a letter to my daughter

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Hayleigh Girl,
A lot is going to be changing in your little life in the next months. For starters in a few days we are going to have an ultrasound that will tell us if the baby in my belly is a brother or a sister. Both Braxton and this baby will be born into that role-the role of being a sibling. You, however, being the oldest get to experience growing into that role. For all of you it is thrust upon you. No one asked you if you wanted siblings. But for you it requires adjustments that you will need to consciously make. Your reality will shift, instead of just being born into that reality. Being the first born has its privileges and challenges to be sure. You are, after all, the only one of our children to ever have extended periods (2 years and 2 weeks) of undivided attention. You are the only one to know, even though you have probably in the conscious sense already mostly forgotten, what it is like to be an only child. With that being said, you are also the only one who has that blissful existence shattered and adapted to make room for one more. You will always be the first one to go through a stage or try something new-good and bad. You will probably (and already do) feel the need to pass on your knowledge to your younger siblings like hand-me-down clothes. You will be the bearer of more of our parenting mistakes and shortfalls as Daddy and I learn how to do it better the next time around. You will probably suffer from our highest expectations. You will be able to say that you have known your siblings their whole life. You get to shine in the role of being the one they look up to. I know all these things because I am a first born child too. That is a bond that we will always share- in all its perks and challenges. 

I wanted to write to you before we knew whether this baby would be a boy or a girl. You so desperately want a sister. Actually, you refuse to even entertain that the possibility that you could have another brother. Whenever we mention that you look at us confused and say matter of factly “Uhh, I already have a brother".” Clearly in your mind a sister is the only logical possibility. You say things like “when you get my sister out of your belly I am going to hold her and kiss her and love her sooo much!” This cracks me up and warms my heart at the same time. Brother or sister I know you will adore this baby and beam with big sister pride as we welcome him or her into our home. Even though God already knows the gender of this baby, we don’t. And so in a few days our reality will change. I wonder whether you will grow up with a younger sister-another thing we would have in common, or you will spend your life as the girl among the boys. Either way, you are so special to me. There is no doubting or changing that.

There will always be a special corner of my heart that swells and beats with love for you my Hayleigh. Nothing could ever make me stop loving you, or love you even a tiny bit less. You often ask for reassurance of our love. I enjoy the privilege of loving you and will never grow tired of telling you how much I love you-even if you ask me twenty or thirty times a day. I know your three year old mind is wondering “if another baby is coming, will this mean Mommy and Daddy will love me less?” Let me take this opportunity to put in writing what I will tell you verbally and by my actions as many times as you need to hear it: No. It is a logical thing to think that the love will need to be divided. But the truth is, as it did when Braxton was born, the love will not stay the same to be split three ways. It will grow. I could never, will never, love you any less. The time unfortunately does not grow. So you will need to share Mommy and Daddy more, but that does not mean we love you less. It is not possible. And even if it were possible, we would never choose to let that happen even if we had one hundred kids! 

Nothing you ever do, or don’t do, will ever make us love you any less either. I tell you everyday that I love you all the time-even when you are naughty, even when you don’t obey and you make me sad. Even if you choose to stop loving me (the thought of which wrenches my heart with pain), I will always, always love you. Even if you decide you don’t want to believe what Daddy and I believe about God and how to live your life (the thought of which grieves my heart) I will always, always love you. My love for you is not based on what you do. It is based on who you are. You are my daughter. 

I think the main reason God gives children to be born to parents is so those parents can point their children to God. I hope you know that the unconditional love which Daddy and I have for you is only possible because of the unconditional love God has shown to us in the first place. God loves Daddy and Mommy as His children. We learn how to love as a parent from God-our Heavenly Father. God loves you the same way, Hayleigh Grace. Paul who was once an enemy of Christians, who then endured all sorts of suffering for the sake of Christ, said in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  There are lots of kids who don’t have Mommies and Daddies who love them. That breaks my heart. It makes me want to hug you a little tighter. The truth is that God didn’t do anything wrong by giving those kids to parents who do not love them unconditionally. Rather, those kids can find comfort in the unfailing love of their Heavenly Father. The same is true of you. God gave you parents who love you, yes. But He also gave you parents who are going to disappoint you, hurt your feelings, make mistakes, have bad days, sin against you. I am not proud of my sin, but I am proud of the fact that my God will use it for your good. God wants to use your imperfect parents to help you to appreciate and run to the perfect love He has for you. So whether I am loving you as I should or whether I am messing up, I have the honor of being used by God to demonstrate His character of love that He bestows on you. 

God loves you not because of what you do, but because of who you are-His daughter. That position carries much more weight than being my daughter. It also lasts into eternity. I long for you to understand your identity as a child of God. Earlier in the same chapter of Romans Paul summarizes what it means to be a child of God: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” I rejoiced the day you were born into our family. No one could have doubted the joy I felt, or taken it away. I pray for the day when you come to understand what it means to be God’s child and you are “born again” into His family. I will be filled with even more joy! 

I took the opportunity during Braxton’s nap the other day to snap a couple photos of you. You don’t usually cooperate with looking at the camera, taking the time for photos etc. But I bribed you with a cookie. I know, not a good parenting move. I think it was worth it though. I got enjoy your smiling face through the lens of my camera and I am always happy to spend one on one time “girl time” with you. 

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Oh, how I love all your faces!

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19
Love Always, Mommy

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