Back when we found out we were expecting you, we were surprised. Very, very surprised. We were brand new parents and brand new to Japan, and logic would have led us to believe that this wasn’t the best time to add to our family. But God is not bound by logic, and I’m thankful that He isn’t because there’s no logic in giving people like us extravagant, undeserved gifts.
And you, Emma, are one of the greatest extravagant, undeserved gifts the Lord has given to us.
I remember those early newborn days, when you and I would be awake together at night. You weren’t really upset; you just couldn’t seem to get to sleep. You were so young, too young to really even smile or focus on faces either one, but I swear, when I would sing that you were my shining star, you would break out with the biggest grins, your eyes locked on mine, and we would both just laugh and laugh. Worth every second of lost sleep!
You haven’t changed a bit in the nine years since. You bring such joy to our family with your easygoing nature, your sense of humor, and your compassionate kindness. You’ve never met a dog you don’t need to hug, a person you don’t need to tell your life story to, or anyone who you don’t intend to befriend. You’re always quick with a selfie smile, and you shrug off stressful situations as though nothing can get you down. (Except those snakes under the bed. But we all have our vices.) I can still see you, leaving the sanctuary of FBC Vidalia right before the vote was taken to call Papi as pastor, waving to the crowds of people there like some politician on parade, telling me as we went outside, “I like these people!” I’m pretty sure they like you, too. Most people do.
I love how you know Jesus and how He’s working in your life. I love how when, at preteen camp, all the other kids were whispering and telling you that you needed to go forward and get saved, you told them, in a loud voice, “I ALREADY GAVE MY LIFE TO JESUS! AT MEMORIAL! AND THEN I GOT BAB-A-TIZED!” I’m so thankful that you know what you know and that your response after nearly every encounter with the Word of God is this — “Jesus is so smart.” He is! I pray that you’ll continue to know Him more and more as you walk with Him.
I am so, so thankful for you, Emma. Happy birthday!