I can’t think of your first year of life without reflecting on God’s faithfulness (yet again) to our family. You were born in the midst of a rough patch for your parents, sweet girl. After our property fire last year in which we lost most of our possessions, there was a small window of time in which we despaired of having anything covered by insurance. God was gracious. We did not completely give way to despair, but there were some tense moments until we knew we would at least have the depreciated value covered.
There was much joy when we were told by the company with whom we had just canceled our home policy that they would cover replacement value up to a certain amount. It was a long, tedious process of sorting through our melted, burned, smoky, moldy, and sooty possessions, cataloging them, determining the purchase date and purchase amount, but we got it done. In the midst of that I could often marvel at how God would allow us to feel the full force of the trial but then in some of our most discouraging moments would provide just the encouragement we needed. And so, a full four months after the fire, you were born. At that time we still had not received a dime of compensation for our losses. We were astonished at the various ways God supplied our needs–gifts from dear friends near and far, a loan from a family at my parent’s church, meals, help repainting our home and moving back in. The list is a long one. And I love to remember it. But then there was you. We brought you home to a not yet fully furnished house and I wondered how I would ever get around to making it a home again. God again showed his great heart of love and kindness to us in giving us the wonderful gift of a calm, easily contented baby. From the beginning you ate well, slept well, and in general did everything well! God could have lovingly molded and shaped us through the additional trial of a difficult baby, but he was merciful, remembered our weaknesses and gave us a little girl who has lived up to her name. You’re still my Haven in the morning. I love to wake you just before the boys get up and have some quiet cuddle time before the craziness of the day sets in. I love our one on one time late morning while the boys battle it out with light sabers in the basement. I just love you, my girl. I was told that I would never have the one-on-one time with second and third babies that I had with my first. And to that I always think–maybe not, but gone are those early days of mothering when I was learning an entirely new skill set on a dramatically reduced sleep schedule. Gone are the days when I obsessively compared my babe’s development to the development of babies born around the same time. Gone are the days when I tried to make every interaction with my baby a pre-school lesson. Now are the days when I can sit quietly and hold my baby, observe her development, learn about her and just let her be a baby. I worry less these days and enjoy more. The years of wearying discipline are ahead of us and I have learned to delight in the sweet innocence (relative, of course) of that first year of life. And now it has reached its conclusion. But, as you start to do more toddlerish things I remember how wonderful year number two is as well, and I look forward to discovering more about this mysterious little girl that lives among us. Right now we know that you are remarkably observant, not easily distracted, understand almost everything, talk when it suits you (mama, dada, night night, hi, bye bye, NO, uh-oh, more, please, yea! up, luv u, light, that), love to waive and clap, despise stubble beards, have a stubborn streak reminiscent of your oldest brother, don’t hesitate to share your opinions, are careful and fearful about trying new things (still not cruising or walking), love to store toys in out of reach for adults nooks and crannies, are my pickiest eater yet–hating fruits and veggies but eagerly scarfing carbs and meats, are strong with the force (for a youngling!), love to crawl around in circles until you’re dizzy, adore your older brothers–waiting for them outside their bedroom door and by the basement gate when you’re separated, can hold your own when bigger kids bother you–either by yelling loudly and angrily or shoving them away with surprisingly fast reflexes, are NOT a tough cookie when you’re hurt, and that your favorite place to be is either in mommy or daddy’s arms, liberally giving out hugs and kisses. Oh we just love you, sweet thing!!! Happy birthday to our dear, dear girl. You have been a place of calm in the middle of stress, reminding us of our true Refuge from trials without and within. You have been a good gift, reminding us of the goodness and faithfulness of the Giver. You have been a perfect complement to our family, reminding us of the supreme wisdom of our God. We pray it will always be so.