No. I’m in serious denial here. Fifteen sounds so big. It sounds *gulp* kinda grown up. And she’s not. No way. She’s little Valerie.
She’s my little newborn baby with those huge beautiful eyes, taking everything in, surveying her surroundings, sizing up the other infants in that nursery at South Austin Medical Center. She’s my tiny toddler with the saggy diaper, waddling around the house with that pink sippy cup, constantly calling out in that deep, funny baritone drawl, “I want mo’ milk.” Valerie is my little middle, the blondie who sits sideways in the car with her face almost stuck to the glass so she doesn’t miss a single thing as it goes by. “What’s that?” Or more like, “Whaaaat’s thaa-yat?” She’s my little dress up girl with the Barbies and doll houses. She’s my picky eater who never met a vegetable she didn’t hate. She’s my little elementary school cutie with the snaggle-toothed grin who wants me to tuck her in every night, “papoose style.”
Yeah, she’s all those things. She always will be all those things to me. I can’t help but see all those things — still — in her.
But she’s also turning fifteen today. She is.
She likes drinking coffee now. She had a big cup of it on the way out the door this morning. Stinks up our whole house. She’s into Justin Bieber (Lord, where did I mess that up?) and listens to him and Taylor Swift and some guy named Bruno Mars or something in her room, in the bathroom, in the car, everywhere. She’s got that iTouch on and those ear plugs in all the time. She’s very, very fashion conscious: belts and fingernails, socks and hair bands, name brand jeans with the bling on the booty, and some kind of shoe called Sperry’s that look almost exactly like the topsiders we wore in the ’80s. She’s really in to zebra stripes right now; black and white and pink zebra stripes on everything. She can be kinda sarcastic. She sings in the high school choir. She’s acting at Amarillo Little Theater. She babysits. She’s slightly sarcastic. She laughs at things that make adults laugh. She takes off for hours at a time with friends who already have their drivers licenses. She’s learning how to drive now herself. She spends as much effort and energy talking to boys as she does girls. She’s a little sarcastic. And she eats those two or three bites of broccoli now with just a slight sulk instead of a full-on-knock-down-drag-out fight-to-the-death.
And she’s just absolutely beautiful. Stunning.
She’s about grown up. She’s almost there.
And she loves her Lord — our Lord — and his people. She’s given her life to him and he’s making full use of it. Our God uses our Val-Pal all the time to show his love and grace and acceptance and mercy to other people. Nothing makes her happier than to spend time with somebody who doesn’t always feel love, somebody who doesn’t always experience acceptance. She cares a great deal about the needs of others. Our Father has put that in her. His Spirit lives in her and moves her to do sacrificial things that benefit other people. It’s quite spectacular, really, when your prayers for your children are answered almost every day right in front of your eyes. She reflects God’s glory. And I love it.
Happy Birthday, Valerie. “Her’s a big girl!”
I love you. And I’m so proud of you.