To my baby girl, the day you turn one…

To my baby girl, the day you turn one,

Oh, my sweet JoJo, how do I write a letter to fully express the ways this year with you has changed our entire family…our entire world? The day you were born, nothing could ever rotate or propel forward the same again. You stopped time for me, for a mere moment, but it happened and I’ve felt as though I’m living a moment behind ever since.

The number of prayers that reached heaven in your name are far too great to number. God must have thought highly of me to loan you to these waiting arms, although there are plenty of days that I don’t comprehend it. The first six months of your life, I couldn’t truly process that you were here for good. I was so grateful for generous friends and hand-me-downs because if it weren’t for them, you would have been naked. It’s hard to buy clothes in the next size for a baby you aren’t sure is going to stay. That sounds awful when I say it out loud, but that’s what grief after a seemingly endless season of loss will do to a spirit. But, it DID end, we made it through and you fought your fight. And what a fight! You are the strongest little wisp I know. A child who’s experienced nothing of a life free from weekly violations, pokes and prods, yet waits with open arms and a smile as if to prove forgiveness when it’s all over…THAT’S an earthly show of grace!

Oh, how I praise God for His grace! Whatever is ailing your tiny body hasn’t stopped you from making big leaps. You crawl as lightning fast as your brother did. You chatter as brilliantly as your sister. And you’ve managed a sense of humor all your own! I often wonder if you knew your brothers and sisters in heaven and if they sent you here with instructions…”now give mom a hard time about getting you dressed. Be sure to REALLY enjoy bathtime. Make it hard for them to get anything done because they just want to hold you all day.” Or are all those little quirks your own? Do you know that you are my last draft and you are giving me all the really great story lines? Because you DO! Processing the milestones you’ve reached as “lasts,” instead of firsts has, at times, seemed a bit on the pessimistic side. But, I hope that in recognizing them, I’ve been able to soak in your littleness just a bit more thoughtfully than I would have otherwise.

When I was pregnant with you and we thought you were gone, I remember praying so hard that my guts literally ached. I prayed that if God would just get you earthside safely, then we would do anything that was necessary to save your life. I didn’t realize how much you’d be saving mine. You’ve occupied a space that wasn’t empty, necessarily. It was just filled with ghosts. It was sad and churning and often very bitter. But you don’t sit on that seat in my heart anymore. You’ve been replaced by precious memories of the happy news of each of your siblings, who despite being born into heaven, will always be my babies. No, dear one, you occupy the sweet spot, the part of my heart that has learned to trust God. The part that has learned patience…the really, really hard way, but that has seen the fruit from the waiting. You sit on the part of my heart that knows you and your brother and sister are the best things Papa and I have going in our lives, but that you aren’t really ours. You belong to the one true King and for that I can praise mightily. For he has chosen me…little old sinful, arrogant, selfish, hot-headed ME to get to be YOUR mama for as long as you’ll stay. It’s a job I’ll gladly keep doing because, Miss Josephine- jelly bean, prettiest girl I’ve ever seen….I love you to the sun and the moon and the stars and back again a hundred million times. So very fresh, so very full of light, so much joy…you’re my Jovi girl. Happy birthday.

Love, Mama

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