Today you turn twelve. As I've been thinking the past few days about how thankful I am for you, old stories have flooded my mind. And just like God does, he reminded me how stories-things written from the past are meant to teach us (not to mention, many of your stories have great entertainment value too).
How can I forget the identity you assumed for a year and a half? You introduced yourself and insisted that people call you "White Kitty". You often wordless, came into the kitchen in the morning on all fours ready for kitty food. You had an uncle who would try to trick you into saying you were Hallie (or anyone besides White Kitty), but you were an unbendable oak.
The world will try to tell you who you are, and it will undoubtedly tell you wrong. The world will tell you that you are "the one who looks pretty when you wear makeup and a new outfit" or that you're "the preacher's kid". Be true to who God made you to be. Don't let others convince you that you're someone you're not.
A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, (God's) Favor is better than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1
You know my favorite story; the one where in first grade, you were asked to draw an animal that started with the letter "a". You asked your teacher if you could draw a horse. When she asked if horse started with "a" you shook your head no, but you continued to draw the horse. Your teacher told me that your hand was the first to go up when asking for volunteers to share their "a" animal. Nervous, she called on you. You told her it was an Apaloosa.
You've always been creative, ......and secure. You have a unique way of thinking and being. Never trade that in to be another boring member of the crowd. God put a Hallie Kathryn in the world, on purpose.
Do you remember sailing with another uncle one summer day; the only time you've sailed? You spotted a small plane with a banner trailing behind bearing an advertisement for Geico. It showed the Geico Gecko (who wasn't yet the world's most famous Gecko). The banner had a short advertisement written. You asked what the sign said. Your uncle and Hayden convinced you that the sign said "Beware of sea monsters". With Nessie about, your sailing experience was ruined. I watched as my fearless Hallie, who you remember had caught a chicken snake bare-handed a year before, rolled up into a ball, frozen in terror.
Don't be fooled into living in fear. There are so many things I didn't experience simply because I refused to try, afraid that a host of eyes would see me fail. Of course I want you to live right, but don't be afraid of messing up. Sometimes mistakes and failures are the best learning opportunities. I can already hear you using this one against me in the near future. And if you find yourself anxious, remember I'm here (It may not be best to talk to your uncles).
God continues to write a story through your life. It's a story rich in love; don't ever forget that. I'm thankful that we can look back on the pages you've lived through and that we can laugh and even learn. I'm especially thankful for the pages where our names appear together. I look to the pages ahead with anticipation. There's much living, learning and laughing yet to be done.
I love you,