Monday, February 14, 2011

The answer to each is Eighteen.

What do these seemingly unrelated items have in common:
The number of wheels on the most common type of North American tractor-trailer truck,
The customary percentage to tip the serving staff in a restaurant by groups of four or more,
The number of holes in a round of golf,
The age of our oldest daughter.
The answer to each is Eighteen.

Yes, she is our "valentine". She wasn't expected to be, though. We were expecting her the first day of spring that year, March 20th.  And that is how things have always been with her in our life....precious, sweet, often surprising, and even occassionally difficult.

Maybe its a result of her firstborn status and God given personality that she has been the interesting combination of reality and dreaminess. Maybe it is because she is the offspring of Mr.Accountant and, well..., me. I remember her birthday requests for workbooks to practice and computer games to continue learning and then watching her turn the tissue paper they were wrapped in into tiny intricate replicas of ballgowns. Then again, pretty much anything in the house has had the potential to be an ingredient in some sort of art project! I have enjoyed my own birthdays and special occassions just to see what creations will show up as my gifts. Not only has Alyssa had a talent to create art but she has shared her thoughts through writing, photography, videos, and song. Making up songs for any and EVERY occassion has been a lifelong passion. I have a quote from her in my journal that dates way back to her early childhood that goes along the line of "if you don't love Jesus than what do you write songs about? pineapples and lemons? .....(sorry, can NOT resist)...

The Produce Boy, by Katie and Alyssa

....What is the point to that?" Ah, yes. There it is...the reason for all her reality and her dreams...loving Jesus and wanting others to, too. 

I don't know what makes one child have a tender heart early on. Many have noticed and asked. It seemed normal to me to have a daughter who printed out gazillions of Compassion International children to cut out and tape to her desk after coming to the acceptance that she just couldn't monetarily support them but she could pray for them. We have given her birthday gifts of  "a flock of ducks" for a child in a third world country to raise at her request ( ) and bought her TOMS shoes long before anyone else we knew wore them. ( )

When she was in middle school she had a song by Chris Rice that meant a lot to her. She listened to it often as she lay in bed. I remember how she told me that it gave her inspiration for her life and she sang it at her baptism.  It seems appropriate to me to revisit that song now. Here, on the verge of eighteen, stepping into adulthood. I know it is a step that scares her, and everyone else knows it scares me!  But I need to remember, must remember, that my darling valentine baby came to me as a gift with the intention of sending her out as a gift, a light, into the world.
Matthew 5: 14-17

5:14 Ye are the light of the world.
A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
5:15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick;
and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Right now I'd like to hide her here, at home, where she gives light to all that are in the house! But we know that is not the way life is meant to be lived. I discovered, while finding those facts on the number 18, that
The Hebrew word for "alive" is חי (chai), which has a numerical value of 18. That is how life is meant to be lived..."alive"! Eighteen seems like a good time to remember that.

Alyssa, you have been given many talents and a heart full of compassion. I wish I could tell you exactly how you are meant to use them in this great big world. ..but I don't know. I do, however, know the One who does know....and I trust Him.  I am so very glad that you do, too.  It is going to be an exciting journey, filled with precious, sweet, and surprising moments, even occassionally difficult, just like it started.  I appreciate the words to this song that you sometimes sing. Keep it close as you remember that He holds you  in his hands always...and we hold you in our hearts.

Happy Eighteenth Birthday!!!!
You are Loved!!

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