Last year on your 7th birthday, I wrote you this letter. Not much has changed. We still really love you. You’re still dramatic and fearful and fierce and funny and affectionate all at once. And you still inspire many Oh, Havens from all of us.
Like the time you honestly and unselfconsciously declared: “Awww, I wish I were a baby like Harmoni so everyone would stand around looking at me.”
Or when you landed a narrator role in the second grade play: “I have the most lines—except for Gretel.” Pause. “I really wanted to be Gretel.”
You later boldly declared: “I am the opposite of stage fright.”
Your after-school debrief one day elicited yet another Oh, Haven: “Our teacher gave us the option of talking through our identity boxes in front of the class. You know what I chose of course!” I do indeed 😉
“Lena told the class I was on her soccer team today and everyone turned and looked at me.” Then sheepishly, “And I liked it.”
Recently, I asked Alexa for the status of the 20 minute timer you had set for piano practice. Her report: “You have 8 minutes left on your dumb timer.” Oh, Haven—that sass gets you into all kinds of trouble.
This year, all your fight and sass found an appropriate outlet on the soccer field. Playing with two big brothers all these years has honed your elbow-throwing skills and cultured a well-timed lean. Plus you’re fast and have a great left food. You currently hold the family record of 6 goals in one game.
This year brought along a new challenge. You had to switch schools. We prayed all summer that God would place you in class with the one other girl you knew there. And in his kindness, he did just that. Although you were terrified about the transition and put us through a good bit of drama about it, all along, I said, Oh, Haven. Enough! You’re going to be perfectly fine. Everywhere you go you make friends quickly and easily.
Other things that cause drama: food. Food is enemy #1. You eat apples, bananas and chicken (which you’ve identified as your favorite food—Just not chick-fil-A). You do okay with soup and lots of bread, but most other things make you gag. And when I say gag, I mean appetite quelling displays that leave me cleaning vomit off your plate and table. Nothing brings you to tears quicker than talking about what’s on the menu for dinner, except maybe talking about doctors—your #2 enemy. Afterall, they were responsible for the strep test which made you gag and vomit not once but twice all over me, and for the flu test which sent a long poky thing all the way up your nose and out your ear. That’s how you described it anyway. Plus they talk about blood and other things that make your squirm. Another year has not cured you of these fears or of your terror of bugs and spiders. Or of pulling a tooth. (Which explains the snaggle tooth in all our family pictures this last year)
You love to be in charge. Your favorite pastime: playing school. You’re the teacher, naturally. And when you’re actually at school, your the teacher’s helper.
We love your loud, hearty, and ready laugh. And Your imagination. You’re always ready to play along, and you’re constantly teasing.
Last winter you contracted the flu and were down with a fever for 10 days. 10 days! It was awful. You didn’t get the social stimulation you were desperate for and I couldn’t leave the house for days. Plus your bright eyes looked like this for that whole stretch. Sometimes we want a break from all your energy and drama, but not like this: 😔
You have a keen mind, my girl. You’re highly observant. You’re good at math. You do well at reading, though it’s not your favorite. I think you prefer making your own drama and starring in your own movies.
You happily live in disorder and chaos. Daddy is always reminding you to pick up your “debris.”
You’re our brown hair, blue-eyed beauty. You’re our stuffed animal collector, desperate for the real thing. (As a sidenote: that runs in the family too. Once, Aunt Tara pulled the car off the road to collect a turtle she had spotted while driving. And my grandma kept quite the menagerie while my mom was growing up—including a squirrel, a pig, two pigeons, a raccoon and lots of dogs. But what she really wanted was a skunk! You’re a little wiser since you’ve had four encounters with the skunks who set up house under our deck. But that’s another story.)
Haven girl, we love you so, so, so, soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much! As many Oh Havens continue to escape our lips, we somehow still can’t get enough of you. Though we challenge you on your 8th birthday (the last “little” year in my observation) to grow into your name—a name meaning a place of refuge or safety.
But to be that refuge for others, you must first find your refuge in God. He is our haven. Just as he has rescued his people from literal storms, (Psalm 107:23-31) so he has saved us from the metaphorical storm within—the tempest of our own rebellion against him, the tempest of our willful departure from the one who made us, the one who firmly established our identity, and the one who consequently knows exactly what we need and exactly what will make us happy. Our departure left us alone and afraid, uncertain of who we are; it left us distressed and reeling and full of angst. We all had a PTSD of our own making because we rejected God and wandered away from the only refuge for our souls. Oh, Haven, “remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” (Ecclesiastes 12) Find peace and safety with him now and stay there until he carries you through the many storms of life. Grow into your name, dear daughter of mine, and draw many others into his haven.