Emily’s 12th Birthday

Another year has passed and my little girl is one year closer to becoming a young woman. She celebrated her twelfth birthday today. It was a birthday party like so many before it but today something was different.

As in years past, we watched Emily open a hoard of presents. We ate sloppy Joes, birthday cake, and ice cream. We sang “Happy Birthday” with gusto and she blew out the candles on her second attempt.

We paused for the retelling of familiar stories.

We posed for the taking of family pictures.

We passed around the peace found only in the presence of those who know you intimately and love you in spite of it.

But this year something amazing happened in the midst of the festivities.

As we prepared for our meal, I drew my daughter close and began to pray. In that moment, it occurred to me that the people gathered in our kitchen were the same group of people who had been at every birthday before. Some had even been in the hospital the day Emily was born and they had faithfully honored her birth with their yearly return. Together we all bowed their heads and gave thanks for my daughter.

During this prayer, I realized their presence today was a thoughtful gesture. But it was more. It represented the powerful influence they have had in Em’s life over the past 12 years. These wonderful people have proven to be a mighty monument of love; touching my daughter, and our family, in a way they will never fully understand.

I thought about their gift of love and then thought about all the people who stand beside us, day in and day out, year in and year out;

silently supporting,

dedicatedly praying,

faithfully committing to our life’s progress. These are the people who help us

push through the difficult times,

stand strong when we are weak,

take our hands when we are lonely,

and walk with us to the end.

These people matter most. They love us despite the changes that come with age. They are formational in our early years and foundational to our future success. They commit themselves to our lives, one day at a time.

The prayer ended and each head was raised. Eyes met and my thoughts were confirmed. These people love my daughter. On this day of dessert and presents, these wonderful people are sweet, life-long gifts.

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