Saturday, April 13, 2013

12 years of wonderful.

(The pictures are from your birthday party today- A trip to Cartlandia (evidently a portland hipster party?) and then what was supposed to be going to see "Adrenaline Rush" at OMSI, but they changed the movie and so instead we came home and watched a movie and hung out here. Happily you and your friends were fine with the change of plans!)

Dear Ainsley,

Twelve years ago today God made the world a better place. Yes, I am your mother, so of course I think that. But it is true. I have had twelve lovely years to watch you grow into an amazing person. You are sweet, kind, smart, and most importantly, have a heart that follows God.

Don't get me wrong, you are also on the verge of being a teenager. So you also have times of being awkward, pouty, and sometimes downright surly. But that is the way it was meant to be. You are learning how to operate in the world without us, and these are the growing pains. As we were going through a major temper tantrum throwing fit stage with Reagan a little over a year ago I though about how we celebrate like crazy as little kids develop and go though milestones like learning to walk. Yet, when they go through the milestones of developing their independence and the way they go through that is by throwing crazy fits we don't really celebrate much. Same way with teenager "issues." I'm trying hard that when these little things come up, to remember that it is just how God intended, minus the whole sin part. You are growing, and figuring out life for yourself. And I get to walk with you, be your cheerleader, and consultant. And it is such an amazing honor to get to do this with you.
Last month I celebrated a birthday with a zero on the end of it, so I guess it was a little bit monumental. As I was reflecting about turing 40, which when you are 12 seems so old, I thought about what I would go back in time and tell myself when I was younger. What is amazing is, I get the opportunity to in some ways do that by talking with you. Not in the creepy, mom re-living her life through her child, sort of way. But in a "here is what I've learned, I wonder what you are going to learn," sort of way. I am constantly amazed at how well you take instruction, and how you really care about what your dad and I think. You really are wise beyond your years. 
The past year has really been pretty great. The year before was filled with lots of drama, and we had really braced ourself for it as you started middle school this fall. However, much to our happy surprise, this year has been very pleasant. There have of course been issues, but for the most part you love school, your friends, and your family. For the first time since kindergarten you didn't play soccer. You played in your first tennis tournaments, which were a great experience, even if you didn't bring home a trophy. You played basketball, which dad coached again. Having him coach you is such a special thing for the two of you. You also did "Battle of the Books." Which was a team you were on that read a set of books and then went to a competition with questions about them. Being the amazing little reader that you are, you pretty much killed it at this. You were your schools team captain and your team did better than any other team from our district has done before. You are also in the midst of practicing for the school musical you got a part in. This drama production has lead to some actual drama, but we are hoping overall it ends up being a good experience. That is still up in the air right now though. 

A whole new world has been opened up to your dad and I. That is because you now babysit! You can stay home and take care of your siblings. It is wonderful. You are great at it, and now are doing it for other families as well. It is a fun stage to be in. You help with your siblings so much. Someday you are going to be a great mom. The way you can get your siblings to do what you want is masterful. We are going to call it motivation, not manipulation. (Pretend I'm inserting a little smiley face right here.)
You get great grades and are very responsible. We couldn't be happier with how hard you work and what a great student you are. As parents though we have some learning to do. I still feel terrible about when you brought home your mid-term progress report. As you showed it to dad and I, and it was all A's, we both noticed that there were two assignments in one class that you had C's on. You still had a very high A in the class, yet we pointed out these two assignments and asked what happened. You looked at us and got tears in your eyes, and at that moment I realized I was being a HORRIBLE parent. I'm still so sorry. We are so proud of you for being they lovely girl you are, no matter how you perform on anything. We love you because you are a precious child of God that he blessed us with being able to parent. I'm sorry we mess up, we just want to be the best parents we can be for you. I hope you look back and know that above all, we love you immensely and would do anything for you. 
The thing that I am most excited about is that in February you and Hudson both got baptized. You accepted Christ actually when you were four, but we have had you wait for awhile to actually get baptized. It was such a special experience, and we are so happy and excited for you. Tonight as I was driving your friends home from your birthday party you were all talking about how awesome Trout Creek Bible Camp is, and how you all want to be counselors. It makes me so excited to think about how your life is going to impact the Kingdom of Heaven. I've probably written about this verse in a previous one of your birthday letters, but if I did it bears repeating. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and give you  hope and a future."
 That seems like such a perfect thing to think about as you navigate through the middle school years. God does have great plans for your future Ainsley Grace. I am so happy I get to watch it happen.

I love you so much,


P.S.- I notice as I go back through this letter a glaring omission. It is that I didn't use the word epic even once. Considering how often it comes out of your mouth this is a travesty. Someday this may make no sense, but Ainsley, you are EPIC! 

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