Audra Grace
Today is your birthday. You turned 11 this morning at 8:37am. I remember that morning like it was yesterday. I was nervous and afraid as they wheeled me into the ER for the surgery that would usher you into the world. It was a day of firsts. My first c-section delivering my first girl in what would begin a lifetime of firsts. First times, that ironically, would also be last times, as you are our youngest.
You have been, and I’m sure you will continue to be, my greatest teacher. 
The night before you started pre-k, I told you I was going to be sad that you wouldn’t be with me all day. You came back later and said, “Mama, I have lots of princesses you can play with so you won’t have to cry while I’m gone.” You went right into class that next day, never looking back. I, on the other hand, was the only one in tears. That afternoon when we picked you up, we asked if you missed us. You said, “No, I was too busy!”  While it broke my mama heart, I was so proud of you.
Don’t lose that sense of self and independence.
Several years ago, while watching American Idol, one of the contestants dedicated a song to his sister who was cut in an earlier round. You were sobbing by the end of it saying, “that was so nice, his singing that for his sister.”
Don’t lose that tenderness. Don’t let anyone tell you it is weakness. 
When you were 7 you broke your arm, the first time, in two places and never really cried or let it bother you. You practiced writing with your left hand so you could do your school work by yourself. Surgeries, broken bones, stitches; the various scars you carry are a testament to your resilience and ability to grab life and live it to the fullest. Resilience and strength you have acquired growing up with 4 older brothers.
Don’t lose that strength. Don’t let anyone tell you a girl can’t or shouldn’t be strong.
When there is girl drama, and oh my goodness we saw that as early as 3, you just let it roll off your back. And now, at this age, when it kicks into high gear, you continue to handle it gracefully. While we as women can be our greatest advocates, we can also be our worst enemies. Stick up for your sisters. Support them. Be happy for them. Cry with them. Always be for them!
Don’t let someone else’s pettiness or jealousy define who you are. They are not worth it. 
You have a body and you are beautiful. How you clothe yourself is not an invitation but simply a form of self-expression. It is uniquely yours and you have the freedom to celebrate who you are. You are not an object. You are not responsible for the thoughts and actions of others.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
You have a voice. Don’t be afraid to use it. Don’t let anyone tell you that because you are a woman you can’t be heard or your opinions have no value. You can do and be anything you want to. Reach for the stars. You are a child of the King. He created you for His purpose.
Don’t let anyone make you less than that.
You are strong and fiercely independent. You are kind, compassionate and tender hearted. All good things that will serve you well into adulthood.
Today we celebrate you. You are loved and cherished. I am amazed everyday by who you are becoming. You are the gift that saved my life and already, at 11, you are the person I want to be when I grow up.
 
Today I am thankful for Grace…the undeserved gift that you are. 
You are the child of barren years; the child of laughter. 
The gift given in a love rekindled. You are a living reminder of hope. 
That beauty can made from ashes and all things can be made new. 
 

 

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