There’s something about nine.
Eighth birthdays seem like a passageway to life as a ‘big kid.’ Welcome to third grade and the upper end of your elementary school years.
And then there’s ten, this monumental moment where you hit double digits and head into life as a ‘tween.’
It’s a little bit of growing up and a little bit of holding on. Prepping for the big time. Enjoying life as a little for just a bit longer.
And that’s good. There’s no need to cling stubbornly to childishness and there’s no need to rush heedlessly into growing up.
So, happy ninth birthday! Enjoy it. Celebrate this year. Make it count, make it fun, and make it beautiful.
You are one loved girl. Sure, you shield your face with your hand in order to ward off our attempts to kiss you. You sidestep us as we try to give you a hug. I say, “I love you,” and you blink big blue eyes at me and purposely refuse to say the magic words back, “I love you, too.”
I tell you how beautiful you are and you ‘harumph at me’ in annoyance.
“No mushy stuff,” you say.
Affection has to happen on your terms and I get that. You cuddled up next to me on the sofa the other night and snuggled into my side and I just silently savored the moment. If I made a big deal about it, you’d probably re-establish distance, but I just slipped my arm around you and let you sit there with me.
Because I love you. That’s the truth.
We love your cackle, the way you throw your whole body and voice into laughing over a silly joke, a groan-worthy pun, pranks and knock-knock routines.
I love that independent soul of yours, even if it does mean we stand toe-to-toe and battle out anything from meal-times, to piano practice, to math assignments.
I love how fiercely loyal you are to those you care about.
Enjoy who you are. You like to call yourself a tomboy and you wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress unless it’s Easter Sunday or picture day at school (and even then you set pretty rigid parameters on acceptable clothing.) That’s fine. Girls don’t have to be prissy, frilly, pink and fancy.
Just remember that being a woman doesn’t mean being weak or being stepped on. It’s no punishment to be a girl. It’s an honor and privilege.
You’ve planned your whole life–no marriage, no kids, just two dogs that you’ll adopt from the pet shelter. If that’s what God wants for you, great. Just don’t think that somehow marriage is a burden or kids aren’t worth the pain of childbirth.
If you see anything when you look at your dad and me, I want you to see the way marriage is a blessing and a gift and how beautiful life is when lived with someone you adore who is your teammate and best friend.
Raw talent doesn’t determine success. You’re astounding. It was true when you were a toddler. It’s true now. You are a whirlwind of intelligence, memory, and creativity without being showy or in the spotlight most of the time.
Know this, though: Hanging on tight and not giving up is far more important than being smart.
So it takes you more than two seconds to figure out a math problem. Don’t put your pencil down, tear up, shrug your shoulders and walk away. Tackle it. Battle it out. Work on it this way and when that fails, work on it another way until you finally write that answer down.
So you have to actually study for 2 minutes. So you can’t play a song on the piano perfectly the first time you look at it.
The only failure is giving up. Wrong answers…Wrong notes…. All of that is okay as long as you are giving everything you have to give, persevering, overcoming fear, and learning from your mistakes.
We do excellence in this family, but we also do grace. We love each other through mistakes because we know mistakes are the price to pay for growth and learning.
So, don’t avoid trying something because it takes effort or because you might fail.
If you fall, get back up, but DO try again. DO push yourself for your best effort and never settle for what you can do with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back. That’s just what’s easy. Don’t settle for easy. Live for the challenge.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23 ESV)
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 ESV)
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.