My wonderful Leah,
Someone wiser than me once said that the season of parenting is full of long days and short years.
As I watch you in the days leading up to your sixth birthday, I am aware of how long your arms and legs have become. How confidently you move your body, without the wobbly or tentative movements that characterize little ones. I notice the way your face has thinned, your eyes have become more earnest, and that it has become more difficult to spot traces of the tiny baby face I used to see all the time.
Your words are wise. You are thoughtful, bright, and talented. You know your mind and hold fast to your convictions. You can ride a bike without training wheels, read a book without assistance, add and subtract or recite the presidents and spout Bible verses from memory. You know and can do so many things. Real things that leave me breathless with wonder at the beautiful girl journeying to the woman she will become.
Six is a serious number.
I sometimes try to picture what the years ahead will bring. Will you be skinny and athletic like your mom as a pre-teen? What will your voice sound like when you squeal that you've passed your drivers test? How tall will you be when you cross that stage in your cap and gown?
These are the mysteries that lay before us, my beautiful girl, that only time can unravel. But there are a few things I hope for you as you step into that future.
I hope for the kind heart I see in you to remain firmly in place. Keep it; nurture it. Don't ever turn your back when someone is in need. You are sensitive to the pains of the world and the aching you find in others, and I can see already that God is calling you in mighty ways to bless and serve. You are a cheerleader at heart; quick to celebrate the successes of your siblings and your friends, to offer an encouraging word, to believe in those who do not believe in themselves. This is a powerful, necessary and severely undervalued gift. Grow in it.
Don't wait to be perfect. You won't be. Not ever... and it's okay. Although you are capable of so much and I always want you to do your best, if perfection is your goal, you will be continually disappointed. Satisfaction isn't found in perfection, it is found in the lessons you learn and the mountains you overcome in the midst of imperfection. It is found in realizing that you can do something today that seemed impossible yesterday. It is cultivated by stepping out in faith to do the right thing even when that is terrifying. He doesn't call us to be perfect; only to be willing.
Choose joy. Happy people aren't that way by accident. Every day, despite all circumstances, you have a choice to make about how you see the world. Will you be burdened by the difficulty of life? Or will you let the happy robin hopping across the lawn bring a smile to your face? Little things are big things, when you see them in the light of God's glorious purpose and grace. When you take time to notice what fills you up with beauty, goodness and delight, the process of living is just so much more fun - even in difficult times. I hope you always choose joy.
Live from a place of being deeply loved. And deeply known. And always accepted. Remember that you are uniquely gifted by someone who loves you and wants you to be fulfilled. Someone who prepared ahead of time good things for you to have and be and do. Live an abundant life out of the overflow of that love, understanding always that you are valued and valuable just as you are. And when life gets tough (and it will) and you feel alone (and you will), there is a place where you can come to be heard, understood, lifted up and refreshed. That place is called home.
Leah, you are a blessing and a joy. Even when my days are long, I am so aware of how fast these years are going. I am so happy I get to be here to watch you struggle and succeed, to love and live and laugh and grow and change. I hope we will be friends, just as we are now, for all the days of our lives.
Thank you for the gift of being your mom.
I love you always,