Dear Birthday Girl

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” –Jeremiah 1:5

Dear Eliza,

You are one today. How can it be? It seems like a whole lifetime has passed since you were born, but as I reflect on it, I realize that it is not time but perspective that has made this last year so different from all the others. I cannot imagine life before you were born. In so many ways, it will never ever be the same. And for that, I am so thankful.

I don’t want to go back. I wouldn’t trade this year –with all its ups and downs – for anything. Thank you for being here, sweet Eliza Emmaline. You make me realize how beautiful my world is. You inspire me with your strength, with your persistence, with your courage. You inspire me with the smile you keep in the midst of hard things. I want to be more like you.

When you arrived in this world, you were so sleepy. For days and then weeks it was a gift if you even opened your eyes or made the tiniest peep. But I think now that you were just gathering your strength and taking it all in…the kindness of your nurses, the midnight feeds cuddled into my chest with your daddy sitting beside us, and the tender kisses your sister left on your cheeks at the end of her daily visits. You didn’t respond at the time, but I know now as certainly as I know anything that they did not go unnoticed. You spent your time soaking in all that love, and it rooted itself in you. It changed you and grew you into the loving little person you are today.

The day after you were born…that scary one with the pokes and the tests and the bright lights, a team of prayer warriors lifted you up. And they grew into churches and homes and circles of friends from all over. Some sat beside you, but there were so many others even I have never met. Love works like that…it is contagious and selfless and so very, very powerful. Lean into it.

Your first year of life has been a journey, and you have drawn a village into your adventure that loves you more than you will ever know. Except maybe you do. Maybe your beautiful, joyful soul already knows. Maybe that’s why the one thing you do so effortlessly is lift up the people around you…it just pours from you, that love.

I cannot wait to see where this life takes you, and I am so honored to get a front-row seat on that ride. It’s going to be a good one, baby girl.

Love you always, forever, and no matter what,