Nine.  My daughter, my firstborn, is nine years old.  Where have the years gone?  It seems like just yesterday that we carried her home from the hospital.  A sweet, precious bundle of joy.

And now, she just turned nine.  Every birthday, with each of my children, sneaks up on me.  How did they become one, two, three, four…nine?!  But nine is catching me off guard in a new way.  It struck me that Kiersten is halfway through her childhood.  Yes.  I must take a moment to process that.  In the book of childhood, my nine-year-old is at that part where the staples come together in the middle.  You know, the halfway mark of a book.  As I turn each page now, she’s getting closer and closer to eighteen.  To an adult.  To leaving home.  Yes.  Eighteen.  Eighteen seems so old and “far away.”  Yet, it’s only nine years away.  She ~ gulp ~ is halfway there.  I really don’t want to think about it.

In my mind, I flip back through the pages of this book called Kiersten.  I’ve been told to savor them.  I’ve tried to savor them.  Really, I have.  But somehow, here we are ~ nine years old. 

Who is this Kiersten, this nine-year-old girl I see before me?  She’s still a little girl.  She plays American Girl dolls.  She loves to do crafts.  She has a zest and love for life.  She does cartwheels, and handstands, and back-bends, and backwards somersaults.  She hangs from the trapeze in our backyard.  She plays “cat and mouse” with the new neighbor girl and her two little brothers.  She reads.  She giggles.  She cares for Brennan and carries him around.  She somehow encourages (forces?) Micah to play house and school.  She loves her friends.  She loves her teacher.  She cries and laughs, and lives life with passion.  She’s responsible.  She loves to sing and dance.  She’s kind, strong-willed, independent, thoughtful of others, and joyful.

I skim through the pages of the first half of this book and before me flash so many scenes.  Nights of crying and round the clock nursing.  A bouncy curly-head blond, playing with baby-dolls and kitchen toys and dress up princess clothes.  Playdates, swim lessons, a stint at ballet.  Sled-rides, bike rides, and roller skating finesse.  Holding her in my arms and on my lap.  Comforting her, reading to her, being read to by her.  Snuggling at night and sharing stories and giggles.  Singing in choir and performing in the church musical productions.  Sweet little prayers and discussions about Jesus, God, the bible, and life.  And, yes, (I skim over these quickly)…actions leading to discipline and situations that are frustrating and difficult.  Oh, the scenes from the past nine years are endless and priceless.

I want to peek ahead in this book.  What is on the upcoming pages?  As much as I’d like to be the writer of this book, so I can keep her protected and safe from harm and difficulties, I’m not.  Thankfully, I’m not.  The One who is the Writer will do a much better job than me.  He knows her much better than I do.  He created her, fearfully and wonderfully, and knit her together in my womb.  I am just another character in this story, written in by Him.  Thankful to be given the role of her mother.  I’ll do my best, I’ll turn to Him for guidance, and I’ll pray.

So, I pray for her future.  I pray for protection.  Protection from the enemy and His snares, that He would “watch over her and keep her from all harm.”   I pray for Kiersten’s character.  That she will be a person who loves.  Who loves others and who loves God.  I pray that as struggles come her way (and they will), that she will grow from them, in character and in her relationship with God, and that they will not bring her down.  I pray for experiences that pour into her and grow her in the areas of faith, trust, patience, respect, integrity, compassion, confidence in herself, and perseverance.  That she will be a person who understands others, who doesn’t just think of herself.  Yet, I pray that she stands up for herself, who knows who (and whose) she is,  and is strong in her beliefs ~ not swayed by the wind or easily succumbed to peer-pressure.  I pray that she will experience grace and understand truth, and somehow live in the balance of the two.  I pray that she will discover her God-given gifts, and use them to His glory; that she would be all that God intends her to be.  I pray that she will be real, and vulnerable, and willing to admit her mistakes.  Teachable.  I pray that she will “walk humbly with God.”  That she would truly know God, and have a relationship with him that is real.  That others would see her faith lived out; that she would “shine like a star in the universe,” holding out, and living out, the word of life.

I look forward to seeing who God is creating her be.  Part of me would love to peek at the end real quick, just to know.  At the same time, I don’t want to ruin the process.  I want to enjoy her life as it unfolds.

I also want to enjoy the now.  The nine-year-old girl I have before me.  The little girl who still plays with her dolls as if they are real.  The little girl who still needs her Mom and crawls in my lap to be held.  The little girl who is on the brink of “tween.”  Who is drawn to the “big girl” stuff.  Who is kind of there, who thinks she is there, who wants to be there.  She’s teetering, between little girl and big girl.  It’s a fun and beautiful place to be.  I can carry an adult conversation with her.  She has a sense of humor…and a sense of style.  Yet she’s still a little girl.  She is a delight in fullness of her little girl-big girl self. 

She’s living on the staples of the book.  The halfway point of childhood.  These next nine years will look oh so different from the first nine.  We’ll be entering the teen years, and issues and joys that come with that. 

Nine years can go fast.  At the same time, nine years is still a long time to savor, to enjoy, and to love.

Happy (belated) Birthday, my sweet Kiersten.  I’ve loved you from the moment I knew you existed, I love you now, and I’ll love you forever!

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6 Responses to Halfway

  1. Rene Maule says:

    WOW! So profound! I love how you write. I love even more how God writes. How He is truly the author and perfecter of my faith and life. I always want to flip to the back or skim ahead when I read….. anything. I WANT happy endings. And I want to know the outcome so I can be prepared. Sometimes I truly wish that is how life worked. Flip the pages, skim through the troubles, devour the happy ending, close the book and sigh contently 🙂 Jacob is 12 now. Even more than half way. I love him with a passion that sometimes shocks me, engulfs me, amazes me and sobers me. Having a child is what truly opened my eyes to the love my heavenly father has for me. Zephaniah says He takes great delight in me. That expression is exactly how I feel about Jacob. I took delight in him when he was doing nothing but laying in his crib. I would stare at him for hours in my room and take delight over every eye lash, curl of his hair and tiny fingers. Today, I take delight as plays football, sits at our table, greets me with his smile. I take delight at his presence! I can’t wait for him to get home from school and tell me about his day. Amazing to think our heavenly father feels the same about us. Thanks Kim for your gift of writing!

  2. JustBetty says:

    :: simply beautiful ::

  3. Wow, sister. You worked this girl into tears – can I say “My thoughts exactly”?

    Beautifully written and so touching to all of us blessed enough to be called “mommy”.

    And SHE is so blessed to call you her mother, too…:)

  4. dan ritchie says:

    Kim, I can remember having to process 9, too. It was hard and yet hopeful and exciting. What a gift these children are (even though it goes by much too quickly!).

  5. dan ritchie says:

    Sorry, I accidently posted as Dan!!

    • Too funny, Jen! When I first read it (thinking it was Dan), I was amazed that Dan read and commented! It makes more sense now that it’s you! (not that Dan couldn’t or wouldn’t do that) I think I remember us having a conversation about that once (when Luke turned 9).

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