Today is Amanda’s birthday. This is the very first birthday ever that I’m not with her to celebrate. In the weeks leading up to today all I could think about was the day she was born and the tiny, beautiful, pink bundle of love that she was. So much so that a couple of weeks ago I was buying milk and all of the expiration dates were April 25th. I immediately started tearing up…in the dairy isle. I tried to recover quickly and I’m usually good at the stiff upper lip thing but it took a while to recover from that.

It’s gotten me thinking about who I was when she was born and who I am now. It’s made me think about my circumstances then and the amazing amount of love that she brought into my life. It’s that love that made me care about what happened to me. Because whatever happened to me also happened to her and I couldn’t let anything hurt her. It’s because of Amanda that I went to college. I had to take care of her and get us off the merry-go-round to nowhere. People saw me as strong but what they didn’t know was that my strength came from a tiny little person with blonde hair and blue eyes that loved me completely. What I hoped for her then was that she’d grow up strong, happy, and healthy. Looking back on it now I fully realize that I should never have been able to navigate those circumstances without divine guidance, without divine wisdom. I was far too young and far too hurt to make the right choices myself.

I look at her now and I’m so filled with thankfulness. She and I navigated many rough waters together and what has she grown up to be? She has overcome  many obstacles and  much adversity and what I see in her now is grace. I’m not proud of her because of what she’s accomplished, I admire who she’s become. She loves deeply. She is unbelievably loyal. She loves God with her whole heart and she’s walking out his plan for her life. In all the doors that God has opened for her this semester at school she’s not filled with pride but fully recognizes that God has given her favor and has opened the doors she’s walking through.

I miss her so much. But I wouldn’t trade having her close in proximity for God’s plan for her life. I don’t know fully what God’s plan for her at SEU is but I do know she’s growing. She’s being stretched. She’s getting stronger, building stamina, and every day she’s changing.

Our life now is a far cry from the place we started. And I couldn’t be more thankful.

Happy Birthday, Amanda!