What. A. Year. It was good. It was bad. It was everything in between. We have weathered all kinds of storms as a family, but you have had many tough challenges of your own. Anyone who thinks that getting your first job, learning to drive, and transitioning from homeschooling to college is easy should just spend a few minutes talking to you. You have done an amazing job, but it has been anything but easy. The learning curve has been steep. For both of us. We have cried, but we have persevered. We have passed driver's tests, turned in midterms, arranged work schedules, navigated piles of paperwork, and we are still standing.
I never needed anyone to tell me that time flies. You know that the moment you have a baby. But it is getting ridiculous at this point. I am trying not to imagine what it will feel like when you aren't just at the bottom of the stairs, because it won't do me any good. Instead, I am savoring the moments, the fun we have running errands, you standing in the door of my bedroom to give me the latest stories from work, or even just crouching over the laptop to edit an assignment before you turn it in. I love that you still look forward to our annual west side trip, it makes me so happy to have that time to hear your hopes and dreams uninterrupted.
Because even though I have been your mom for 17 years, I am still learning about you, in part because you are still very much in the process of determining your own identity. I never wanted a carbon copy of myself, as a matter of fact, I try very hard to help you learn from my mistakes. I want you to be *you*, wonderful, marvelous, created in His image but still amazingly unique. I want you to find joy in living for the Lord, to take pleasure in the small things, to be grateful in the tough times, and to learn to trust in the difficult ones.
Most of all, I want you to learn that you don't have to be afraid. The battle has already been won and He is with you. I love that your birthday is essentially the kickoff to the Advent season. All these festivities and decorations reminding us that Emmanuel has come and told us not to fear. You can fail, you can fly, you can live knowing you are fully known, and yet, still fully loved. You don't need anyone but Jesus.
And know, that as long as the Lord allows, I will be here. I will be honest with you, because that is the best way to teach someone. I won't tell you it will be easy, or pain free. But I will always love you too. I hope you always know that I will listen.
I have told you pretty much the same thing every year. But as we grow older I think it becomes even more vital to know that we have someone in our corner. The mistakes of a child do not have the serious consequences of the ones we can make as we grow older. But few mistakes are greater than thinking that we cannot be forgiven, and that we are only loved for what we do. I hope you know I will always love you because you are my dear daughter, but more so than that I pray that you will know and depend on the love Christ has for you.
I love you,