This is the letter I should have written you before your graduation, but I wanted to spend enough time to get it JUST RIGHT, so I have put off writing thus far. . . but no more.
In many ways, this night before you leave for your trip to Europe is the eve of your grown-up days, perhaps even more than your graduation or 18th birthday were. Don't worry if you don't feel grown yet -- neither do I, and I've been grown much longer. The Lord keeps our young girlish hearts young and fresh all our lives, if we stay teachable and pliable to Him.
I want to tell you, dear sister, how very much I love and admire you, and how you have grown to be so much more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed (or prayed). You are what I wished to be at 18. I frequently say that you are so much better a person, and so much more mature and grounded in God's word than I was even just a few years ago. Many girls are beautiful at 18, many are talented, many have popularity, wit, personality, strength of heart and character . . . you possess all of these gifts, and more. You have what many do not -- an unshakable identity in Christ, and a vibrant connection to Him.
I have seen you die on crosses He has asked you to bear, giving up a bit of this world for the next. I have seen you choose to do the right thing when it is difficult. I have seen you respond beautifully to personal suffering that perhaps no-one else could quite understand (like saying goodbye to our best friends) and hold your palms up to God, blessing Him for giving and taking away. I have seen what you have read in the Scriptures and good books lived out in your life. I have peeked in your room many times to see you reading your Bible or writing in your prayer journal or quiet time diary. For these things, and countless more, I am so proud of you.
As a toddler, you were our poser -- ready to please with your blonde little ponytails (usually with a rather large bow of some sort -- perhaps made from shoestrings or curly ribbon?). You wanted our lipstick, our perfume, our attention. As a child, I saw you learning and growing at church and home. I recall many nights when mom and dad were out of town that you would have fears about wolves or fire or other scary things, and so often I got to be the sister who would sit on your bed and talk to you and pray with you (I shudder to think what feeble help I attempted to bring). I could identify with your fears, as I struggled with most of those things myself -- well, maybe not the wolves. :) As an early teen, I saw all the ways you were superior to your peers, even though you did not see it. I knew time was just ticking before all boys everywhere discovered you . . . and I was right.
You have always been precious to me. Oh, sometimes I was a self-centered brat, especially during my teen years, and I pushed you aside for some stupid concern, I'm sure. I am so sorry for that. I am so sorry I got so wrapped up in myself that I did not forsee that you girls would become my dearest friends, and spend more time investing in you. I'll warn you from doing the same -- though there is no danger in that happening with you, I suppose. Nonetheless, you will likely look back and miss those nights Abby invaded your room and long to have them back -- I know I miss a million times over having you ask me to do your hair or paint your nails.
Emma, you know how to make right choices in matters of the heart -- you have told me the prayers you pray -- and I am confident the Lord will bring you much contentment and joy in this aspect of your life. I charge you to love Christ supremely -- adore Him with abandon, and He will give you the desires of your heart. I urge you not to grasp with your hands what the Lord will bring you with readiness, at the best timing. Rest in Him, dear girl, He'll make it all right.
I love you so much! I pray for your trip, and all your endeavors, that you will be filled with the peace and joy that Christ gives, and will glory in the beauty and adventure He grants you. I'll talk to you when you get back! I only wish I could see you off in the morning, but this will have to do the best I can. Across the miles, I squeeze you tight and kiss your rosy cheeks. Have a terrific time, darling!