Friday, February 7, 2014

on her last day of childhood: a letter

to my oldest girl ~

tomorrow you turn 18.
nothing really changes, except everything.

you won't 100% begin paying your bills or buying your groceries or balancing a budget -at least not yet. (though i would really like you to take care of that library fine sometime soon).

no, you'll wake up in our home and be the same girl you were at at 7 and 13 and 17.

except tomorrow you'll be 18.
tomorrow you'll be called an adult.

it's a line or a mark. it's a specific moment in time where we can say things like:
she's arrived.
she's become.
she's crossed over.

but i've been watching you cross into to this thing called adulthood for quite some time.
it didn't come on a birthday.

it came when we weren't looking.
it came when we were in the middle of other things.
it came when you faced challenges, hard days, disappointments.

it came on the day when you jumped into the pool without us.
it came on the day when you graduated kindergarten.
it came on the day you baked your daddy a  birthday cake.
it came on the day when you learned to ride your bike.
it came on the day when you left for a week of summer camp.
it came on the day when you sauntered bravely into your high school
it came on the day when you passed your driver's license exam.

it came in bits and pieces in the highlights and in the heartbreaks.

it came on the day when you were told your mom had cancer and in the year when our family moved cross country and when you walked out on the volleyball court and when you had to prepare that presentation or lead that group of students on a mission's project in a rough part of town.

it came on those days.

it came when you had to take that crazy-hard test or have that difficult talk or confront a dear friend.

it came when you were asked to bathe your little sister or babysit your brother or make the family dinner.

we grow up in the in between moments of our days ... not on our birthdays.

birthdays mark and measure time ... but it is the in between which makes us who we are.

and on this night before you turn 18 ...
on this night before you become a "real"adult i just want you to know  -- in my book, you already are.

you have proven yourself to be a girl who desires to grow closer to God.
you have shown yourself to be a young lady who is learning to lean on Jesus.
you have taught yourself to be a woman who is waiting on the Lord.

of course, a part of me feels a last ditch effort to push that impotent pause button. i felt it when you turned 5 and 13 ... and most days in between. but tonight, i know with everything in me, there's no pausing, there's no stopping, there's no going back.

you are ready and this is God's timing.

and, as your mom, instead of trying to hold on to what was, i am going to embrace what is and what will be.

i can't wait to watch what God is going to do with you, for you, through you.

when you entered our arms 18 years ago, i remember looking into your big brown eyes and wondering what God might have in store. and daughter, it is better and more beautiful than i could have imagined as that young mama way back then.

be patient with me. you are my first adult child. just like in these 18 years we've already had, i'll make mistakes, continue to mess up ... somedays get it all wrong. but i am so thankful that God has blessed us with a relationship of love and grace. my prayer is that you'll continue to grow in both -- love and grace. love and grace.

my prayer is that you'll continue to grow closer to Jesus and walk all of your days in His light.

i love you and i welcome you into this next chapter of YOU with God's blessing:

"the Lord bless you
and keep you; 
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”  ~ numbers 6:24-26

happy 18th birthday!
i love you ~ mom


mnkristy said...

Really beautiful. Happy birthday to your girl.

Paige said...

oh this just makes me smile big!!!

Simply LKJ said...

Beautiful words for a beautiful girl. Happy 18th Birthday Emily!!!

Jane Klingenberg said...

Beautiful post. It gave me misty-eyes, and I have two adult "children".

Happy birthday to Emily! And a big hug to her beautiful Mama, too.

Saying a prayer for God's rich blessings on this next year for Emily.

Jane Klingenberg

DiJo said...

I am catching up post birthday eve! What a blessing your new adult is to everyone she meets, young and old!!!!! I too look forward to seeing how God uses Emily in her eighteenth year and beyond... She is SPECIAL!!!!!