And all of a sudden you are twelve. Who can believe that your last ‘tween’ year is upon us? It seems like yesterday that you came into this world, just shy of 10 pounds; with your eyes wide open. You took your time coming into the world and you’re still taking your time… every.single.day.
God knew exactly what I needed in my life when he gave me you. Sometimes I look and listen and it’s like I’m re-living my childhood (Nonna & Pappy would likely agree). You’re cautious and careful. You wouldn’t be called adventurous. You worry. You ask every night if we locked the doors. You don’t love to sleep and you know it drives me crazy (it may not seem like it now, but I didn’t like it either when I was growing up). You’re always listening (They didn’t call me “eyes and ears of the world” for nothing, you come by this naturally)! Oh but our differences… You have so much courage. Courage to stand up for yourself and for others. Courage to walk away from the wrong situations. Courage to know who should and should not be in your circle of friends. You have a faith in God that I crave. A desire for others to know Jesus. You care about people with your whole heart. When someone comes into your life that you want to stay, you don’t have to think twice or have to be told how to show them. You just truly know what it means to give of yourself and love others. Please don’t think for a second that your Dad and I don’t thank God every day for blessing us with you. So yes, God knew what He was doing. I needed you to show me how to live better and love better.
I know you know this, but one of the most special people in the world to me was my Pappy. I think a lot about him and how he never had the opportunity to meet you in this life. When I told him that I was pregnant, he was in the hospital recovering from something with either his heart or lungs. I see it so clearly like it was yesterday. Nana sitting on the chair next to the end of the bed. The sun shining in the window. I remember his joy and his words, “Another blondie, just like you.” About 6 months later on the day he passed away, I sat next to him, alone in the hospital room, as he lay sleeping and struggling and I put his hand on my belly. You kicked and moved and I talked. I know he heard and I know he was with us. I know he connected with you in that moment. He passed shortly after I walked out of the room that morning. I like to believe that when he got to heaven, he and God had a good talk about you and your life and the type of sweet soul you would be. I see so many of his qualities in you. The kindness in your heart and in your smile. The way you care for people. The way you love. The way you give without expecting in return. It’s something special. It’s different. One of my favorite stories of Pappy (Where’s Nana when you need her to embellish a story?) was about this one time when he was the Constable in Hopewell Township in the 1960’s. He had a warrant to arrest a couple of men, although I’m not sure of their crime. As he was driving them to the county jail, he knew they hadn’t eaten anything so he first stopped to get them something to eat. He sure did love food, but more than that, he loved people. No matter who they were or what they had done, he knew love. Even though you never met here on Earth, I think you two know each other well. I got proof of that not long ago when I shared a picture of him with you and you told me, “I dreamed of him the other night! He gave me a huge hug.” Oh my heart.
Your eleventh year was a memorable one that I don’t think I’ll forget for many reasons. You rode your first roller coaster (and many to follow) and had your first weekend away from home for church camp. I watched you re-establish friendships after we moved back to Georgia. I saw you make new best friends too, and learn tough lessons about how real friends should treat you. Although you’ve never been boy crazy and I still don’t think you are (please time stand still), you found such a sweet boy with a matching kindness and heart to be your best friend. Again, my heart.
Here is a little bit of advice for you for your twelfth year.
- Choose your friends wisely.
My favorite author, Bob Goff, says in my favorite book, “Love Does”, “You become like the people you hang around, and to a great degree, you end up going where they’re headed.” Remember that Allie Stanley said the same thing recently when speaking to us at our “Becoming” event. It’s so important. When a friend can treat you with the same kindness and respect, regardless of who else is around them, that’s the sign of a true friend. When people show you their true colors, believe them. And stick with the ones whose colors are a lot like yours.
- Be Kind
Bob also says, “Words spoken by kind people have the ability to endure in our lives.” Please keep speaking kind words to others. Every word you speak to someone else matters. I promise, it’s so cool to be kind.
Twelve will be amazing, sweet girl. It won’t be perfect, because life just isn’t. But what we do know is that we can do our best to bring joy to every day, to be thankful in ALL circumstances. That’s what God asks for us. We pray that you continue to give your kind smile and heart away to others and be an example of how to live in God’s light. You have much to give the world this year and your Dad and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Happy 12th Birthday!