Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Julia's Birthday Letter 2013

My Dear Julia,

It’s the year 2013 and you are officially 11 and every year that a new candle is added to your cake, the more inadequate I feel to write these letters.  And I am hoping that the inadequacy I feel will only work to our advantage in the sense that we both need Jesus to navigate these remaining years you have at home.

Right after you turned 10, your daddy announced we were moving.  In your true adventuresome spirit, you took the news well.... and the changes began.  You were a trooper when we packed up more than half your things in order to start showing the house.  We weren’t able to tell you how long it would all be in boxes but I can tell you now, it was for longer than we had thought.  You managed just fine.  I would NOT have managed fine without all your help with the FORTY-SIX showings of our house.  By showing number 5, you knew exactly what to do.  You were a GREAT teammate.

Not long after that, we decided we would start a new school in the fall.  Again, your immediate response was positive-- excited about something new.  I love that about you.  {You are more like your daddy that way and I bet you both wish I tipped your side of the scale more often.}   You just started your second semester at the new school barely settled in our rental and I really don’t feel you’ve missed a beat.  You’ve had your emotional moments, which is normal.  I won’t forget the first night or two in the rental, in a strange house, in a strange bedroom, with strange noises {seriously}, hearing you, through tears with a rather loud voice, list all the things you missed about our house.  It was quite a long list that even included the toilets.  It was late.  And you were due.  I think you would say school is just  “good”, and wouldn’t belabor the point.  You look adorable in your uniform, gross grain ribbon and saddle shoes--- and someone else is sending home the assignments.  That’s all good.

A new school brought new experiences and school programs was one.  You are in your element in old fashioned clothes and B.....well, he's just trying to look like a fierce Roman soldier.  

Let me back up a bit...

First Piano Festival
Spring Piano Recital

{Spring and Fall}  I love taking you to Soperton.  Some day, I think you will find you a country boy who loves Jesus, marry him and follow him to the boonies.  You love the dirt, the garden, the woods, the trees, the air...... and shoes?  What a bother!  When you aren’t outside, you are making messes with all the “old stuff” you find upstairs.  You think it’s treasure and Mom and I see it as stuff we should have gotten rid of a LONG time ago.  For all your years so far, going to Soperton also meant getting to see RJ and Hunter.  You and Brighton are the only cousins they have so you’ve gotten some pretty special treatment from my niece and nephew, but last year, we all knew things would be a little different.  RJ was off at school and so as I was preparing you two for our spring trip just letting you know that RJ wouldn’t be around but we would certainly go watch his college baseball games while we were there, you breathed a heavy sigh and said, “Can't we just rewind and do it all over again?  They are growing up too fast, Momma.”  You weren’t being cute or funny-- just serious.  You were seeing what was over-- or about to be over-- with Hunter graduating next.  You knew trips to Soperton were going to begin to look a little different.  God has given us some terrific visits in 2012, giving us abundance of time with everyone. {RJ and Hunter-- thanks for always making so much time for us!  We are grateful.}  

The beginning of summer brought a month long ballet intensive and thus, POINTE SHOES!   A milestone you have been waiting for!  I was amazed by how you could balance so well as you were being fitted for them.  The shoes themselves are so beautiful but to see them on your feet, adding to your length and grace..... lovely.  I look forward to seeing you on stage in them when you are ready.

This was your first year to do swim team.  No, you weren't so wild about it but you did it and stuck it out until the end.  You wrestled with that hat and those goggles all summer, and yes, it's the most expensive suit you've ever owned.  

You look about 5 in this picture.  That's just one reason I like it so much.
And you even SMILE while you swim.....what's not to love?
Oh, the blessing of friends..... my sweet girl, how important are the girlfriends you choose.  We talked about that just the other day.  You already know the value of friends who want to make you follow after Christ more.  And my prayer is that you will pursue those girls for the rest of your life because you never run out of a need for girlfriends who love Jesus with their whole heart.  I am so grateful for the ones that God has put in your life... mostly by default because of my love for their mommas, but I have no doubt you will choose well as the years go on.  You are a wonderful friend to have and I see you caring for your friends in valuable, thoughtful ways.  

Camp Calico-- such a highlight of the summer with older girls pouring into younger girls
Getting to do school with a friend..... life is good on these days for you.
Thankful!!  Just makes me want to SHOUT!

I adore how you and Atlee can always figure out how to include this little cutie.
Do I really put this in your letter?  You acquired some new knowledge this summer.... only after I got control of my butterflies, which took an entire weekend.  Stage one was easy telling you all the scientific knowledge and the practical biology of things.  Stage two came a little later but you handled it all like a champ.  You had good questions which helped us along fine.  My favorite memory will always be that you came as a true student.... with pen and paper..... and then I think you were too shocked to write anything down.  It thrills me to no end to have opened up this conversation with you and to hear you wonder out loud, "Who would I talk to this about if I didn't talk to you?"  

And while we are talking about serious conversations, let me just say to you, I LOVE that you talk about the things in your heart.  Sometimes the things that come from there are hard for me to hear, but I know I'd rather it be me you're telling than anyone else.  You can put words to the feelings going on inside and many times, I am amazed and wonder why I have so much trouble doing what comes so easily to you.  When we snuck away to the Woodshed the other day at like 3pm to enjoy a slab of chocolate pie, I listened to you as I would listen to a friend.  I couldn't believe the emotions you were identifying and expressing to me.  By the time we were finished, there were tears you couldn't hold back.  I'm so grateful we went for that piece of yummy pie together.  Would I have given you time at home?  

We've sure had some serious conversations about this guy.  

Anyone who's had a brother.... a little brother, especially, knows that your days can be both filled with fun and adventure or aggravation and craziness.  We cycle through those on a pretty regular basis.  Just when I think, "Oh, they've done it now.  They will never speak to each other EVER again." I turn around and you are hugging all over each other and bending over backwards to serve the other one.  As Jeff's momma used to say, "Your little madness doesn't amount to anything."  {Your lil' madness don't 'mount to nothing.}  It's over as quickly as it began.  I love how your daddy reminds you that these days at home with B won't last forever.  He reminds us all to enjoy each other on our days at home.  How fun it would be to go back and experience a day at home with my brother.... a day we were completely bored and figured out all kinds of random things to do.  Julia, B's a lot of fun.  I think you know that.  Enjoy him.  Don't waste time fighting with him or making things difficult for him.  Just keep loving him.  You will teach him a lot by just loving him.

I mean, well, it's just how it is.  I have NO idea where this stuff comes from....
Great moments in sibling-dom..... Breakfast in bed
You guys had waited all winter to do this. 
And all summer to do this.
I love these days at home with you two.

Clowning with the Atlanta cousins
Oh, those Wolfe boys..... making cookies after swimming
Reading. Your first love.
The country may be your second.

2012 "altar" picture

When spring hints, you ask to do this everyday.

My girl, I am so blessed by you.  Yes, I act like I forget that sometimes, but when I take the time to step back for perspective, I know I am blessed to be your mother.  God put it all together before either of us were born......preparing me for you, directing you to me.  You can ask me all the questions you want to about genes, genetics, birth parents, genealogy and I will happily answer all that I can-- like a big girl, but, missy, you are mine.  You are stuck with me.  You are a Sanders through and through and no answer I give you to your questions is going to change that.  I told you a few years ago, over and over in your birthday letter, "I see you."  And I am committed to that all the days God gives me with you.  There will be days I "miss" you-- miss your heart, miss your needs, but I promise, I will realize.  I will always be seeking you out.  And I'm happy to take you out for chocolate pie if need be.  {Please?}

I love you, sweet girl.  More than you will ever know......

I'll share this letter with you in its entirety one day, but her are a few words from TJ describing my love for and anticipation of you:

...........but she came alive after your birth. You were truly a dream come true. An undeserving gift from the Lord. She prayed for and longed for you years before you were even conceived. I’ll never forget holding little Hudson at your mom’s desk before your birth, and the hutch was completely adorned with note cards in your mom’s handwriting claiming God’s promises and faithfulness. This was right about the time they learned you would soon come dancing and giggling into their home. But these Scripture-filled notecards were written weeks and months and years before that, a visual comfort from the Lord to your momma that He sees and is faithful and trustworthy.  You were at the heart of those Scriptures, Julia. 

I love all these words -- to affirm you of how wanted you were but as I looked back over this letter today, "He sees" sticks out.  Know that, daughter.  When I don't see you, Julia, He does.  Where I am not faithful, HE IS.

Happy Birthday, Julia Karis Sanders!

Goodbye, Ten!  Hello, Eleven!

{I've said it before, I am a great copier so I want to share this mom's amazing photography with you.  Her daughter is in Julia's ballet class and I got the idea of the lace from her site.  And honestly, her lace is probably some handmade thing from Italy, but mine?!?  My dining room curtains from Lowes. ; ) }

And to keep it real.....


Alyssa said...

So so beautiful in every way! Love her! And the way you capture her and pour out your heart here each year on your kiddos' birthdays is something they will treasure forever.

TJ Wilson said...

Love, love this girl. Love her serious side, her goofy side, her heart. The lace photos - incredible. (that, and Brighton LICKING her - that's a pic worth a thousand words). Thank goodness you have an adventure-loving girl!

Sarah said...

Love Julia. You and her== meant for each other :)

Tori said...

So beautiful. Makes me want to go wake my baby girl and give her a big hug!

andrea said...

Gorgeous! Wow so many beautiful pictures of Julia. Isabel loves the ballet pictures and asks to see them over and over. Isabel saw the lace and said 'oh is she getting married' and now she is bugging me to see the last silly face one. hugs to Julia. What a beautiful letter to your beautiful daughter.