Dearest Valerie,

BacParentsWe’re beaming today, sweetie. We’re so proud of you. We’re proud of the ways you’ve absolutely blossomed here in Amarillo. We’re amazed by your deep friendships, the commitment to your church family and youth group, and the love you have for your little students at Oakdale Elementary. It’s been an exciting four years in the Amarillo High School choir and Bel-Canto, all the retreats and Treks and mission trips, the crazy goings-on of your crew, and your great success with AmeriCorps. We have so enjoyed every minute of watching you mature and flourish into a beautiful, confident, godly young lady.

Our God has placed kind and loving people in your path, Valerie. All those friends you have, all those teachers who love you so much, are a gift from our God. Susan Butler is a blessing from God. So are Matt and Sara. And Aleisha. Becky. Shirlene. Bill and Suzannah. Tanner. Derrell and Nola. They all love you very much. And they have each played important roles in shaping you into the Christ-like woman you are becoming. We clearly see our Lord’s sacrificial and servant heart reflected in your acts of compassion and concern for others. We see his joy in the hearty laughter you share with your friends. We see his peace when you handle teenage drama and issues with a more even keel. And we see his grace in the way you minister to those little kids.

Our “Little Middle” isn’t little anymore. Yeah, you still sing at the top of your lungs in the shower, regardless of what time it might be. You still wrinkle up your nose and refuse to eat almost anything other than grilled cheese or pizza. You still spend hours decorating your fingernails and toenails with bright colors and intricate designs. You still draw and color on anything that’s not nailed down. And you still melt and say, “Awww…” when you see a puppy. BacSisters

But there’s no denying that you are grown up and equipped and ready for everything that’s coming in your future. We are so proud of you and what our God is shaping in you. You are a beautiful, talented, funny, super-smart, wonderful daughter of God. He shines out of every facet of your complex personality and adorable little quirks. You reflect Jesus. And it’s beautiful. And I’m very proud of you. I’m very proud to be Valerie’s dad.

May our God bless you richly, daughter. May he strengthen you and empower you by his Holy Spirit to live the rest of your life the way you’ve lived these first few years. May he continue to work through you to spread his love and grace to others. May your life bring him eternal glory and praise. And may you walk with him always, Valerie, faithful to the end.

I love you.