So in honor of your birthday, I'd thought I'd share 8 things I love about you.
1. You are full of joy. There is a certain spark in your eyes that just melts away bad days in one big swoop. I love how fully you live. I love how you sing at the top of your lungs. I love how you get excited about cooking and baking new things. I love how you count down to special days. I love how you pick little flowers and keep ordinary things as "special treasures" in your little purses and backpack pockets.
2. You are so kind. You have a keen sense of what others are feeling. Ever since you were little, I've seen you go out of your way to help any child who you felt was feeling left out during extracurricular activities or birthday parties or just in every day life. During our Parent-Teacher conferences, your teachers always tell us how you help other children who are having a hard time comprehending something and how you get excited when someone who is having a hard time finally makes a great stride. Just recently a friend brought valentines for your Gateway class and didn't think they had enough to go around so you volunteered not to take one to make sure there were enough for the others to receive one. I love how big your heart is.
3. You feel things deeply. You are a sensitive soul. Sometimes this means your feelings get hurt easily. I understand how that goes, because I also feel things deeply. But this is not something to "get over". Instead, this is something that God put in your heart to help you always remain compassionate to others' feelings. And you do a great job of that! Throughout your life, you will be able to use this gift as a gauge to help you navigate sensitive issues. It will help you understand things like, "Once words are said, they can't be taken back." When uttered in haste, they have the power to crush. Sure, you can apologize and say you are sorry, but once words leave your mouth, they have the ability to hurt others deeply. Your words also have the ability to heal, to encourage, to love. Always strive to use your words and your voice to uplift, rather than to belittle.
4. You say your prayers with such heartfelt emotion. I love when you share with me what you are praying about. I love to see the joy in your eyes when I give you an update about one of the little kids that we've been praying about. You get so happy. You are genuine and you have a beautiful heart, my sweet daughter!
5. You are smart and driven. "Hard-headed" some like to say. But even when I get frustrated with this trait, I'm secretly thanking God for giving you enough confidence to stand your ground and to know that your opinion matters. In life, there will be so many situations that will have you second-guessing your choices. Always take time to pray and reflect and to listen to that voice deep in your heart that tells you which way you should go. Continue to be confident and to use your determination to stand up for what is right. You have such a bright future ahead of you!
6. You are generous and you give from the heart, without any expectation of return. Just this Monday, I was talking to you about why I wanted to help a certain family and in the middle of talking to you, you said, "Wait for one moment, mama. I'll be right back." And less than a minute later, you came back to my room with a handful of quarters from your piggy bank. You told me to give it to them. And you had the most beautiful smile on your face. I never asked you to help contribute to their gift, you just felt it in your heart to do so.
Then on Wednesday, I gave you $12 for the book fair. It was enough for 2 books, which was plenty considering you just had a birthday and got lots of fun things!! You ran back in the house and grabbed more of your own quarters. About five dollars worth, I think. I got upset, because I didn't think you needed to spend any more money at the book fair on pens and erasers and what not. But after school, you taught me a very important lesson. You were SO happy. You had spent exactly $11.92 from the $12 I had given you on yourself, and you used ALL of your quarters to help your classmates out...a pen for this one, an eraser for another, a little bit for this one who didn't have enough for their book, you covered tax for another friend. You spent YOUR money on others and you were just BEAMING about having been able to help. That is what giving is all about. Sharing from the heart without any expectations for return. You have a beautiful heart, Grace!
7. You don't just feel love, you show love to those around you. I love how you use your God-given creative talents to share love with those around you. We love receiving your drawings and sweet notes. I love opening up my purse or planner and finding a little note of encouragement with your signature girly-curly-fancy letters. I love to see you dance and to hear you talk about the play you are composing. Expressing love is so much more valuable to those around you than just feeling the love. We must always do what we can to let loved ones know how much they mean to us. None of us are promised a set number of days. We have to love in the HERE and NOW. Thank you for loving us so well!
8. You are quick to forgive. You don't hold grudges. This is such an important trait. And in more than one way too. Always extend grace to those who are genuinely sorry for having hurt you, for we all make mistakes. That doesn't mean you allow someone to keep hurting you, just because they say "Sorry" over and over again. Pray for discernment and God will always help you make those tough decisions.
There will be times in your life, when you must forgive in order to move on. Some of those times you will be forgiving without having received an apology. That is hard, but necessary. It gives you the freedom to let go of the hurt, rather than having it fester inside of you. Guard your heart and keep it free from anger and hate. Forgive and allow healing to take place. But always ask God to be your anchor so that you take the paths He has chosen for you...the paths that lead to growth and happiness.
I'm so proud of you, Grace! The day you came into this world and made me a mom is the happiest day of my life. God has great big plans for you and I can't wait to see the story unfold. I pray you will use all of these qualities to make a difference for God's kingdom no matter where life leads you.
Your name means "goodness and generosity". Latin ties it to "God's grace" and Greek mythology to beauty, blossom, and joy. You exemplify "grace" in how you live your life.
Daddy, Hudson and I love you very much. Happy 8th birthday, my dear little pumpkin!