Carrie-Anne replied, “What does that mean?”
Yeah, what does that mean? Valerie, our precious “Little Middle” daughter, turns seventeen today, the legal age of adulthood here in the Great Republic of Texas. What does that mean?
It means we have two adult children now. It means I’m getting older and older and older. It means I’m noticing more and more now that time is short. Whoa, time is short.
It means Valerie is driving my twelve-year-old Ford Ranger, outfitted now with a pink zebra striped steering wheel cover. It means she’s spending her afternoons teaching pre-Kindergardeners at our local elementary schools as part of her IPET program at Amarillo High. It means she’s got just one more year until graduation. It means she’s not here at the house as much as she used to be — she’s out with B.J. or out with girlfriends or out doing fun stuff with church friends. It means she’s out, out, out a lot. It means she can wear her mom’s clothes. It means she’s climbing up mountains on Trek, skiing down mountains on vacation, flying down zip lines at camp, and serving less fortunate people in foreign countries in the name of Jesus. And she doesn’t need me there to help her.
It means she doesn’t sleep with stuffed animals anymore. She doesn’t watch the Disney channel. She doesn’t get Barbie pajamas for Christmas anymore and she doesn’t beg and beg and beg for anymore hamsters. She has stopped collecting Beanie Babies. Chuck E. Cheese is no longer her favorite restaurant. And she doesn’t giggle anymore when I mess up her hair.
It also means I can see more clearly than ever her Lord being formed in her. I can see more and more often Jesus’ sacrificial and servant heart reflected in her selfless acts of compassion and concern for others. I see his joy in the hearty laughter she shares with her friends. I see his peace when she handles teenage drama and issues with a more even keel. And I see his grace in the way she ministers to all those little kids.
Our “Little Middle” isn’t little anymore. Yeah, she still sings at the top of her lungs in the shower, regardless of what time it might be. She still doesn’t know how to clean up her room or hang up her clothes. She still wrinkles up her nose and refuses to eat almost anything other than grilled cheese or pizza. She still spends hours decorating her fingernails and toenails with bright colors and intricate designs. She still draws and colors and colors and draws on anything that’s not nailed down. And she still melts and says, “Awww…” when she sees a puppy.
Happy Birthday, Valerie. I’m so proud of you and of what our God is shaping in you. You are a beautiful, talented, funny, super-smart, wonderful daughter of God. Thank you for still wanting me to take you out to lunch. I love you.