Monday, January 17, 2011

Rachel's Eleventh Birthday is Today

Today is Rachel's 11th birthday. My Y2K baby. She says she'll always know how old she is because her age will always match the year. We chose Rachel's name because in the bible story Rachel was loved, and our Rachel is most definitely loved. Rachel, also means "little lamb", and that name still suits her. Her middle name is Margaret, after my grandmother.

Rachel was such an easy baby, other than being 15 days overdue! Her big sisters adored her and Abby especially was enamored with her. Rachel wanted for nothing as Abby and Nathalie were always quick to try and soothe her. Rachel took her time learning to crawl and walk, I think because her sisters carried her everywhere!

When Rachel was about eight months old she had this fluffy reddish hair that just kind of stuck out all over her head. Sam and I were watching a documentary on apes and they showed an orphaned baby orangutan. This baby had a head of hair that looked just like Rachel's! From then on she was our "little monkey"!

Of all my kids, Rachel reminds me the most of my sister Beth. Beth was diagnosed with leukemia when she was eight and passed away January 14th 1989, at the age of 11. Rachel sings silly, goofy songs in the bathtub, that can cause me to catch my breath as I go back 20 plus years in my mind.

Rachel's brain works differently than most of us. She sees the world in a way that at times is incredibly refreshing and at other times truly frustrating. She often has us in stitches with her one liners that don't come out quite the way she intended. Rachel's struggles with learning new things has taught her a valuable lesson: She is not afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. She doesn't quit when things get tough; she will seek out someone who can assist her.

Rachel is amazingly creative and imaginative. She will use extra cardboard boxes and paper to create elaborate houses for her dolls. She loves to do crafts. Her walls in her room are decorated with all sorts of projects. She is forever collecting scraps of lace, trims, or fabrics and turning them into clothing for her dolls. Recently she began learning how to use the sewing machine, and is thoroughly enjoying taking her creativity to a new level.

When I look at Rachel, I wonder at what God has for her. She is so full of possibilities. At this moment she thinks she might want to become a wildlife rehabilitator. She has always liked birds, especially owls. I watch her when she is around younger children and she has a way of relating to them that is so unique; perhaps she'll be a teacher. She loves to build and create things,so maybe she'll be an architect or an engineer.

Loving Rachel has taught me patience. I tend to rush into things, full speed ahead, expecting others to either follow or get out of the way. With Rachel, I have had to learn to slow down, to explain things, and then, to explain them again. The experiences we had with Rachel and the public school system has taught me to stand up for my kids and myself, even when people in authority claim they know best. Rachel has taught me to trust my gut when it comes to my children. Most importantly, Rachel has taught me to trust God. His plan is infinitely better than mine. He knows Rachel, even better than I do. He loves Rachel, even more than I do.

As she follows the same paths as her older sisters, I am sure we will have our struggles as she enters the "teenager" phase, but I am confident that in the next two years we will see Rachel develop physically, emotionally, and spiritually into a mature young lady who knows that God has a plan for her.

Happy Birthday Rachel!

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