On October 7, 12 years ago, Abby Evangeline Miller was born. My baby, now 364 days away from being a teenager. She has braces. She wears super-hot glasses. She sometimes uses mascara. She usually dons skinny jeans, an oversized sweatshirt, and Vans. She has an iPod, a Nintendo DS, a Facebook account, and her own blog. She loves soccer, her cell phone, and one boy more than others (today). She sings. She acts. She talks. She feels. She cries. She laughs. She loves.

She blazes. She always has.

This girl entered the world fast, loud, and dramatically. An unmistakable, un-ignorable light then and now. And her beauty? It took your breath away. It still takes mine.

No longer the curly-haired, cherubic infant in pink; she’s tall, thin, and has months-old streaks of red in her flat-ironed  hair. She’s a magnate – attracting young and old alike with her smile, her charisma, her charm. She is articulate, smart, and deeply emotional. Her friends love her. Her family loves her. Near total-strangers love her. She blazes.

She is wizened, courageous, and deeply intuitive. She accurately reads the hearts of others in a split-second and then sets out to do everything she can to bring healing and hope. She reveals a strength that she doesn’t yet trust, but that cannot be quenched…Though smoldering at times, she can’t not blaze.

Perhaps most profound of all is that she knows none of these things about herself. She struggles to maintain a fragile ego. She aches when misunderstood. Her heart bruises at the smallest of wounds. She would tell you that she’s a puzzle, confusing, hardly perfect, and brave. Her self-perception does not oft’ include the objective and affirming eyes of those captured by her gaze; rather it is informed and shaped by the subjective and critical eyes of a near-teen, combined with a culture that continues to assert that she’s not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough, loved enough. It’s easy for the blaze to flicker under such conditions.

A felt tension for sure, being 12. Being Abby.

As I see her, hear her, talk to her, love her – I feel her heat. Flames by which I’m grateful to be warmed, kindled, and even scorched. And today, stepping into the first day of her 13th year, I am fanning the flame and watching the sparks fly!

Blaze, Abby. Blaze.

No “7” compares. No one compares. Happy 12th Birthday, sweet girl.