Saturday, April 14, 2012

Maddie: 63 Months

Dear Maddie,

I sit writing your monthly update a few days early. By the time this posts to blogger, we will be lounging on a beach in Kauai, laughing and playing and enjoying island life. I can think of no better way to celebrate your sixty-third month of life than in our favorite place on earth!

If I had a dollar for every time you amazed me this month, I'd be rich. You are such a complex, creative, amazing, beautiful individual. Time and time again you have shown in the toughest of circumstances, in the most difficult times, you are made of something strong and resilient and capable. You are Mighty Maddie. I have glowed to anyone who will listen, "My Maddie--she is a shining star." Because in the course of the past month, with all the ups and downs and twists and turns, you have proven yourself to be wise, mature, caring, loving, and altogether remarkable.

You are FULL of love, constantly looking for ways to take care of your family, anticipating needs and meeting them with love and concern. You rise the occasion, showing incredible thought and insight. You are wise and motherly beyond your five years. 

You are whip-smart, quick-thinking, and a gifted debater who has a way with words. You have snappy comebacks that rival those of the adults with which you keep company. You notice not just the obvious, but all the tiny minutiae on the sidelines of what most people see. You are always aware, always listening, always tuned in to some deeper frequency that most of us don't hear.

All of Easter day I couldn't stop looking at you. Your hair was full and glistening and glowing in the light. Your cheeks were round, soft and pink. The shade of your dress perfectly highlighted the rosiness of your skin and the translucence of your beauty. You looked like an angel. 

Watching you release the butterflies you've tended, raised and observed over the past month will forever stand out in my memory: your face, eager and hopeful, your hands, wide and outstretched, your smile, confident and expectant. You loved and cared for those little creatures with a tenderness that took my breath away. Each day you noticed tiny little changes and celebrated the metamorphosis taking place. With each new development, your inner scientist observed and recorded and your Creator-image-bearing self celebrated and stood in awe and wonder.

You decided on your own that Easter would be the "perfect" day to release the butterflies into the yard. I didn't know what to expect. Would you cry? Would it be hard to let them go? Would you celebrate their freedom?

After church we could hardly get outside fast enough. You unzipped the top of the butterfly garden netting and spoke in soft, sing-song tones as you coaxed and encouraged your little friends to make their way out. And just like that, one, two, three little butterflies made their way out of the net and into the air, where they completely by-passed all of our beautiful, blooming Spring flowers and fluttered right out of the yard. You watched as they flew away, arms outstretched in case they wanted a place to land.

Back in the safety of the net was our one lame butterfly, its wings that never fully developed, never extended. For the past week we watched cautiously as she crawled around the enclosure, sipping nectar and trying to stretch her crumpled wings. It became clear that she'd never fly. But it didn't stop you from tending to her needs, replenishing the sugar water each day, finding new blooms in the yard to drop down, and talking to her about life outside.

You were so gentle and tender as you coaxed her out and into the sunshine. You allowed her some time in the Hydrangea, and then the azalea, explaining how she could find nectar outside now. Eventually we decided the safest place for her would probably be the net, considering if she fell off the flowers she probably wouldn't get the nectar she needed.

When it was all over and the butterflies had all fluttered away, you smiled your classic Maddie grin, wide and wondrous with your crescent-moon eyes crinkled up and sparkling like diamonds. Pure joy, wonder, and amazement. 

Sunday night, after all the transitions, the sugar, the saying goodbye to Grammy, the hullabaloo of the day, you descended deep into the depths of sadness, shame, self-loathing and despair characteristic of your worst, saddest, loneliest times that you experience on occasion. What started as a simple mistake turned into a screaming, crying, running away fit, followed by deep shame, and ended with me holding you in my arms for over an hour as you sobbed, shuddered, and shared your deepest, darkest thoughts: I want to run away, I want to go where there is enough love for me, I don't want to be here anymore. I don't want to feel this way.

I've learned through the ups and downs of your intense, tender emotions to just sit with you, to refuse to let you run away from my love, and to hold you and speak truth to you until you calm down. You grew so tired of the tears, said you just didn't know how to stop crying, and I reminded you that in times like this we just have to say the truth out loud: You are loved, you are treasured, you are forgiven, you are redeemed, your Father in heaven is pleased with you, Jesus died for you so you wouldn't have to feel ashamed, Jesus holds you in your pain, Jesus wants to take all the hurt and replace it with peace.

As your breathing slowed and your shoulders stopped shaking, we talked about the fact that our Savior will never leave or abandon us. His love will never fade. Nothing we can do will ever make him stop loving and pursuing us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, angels nor rulers, nor anything present or anything future, nor powers or principalities, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38

After an hour of crying, eventually you relaxed, cozied into the side of my body and rested your tear-streaked face against my chest. You said in a whisper, "The sadness is going away," and then you fell asleep. I wiped the tears from my own eyes as my heart was breaking with each sad statement you spoke, with each sob that came from your sensitive little soul. I spent the next several minutes praying God's promises over you, for a night of sleep guarded by angels, for fears defeated and lies crushed, and for new mercies in the morning.

Upon waking the next morning you walked quietly into my room, kissed me on the lips, walked to Daddy's side, kissed him, and then crawled up between us in the big bed. I asked how your heart was feeling, and you said, "Oh, Mama, my heart is just so good. It's feeling so much better today. God answered our prayers." Daddy and I exchanged looks of gratitude and then we both spooned you close, wrapped you up in our arms, and welcomed the morning with praise.

I love you, dearest one. You can always count on my arms to be here to hold you, my love to remind you of your value, and my prayers to cover and surround you, no matter where you go. And all of this I do to point you to the truth that nothing will ever separate you from the love of your Father in heaven. He is so desperately, wondrously, creatively, miraculously in love with you, his precious girl.



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