Today is my precious baby's first birthday. I cannot believe that a year ago today I was laboring to bring her forth into the world. And, what an incredible experience that was! I have never worked so hard...I have never been so richly rewarded.
Although we had Sophia's big birthday party with friends and family on Saturday, today is a special, intimate celebration of her life. We dressed her prettily in a mint green dress with rosebuds, and after breakfast, we all (Brian, Sophia, my mother and I) gathered in the living room for her to open her gifts from Mama and Daddy. In addition to a set of stacking rings and a particularly soft and adorable purple hippo named Hazel, Brian and I gave Sophia a special figurine called a "Growing Up Girl." They are little porcelain figurines of a girl with a gold-washed number proclaiming the year that is being celebrated. There are sixteen in all, and Sophia will receive one each year to commemorate her steps on the path to womanhood.
After presents, Brian and I read her two letters...the first of ones that we plan to write each year for Sophia on her birthday--and any future children, on theirs. In years to come, the letters will likely contain advice, praise, encouragement, and suggestions but this year, they were filled mostly with dreams and prayers for our precious baby girl.
I'm not certain what we will do for the rest of the day, but it is likely to include some merry-making in the sunshine, perhaps an excursion to take afternoon tea with Grammie, and of course an intimate family dinner with Sophia's favorite foods and perhaps a cupcake with a candle in it!
"Lady Writing a Letter" by Johannes Vermeer
July 15, 2008
This year, to me, you are perfect. I have no advice, no encouragement, no admonitions to offer. Indeed, what of these could one offer to a one-year-old? No, this year, my precious daughter, what I have for you--and have in abundance--are dreams and prayers.
That you grow to know, love, and follow Jesus.
That your life be filled with great joy wherever the Lord may lead, and that your intoxicating laughter would brighten the lives of all you know, as now.
That you remain strong and healthy.
That you might make and keep many true friends who can support you and help you to grow in Christian character.
That you might be truly happy to be exactly who God made you to be.
That your childhood might be filled with sweet and significant memories.
That you might have a hunger for learning your whole life long.
That God might fully equip me to be the best mother possible for you.
That God would grow you into a virtuous, joyful woman who might bring Him great glory.
You are developing in so many ways, sweet baby, and each day I catch another glimpse of something new that makes me say with swelling heart, "This is another aspect of Sophia!" I am so privileged to love and care for you. I am so excited to get to know more and more my Sophia. Your daddy and I have been entrusted with you by God to raise you for His glory, and it isn't hard to be reminded of that for I cannot look upon you without thinking of Him and how He gave me the tremendous blessing of being your mother. Happy birthday, Sophia.
* * *
My sweet baby girl,
The love of a parent is something impossible to understand until you become a parent yourself. I haven't even begun to start dreaming for you like I anticipate doing in your coming years--right now all I can do is celebrate your innocence, cheerfulness, playfulness, energy and curiosity.
I constantly pray that Christ will give me the wisdom, strength, patience and joy to help you build those same traits. I'm so proud of you already, and I'm constantly reminded of the honor that I am so lucky to have as your father.
If there is one thing that I want you to know even at this young age, it is to know that every moment in life counts--each is beautiful in its own way, whether happy, painful, joyous or trying. Treasure the wonderful moments in life, and learn and grow by living through those that are not. Look back on memories of the past, but don't let your memories of what once was cloud your vision for the future. God works in mysterious ways, even in how He brought your mother and me together and brought you to us.
I love you, and I want you to always take security in that, knowing that God's arms will never fail you if mine do.