A couple weeks young and fresh.
Where did these last 365 days go to? It feels like yesterday when the doctor announced "It's a girl!" and I announced I was so glad that I wasn't pregnant anymore. (That really was the first thing that came to mind...) And they laid you on my chest and the nurses started admiring your double eyelids, a mark of beauty in many Asian countries.
What none of us knew then, since none of us really knew then you, is that what makes you most beautiful is your heart. It is so full of life, love, and joy - it nearly overwhelms me!
With your great-grandma.
Just last week, you ran around the dining room of your great-grandmother's retirement home, shrieking at all the residents and stopping at nearly every table to give them your trademark scrunched-up nose/eye smile and your high-pitched, joy-filled, "HIIIIII!" I loved watching you. And watching them. You could feel the joy build in the room... people were laughing and smiling and vying for your attention. And you weren't stingy with affection. You had joy to share and you freely gave it; I feel blessed that I get to share you with others. One of the ladies told me you were the highlight of her week. Sweet girl, you are the highlight of my life.
Kissing your other great-grandma.
You spent the Christmas holidays kissing your cousins. You love children (and dogs) more than anything, but neither are willing to stay still long enough for you to kiss as much as you'd like. You're generous in your kisses for me, but not your daddy. I think you enjoy teasing him. I see it in the sparkle in your eye as you coyly turn your face from his kiss. I want to tell him he shouldn't be surprised... after all, you are a girl. You want to be pursued. I love picturing the woman you will become under his gentle love. Girls need daddies more than anything, and you have a good one. Even if you won't kiss him.
Your turn at the China birthday party.
I got the most amazing gift today... a picture in my email. Your life is celebrated and cherished not just by me and your family, but also by the rest of our family half a world away. They lit a candle and sang a song for you during the monthly birthday party at the foster home. I pray that as you grow, you always have an extra-large space in your heart for the place you "came from," as some of our friends over there like to say. I want you to know the people who loved and nurtured us even as we were just learning to love and nurture you. I want you to know that the world - with all its diversity and difference - is brimming with God's goodness. His hand is on all people in all places, and you can be an instrument of love and joy for all people in all places you go. May you always have the courage and bravery of spirit that you have now -- to confidently walk into an unknown place and bring His love to any you meet, regardless of how different they may look or sound or be.
As I rocked you to sleep last night, you stared up at me in the darkness, those big grey-blue eyes unblinking and still. And I started talking to you. Telling you that you are precious and such a gift. Telling you about our Father who loves you more than anything, just as you are right now. You don't need to be better, or stronger, or kinder, or smarter, or prettier, or anything more than who He created you to be. I whispered these things to you. I will keep telling you until the words are written on your heart. If you bring Him half as much joy as you bring me, His heart must be swelling. I know it is. I can see it in your eyes and hear it in your laughter.
I love rocking you... I'm thankful you still let me. Some nights I wish you could go to sleep on your own, especially after talking to other mamas who seem to have sleeping-machines for children, but most of the time I realize just how short these days truly are and I don't wish them away. I realize that they'll be gone in a flash. I think about how I already miss the cooing, sweet infant I held this time last year. And how I miss the naps you used to take curled up on my chest. So sweet girl, I'll keep rocking you as long as you'll let me. It's all going a bit too fast for me anyway... slowing down to rock you to sleep might make it last just a little bit longer.