It is October 7, 2012. That means my youngest daughter, Abby Evangeline, turns 14 today. This is not hard for me to believe. Though I, like so many others, can say that time has flown, that it only seems like yesterday since she was an infant in my arms, a toddler scooting across my floor, a preschooler who loved to learn, a young girl who held my hand, and a preteen who magnetically made friends, this age feels right, true, perfect, and present.

She is girl and woman simultaneously, in an ever-shifting orbit of emotions and passions and desires and hopes. Though deeply compassionate and longing for the happiness of those in her world, she speaks her mind – boldly, unapologetically, and calmly. She hardly ever raises her voice, but under a relatively calm exterior, a fire smolders. Sparks fly, often.

She is a Libra – symbolized by scales. Astraea held them in Roman mythology – seen as the goddess of justice and balance and truth. Indeed, Astraea’s lineage continues in Abby: such an acute heart for injustice, for the marginalized, for the hurting; an eye that sees what’s wrong and a voice that names it.

She laughs. She cries. She sings. She takes pictures. She plays. She dreams. She aches. She sees. She befriends. She leads. She loves.

I love her.

Here, in these three words, the years rush together and tears spill: recalling the first time I held her in my arms and took in her beauty, her presence, her even-then-expressed wisdom, her heart. I have never been the same.

You have changed me forever, Abby. And every day you do the same.

May you continue to grow in body, mind, and spirit – more deeply and keenly aware of your strength, your beauty, your wisdom, your heart. On those days when you forget, I will remind you. How can I not? You are the most profound evidence of God’s love for me.

It is my highest honor and deepest privilege to be your mom. Happy 14th Birthday, sweet girl. I love you.