You are my sunshine.  Always have been.  Always will be.

Late one night, shortly after you were born, I held you in front of our Christmas tree.  I prayed, “God, please help Tabitha grow up to be a woman who is deeply in love with you.”  I knew at the time what that prayer meant . . . deep love always brings great joy but is most often accompanied by great pain.

Over the next several years, you will experience moments that will be some of the deepest joys in your life.  You will also experience some moments that will be filled with pain . . . Good choices and bad choices, boys who treat you well and others who I’ll want to go after with a gun, friends who will last forever and others who will break your heart.  Please know that God and dad will always be there to celebrate with you and to hold you when you need to cry.  ALWAYS.

So my prayer today is that you will take the joy with the pain, and that the two together will make you more and more like Jesus.  That seeing children in poverty will cause you great pain and that as you alleviate that poverty you will find deep joy.  That your wrong choices will cause you great pain so that you will find deep joy in your right ones.  That a recognition of your own sinfulness will cause you great pain that will lead you into the joyful experience of falling into the arms of God’s grace.  That you will always choose the joy of deep friendships in spite of the fear of a broken heart.

Over the next several years you will experience many amazing adventures.  Perhaps your first kiss? (Not until you are 18.)  Your first mountain summit (you and dad at the top!).  More trips to third world countries to care for those in need.  Musicals, recitals, exhibits.  Enjoy, have fun, laugh!

You are beautiful.  Be who God created you to be.  You are an artist, a pianist, a baker, a creator.  You are a doer of good deeds with a heart bigger than the ocean.  Delight in your uniqueness.  Wear vibrantly colored socks that don’t match.  Make your own birthday cakes.  Paint purple trees.  Find new ways to bless people all over the world!

So, on your 13th birthday, I will probably cry a bit.  You’re moving from a little girl to a teenager.  I couldn’t be more proud of you.  I will never love you more and I will never love you less.  More than my heart can hold . . .

You are my sunshine.  Always have been.  Always will be.