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IMG_0007My Dearest Abigail Nichelle,

Today, you turned one year old. Today, you are undeniably a toddler. Today, you woke up smiling and went to bed having just eaten cake – with a fork – because you wouldn’t taste it with your fingers.IMG_0247

You are my precious, particular, exuberant girl.

You are Abby.

Beautiful. Bold. Fearless. Smart. Passionate. Extroverted. Busy. Full of joy.

A miracle.

Always and forever.

You are meant to change your world.

IMG_0233IMG_0234As the midnight hour on your first birthday nears and I’m finally sequestered in bed until you need to nurse again, I search for the right words on this momentous day. And none come. And then they gush forth. All manner of emotions and encouragements and exhortations that I want to give to you. To share what 27 years of living life has taught me. What I want you to remember when you are a smart, sophisticated woman who doesn’t need me to hold your hand as you toddle around the house. (Please, always need me at least a little bit.)

So…

~~~

To Your Adult Self:

Don’t hide your beauty from the world for fear of what people may do with it. Shine, Sweet Girl. Shine bright and beautiful and shower light into dark places.

Don’t let failure rob you of your boldness and courageous. Do the impossible. Attempt the stupendous. Be a dreamer in a world that wants you to only live in reality. Go far beyond the seen, and anchor your heart in hope.

Be a brilliant woman who doesn’t deny her intelligence, but rather wields it with compassion and wisdom. Walk with your head held high and your heart wide open. Love with great passion and great forgiveness. No one is perfect, and you must give yourself and others grace.

Sing during times of sorrow. Laugh when the rains come. Find the joy that lights up your little-girl eyes now during those coming times when sadness seeks to overcome you. If all else fails, run home to your mama, who will always love you. Always be here to hold you. Always be here to remind you of who you were made to be.

When you forget your soul’s song, come home and your Daddy and I will sing it back to you. The song of a little-girl-turned-woman who dances fearlessly through her days. The song of a miracle. IMG_0232

Let your heart rest in your Heavenly Father’s love and strength. As surely as He made your deep dimples, He has also crafted the journey ahead. He has planned your adventure, and He will never leave you. Remember that the Bible says that He dances over you and delights in you. You can’t let Him down, because He isn’t that type of God. He’s the type that has already seen all of your mistakes and forgiven them. He has already seen the deep places of your heart and called you His.

Your mama would know. She has doubted God. She has grown angry at a God who doesn’t always stop evil. She has grown silent, as friends were abused, babies were lost, and numbing pain seared scars in her soul. She has sobbed, and she has been shaken. But, she has never been forsaken. In the darkest days, there was still a Comforting Presence. When she turned away, she was pursued by His love. When despair darkened the light, He kept all from going pitch black.

You were part of His whispered promise to me. A promise of hope after heartache. A promise of victory after miscarriages. You reshape my world and give my soul a reason to find my own song again.

I want to be brave like you are brave now, Fearless Child. I want to run instead of walk. I want to dance instead of sit. I want to smile at perfect strangers, because life is good. I want to giggle for no reason.

So, know this. After 27 years of living, I’ve learned that no pain is worth permanent heart walls. No grief is worth losing joy. Maybe for a season. But, not forever. Find and cling with desperation to hope. Hold tight to friends who will grieve with you, laugh with you, and love you through it all. Dream big dreams and don’t be afraid to let those dreams change. Love. Forgive. Give grace.

~~~

I love you, Abby. I love that you are mine for years to come. I love that I was chosen to be your mama. One year ago today you burst forth with a radiance unimaginable and begin teaching me about unconditional love. All 4 pounds, 12 ounces of you. All 18.5 inches. “Tiny, but mighty,” the specialist said. Um, yes, ma’am. That’s my girl.

And, a few photos from the past weeks that epitomize who our family and you are becoming… IMG_4703IMG_4704 IMG_4705 IMG_4702IMG_0127IMG_0006 IMG_0008 IMG_0004 IMG_0005IMG_0003IMG_0155IMG_0154

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