10 Years Eve

Around 8pm on July 30, 2010, my back started hurting so badly. Had I known I was having back labor, I would have met her that night. Instead.... tonight is the eve of the most magical girl in the world's birthday. My Eleanor Michael. 

10 years. Two FULL hands. Closer to leaving home than the day we brought her to it. And truly, it feels like yesterday. The fastest years of my life. The best years of my life. 

I'll never be able to fully express the love I have for all my kids - maybe not even fully understand the depth of it all myself, but I know this: they literally take my breath away. To know Eleanor, to truly KNOW her, is the greatest treasure. 

She is witty, quick, compassionate, shy, loving, smart, funny, captivating and one of the oldest souls I know. She loves to play all kinds of make believe, but is her happiest when she is plopped in the middle of the adults and eavesdropping on their conversations. 

She has gone from eating cottage cheese and chicken nuggets (only) to having a bigger palate (not appetite) than any kid I know her age. For years (I'd go back to any of them now) the dinner table was the biggest fight.... now, meal time with her is some of our favorite moments. 

She shivers when she is excited about something. Literally, like a little tick she's had for most of her life and I hope it never, ever goes away. 

She hates to be the center of attention, the thought of the stage terrifies her and yet she puts on dances, shows and routines for us. I'm so thankful for the front row seat in the only row available. 

She is so brave. She can tell you how scared she is of something, but then has a super power like none other I've seen to commit to doing it anyway. This year, we learned that her bravery sometimes means not knowing how to admit that she is scared... and yet, she worked through this beautifully, humbly and with community. 

Just like the country song goes, "she don't know she's beautiful"... probably because she's too young to really understand. But I hope she keeps this unassuming countenance her entire life. She literally has no idea how beautiful she is. Though, we tell her the beauty we see in the way she loves, treats people, silently leads, and genuinely enjoys the company she keeps. 

She's the simplest girl I know: most of her gift lists over the last 10 years have included gum and tic-tacs. Of course she appreciates lovely things, but her greatest joy comes from all the knick knacks at the Dollar Store. 

She's so curious about Christ. I don't know that at this point she has asked Jesus into her heart, but she has so many questions. I love dialoguing with her about faith and I pray that the Lord continues to soften her heart and lead her to Him. 

She's not perfect. She can be super emotional, super prideful when she has done something wrong, super competitive with her brother or friends and super short when she's tired. Sometimes BJ and I just brace ourselves for what's ahead in the teenage years. 

She memorizes lyrics to every song. Remembers every phone number or license plate she reads. Can tell you about specific conversations we've shared in the past and LOVES to relive memories (especially the funny ones) with us. 

She's disorganized and messy, but she keeps lists and letters and all kinds of notebooks of every thought, idea, want, need or plan she's devising. It gives me so much life to find her notes, lists, and thoughts all over the house. And penpals... oh how they fill her cup. 

I have a lump in my throat thinking about how quickly it has all gone by.... I adore every part of the little lady she is becoming, but I cannot believe it has been a decade of loving and knowing and raising our Eleanor Michael. 

My girl. I love you so (much). It is my greatest joy knowing and raising and loving YOU. You began our family's greatest adventure. And you've made it fun, funny, hard, easy and so meaningful every step of the way. 

Jesus, please give us years and years and years. I don't take any of her life (nor mine in it) for granted. Thank you so much for our punkin bottom, shellenor, Eleanor put your boots back on. 

Happy Birthday, tomorrow, sweet one.  I love you, love you, love you. 



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