My Dearest Nikelle Evadne,
It seems as though you have grown up more this year than any year in the past. When I look at you, I am amazed at your long legs and the way your body has grown. You now stand as tall as my shoulder and I wonder how soon it will be that your height will surpass my own. More than your height, you have grown in character, in knowledge and in love. You are amazing, Nikelle. God made you that way, and at 9-years-old, I am so thankful that you are striving to become the woman God has made you to be.
As I think back on this last year of your life, I am reminded of the bond you have shared with your teachers both in school and at church. These people sacrifice their time to help you grow up to become an adult who will in turn sacrifice to help others. When you overheard your third grade teacher informing the fourth grade teachers that “they want to have you in their class next year”, you took it without any pride. It was just a statement that made sense to you. You are a good kid who obeys the rules and cares about others. Adults appreciate that and more so, God desires that for you.
You continue to cherish your relationships with your cousins and friends. It hurt my heart to watch you work to understand why a friend would desert you because you did the right thing. Through it, you learned to embrace other friendships, all the while continuing to extend friendship to the one who wounded you. I have come to realize that I can no longer protect you from the many pains of life. You are going to experience all the bad stuff. We all do. You’ve already been exposed to loss from death and divorce. Life has taken friends from you as they’ve moved away or just chose to distance themselves from you. While I want to protect you from all the pain in this world, I am realizing that the most I can do is prepare you.
The world is going to tell you that God is not the Creator and that His plans are out-of-date. There will be moments that you feel alone and possibly even stupid because of the beliefs that you hold to. Please know that just being a minority does NOT make you wrong. Hold to the truth God has given you in the Bible. When you question it (it is okay to question it), talk about it with those you know love you and have earned your respect. Ultimately, talk to God and study His Word. We serve a God who rewards those who earnestly seek Him. If you ask for wisdom, He will give it to you. My biggest prayer is that you will truly desire God and seek Him with all of your heart.
I can no longer protect you from the pains of the world, but please know, that is my desire. It hurts me to see you hurt. Divorce was not a word I ever wanted you to understand. While I can promise you that your daddy and I will never take this path, you have unfortunately had to come to an understanding that not everyone respects God’s standard that marriage is to be for a lifetime. My eyes still fill with tears when I think of the way your heart broke at the loss of relationship in our lives. You are a girl who loves with her whole heart. People who love big get hurt big. Don’t allow that to squelch your love. It is still worth it to love deeply. In the pain, I hope you will learn the great love God has for you. The love we experience outside of God is flawed and can never fully fill the hole in our hearts. Still, the love we share in our relationships with others gives us a glimpse of what we will experience for eternity. Even when your heart is aching, know love is worth the pain.
Our friends and family chose to purchase a combined birthday gift for you this year. As I knew this would take a big dent out of the presents you received on your special day, I did my best to prepare you for the moment. We discussed the fact that while presents are nice, just the fact that we can have family and friends gather with us to celebrate is present enough. While you agreed, your face still dropped with every person who came to the party empty handed. I knew the surprise would cheer you up in the end but it was hard to watch the disappointment in your face. You encouraged me by your actions, dear daughter. Although you didn’t understand why people who had bestowed gifts on you in the past brought nothing but themselves to celebrate this year, you celebrated in the same fashion. You enjoyed your party and were thrilled in the end. That purple bicycle will always remind me of your character, Nikelle. You are more often than not, a selfless giver and that is more valuable than gold. Thank you for always being willing to share and put others first. It is a rare quality in a person these days.
You have continued to excel in art and had your work displayed at the Rialto for the Children for Peace program this year. We know this is one way God has gifted you. It has been fun to watch you embrace the music of the recorder this year, too. We look forward to seeing the instrument you choose to play in the future and wonder if you will continue to apply yourself with practicing the way you did this year in music class.
As I look back over this past year, I realize that you have changed in so many ways. It is so fun to watch you become the person God created you to be. More than anything, I am struck with the overwhelming truth that you are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. As the firstborn, we are bound to screw you up in big ways. We pray for God’s grace to cover our mistakes and trust you will know that all of our actions come out of our love for you and our God. I thank God for the blessing of having you as a daughter, Nike. It is good to be your mother.
You were made for victory, Nike. When you fear, embrace the truth that God’s spirit gives us power. Whatever the future holds, I pray you will live life loving God and striving to please Him. He gave His life for you. There is no greater love.
Loving you the best I know how,