It's July 28th and Ellyse Faith is eleven.
"Mama, what time was I born? I think it was around 7:45 in the morning..."
I knew that was about right, she arrived early in the morning via a planned c-section. Planned because I wanted to minimize any chance of the kind of drama that surrounded her sisters birth 1 year and 51 weeks earlier.
Elly is why we have "the little girls"....two instead of one, planned perfectly by God's wild side and extravagant love for us. I didn't know I wanted two more littles, was pretty sure one would do. But God....
This morning when I went searching my old blog to see what I had written last year, since I always write about Elly on her birthday, I was both surprised and saddened to find no words for her tenth birthday. A year ago I didn't write. I know why, as I sit here tearfully typing, things at the ministry I love and led were coming apart. On her birthday I had meetings at work and was buried in budget prep for a difficult board meeting looming just a couple of weeks later.
Today is such a different day.
This week it was just Elly at home, with Libby gone at camp. We have made it her "birthday week" and each day she's chosen something to do in celebration. We've cooked, and shopped and watched movies and eaten fun food.
I'm watching the inevitable transformation that happens as we enter the "tween" years. The glimpses of what kind of adult she will be are visible every once in a awhile. Elly is fierce inside, she won't be pushed around or pushed out. She learned early on how to create space for herself and hold that space, a necessary skill as the youngest of five with older siblings who all felt like adults from the day she was born. She's creative but its rooted in something scientific and strategic inside her, it shows up in her cooking and the jewelry she makes out of odds and ends she finds. She loves tools, and binge watches HGTV, dreaming about the kind of house she wants to build some day. We had multiple conversations this week about making lipstick out of melted crayons and coconut oil....sometimes you just have to say no as mom, no to crayon lipstick.
Every day this week she's run over to the neighbors house to play with their girls, even if it's only for a few minutes. She's extroverted and soaks up every interaction with people around her. She has a fort in her room right now that she refuses to take down, "because the girls will be back to play today Mom, I just know they will."
As we shopped this week she told me, "Hey Mom, I made a regret." I laughed, "What does that even mean?" Her eyes sparkled, "You know, I made a mistake and now I wish I hadn't done what I did....so I made a regret."
That just cracked me up.
Yesterday she sent me a calendar invitation for the open house at the new middle school. She'd been on the website and found the dates for it along with various other facts she included in her report to me about what I needed to get done for registering them for school next week.
She thinks I am old. It leaks from her. I like to believe its mostly about Mark and all his gray hair, he looks old...so I must be old too. I can feel her wondering sometimes if she needs to be alert on my behalf, telling me the light is green or asking me if I remember the way to the mall.
A decade ago we drove from San Antonio to Austin on Elly's first birthday. Our oldest daughter had a freshman welcome event here in preparation for her first year of college. I remember that day well. Katy ready to launch into adulthood and Elly teetering around the swimming pool just barely walking.
Today we will drive to San Antonio, a before school physical for her, and lunch at her favorite restaurant.
Something about Elly's birthday always provokes just a few tears of joy for me. Ellyse Faith, because Faith is the evidence of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).
It was true eleven years ago, and it is true today.