On your last day of thirteen, I picked you up from camp. You had a fabulous week, made new friends, and spent a week in God's word. You were excited to maybe get a new Bible (which you did) and to highlight your favorite verses. You asked for one that wasn't too big, and you told us you hoped it would be one that you could write in and carry through life. "You know, Mom, like yours?" I laughed and smiled, and then I walked away and cried. Because really? How is it your birthday, yet, you give me the best gift? Those words were more than I could have ever asked for. Of course you can have a new Bible. Please write in it. When you don't understand what God's doing, mark it. When you do understand it clearly, mark it. And one day, your children will flip through this Bible that's barely held together, and they too will want a relationship like that. They will read the notes, see the wrinkled-with-tears pages, and be encouraged. God is faithful.
On your last day of thirteen, you told us the story of the autistic boy in your camp group. You told us about his tics, about how the other children picked on him, about his wild behavior. With a raised voice and a passion that burns deep, you told us about the injustice of it all. You told us about how, on your last day of thirteen, you couldn't take it anymore. You yelled at the other boys picking on him. You told them it was not okay and to stop. You demanded it. The room of teenagers fell silent, and everyone stared at you. And you didn't care one single bit because you knew you did the right thing. The other campers listened to you. When you were finishing out your thirteenth year, you were more of an adult than most adults I know.
So when you are fourteen, my prayer for you is this: that you never forget to cling to what is true, what is right, and what is good. I pray that you continue to love fiercely, and that you continue to give more than you take. It is a crazy world you live in currently, and it is easy to get caught up in the issues. I pray that you always remember that souls matter more than things. Things are usually not worth fighting for, and people with integrity never point out their integrity. Strong people do not announce their strength; they just stand firm in the wind, holding others up in the process.
You are a beautiful, talented dancer. You are smart, and you are funny. You are a hard worker, not easily daunted. But you are only these things by the grace of God. I pray you remember that always.
When you are fourteen, you are going to change the world. You already are. I'm just grateful we get to tag along. I love you.
Saturday, July 18