Happy Birthday, Mary - Letter # 2

Psalme 127:3 proclaims "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,The fruit of the womb is a reward."

21 years ago tomorrow, God - with abundant lovingkindness - sent our family a gift, a reward:  Mary Suzanne Chambers was born.  In typical Mary fashion - 10 days early, late at night, just a little slender bundle slipping into the world.  I was so happy to make you my namesake and to share a birthday month with you. 

How to describe this gift from the Lord?  The first word that comes to mind is beautiful.  Breathtakingly so.  When you were a baby, complete strangers would stop me to comment on your beauty.  Cherubic little face.  Bouncing black curls.  The light in your eyes.  And that smile.  That smile started early.  Even through the pre-braces years when the overbite tempted you to hide it, Daddy nurtured your confidence in that smile.  "Smile, Buddy," he would say, "I love your smile."

The next word I would choose is zest. Not the soap - the vibrancy, the seasoning, the fervor.  Always ready for adventure and excitement.  If you have any fear at all, it's of being bored!  Your energy is contagious - when you are in a room, the whole place lights up.  Yep, "zest" fits you well. Sometimes your zest outkicks your comfort zone but that's not always a bad thing.  Which brings me to the next word -

Resilence.  Of all of us, you are the best at this.  When things begin to not work out so well, you not only have the backup plan in mind, you have already set it in motion.  You don't languish in defeat or self- pity - you move on.  You get over it.  Rub off on me, please.  What an enviable quality, one we all want to emulate.  Which segues into the next word...

Influence.  True leadership.  The ability to effect voluntary behavior change in other people.  From fashion to fun to faith - you are a leader of other people.  People just naturally like you and admire you and want to be like you.

Mary, you are a wonderful sister.  Little and big.  One of the many reasons I am so thankful you are ours is because of the role you play in the lives of your siblings.  From "sister secrets" with Katie to nurturing Betsy to encouraging Chip's journey as the lone brother in this clan, you are a fabulous sister.  OK, there have been some dubious moments like the lure for Lemonheads under the bed and your penchant for wanting to feel "cool and free" when the pastor was over for dinner.  Help.  Can't breathe.

And you are a genuine blessing as a daughter.  I love that we are alike enough to empathize with one another (and call one another out as needed!) and yet UNalike enough so that I can enjoy and admire those qualities in you that I aspire to.

Happy 21st, dear daughter. May "the generation to come set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God and keep His commandments. "Psalm 78:6,7 Remember Psalm 84:11 always.  And Joshua 1:9 "The Lord your God is with you wherever you go".  I love you.