Happy Birthday, sweet Stephanie, amazing mommy, faithful wife and thoughtful daughter. Happy Birthday, gentle spirit, sometimes hidden, but always breaking through in brilliant rainbow-colored prisms of light. Happy happy days to you, my second-born who came to us so fragile, but stands on her own two feet now as a woman of faith and strength and patience and contentment. The favor force of God's grace and healing power rest on you, Stephanie. You are surrounded in His blessing by your husband (and his heart can safely trust in you) and the 3 precious gifts straight from God: Gavin, Guini and Gemma and the rest of your family who loves you.
When you were born too early all those years ago and they whisked you away to another city for the intensive care you would need and I didn't get to hold you before you left, but could only touch your tiny hand through a small opening in an aparatus full of tubing and wires, I wish I'd known so much more, wish I'd been bolder. How I wish I'd have had the voice to say, "Give me my baby to hold – it will help her." They know so much more now, that the holding is key, but in their effort to keep you free of germs and to help you breathe, we were kept apart: me in one hospital, you in another. We lost some very important days. And so maybe in the deep places of your heart you may still wonder, "Will my mom be there for me?" And maybe because of that early experience you'll sometimes wonder if you are all alone in the world and where I am and if you really can count on anyone? And I hope you will know you can. Because I really know that sometimes I have been absent and busy and unreachable, but you have stuck it out and I want to be faithful to you in being a mom you can count on, because you are such a joy and so worth my full attention.
And so these are the gifts I am praying you will unwrap this year:
Ability to receive the hugs and touches and holding you didn't get your first few days of life now. You are sweet and sassy; you are gifted and independent, not given to emotional outburst, but steady and dependable. But inside your big, generous heart deep, loving waters flow, yet sometimes I sense your trepidation in being on the receiving end. But girl, I have the strong need to make up for lost time and the days I didn't get to hold you. I hope you can receive it now and know that I am holding your heart with great care and I see the tender, tiny baby girl inside you still and I am watching out for her in prayer and no one can tear me away now! I am so glad I am your mom.
Courage to sing again. Those little undeveloped lungs from May 21, 1982 – wow! They have changed. They have been filled with the life-breath of God and from your earliest days, the song of the Lord! And so, you've had a break from the public singing (the babies needed you), but I hear the song rising in you again. Even last night, the sound of the prophetic song came from inside you and filled the air and the anointing and call of God on you was again so apparent. And in that moment, I was just so proud of you – for spending time in the secret place, just you and God so that when the time is right, your heart is full and ready to minister. So sing, Stephie. It is for the Lord. You were born to sing for Him. But I love the sound of your song, too.
The rewards of your faithfulness. You were a teen-age bride. I could not believe you married at 19 and I would not recommend it to anyone else, but you married so well. And you have walked faithfully in that role. You and Tris are mature beyond your years, working hard, serving God, ministering hand-in-hand, raising those babies for God. You make good, sound choices and decisions. You are steady and faithful. And God sees what is done in secret. He is watching you live your life well and true before Him. And He will reward you openly.
A glimpse of the miraculousness of your life. I believe that the enemy tried to stop you at your birth, like he tries to wipe out all miracles at the very beginning (think Moses, think Jesus – death decrees made, but they were saved). So I believe the fact that you fought to live and thrived and defied the odds says something of yor character, but also that God has great things in mind for you. Your life is a miracle, every single day. And you were born to make an impact. You already have, but I also look forward to what is in store! I am so glad to get to be near you as your part in God's story unfolds!
I am so proud of the woman you are, Stephanie. You are light-years beyond where I was at your age. You are an amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister. We're only just beginning to grasp what a gift you are! I bless the day you were born, scary as it was at the time, I should have known it would bring so much good!
I am pleased with the way you have turned out. I am so blessed to be your mom, my little preemie…MOM
NOTE TO SELF: Follow Steph's example of gentleness, patience.