Dear Lyla,

All week long I’ve been teasing you. Every time you do something, I remind you that it’s only x-number of days left of doing that thing as a 12 year old.

This morning, I came into your room and, as I woke you, I called out loudly,

“Lyla!! Get up! It’s your last morning being 12!!”

You pulled the covers over your face and groaned,

“Moooooommmmm, I know!!!”

You text me to let me know that you are on your way to Madison House and I text back,

“It’s your last time coming to MH as a 12 year old!!!!”

The rolling-eyed emoji said it all.

But it’s the only way I can keep the tears from falling.

13 years ago, right this moment, I began timing contractions. Daddy and I even went to the mall where I had worked to walk laps and have dinner.

By 10 o’clock, things began to progress in ways that my inexperience didn’t understand and when I called the hospital, they told me to come in.

13 years ago, right now, I was still 24 1/2 hours away from holding you in my arms and looking into your eyes that calmly took in so much.

You are the only one of my four to not cry in the labour room – as if even then, your face was turned brave towards the world around you.

Your Papa wrote words for you, on that rainy, winter evening – the lines still echoing at times when I call out your name,

Lyla Mae, Lyla Mae, born upon this rainy day,

Born to take our clouds away…

~ Tim Baker

I was 26 and thirteen years seemed so far away.

How did we get here so quickly?

When was the last time I was able to lean my chin atop your head?

I have watched you navigate so much, but more importantly, sweet Lyla Mae?

I have watched your faith in Jesus grow, *even when* you haven’t understood certain situations, even when you have pushed through loneliness and dyslexia, when situations on 4th Street have been scary and chaotic…

Before I even knew your heart was beating deep within me, Jesus had His hand on you – He had written all the days for you, before that first one even came to be.

You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, Lyla, and He *will* complete them in you.

The Creator of the Heavens has equipped you, as a young woman, to live out the gospel for His glory. In your quiet and gentle ways, I watch you live that truth out.

I never dreamed, 13 years ago tonight, all the emotions I would feel all these years later – the ache and the longing.

13 years ago, I was given the gift of you, not understanding all the intricacies of holding on in order to let you go.

Being your mama is one of the greatest gifts I have been given – that Jesus found me worthy is almost more than I can articulate.

Happy 13th Birthday, my Lyla Mae. May your heart grow even more tender to Jesus this year, may your faith deepen and your joy grow. May you grow in wisdom and strength under His face that shines upon you.

I love you so.

With love,

Mama

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