In two short weeks you will be one year old! It has been the most wonderful, challenging, beautiful, and chaotic year of my life. Sometimes I still can't believe that you are real, that you are here, and that you are ours.
There are so many things I want to tell you and teach you. I pray that we'll have a lifetime to try to cover it all, but for now I want you to know how special you are. Your daddy and I waited a long time for you. One day, when you're a little bit older, I'll explain to you how you weren't the first baby that God created inside Mommy's womb. There were six other precious ones who, just like you, were fearfully and wonderfully made and were so loved and wanted in our family. For reasons I won't understand here on earth, those babies -- your brothers and sisters -- went to heaven before we could meet them. That makes us sad, but we trust the One who made us and loves us and understands it all. And we know that one day there will be such a sweet reunion when we're all together again.
Lily, God made you in His perfect way and in His perfect timing. Even though Mommy and Daddy got married in 1998, you weren't supposed to be born until 2010. Despite everything that happened before and despite our odds, you lived longer than 6 weeks and 9 weeks and 12 weeks. You lived and grew inside for 39 weeks before you were born all pink and chubby and healthy. Now you've grown from 8 pounds to 20 pounds and it's going by so fast that we can hardly keep up.
A few times in my life I've seen a beautiful wildflower growing and thriving in some crazy place where it shouldn't have made it, like in a tiny crack in the middle of some concrete. That's what I think about when I imagine how God allowed you to grow in my tummy. Sometimes He does things that seem impossible to us and leave us totally in awe of His power and goodness. I'm reminded of that when I look at you.
I wish I could tell you that, because of all of that, we are going to be perfect parents who never get tired or frustrated. Even though we had to wait so long for you and even though we love you beyond words, we're going to make mistakes and we're going to fail sometimes. You'll have to be patient with us because we're still new at this and we still have so much to learn! We are aware, though, that you are a very special little girl and for some reason God chose us to be your parents. We plan to keep trying to do the best job that we can, and most of all, to pray for you and remind you every day with our words and our actions how much we love you and are grateful for you.
You didn't come to us by accident or mistake! You are here as a result of many years of praying, pleading, crying, hoping, trusting, and believing (and yes, sometimes doubting). Daddy and I will always, always give God the glory for giving us you, our little miracle girl. He is so much bigger than our plans, our doubts and fears, our worries, and our hurts. I hope you'll always remember that, and always take the small things and the big things to Him -- knowing that He's got it all in His hands.
I know that we can't protect you from life's disappointments forever. All we can do is pray that God will use the difficult times and the trials that I know will come to teach you and help you to grow in your faith in Him, just like He has for us. It's easy to trust Him and find joy when times are good, but it's a whole different thing to do that when they're tough, and I know that's something you'll have to learn on your own. We have lots of stories to tell about the lessons we've learned while waiting for you.
It has been a remarkable year! As much as we adored you the very first time that we saw you, our love has increased substantially as we have watched you grow, learn, and change. I can't imagine how our hearts could hold any more love in them, but I know that somehow, with each passing year, they will.
I love you with all of my heart, Lily Rae!