On Thursday my sweet Grace Melanie turned one, and today (Saturday) we will have a little party in celebration of this milestone.
I can’t believe how the time has flown. I can’t believe how much Gracie has changed in the past 12 months…from our funny-looking little newborn who was so curious about her world, even from birth, to our little mover with her gimpy gorilla crawl, and now our tentatively-stepping little lady with the inquisitive blue eyes and disarming smile.
I’ve watched her learn to use her pincer grasp to pick up toys and morsels of food…and now she uses it to pull out every bow/hair tie I put in her hair!
I’ve watched her grow in her love for music, which started with listening intently in her early months, and has changed to a response of delight and an all-out dance fest (rocking back and forth, waving arms in the air) every time music comes on.
I’ve watched her grow in her love for books and reading, becoming a true little bookworm like her parents.
I’ve seen her language skills develop as she’s added new (although sometimes not perfectly pronounced) words to her repertoire: “Mama,” “Dada”, “dog”, “doll”, “book”, “ball”, “no” and, most recently, “comb” and “shoe”.
I’ve watched her personality emerge and discovered that our little girl is passionate, feeling things very deeply and expressing them very loudly! When she’s happy, she’s elated (evidenced by shrieks of joy). But when she’s sad, she’s devastated (evidenced by inconsolable crying and huge crocodile tears).
And boy is she determined! As I’ve watched her strong-willed self mature, I have realized that her stubbornness is both a strength and a weakness; it will serve her well if she’s strong and immovable on the right things, but there will be days (and there already are!) when she’s “wrong-and-strong” and needs Mum and Dad to intervene, directing her towards Jesus who can save her – even from herself.
And as I contemplate all the changes I’ve seen my girl go through this year, I see that so much has changed in my life too! I resonate with these words from Lisa-Jo Baker in “Surprised by Motherhood”:
I didn’t know I was selfish until I had kids. I didn’t know I was angry and quick to keep a list of wrongs done to me, of slight slights, of everything I felt entitled to and was happy to demand…But I believe God loves us too much to leave us flailing in our self-centered universes, so He delivers these tiny reflections of ourselves into our homes with earthquake effectiveness. The walls and the ground shift as we are forced to rearrange our sleep, our interests, our books, our date nights, our bathroom habits, our love of hot food, our blankets, our vacation plans, our entertainment choices, our interests, our bodies, our patience, and the grip on our sanity into unrecognizable new patterns…
I see in [Gracie] how God loves me, how He gave up heaven and Himself for me. How He spread His arms wide to ridicule and suffering, to gasps and agony and wanting it to be over and wanting to be released from this calling that cost Him so much. This salvation, this redemption, this act of bearing children of the new covenant from His body through the mighty act of adoption and delivery on a cross.
…and I would do it all over again…and pour myself out as a love offering, freely given with no expectation of payback. A gift. I lay myself down for my [daughter] who is learning to love because I first loved [her]…and ten thousand times anything I’ve been hurt, I’ve been healed because of this [child] who has taught me what it looks like to see redemption in the reflection of great sacrifice
You’ve changed me, Gracie. God has used you to change me. And I wouldn’t change anything about my life – not the sanity-stripping sleep deprivation nor the continual craziness of our crawl-around days. Because the “mess” and the “tumble” has brought me closer to my Saviour, and closer to you.
Happy first birthday, baby girl. Praying for many more with you.