Yesterday, you turned THIRTEEN.
I could go on an on about how fast the years have flown by, or reminisce about all the adorable things you did when you were a baby, but instead, I want to take a minute and share my heart with you.
I want you to know that I am proud of you. You are a born overcomer. There have been many things that life has thrown your way that have been challenging, and yet, you have overcome each one.
You are a forgiver. Only your family truly knows the things you've faced, but each time, you were given two options: become bitter, or forgive. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness that you chose what God wants---forgiveness.
You are an example. I love that I can tell the little girls to "be like Ellie" and it's a GOOD thing. :) I watch the way you mother them, and I listen to the way you speak to them, and I can hear Jesus in you. Always choose G-R-A-C-E in your dealings with children. They look to you for an example.
You are loved. From Aunt Rhonda (pictured above) to the rest of your extended family, from Johanna down to Titus, and especially from your Daddy and myself---YOU ARE LOVED. Wherever life takes you, never forget that we love you. Right now, at 13, you may take it for granted, but someday you will wake up and find yourself lonely for the chaos that is your f-a-m-i-l-y.
And we will be there for you. (Hopefully that's a reassuring thing. LOL)
You are beautiful. I look at you and stand in awe of your beauty. I love the fact that the inside is as beautiful as the outside.
It won't be long before young men start noticing the lovely young woman you've become. Don't waste your time with those who are more interested in your outer beauty than your true inner beauty. Save your heart for that very special young man who is waiting patiently for YOU.
Remember that there will always be someone "prettier" than you, "thinner" than you, more "popular" than you, and that seems "happier" than you. Don't fall into the female comparison trap. You'll never please everyone anyway.
The one God created in my womb thirteen years ago.
The one who fills our days with such delightful J-O-Y.
You're radiant with the love of Jesus. Remember that serving HIM will bring you true joy in life.
Money, fame, popularity, and plenty of STUFF will try to distract you from serving Jesus. Keep your heart close to HIM so His voice is louder than all of the distractions.
People say the "teen" years are hard. I know it has to be hard to feel stuck between child and adult. :)
Your Daddy and I are there for you as you navigate this path to adulthood. We aren't perfect parents and you won't be the perfect teen---but you will ALWAYS be the perfect teen for US.
I'm not sure I'm ready for you to grow up. I've never walked this journey before. It's exciting and scary all at once.
I know the time will come (sooner than I'd like!) when you will examine all that we have poured into you and determine what YOU truly believe. Your faith and your purpose in life will be brought under deep scrutiny.
If you only come away with one thing, my prayer is that it's a vibrant love relationship with Jesus. None of the rest is important if you don't LOVE HIM.
You could not do or be anything that could make us any more proud of you than we are right this very minute. You are our precious first-born, our miracle child, the child we begged God to allow us to have.
You are a delight to both Daddy and me.
I will love you forever.
Happy 13th birthday.