To A on her 2nd birthday

Oct 2012

My dear baby A,

You turned two last week. We went to the zoo, you rode a zebra on the carousel, and you had no idea it was your birthday. But I did.

You see, two years ago we brought you home from the hospital. You were impossibly tiny, and I felt terrified because I’ve never known someone to need so much from me. Then, I watched a miracle grow. You’re no longer a baby, but a little girl with a will and a soul. You have eyes that some notice just for the intensity of color, but I love them for the intensity beyond the blue.

There is so much I want for you, so much I hope for you—I cannot tell you now in a way that you’ll fully understand, but I can record it here in the hopes that you read this someday and are inspired. You see, I cannot control you—you are only mine for a little while, and even now you are not fully mine. I am simply here to steward you, to shepherd you, to pray especially for you. So, here are the things I pray:

First, I pray that you fall in love with Jesus. I do not simply want you to become a moral person—I want you to live radically for a God who will give you purpose. I pray that through your life people see a radiant, powerful God—but first, you must see this God for yourself. We take you to church and we read your story Bible, but we cannot give you faith. So, I leave it up to my radiant, powerful God to show you Himself in His full glory and imbibe you with strength and joy and compassion.

I pray that you think. As we read in Dr. Seuss, “Think left and think right and think low and think high!” And, I urge you—think deeply, wrestle with difficult ideas, question everything. Be a lifelong learner. Read. Read for pleasure, read to enter new worlds. Most of all, read to evaluate new thoughts. Then, test those thoughts against what you believe. Learn what you believe and why you believe it, and have the courage and maturity to share those thoughts with others.

I pray you are compassionate. Compassion moves deeper than niceness—nice flashes in your smile; compassion blazes in your eyes. Nice asks how someone is doing; compassion listens to the answer. So, my hope is that you see people as they are and that you care.

I pray that you fail occasionally—and then learn and grow. Perhaps this sounds harsh, but from my failures I have grown the most. (Ask me someday—I’ll tell you about them.) And, as much as I would like to pass you my experiential wisdom, I can only advise you. Reality is: sometimes you will listen; sometimes you won’t. Failure is inevitable, so I guess this prayer is really for me—I pray I don’t get in your way. I pray that God will give me the resolution not to always rescue you, never to say “I told you so,” but be there to help dust you off.

Regardless of who you become, I hope you know that I love you. Also, that I like you. You are funny—especially when you don’t mean to be. You are determined. You like people. You like the letter W. You are fascinated by the lizards that live in our backyard. I look forward to watching all these qualities mature in you (except, perhaps, the liking of lizards…).

For now, I pray that I cherish you— that I never forget your little head on my shoulder, kissing your spongy little cheeks, your teeny feet in socks, your tiny voice saying, “Mommy, up.” Happiest of birthdays, sweet one.

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