Her First Birthday

There is something majestic about a first birthday. Life. This little blob of flesh has begun to develop personality. She moves, she laughs, she discovers. Her eyes wear wonder at even the simplest things and you get to live it all over again watching her.

And then there is the celebration. She has no idea, but you are recording every minute. She’s oblivious and you are radiating from the inside: she’s yours to celebrate.

Today, we have a first birthday in our home. This time the one celebrated is eight. Her once-jaded eyes have recovered that wonder, at even the simplest things. And we get to live it all over again watching her. Found as a very young girl at a refugee camp, she’s never known anything about candles, or cakes, or celebrating. You better believe she’s been counting down the days. And I am recording every minute. As much as it is possible, one who has never received honor and recognition in this way is receptive, and I’m radiating from the inside: she’s mine to celebrate.

In true Hagerty tradition, here’s my birthday letter to sweet Lily. In about ten years her eyes will read it; you get an early glimpse.

Lily-pie,

We prayed you would be home by your birthday, and you prayed we would come this summer. Your faith moved His heart. We were early by our standards, late if judged by your lifetime, but just in time for your request. Your Daddy has heard you all these years.

And while your first birthday with us — first birthday celebration ever — grieves my heart for the years we’ve missed, we’ve already seen the first-fruits of a God who is giving every one of those years back. Lily, your young life tells such a story.

From before I knew I wanted you. God sent shadows of you into my daydreams. Would we one day bring one like her home? My early longings were young shoots — the earth was giving way to prayers you didn’t yet pray but Your Father knew you would. He went before you. He was always there, carving out the just right time.

Your entrance into our family has been one big sigh. “Finally” we say, as we see the missing piece we always felt but never understood. You carry the role of eldest child with such grace. You’re not too old to squeal with Eden as her hair has finally reached ponytail length or to dress Caleb as Joseph for today’s rendition of the nativity night. Their world is your world, you haven’t skipped a beat.

Yet, Lily, you gently lead them with the beauty of how God has made you. You sew purses for your sisters in your free time and they now respond in kind. Though their reciprocation reflects years’ less practice, you enjoy it just the same. Their little eyes are learning beauty from their big sister. You leave a wake behind you for them to ride.

As big you are to them, you are still little girl to us. All 4’8 of you folds up like an infant in your daddy’s arms. He was made to make you safe and you receive it. Your spirit, which has a preternatural hunger for the Jesus you’ve only known for months, has welcomed love. You are a confident novice and we’re blessed to have witnessed some of your very first steps.

Sweet Lily, His hand rests heavy on your countenance. How can one so young have such depth? You move one step ahead of me, looking for ways to “bless your mommy” before I can get there. And you are so in touch with Him, asking for the moon and expecting it.

He’s preserved you. All these years. For Him. And for us.

And, oh, what a Thanksgiving feast this day is.

We’re crazy about you. Happy Birthday, little girl.

Love, Mommy


 Photo compliments of Lucy O Photography.

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