03 June 2012

96 Months (I'm really glad that we stop indicating children's ages in months after the first 18 or so...)

Dear Kayla,

You are eight years old today. This is happening just as quickly as "they" said it would.

For me, "Your 8th Birthday" has always felt like a magic number - a deadline of sorts.

I turned eight on August 11, 1984 - almost 28 years ago. That week of my life was a dramatic turning point in my childhood home.

Up until the week that followed my eighth birthday, my life was filled with inconsistency and turmoil and heartache. I saw, heard and experienced many things that a child should not have to see, hear and experience. (I'm not saying that your Grandparents were bad people - because they weren't/aren't. It just was what it was and they were doing the very best they knew how to do. And I love them for that).

One day, in mid-August of 1984, my mother sat me and your Uncle Jason down on the couch in the living room and said to us, "I did something this week. I watched a man on TV talking about how to become a Christian. And I accepted Jesus as my savior."

Those words set in motion a 180 degree turn for the atmosphere of my childhood home. There was dramatic shift in the way your and uncle and I were brought up from that point on.

However, what I had seen, heard and experienced wasn't magically erased. The same went for your Grandparents. There were years and years of sin and mistakes that needed to be undone by their Savior.

And we weren't perfect. And we still aren't. I, personally, spent an unfortunate chunk of my late teens and very early 20s perfecting that imperfection - and I am so thankful for the the whitewashing Blood of Jesus (the Divine Sharpie, I've often thought of it as - maybe a little irreverent.)

When your father and I first got married, I was really scared to have children. I was so worried that I wasn't equipped to undertake the huge responsibility of raising decent, responsible, Jesus-serving kids - especially daughters.

Then, almost five years later, we found out you were growing inside of me. And this "Magic Number 8: The Deadline" began to loom large in my mind.

I had eight years to jam your life full of stability and selfless love and Jesus and confidence and innocence and the ability to just be a kid - many of the things I didn't have in the years before I turned that Magic Number.

And here you are: Eight years old.

You're kind and thoughtful. You are fun and witty. You are responsible. You have a strong sense of right and wrong. You are full of wide-eyed innocence. And you love Jesus.

Do I feel like we've succeeded? Well, I would be foolish if I defined "parenting success" (whatever that really is) by the first eight years of your life. But I feel, by the strength and grace of God, your father and I have built a firm foundation on which to build the next eight years and the eight after that and eight after that - well, you get the idea.

I have a whole different list of goals to reach by your 192nd Month (16th Birthday).

I love you and I am proud of the young lady you are becoming.


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