Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl

(NJ, R, E, and baby A)

December 12, 2011

Sweet A turned 7 yesterday.  I remember crying when she turned four; I felt as though I was losing my baby.  I think I cried when she turned five, too.  Somehow, I finally caught on that she just brings me more joy every year.  How can I not just look up and say, "Thank You" on her birthday?  On all of their birthdays?  Okay, okay, I still might cry...maybe when she turns 16.  But yesterday, and today...I am all full of "Thank You."

The day she was born is vivid in my memory.  She was due on Christmas Eve, which was still two weeks away, she was baby number four, and my babies were always just a little late.  I had been feeling a little funny at church that morning, but had already decided that I was not having a baby on that December afternoon. I didn't even have a bag packed for the hopital.  Hadn't really decided on a name for little girl #3.   At around 2:30pm I changed my mind.  Packed a bag, put the children in the van (R was 6 years old, E was 3, and little NG was not quite 2).  We headed in the opposite direction of the hospital to drop them off with a friend, then turned around and headed back toward town (I'm pretty sure I remember running a red light).  We got to the hospital at 3:05.  The birth was recorded at 3:11.  She has kept life just a little more exciting ever since. (We had been thinking of naming her Natalie Joy, because Natalie means "born at Christmas", and she was due on Christmas Eve.  But she wasn't born on Christmas Eve, and based on some experiences we'd had during the months prior to her birth, we named her Anna Christine. " Follower of Christ.  Full of grace". Those were our dreams for her.)

Dear A, on your 7th birthday,

You are such a gift to me.  You are funny, and smart, and you keep me laughing.  It has been a joy to see you growing in compassion over the past year, and to see your tender heart.  I love watching you care for your baby dolls with gentleness and smiles.  We all know how much you love bears, and everything about bears, and talking about, singing about, and looking at pictures of bears.  But you love your brothers, sisters, and friends even more.  Especially R; you look up to her and would do anything for her.  I know that the two of you will be best friends one day, and she will look back with smiles at all of the ways you loved her.  You also love to pray, and always remind us to pray for any need; if we are driving in our van and hear an ambulance, you are always the one to remember to pray for the one who is sick or hurt.  You have also started singing; you love music and dancing and singing, and it was so much fun to see you sing with the "Kinderchorus" at the Christmas program last week.  I'm guessing that it was the first of many such performances for you.  Your face was glowing while you watched the older girls singing.

As much as you love all of your siblings, I know it wasn't easy to go from being the baby of the family to being the "middle child" on that day (almost two years ago) when we got home from Ethiopia with Y and MJ.  You've told me wistfully, with downcast eyes, that you wish you were "either little or big."  Big enough to ride your bike to the playground without me, stay up late, or just hang out with the "big kids."  Or little enough to be the baby of the family again.  But over the last year you have settled into your new role with grace.  You are a great big sister.  There were many days when it broke my heart to watch you struggle, knowing that your little heart was breaking too...that you were afraid and insecure and feeling that your place in my heart was threatened by your younger siblings.  It never was.  Your very special place in my heart can never be occupied by anyone else but you. And God knew exactly what you needed, just as much as He knew what Y and MJ needed.  Had you stayed the "baby," you would not be the girl you are today.  He has grown you, refined you, and loved you.  Even as He will continue to do for many years and birthdays to come.  I can't wait to watch.  I will always be loving you, praying for you, and delighting in you.  

Love you sweet A.  Happy 7th.

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