I’m way too young to have a 17-year-old.
Our oldest daughter, Whitney Leigh-Anne, turns 17 today. Actually, I’ve been kidding her all week that she really doesn’t turn 17 until 10:15 tonight. That’s what time she was born, after 17 hours of labor for Carrie-Anne, at South Austin Medical Center.
Since that long, long Wednesday in 1993, Whitney has brought such joy to our lives. She laughs at anything. She’s ultra-competitive at everything. She wins nine out of every ten games of Connect Four she plays against anybody. And she can go through a deck of cards in Solataire in about four minutes. She sings We Are the Champions, emphasizing the “no time for LOSERS!” phrase at the end of the chorus everytime she beats me at backgammon. She’s hilarious. She lives to play games. And she lives to watch games. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Super Bowl or a Western Louisiana and Idaho State basketball game, she watches every minute. And cares deeply about who wins and loses.
And she’s taught us so much over the past 17 years. How to love life. How to see the positive in every situation and everybody she meets. Whitney doesn’t see skin color or clothes or social status or money or cars or zip codes or hair styles. Everybody’s exactly the same in her eyes. When she was in sixth grade she was assigned to write a report about a black person she admired. She came home confused. I tried giving her some examples. I mentioned Dallas Mavericks guard Michael Finley, her favorite player at the time. She looked right at me and said, “He’s black???”
I love that about my Whitster.
Through every surgery, every stretch on crutches and in wheelchairs, every doctor’s appointment, she remains amazingly upbeat and positive. Nothing fazes her. I think she likes the attention, yes. But people give her the attention because she’s so sweet.
I had lunch with her today at school. Took her some Chick-Fil-A. The eight-piece Number Five with a Dr Pepper. The girl sitting across from Whitney shook my hand, introduced herself, and said, “You’re so lucky to have a daughter like Whitney. We love her.” The one sitting next to her said almost the same thing. These girls are varsity basketball players, varsity volleyball players. And they ask Whitney to sit with them. One of them texted her a Happy Birthday message at 7:00 this morning. They like her. Whitney makes them laugh. And I think God’s working through her to show these girls what a Spirit-indwelled person looks like.
Whitney blesses us beyond what I can even imagine to write here. I believe she’s a blessing to everybody who comes in contact with her. And I love her with everything I’ve got.
Happy Birthday, Whit.