Fifteen years ago tonight, your Mom and I were waiting. Waiting for something; a birth. Waiting for someone; and it was you. You weren't due for about two more weeks, but as we have learned is typical for you, waiting patiently was not your strong suit. You wanted to be in the world sooner, rather than later. Exploring, learning, laughing - and you have never stopped, since day one.
We had been doing a lot of waiting of a special kind. For 49 days prior to your arrival in the world, Mom's cautious obstetrician had put her on bed rest, as it seemed you wanted to come into the world even earlier than planned. And so, we waited.
And you came, quickly, with the healthy cry of a 7 pound little girl. One minute after midnight, or maybe it was one minute before. We're not sure, it was very exciting, we were rather breathless. Eyes filled with tears, and hearts filled with thankfulness. The handiwork of God, a new hand in ours. The doctor asked us what day we wanted to have your birth recorded on. We looked at the clock, and it was the 11th of February, one minute after midnight. So there we were. And here you are, 15 years later, a young lady.
Fifteen years later, I would not trade these years, these months, these days with you for anything. As a very wise friend once told me, "With a first child, every day is a first day". He was so right, I will never forget those words, they have marked our lives together. Everyday since your birth, you, your Mom, and I are facing the days of growing up and growing older together for the first time. You were our first baby, our first girl. And every day since has been a first. First child to try to eat solid food, first to be potty trained, first to stop using a pacifier. First to go to preschool, kindergarten, have a sleep over with friends. First trip to Disneyland, first grandchild in the family, first to go without water wings. First in the nursery at church, first to be dedicated to God. First off to camp.
Your tiny hand in mine grew bigger. For a long time, almost 10 years, your hand held tight in mine. But then, the grip became softer, and less frequent. Friends to see, places to go, water wings long deflated and gone, cell phone calls now to make. Life. And so, as life, and time, and faith would have it, I have lessened my grip. But know this thing, my love, and my thankfulness for you grows, deepens, and changes. Like the roots you cannot see of a vine that grows older, but continues to bring good fruit.
These days with you have been filled with wonder, joy, and mostly with laughter. By some Divine appointment, God has granted us with a very funny daughter. But also a girl, who now, at 15 years old, is wise, intelligent, beautiful, and sees life with a good sense of perspective - something rather unusual for your age. You have made great decisions in your friendships in life thus far, and my prayer is that the next 15 years will continue to be marked by the same wisdom and grace.
As we grow older together and apart, may our love deepen and change. And as you go forth into high school, and then the big world, may you know, deep in your heart, there is place here deep in my heart for you. May you find in me, as your Dad, a place of love and warmth, acceptance and understanding. We are alike in more ways than either of us wants to admit. May you also find.... Home. And in that home, may you find God's love and Christ's deep care for you. These roots run deep. May they produce the fruit of love, understanding, patience, and joy for you.
Happy Birthday, Kelly!