Dear Noah Benjamin,
Turning ten has welcomed you with a harsher greeting than I would have chosen. You have always had a bit of a tender heart, but these last few years you have really matured in this area. I didn't know how having braces would be for you, but you rarely ever complained and handled it better than I could have hoped for. This year, on your birthday, mommy and daddy will both be gone, taking your little brother for a cancer check up to see if he needs more chemo. Sometimes on your birthday, dad is at work, and it's a normal day with schoolwork and chores, but mom has never, ever been away from you on your birthday.....until now.
I am so thankful for some very special traditions that we have, which make this year more palatable. We got to spend the morning as a family, all celebrating you today (a few days early!). We also get to have our special dinner at Grandma's house with the cousins. I don't think any of my kids will ever remember a birthday without thinking of dinner at Grandma's. You have requested beef stew for dinner, as well as fruit salad and lemon meringue pie. You have such a tender and compassionate heart-so loving and affectionate. You never go to bed without giving me at least one hug....if not many more. You are my special helper who takes Elijah outside to play in the morning. It is so sweet to watch him point at you and then drag you around the house to find shoes so that you can take him outside. :)
You are working your way through Teaching Textbooks 7, and have almost finished Rod and Staff English, Grade 5. You are amazingly artistic. You love others so deeply and it is such a joy to see the way you remember others in prayer and bring such love and nurture into our home. You are very friendly and agreeable, and I'm so thankful for the special friendship you have with your big brother Caleb. You quite obviously look up to him, and genuinely enjoy his company at all times.
Noah Benjamin, my heart hurts to not be with you on your birthday. My heart hurts for the many ways that things have been more difficult this year. But oh! I am so thankful!!!! I am thankful for the chance to celebrate you before we leave, I'm thankful for Grandma and Grandpa who love all you kids so deeply and celebrate you with such joy and service. I am so thankful to spend time with the cousins, and hey, when you add any number of people to our already large family, it sure does feel like a party!!!! I'm thankful for the ones who are giving of their time and their lives to serve us by watching you guys! Grandma Connie and Grandpa Ron, Grandpa and Grandma Nash, and the Norris family. I know that each one of them loves you so much that you may hardly even notice that mommy and daddy are gone.
And while a momma never wants things to be hard for her children....sometimes it is the difficult and hard things that build the most character. Sometimes, a momma has to let it be hard for her children, and entrust them to their Creator and Sustainer. So Noah, I entrust you to the One who is called Faithful and True. I beg of Him to cause you to know in the very core of your being that you are loved and treasured beyond measure. I celebrate you and all that you bring to this family with your smiles and your jokes and your love. It's hard to be the middle child sometimes. But Noah....I see you. I see you growing in your service to our family, in your diligence in your work for school and at home, and I see your dependability when it comes to helping with the younger ones.
Your name, Noah, means "to comfort." You are a great comfort to our family with your smiles and your silliness, but this year, I pray that you, personally, would know the comfort of the God of all comfort. That you would know how high and how long and how deep and how wide is the love that He has for you. And that you would continue to look ahead with joy and excitement, knowing that His plans for you are good, even when they are sometimes hard. Happy birthday a little early Noah!