Today this sweet girls turns 13.....thirteen?! She is growing into such a beautiful young lady....on the inside and outside. We took our annual photos yesterday...so different than just one year ago....I could sense the self-consciousness creeping in. We may be standing less than a foot apart, but what we see and feel could not be more different. I look through the lens and with every click I find myself saying how beautiful she is....how will I choose just one for the frame? Yet I sense her growing feelings of insecurity.....a heightened awareness of what others think of her. Maybe even wanting to believe that I'm not just saying this because I'm her mom...but unable because the voices of others ring loudly in her mind and memory. Not just there...but now here in her new life....almost confirming that those lies she's heard for so long are indeed truth. I wish I could just be louder than the other voices.....walk around with a megaphone, drowning them out..... To be a teenager today is no easy feat. I'm thankful that she knows the love of The One who created her and loves her beyond her wildest dreams. And my prayer, this year...and always....is that she will truly grasp how wide, how deep, how high and how long His love is for her...and that her identity will be found in Him, and in Him alone.
In many ways this past year has been incredibly challenging.....we have all worked extremely hard and come a long way. But what we try to remind one another of, are how many great memories we've made together...how much love, fun, joy we've experienced. How one year of our life is so small in many ways....and the hard days even smaller.... I treasure the sweet memories I have of this past year....the growth and progress that MUST be celebrated.
We continue to be amazed at the heart this girl has....so kind and generous....always ready and willing to give to others. She works hard, but is always asking for ways she can give away what she earns. "But remember the people we were talking about who......" or "but I have everything I need...they don't even have food..." Sometimes I just want to say, keep it!! Keep it and buy yourself something, you worked so hard for it! She reminds me, and I'm the student......
A day to do whatever her heart desires....and she decides to help her daddy with a big project. A can of worms is opened and soon she's indispensable. Willingly....with a SMILE...working for hours in the hot sun....learning skills, conquering fears....sacrificing...joyfully. My heart was bursting....and I asked her the repeated question....."how can you not see how special you are???!!!" There are so many times when she blows me away that I ask her that.....and I think...okay, surely you must see it now, right?! I think she gets glimpses....but they're so easily overshadowed....one small mistake...just being human and she can no longer see. I long for the day she fully sees. I hope someday, when you read this my daughter, you will smile and finally be looking through the same lens that I have for so long.
I can't help but feel sad as I watch some of the "little kid" in her fade away. It was too brief. I'm thankful, I truly am, for the fact that she was still very much a little girl when we met. And though I often encourage her not to dwell on what we lost and missed out on together....to not allow those feelings to ruin our opportunities now.....there are always those brief moments that I allow my mind to wander to all the moments we missed. This isn't about me...but I wish today, I could tell her about the day she was born.....the time, the weather....what a beautiful, perfect little baby she was. I wish we could look at pictures and home videos of past years, past birthdays spent celebrating together. I know that this birthday is bittersweet for her.....I wish I could take the bitter away....and help her to see that there's actually a lot of "sweet."
I hope, sweet daughter, that you feel special today. I hope that you allow yourself to accept the love that we feel and express...to know that we are blessed to have a daughter like you. I pray that you will know that our love for you is unconditional, and never ending....we will love you always and forever, no matter what. навсегда!
I think I get as excited as the kids when it's their birthday. It's so fun to make everything especially geared towards them and their interests. A special breakfast....gifts.....slowing down and just enjoying one another.
I always find all these great ideas which of course never come out exactly as planned...thankfully my kids appreciate the effort :) She wanted a soccer party this year, so soccer it was!
One of the really special aspects of this years birthday was having Karina here. As soon as she found out that the Hoptons were adopting her, she excitedly talked about how Karina would be able to come to her party this time! I still feel like it's surreal that she's here.....only God could plan something like this!
We made tie dye shirts....partly because Keira had been asking to try it out and we hadn't had the chance....and partly because...what do you do with a group of teenagers at a party? And what on earth do you give as a favor? I think they enjoyed it....they got pretty detailed and particular!
Keira must have thanked me a million times today....she kept feeling like it wasn't enough. I know that feeling....but I also tried to help her realize that it's a joy to do something for someone you love....to watch them really feel how special they are, and to celebrate them and how important they are in your life. She wanted me to know that even if she wasn't smiling every second, that she was so very happy inside.....and all in all, it was a success....because she felt special today, and I know this time she really meant it when she said it.
Happy 13th Birthday Keira!