Happy birthday, Abby.

Though I watch you, listen to you, and learn from you every day, it’s still hard for me to believe that 11 years have passed. I know I’ve said this many times before (much to your irritation, no doubt) but I still remember the first time I held you, the first time I looked at your beautiful face, the first time you opened your eyes to the sound of my voice and recognized me. These are moments a mother doesn’t forget, that she cherishes forever, that become part of the treasure she carries with her always – no matter the age of her child.

And grown up you are! This past year has brought far more change than just your height (and the beginnings of puberty). You’ve had red and blue hair extensions and at least a couple different hair cuts. You’ve experimented (wildly) with makeup. You ran in your first track meet – and did AWESOME. You were in a friendship group at school and developed significant relationships with other kids who know their own versions of heartache. You ran for treasurer and gallantly didn’t get the job. You created amazing art. You excelled at math. You began playing the trombone. You took a Hip-Hop class. You beaded and knitted and beaded some more. And you wrote, wrote, wrote.

Your writing is one of the expressions of you that I most love (of course, clearly influenced by my own penchant for such). You have written poems, songs, short stories, and brief snippets of your heart. You have given those to me in late-night-slid-under-my-door methods, in the blessing of letting me read a page in your journal, in letters that attempt to articulate your deepest heart. You have shown me lyrics and prose that speak of your struggles, your fears, your hopes. And you have written stories – of fairies, of young girls, of adventures, and of amazingly-imagined creatures. No matter the form, I see more of you in those words, phrases, themes, and images. You reveal your soul, Abby – both the beautifully celebrative and joyful parts as well as the parts that ache and hope and struggle and stretch.

Above all this past year, I have been aware, as in the year previous, how you have continued to grieve the loss of family. Your heart continues to hurt over the divorce and I’m continually awed by your capacity to bear that and even more, to express it. You’ve experienced your dad’s re-marriage – the challenges and gifts that such has brought. You’ve experienced me dating – the challenges and gifts that such has brought. And in the midst of all of this you have been honest, delightful, brave, sensitive, kind, compassionate, bold, and true to yourself.

In your grieving and writing, your celebrating and singing, your goofiness and intensity I see the woman you are becoming. You are a rare gift, Abby – full of life, passion, energy, intellect, and always strength. As of yet, you still don’t know and believe all this about yourself, but it will come. It can’t not. It’s too clear, too predominant, too “you” to be ignored – even by you!

As I continue to step into all of who I am, I feel deeply humbled to be shaped and transformed by you. You call me to integrity, candidness, and vulnerability again and again. You invite me to play and silliness and laughter again and again. You remind me of just how profound God’s love must be for me to have gifted me with you.

Abby Evangeline Miller – my love, my daughter, my heart.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. I love you.

And if you’re interested….you can click here to read last year’s blog post from when you turned 10, or here to read the one from when you turned 9.

Please comment below! Send Abby greetings. Comment on how amazing she is – even if you don’t know for sure, you can definitely take my word for it!!!