mr. Dan and have him spit in your eye. That should help.
Esther: I would rather go to Jesus than have that happen.
Talking about how old people were in the beginning of Genesis:
Victoria: Yeah, like our grandparents! They’re super old!!!
Discussing the differences between Apple and Android:
M___: I like Apple better
Courtney: So does Dad.
Josiah: I like bananas better!
She’s so popular…:
Victoria: Those people at the next table were talking about me. I know because they said, “Victoria’s secret.”
Bill: Didn’t I ban you from eating outside the other day?
Victoria (thinking): No, you abandoned me before that.
Trying to get Josiah to guess her password (which was “Batman”):
Victoria: What does Daddy really love?
In the herbivore family:
C___: Hey, look! A convertabore! [Convertible]