It just seems like seven or eight years ago; certainly not fourteen! I realize that speaks more to my own rapidly advancing age than anything else. But how in the world are you — our baby, our youngest daughter, our last one — already fourteen?
You are a study in extreme contrasts, Little Bear. You were born screaming at the top of your lungs that Friday afternoon in Wichita Falls and you haven’t stopped screaming since. Good grief, you’re loud, girl. Always have been. I have no idea where you got that. But at the same time, you’ve always exhibited a really quiet and reflective side. I’ve watched you spend hours and hours curled up in a book, writing in your journal, drawing another puppy dog or little girl with big eyes.
You can be so demanding — bottle now! polka-dotted blanket, now! Cheerios, now! mint-chocolate-chip ice cream, now! And, yet, you can be so incredibly selfless and sacrificial — making and giving gifts to family and friends, deferring the choice of TV show or restaurant or souvenir T-shirt to others.
You’re the one, way beyond your sisters, who wants to wrestle and fight, slap box and spar. I never know when you’re going to jump on my back as I’m innocently passing through the living room. When are you going to punch me in the gut next? How many times this week am I going to have to fend off another fake — and pathetic — karate kick or chop to the throat? But at the same time, you’re the one, far and above your sisters, who delights in the cuddles and hugs. Your “burrowing” at night and your insistence on the back scratches, still to this day, are precious to me.
The contrasts in styles and personality, pleasures and peeves, seem much more pronounced during these your middle school years. And I thoroughly enjoy trying to figure them out. You bring me great joy, daughter. I love being with you.
I love that you have Beatles posters on your wall, that you know John Cougar and John Mellencamp are the same guy, and that you recognize within a few notes the difference between a song by the Rolling Stones and one by The Who. I love that you make fun of girls who like Justin Bieber and One Direction. I love that you quote lines from Indiana Jones and It’s a Wonderful Life and that you remember funny stories I’ve shared about my own childhood. I love that you have perfect eyebrows and a sarcastic and sharp sense of humor. I love that you used to have seven thousand Beanie Babies and still get weird and weepy over a particularly cute stuffed animal in a toy store display. I love that you still want to eat lunch with me on your birthday.
More than those wonderful things, I love that you love our God. I love your knowledge and hunger for his Word. I love the way you finish my sentences when I’m quoting Scripture. I love that you want to follow Jesus, to imitate him, to be more like him. I love that you want to help other people in his manner, to worship God in his name, and serve him to his glory. I love listening to you sing. And pray.
You, Carley, are a gift to me straight from heaven. God gave you to us. And we are beyond delighted.
Happy Birthday, Bear.
I love you,