When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Happy birthday little big girl

Dear Maddie,

Just recently you tried to convince me you were a "young adult."  Say what?!  Where had you even heard that term?  You just giggled and insisted, "I am, mom!"  I have to remind you constantly you that you are still a girl, and a fairly little one at that.  Still, I find you and your friends talking with valley girl accents, "practicing being teenagers."  [Cue my rapid white hair growth.]

I used to fear your teenage years.  If I thought you'd turn out like the catty and/or clueless teenagers on television, I would still be concerned.  When I think about my own teenage misadventures, I cringe.  Then I remember two very important things: 1. You are not me.  2. You are in God's hands.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."  So, sweet girl, I am trying my best to train you in the way you should go.  I am giving you the guidelines.  I know you will make mistakes and bad choices, but I am doing my darndest to let you know that you are and always will be loved by your parents and by God.  I am trusting that knowledge will sink way down into your very soul and provide you with the courage you need to live a good life.

You and Jack in Boracay
And little sister, you are well on your way.  You are a dear.  A sassy dear, but a dear all the same.  You are the sweetest big sister a boy could ask for.  Tonight I came home to find you closing the boys' door, whispering, "Goodnight Caleb, Ya-ya [Maddie] is going to sleep now.  Stay in bed."  When I asked her what she'd been doing, she replied, "Oh, we were playing cars, then I scratched his back, then I read him some books and sang him his goodnight song."

You continue to be a great little sister to Parker.  You are often completely selfless when it comes to him.  If you have candy, it's offered to him.  If you have money, and he wants it, you shrug and pass it over (until we stop him, of course).  You are not a pushover by any means.  You are just extremely generous.  If there is something you want, you will fight for it [literally], but generally, what's yours is his.

You absolutely crave affection.  We've figured out a way to make sure you get all the kisses and snuggles you need.  You tell us if your "love tank" is empty or low.  Now instead of pouting for no apparent reason, you are able to use your words to tell us what you need.  And once we hear the "love tank" status, let the hugging begin!  Sometimes you even use the whiteboard in your room to leave us love notes.  You are an excellent storyteller, illustrator, and communicator!

You are also quite the world traveller.  It is nothing to take you on a 4, 5, even 6 hour plane ride.  You know just how to stay in line at immigration.  You don't ever complain.  You climb aboard a tuk tuk with absolutely no hesitation.  You never cease to amaze me!

On the jetty to Boracay

On a tuk tuk in Cambodia

First hospital visit

Peanut challenge
This year brought many exciting changes.  Among them were the nut challenges you bravely completed at the hospital.  You had blood tests, and skin tests, and finally monitored nut consumption.  We learned you can eat many types of nuts safely, and we can even introduce peanuts into your diet.  I'm so proud of how brave and patient you have been through the entire process.  My favorite part was spending hours on end alone with you in the hospital where we read books, made bracelets, created a secret handshake, and watched movies.

This was a huge year for you.  You learned to ride a bike, you lost baby teeth, you mastered your school's ridiculously complicated uniform schedule.  But the most exciting development (in my opinion) was in the friendship department.  In years past, my mean mommy rule of only allowing as many birthday guests as you were years old was not a problem.  You were relatively shy and had a few close friends.  This year, however, you had so many sweet friendships, I nearly amended my rule.  Nearly, but not quite.  In the end, you chose seven of your closet friends from the neighborhood and from school.  And you had a ball!  My heart sang as I watched you parade around the house, directing the games, hostessing the stuffed animal tea party, opening your presents, all the while, surrounded by true friends.  My shy little girl is blossoming!  My prayer is that you will continue to develop real friendships, wherever we go.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.

I love you so much, and I'm so proud of the girl [not yet young adult] you are becoming.  I can't wait to watch you grow this year.  May God bless you, sweet girl!


Maddie as Mary Poppins

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