Saturday, July 13, 2013

On the Day You were Born

Happy Birthday, dearest Willow Rose! 

I meant to write you a birthday message on your actual birthday, but now it's four days later. I guess it could be worse! 

On the day your were born, I was completely exhausted and overjoyed to see your face for the first time. We looked into each other's eyes silently and just stared each other down. Maybe you were as delirious as I was--it couldn't have been easy or comfortable making your entrance into the world. I thought your eyes looked upside down, probably a side effect of the epidural I had demanded. Maybe you thought my eyes looked like they were bulging out of my face. They probably were. 

Yes, you are pretty cute. This is a picture of you when you were hardly a day old. You hardly look like a 'new born' at all. Just a perfect little girl that couldn't stop hiccuping. 

And such a little peanut too! I suppose you were 7 pounds/7ounces, but in this picture, I'm reminded how small that still is. Especially compared to now when you're practically taller than the yard stick. I used to be able to fit you in the crook of my arm, and now you're so long that I can barely carry you. 

You're two years old now, and I can hardly believe how fast the days have flown by. Every moment has been worth every pain of child-bearing, every sleepless night, every disgusting diaper disaster. You have taught me more than anyone else ever has in a two year span. Your newborn cuddles were great. But I'm not sure which is better: new born cuddles, or watching you learn to play pretend and listen to you speak in sentences and learn new things about the world around you every day. 

You are 2 years old, and you're already a Third Culture Kid. You have said goodbye to all your best friends you've ever had. You've been introduced and re-introduced to family members every several months. You know how to call your grandparents on skype. You can say phrases in Mandarin. You play with our Chinese house-helper. You think semi-trucks are trains, and water towers are large balloons. You prefer rice over bread, and tea over milk. You rather eat yogurt with a straw than with a spoon. You gravitate towards Asians, even if they are complete strangers, and stare at white-people. You aren't used to having to watch previews on DVD's, because all of your Chinese copies go straight to the film. You think it's acceptable to sit with strangers at restaurants, assuming and trusting that they will have no problem taking care of you and feeding you. You hate sitting in your carseat. But you love taking rides on ATV's, rhinos, gators, and all sorts of tractors. You can point at fields and declare which are beans, corn, or wheat. 

You like to ride on public transit. You prefer to drink your dad's chocolate frappuccinos from Starbucks. When in large groups or new places, you prefer to observe the situation until you are comfortable. 

You're flexible. You've survived jet lag 6 times (soon to be 7!) altogether. You adapt to new places, new faces, new foods, new smells so easily. You're curious and hyper-observant. It's like you're taking mental notes constantly for future use. 

It's been an incredible blessing being a part of your life for the past two years and I look forward to the time that God will bless us with in the future. However long it will be, you have undeniably changed my life for good. 

I promise to always love you, no matter what. I promise to pray for you, little girl. I pray that you'll grow up into a virtuous woman who finds her strength in the Lord. I hope you grow into a woman who is determined to do what is right and flexible in following God's will for your life. What does He require of you? To do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. He asks nothing in return for salvation, and it is my deepest desire that you will learn to worship and obey Him from a young age. I hope that living in China will help mold you into a global thinker who shows compassion to all and stores little value in the things of this world. 

Your name is important to me. Willow will also remind me of the thousands of willow trees that line the rivers of your hometown, Shenyang. In a dirty, concrete city there is still life springing up along the river. May you always be planted by the River of Life, and grow continually as your roots drink in deeply the unmeasurable grace of God. Find your joy in the Lord, and be renewed by His Spirit! Dwell on His promises and live by the truth of His Word. 

Blessed is the man[a]
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

Happy Birthday, baby girl! 
I love you more and more every day. 

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