Dear Grace,

You turned 9 this past weekend. That, apparently, qualifies you as a tween (shaking my head in disbelief). There’s certainly that ever present parental sadness that the time goes by so quickly, but I can honestly say I love every stage of motherhood with you as my daughter. You’re a pure joy to witness – you truly are the sunshine in my life.

I feel it press on my heart more and more as time speeds up to humbly but firmly teach you what I know about how to navigate through this complicated life. Does it seem sometimes like I’m a little hard on you my sweet girl?  Here’s why…

One of my favorite lines from an Emily Dickenson poem says “We never know how high we are, till we are asked to rise”. It strikes a chord with me because sometimes the expectations that we have for ourselves is just not enough. We need those who love us and know what we are capable of to expect more from us, to call us to rise. This is why I say “you can do better, try again”. It’s a role that sometimes is difficult as a parent because it literally aches to see you ache, we want to protect you from pain and see you only full of joy. But this is a false hope because only through challenges do we grow stronger and wiser, only those who step out bravely and faithfully experience the full and wildly beautiful life God has prepared for us.

So I’m going to challenge you. I’ll push you to grow and become the incredible person that you were created to be. Surround yourself with people who see and bring out the best in you. Never stop learning, never stop giving and don’t shy away from something because it seems impossible.  I assure you, “God is within you, you will not fail” (Psalms 46:5)

I love you so.

Here you are in all your beauty (with a little bit of that goofball thrown in).

Happy birthday Gracie girl.