|Katie Joy on her 13th birthday|
Our Katie is... known by others for her kindness and sweet, gentle spirit. She is a friend to all, super smart and studious. If her teacher asks her to give 100%, Katie gives 110%. She loves Jesus of her own accord and not because we're raising her in the church. Katie loves little kids and serves in the newborn and toddler room at church, but only likes to babysit if Alli comes with her. Katie is a competitive athlete, and hard on herself if she makes a mistake. She may be little, but she is fierce. Don't get in her way on the lacrosse or soccer field.
Katie has a low tolerance for drama and has beautifully managed to avoid it almost entirely. She gently but firmly stands up for what is right and walks away from what is wrong. Unlike most girls her age, she hates being on her phone. Katie teaches me to put down my phone and engage in the world around me.
Katie is creative and free-spirited. She draws. Writes stories and poems. Makes up skits. Takes beautiful photographs with artistic perspectives. She has definite opinions but doesn't always offer them freely. Sometimes she makes you draw it out of her. Katie likes to plan ahead and hates being rushed. She thrives on having down time and prefers one-on-one time with her friends over group activities.
In many ways the two of us are like night and day. Sometimes we clash. Sometimes we don't understand each other. But always we love each other.
For Katie's thirteenth birthday we updated her room. She now has a Teenage Hideaway that she designed herself. (She has great taste in design and style.)
For Katie's actual birthday, we went to the beach. We took the back road, stopped at a yard sale that was NOT selling animals, and somehow came home with a bunny in a bird cage. The kids TOTALLY used the "It's Katie's birthday. It's Anything She Wants Day" to get me to say yes. I still can't believe I said yes, but Finn Thumper Stilp is now living happily in our backyard. Proof that I can be a pushover.
|Birthday morning. Lydia spent the weekend with us.|
|Gorgeous day at the beach for the birthday girl.|
|Grant and Alli with Finn, Kimber, and Dusty|
In August we invited Katie's "Adult Friends" (her wording) to come over for a Coming of Age party. The sole purpose of the party was to encourage Katie as she transitions into life as a teenager. We sat in the backyard as the sun faded away and each woman went around the circle blessing Katie, calling out the beauty and leadership skills they see in her or sharing a passage from the Bible that they wanted to speak over her.
|Birthday girl (in black)|
|see what I mean about being artsy? Katie designed and made each of these notes that she wrote to her Adult Friends.|
Katie doesn't love to be the center of attention so this was mildly uncomfortable for her, but the awkwardness melted away as she let herself bask in the glow of affirmation. We all need to be told what we're doing well.
When each woman had a chance to share, we gathered around my Girl and prayed over her. We asked God to take all these beautiful gifts and talents that make Katie who she is and use them to advance His Kingdom. To bring light to Katie's corner of the world. We asked God to remind Katie how deeply loved she is. That she is chosen. Loved by God. Equipped. And supported.
I fought back tears of joy pretty much the entire evening. When we moved to Newberg seven years ago I asked God to bring a few women into my life who would love my kids well.
God gave me an army.
Women of all ages and generations are standing with us in this oh-so-important task of raising kids who love Jesus. Women who see qualities in my kids that I often overlook. Women who model to me how to be gentle and how to be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to get angry. "Thank you" doesn't seem adequate.
As if that wasn't enough, Katie and I escaped for a weekend away, just the two of us. We hibernated in my friend's BEAUTIFUL log cabin in the heart of the Mt. Hood National Forest and talked - about life, growing up, peer pressure, puberty, purity and how following Jesus fits into all of that. #awkward, only it wasn't awkward at all. It was fun. We followed a curriculum called Passport to Purity that was surprisingly 99% cheesy-free, totally relevant, and paved the way to talk more intimately together. Katie and I both needed this connecting point.
|One of the crafts from Passport to Purity that drove home the point that we become like who we hang around with.|
When we weren't talking we were either watching movies, eating, or exercising. We ran together and hiked the Tamawana Falls trail. It was such a pretty trail, following a river two miles through a gorgeous forest to a pretty waterfall. We both loved everything about the hike and came back into town ready for some good Italian food. Neither one of us wanted to come home.
|can you find Katie?|
Happy happy birthday Sweet Girl. I can't thank God enough for giving you to us. Welcome to your teens. I know you're going to rock them.