Little girl, where to begin?
In just a few short, short weeks, you will be all of three years old. The days have piled up, and all of a sudden, you are not the baby anymore. We are living our last few weeks together as just Dada, Mama and Lani. It is hard to wrap my heart around that thought.
I can not tell you what incredible joy you bring me. You are my always companion, my shadow. My days are so very full of you and your cheery self. I miss you when you are not around. Your constant dialogue on the world as you see it, rarely skips a beat. Your words, and funny little tunes and expressions fill my days like a fluffy swirl of confetti. It is hard to be lonely with a little friend like you.
The Lord blesses my heart daily with your loving words and physical nearness. Your affectionate hugs and smooches are bestowed all day long, often followed by your unprompted "thank you"s and words of affirmation. "Mama, do you know something? I just love you." is repeated all through your waking hours. You fill my heart right up, Leilani. And I just love you too.
Your enthusiastic curiosity in the world around you is a delight. I love discovering things alongside of you. Your favorite color is yellow, and it suits you perfectly. Your crayons create piles of firework scribbles every day, and I love how you interpret your lines. You have filled 3 whole sketchbooks in "grasspoppers," imagined letters and numbers, and the faces and scenes in your mind. I can't wait till they begin to take clearer shape on your paper, and I so enjoy watching your motions become more intentional as you color.
Mealtimes sometimes pose challenges to your toddler tastes. Preferences change with unpredictable frequency, but one thing is for sure, you really love "treats." As we have settled into Memphis, you and I have ventured out on many little dates, and it tickles me how excited you get over a surprise french fry, apple juice or a doughnut. You relish your vitamins, and chug your water bottle with enthusiasm, helping to balance out your love of the sweeter things. I am always impressed with your self control when it comes to your treats. You eat just enough to really enjoy it, but already, you know when to say "I am all done." I am proud of you for putting sweets down half eaten, and for picking up your water as quickly as you picked up your juice. Let me just say, for the record, your everyday meals actually do contain nutrients, and snacks and sugars come with regular infrequency. I truly appreciate your declarations of "Mama, that was so yummy! Thank you for the food." You always let me know when my cooking has "hit the spot."
Watching you learn to love the Lord is such a blessing, Leilani. You pray to your "hethenly Fahthur," with great intention, and you give thanks for His blessings freely. Listening to you sing songs you learned in Sabbath school or at Bible study makes me smile, and I love your deep interest in the stories depicted in your colorful Bibles. For some reason, your favorite story is about Samson, and you often read to your dolls, flipping through the pages, smooshing all the stories together into new creations. We will work on the accuracy of your understanding later, but for now, I am so thankful to watch you grow in the Lord.
You are slowly learning about making choices that please Him. I am proud of how you have chosen several times this week to have a happy heart instead of a cranky, sad one, and how you have decided to be patient when it was hard for you. Sharing is still something that you think a lot about, but that your heart struggles with. Your honesty when talking with me about shows how much you really understand, and I know that one day (hopefully soon?) you will have learned to think about others first, and be able to put it into action. Until then, your little buddies seem to love you in the midst of this steep learning curve, and I am thankful for their young patience and friendship.
You sleep so well these days. When you were a littler you, I wondered if you ever would. You ask to go to bed when you are tired, and most naps and nights, fall asleep by yourself. It was a hard learned skill, but you have got it down at last. The earlyish morning sunrise of this current winter has had you popping right up, to climb into bed with me. You wait patiently until your Mama is ready to roll over and start the day, and never seem to mind my initial five minutes of cranky. We trade off at naptime, when you frequently wake up with great dramatic flare, full of crank and fuss. You cheer up quick though, and are usually perky again when Dada comes home.
Oh Leilani. Soon you are going to be a big sister. Our lives will take on a new shape and flow to a different rhythm. I am eager to watch you step into your new role, and I know you are going to be phenomenal and such a help to your Mama. I am so very excited for your little brother to join us in our everyday, but my heart does feel a bit of bittersweet at this passing of a stage in life. Our life is about to get much more exciting! And I am so thankful that I get to jump right in, with you by my side.
You have changed me forever. When the Lord gave you to your Dada and I, I never could have imagined the journey my heart would take. You opened my heart to a totally new kind of love and a new kind of joy. It was a hard, hard newness, but one that my life was so meaningless and incomplete without. Your small, sweet self has melted my heart. My ability to love your brother, unmet, and to look at the work and sacrifice ahead with joy and actual pleasure, is all the result of lessons our Father taught me while I was holding you. I know how Life can only come after dying because of you. I know Jesus in a new way because of you. I know a deep-down, peace because of Who He showed Himself to be because of you in my life. I know love because of you. You are such an absolute treasure, Leilani. I am indescribably thankful for you.
I love you, my darling. I am so proud of you.