I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing on this day 25 years ago. I could explain all the details and give you a play-by-play on the events of that day, but I’m taking a different trail today.
Today, you see, is a milestone. Today my middle daughter turns 25. I’m not sure she is that pleased about her age, but I want her to see herself through her mama’s eyes, to see what a blessing she’s been to me for 25 years. So this post is addressed to you, dear middle daughter, on the occasion of your birthday.
Your older sister was three when you made your appearance into this world. The three of us, Mama, Daddy, and Sissy waited all through a long, hot, and very muggy summer for you to arrive and then you decided to make us wait an extra week! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was to finally be in labor early in the morning of September 8.
From the first moment we laid eyes on you, you were a joyful addition to our family. Sister had someone to love, play with and boss around. Mama received another beautiful baby to love, cuddle, and nurture. Daddy gained another little girl to cherish and rock back to sleep at night, taking little snoozes together on the recliner. You were a happy, contented, pleasant baby full of smiles and giggles.
Babyhood turned into the toddler stage all too quickly and the meaning of your given name, which means “lively,” fit you to a tee. You were oh so busy all the time, not content to sit quietly watching “Sesame Street” like your sister. Oh no, you had to be doing something at all times! Climb up the huge, high sliding board at the park? No problem. Run and jump and take in everything there is to see? Absolutely! With excitement and wonder and gibberish.
You developed your own little language complete with inflections and hand gestures and none of us could decipher it, yet you regaled us with hysterically funny stories. We just didn’t know what they meant. But you did. Two French fries or even two crayons would suddenly be involved in an intense conversation in a language unknown to anyone but you. And you would laugh heartily and be delighted in what they had to say, whatever it was.
You welcomed your baby brother with gusto when you were two and a half. You loved him, wanted to hold him, and wanted me to attend to him at the slightest squeak that he made. You never seemed jealous that there was a new baby in the house. On the contrary, you were thrilled to have another person to have fun with, and your sweet nature prevailed.
Time to venture to pre-school arrived. Prior to that, you asked me two questions every morning: “Where daddy go?” To work. And “Where Sissy go?” To school. Oh, the excitement of getting to go to school too, where you could learn and be busy as a bee and social as a butterfly!
School years flew by and we could always count on two things: you always did your best at school and everyone, teachers and students alike, absolutely adored you. Your cheerful and positive attitude always were your assets. Even when there were struggles, you marched forward and persevered and had fun on the way.
Being the middle child of our family was never a detriment to you; instead it uncovered some of your finest strengths. You learned the fine art of diplomacy and compromise and settled many a backseat argument with a mature, “Can’t we just figure out a way to get along?”
I will never forget a disagreement a friend had with you on the school playground. You demonstrated maturity way beyond your years when you approached her and said, “On the road to friendship, we’ve taken the wrong turn.”
Friendships came easy for you back then and everyone in your classes wanted to be your friend because they knew it was a treasure to behold. Your kind and compassionate heart befriended the unlovable, including a special needs child in your class who got along with no one, except you. She listened to you, looked up to you, and loved you with all her heart.
You strived to do your best whether it was learning a new dance, doing a one-hand cartwheel in gymnastics, or learning goal-keeping skills at soccer. You developed a devout love for reading and still can be seen with a book in your possession. Athletics, math, singing, and acting were activities in which you shined. And to us, you were always our glimmering star!
Moving back to mama’s homeland brought a few difficulties for you. For some reason, cultivating friendships wasn’t as effortless as it was before. You learned you had to stand up for your convictions and your beliefs and that wasn’t easy. But you stood firm, even when you were talked about behind your back and ridiculed for your godly decisions. Your sensitive and sweet heart got trampled on more than one occasion. But God used those difficult years to strengthen and prepare you for things you had yet to encounter. I think He knew He had to make a warrior out of you.
Daddy and I were very proud of you graduating from high school with honors and participating in so many activities where you devoted your all whether it was on stage in school musicals or on the soccer playing field trying to vie for a playing spot amid a field of boys. The frustrations you endured and the injuries you incurred didn’t make you surrender; they just made you more determined.
Your college years were harder yet. You faced disappointments – and there were more than your fair share – but you chose to show your mettle instead of giving up and you earned that Bachelor of Science in Nursing with lots of hard, diligent work. And again, you relied on your Savior to carry you through the difficult times.
The Lord bestowed upon you a heart for those less fortunate than you and provided opportunities to bless those on mission trips to the Navajo people, to the poor and needy in Mexico, and to those devastated by hurricane Katrina. As always, the children in those areas were drawn to you and adored you for your free-spirited sense of fun and play, but most of all, your sweet and loving ways.
As you begin another year of life, I pray for God to bless you and always lead you where He wants you to go. My daughter, you have bloomed and blossomed into the most gorgeous of creatures.
God uses your compassion for others and your servant heart each day as you minister to the sick and weary in their hospital rooms.
As much as the Lord has blessed others through you, He has blessed me even more for He allowed me to be your Mama. Daughter, you are loved beyond measure. Happy 25th Birthday, my dear one!
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” ~Zephaniah 3:16-18 (New International Version)