Dear Lyla, {A Birthday Post}

I sit huddled beside you on the stairwell in the dark. 

Your last day of being eight has ended with tears and big emotions that leave the both of us surprised.
And that’s okay some days, I think. Not all days will end with smiles and laughter…some nights will come and leave you aching for a do-over. Some nights will leave you broken and wanting to somehow be better, leave you wanting to run away and leave all the mess around you behind.
I get it. 

But I want you to know, I love you. I love you and each hard moment you face.
I love you for crumbling and letting the hurt you felt out. 
I love you for being brave and for the way you apologized though your tears.
I love you for wanting to hide and for all the almost-9-year-old emotions you are feeling.
I love you as you stand on the edge of leaving the little girl years behind. 
I love you as you wrestle through these days and yet still long to be held as though you were still small.
Sweet girl, I love you.
This past week, I read of Joshua sending out the spies and how they came to the door of a woman named Rahab.  She made a lot of mistakes too, Lyla. Many of them by her own choosing.  I can relate. And as you keep getting older, you will too. Yeah…it won’t get any easier.
But this woman who was once an almost-9-year-old like you, she grew up to be a woman who heard about God. The same One you hear about too. And this Rahab, full of mistakes and regret and probably a lot of embarrassment too…do you know what she did?  
She believed. 
She didn’t just believe, Lyla, she risked being vulnerable with her faith. 

Faith does that to us, it makes us vulnerable. This in itself is a risk. She had heard about God, and she didn’t know if she would be accepted by Him, but she held out her faith in sin-stained hands and the rope that she used to lower the spies out of the window became her very banner of salvation. God knew all the wrong she had done, sweetheart, but it was her heart that He drew near to. Her vulnerable faith moved His heart and Lyla, He saved her. 
She wasn’t courageous because she was brave. Rahab was courageous because she depended on the Only One Who could rescue her.
Tomorrow you turn 9 and there are moments I feel like I can’t breathe. So many moments that I want to live over, to fix…to have a bit longer to linger over. You are such a joy and these years that started with your heartbeat unknown within me have completely undone me in such good and hard ways. As you get older, as your heart grows more tender…as you whisper prayers alongside me…I am learning that strength of being vulnerable. Of holding out my faith in sin-stained hands  and trusting that Jesus will take what I offer and somehow make it beautiful. 
Tomorrow you turn 9 and we are at the halfway mark before adulthood dawns and a season of motherhood will quietly change. 9 more years to live life together daily and hold out the beauty of the gospel in imperfect ways as our faith stretches and grows.
You cried today and maybe there will be tears again tomorrow, and that’s okay. But don’t get stuck there, Lyla Mae. Like Rahab who took the rope, her faith, and used that to save the lives of others, let your life become a bridge of sorts, a line that points others to the beauty of Christ. Don’t get lost in the longing of regret…use your failures to press you in closer to Jesus. Lean on Him, precious daughter and find that in doing so, you’ll be strengthened to risk your life for Him.
Tomorrow, you’ll wake up and your breakfast birthday cake will be on the table and I’ll try and smile brave as the baby who first filled my arms now is the girl whose face whispers of the woman you’ll be. Tomorrow morning we’ll sing over you as this mama prays over her daughter – that you’ll be courageous like Rahab and lost in love with your Savior.

Happy birthday, my sweet Lyla. *You* are the gift of this day.
I love you always.

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