Happy Birthday, beautiful girl

Hi, baby girl!  Today, you are 13.

Abbey 13

I wish I could remember years 2-11 as well as I remember the time leading up to your arrival, the first 23 months of your life, and the last two!

I anticipated your birth with a yearning I had never know up to that point. I thought of you all day, wrote you letters, sang to you, talked to you.  I simply couldn’t wait until you were in my arms and in front of my eyes!

Four weeks before you were due, we had the bright idea to go to downtown Dallas and see a Mavericks game with our church, Hope Fellowship.  We ate at a Mexican restaurant with Mimi, Tiger, and Shelby and then went to the game.  It came a complete monsoon rain.  We parked in the wrong place and ended up walking up a set of stairs, across an overpass, and back down a set of stairs before arriving at the stadium.  Once we got to the arena, I started feeling funny – having contractions, etc.  The next day was my regular checkup and, unfortunately, my blood pressure was up pretty high… so, the doctor put me on bedrest.  😦  I was pretty bummed because we were out in the middle of nowhere.  Nash, our beagle, kept me company.  So did the cows, ha ha.  During those 4 weeks, we didn’t have cable and relied on rabbit ears (which you have no idea of) and I got really addicted to reruns of Mad About You and Caroline in the City – the only shows I could get to come in clearly.  The commercial for Ross (shop-shopping… shopping at Ross) will forever live on in my memory, as it played no less than 50 times a day. But I never felt “alone” because you were with me.

At the end of the 4 weeks, I woke up on April 22nd with a really bad headache.  Figuring this wasn’t a very good sign, daddy took me to the hospital.  Sure enough, my blood pressure was very high, and the doctor admitted me around mid-day.  At midnight, the doctor decided I needed to be induced.  Hey, it was Easter!  And at 5:33am, just as the sun was rising on a new day, you made you grand entrance into this world – changing ours forever.

I will never ever ever forget the moment I laid eyes on you for the first time.  I said “She’s so beautiful!” and I started to cry.  So did you, ha ha.  My goodness, you were cute!  I thought you had the most amazingly gorgeous eyebrows I’d ever seen on a baby.  I know that sounds strange, but it’s true.  And as they took you over to clean you up a little bit, you cried this cute little cry where you trilled your tongue (something you cannot to this day replicate, oddly enough!) and I was a goner.  Completely in love.  100%.  Finally, they bundled you up like a burrito and laid you in my arms.  You looked at me with the most serious, wide eyes, like you knew exactly who I was.  Even though you had lived in my tummy for 9 months, in that moment we had found each other.

April 23, 2000 was the best Easter ever.  Your first full day as my baby.  It’s incomprehensible to me how much of your present-day personality was revealed to me in that first 24 hours.  I have a picture of you actually smiling at me that first day – I’ll try to find it and insert it here.   You were a “toucher” from day one, and that hasn’t changed.  When you were a few months old, I would lie in bed on my side and nurse you and it was at this point that you started doing something that you do to this very day whenever you need comfort – tickle-scratching the back of my arm.  I probably first noticed it when you were about 4 months old and it was the absolute sweetest thing.

For the first 23 months of your life, it was mostly you and me, kiddo.  Poor daddy worked – A LOT – so you and I were as close as close could be.  You were my best friend.  (still are!!!)  We did everything together – grocery-shopped, sang, laughed, read books… whatever.  Oh!  This is no exaggeration whatsoever:  When you were about 3 months old, I would sing this song to you, “Baby” from the Maltby & Shire musical, Closer, and YOU TRIED TO SING ALONG WITH ME.  It was the most amazing thing.  You would concentrate so hard on my mouth while I sang and you would make little cooing noises to go along with it.  Even then, you had the most beautiful voice.  Seriously, your tone was angelic.

When you were around 15 months old, I got pregnant with Luke.  Eventually, I got so big with him that all I wanted to do was lie on the couch… but you wanted to play, so we compromised.  We had these little A-Z Sesame Street books.  You would bring me book after book over to the couch and no matter what, I read whatever book you put in my face.  Over and over.  I truly believe that’s why you’re so stinkin’ smart today!!!  LOL  You can thank your brother.  😉

So, yes, eventually Luke came along and you were (and still are) the best big sister.  And then not long after that, we moved (back to) Nashville and Lincoln was born.  Here’s where life got really complicated – with Lincoln being extremely ill, and living in a new place – it seems that you went from being my baby to being my little girl in the blink of an eye.  And I feel like I somehow missed it.  I tried, really hard, to cherish every single moment.  To burn every memory into my brain… but it was just too hard.  Even so, certain things stand out in my mind, like how nurturing, competent and generous you always were.  That hasn’t changed!

But enough about the past… let’s talk about now.  Let’s talk about the future.

Sweet girl, I cannot imagine having a more wonderful daughter.  God out-did Himself when he gave you to daddy and me.  No matter what we prayed for… no matter what we imagined… you surpass it all.  You are kind.  You are smart.  You are important.  LOL, no really!  You are!  We watch you handle situations with a grace and maturity that defy your 13 (!!!!!) years.  You love the Lord and are dedicated to serving Him.  You are a loyal friend.  You are FUN… and funny.  You are so talented.  You are a worshiper.  You look at what’s in people’s hearts and treat others with respect and dignity.  And the best part is, I don’t think you have any idea how awesome you are!  Yes, you are confident…  but it comes from knowing who you are in Christ, and that’s a far cry from being self-centered or conceited.  Look, I know you’re not perfect… but you’re pretty spectacular, and we love you!!!!

Now, to the future.  I have so many hopes and dreams for you, sweet girl!!!  I feel that my heart will burst sometimes when I think of all that God has in store for you.  One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Psalm 139.  I pray this over you, inserting your name as is appropriate:

Lord, you have examined me. You know me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up. Even from far away, you comprehend my plans. You study my traveling and resting. You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways. There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord, that you don’t already know completely. You surround me—front and back. You put your hand on me. That kind of knowledge is too much for me; it’s so high above me that I can’t fathom it. Where could I go to get away from your spirit? Where could I go to escape your presence? If I went up to heaven, you would be there. If I went down to the grave, you would be there too! If I could fly on the wings of dawn, stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean— even there your hand would guide me; even there your strong hand would hold me tight! If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me; the light will become night around me,” even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you! Nighttime would shine bright as day, because darkness is the same as light to you! You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well. My bones weren’t hidden from you when I was being put together in a secret place, when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my embryo, and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me, before any one of them had yet happened. God, your plans are incomprehensible to me! Their total number is countless! If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand! If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you. (Psalms 139:1-18 CEB)

My prayer is that you’ll always know how much God loves you and how intimately He created you.  He knows you.  He loves you.  He has a plan for you and that plan is amazing.  Trust in Him always.  Make room for the Holy Spirit every day.  Leave room for the extraordinary in every day.  When you wake up, just pause and ask “What do you have for me today, God? How would you like to use me?”  I promise you, your life will be more content and fulfilled than you could possibly imagine when you seek Him first.

I love you, baby girl, and I’m so excited for your teenage years.  Every stage with you is a blessing.  You are a blessing!  We thank God for you every day.






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