Featured Post

What Makes a Handful?

"You sure have your hands full!" said the older woman in Target, watching me try to corral four independent-thinking and adventur...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Emma Turns 14 with Grace and Favor

 
She was a smiley, sassy one-year-old.  A firstborn, Emma was always on the lookout for other kids. From the time she was old enough to sit up alone in the grocery cart, she was constantly turning from side to side, scoping out the store for other kids. "Kidz" was one of her first words (along with ball, light, and Geez for Jesus).

I suppose that's why it seems to me she has grown so well to fit her name. Emma Ruth means "all-embracing" and "friend." The all-embracing friend, that's been so true to her personality. Never have I known her to choose not to be friendly with another child or adult, and it is only after many tears of anguish and regret that I have ever heard her express her difficulty with any one individual. She has a determination deep in her heart to love everyone as each comes, and it pains her to find that not all relationships can be harmonious all the time.

I've seen her make lemonade from lemons more times than a mother's heart can bear. I admit that, though I am an optimist at heart--especially where finding good in people is concerned--seeing her hurt turns me sour far sooner than it does for her. She has born a crushing blow from a peer, come home to weep on my shoulder, taken 10 minutes alone in her room to pray, and returned with a plan to set things right and win that friend back.

Perhaps that's why it is still so natural for me to refer to her as the "Sunbeam." There's a light in her that keeps being renewed. She's truly shiny. Oh, like all teens she has those times of angst, those times of needing her space. Like all firstborns with many younger siblings, she has those times of needing to withdraw just to reclaim her own identity. But on the whole, she is positive, looking at the future and laughing.

I first called her "Sunbeam" when she was just three months old. At birth, she was a shock to me. Of course I loved her and wanted her, but who doesn't look in a sort of disbelief and fear and perplexity at the very first newborn PERSON--right, a whole PERSON--who just emerged from one's own body? It took me a few days for that deep, bonding mother-love to kick in. At first, I admit, I was confused and curious and overwhelmed by her sudden and always present existence in my life. Her features were too new. They were peculiar. She was at least three weeks early, so it was as if her face hadn't quite emerged yet and it was shrouded in this ruddy (jaundiced) temporary visage that looked more old man than baby girl.

But after just a few days, her color began to normalize and her features smoothed out and her eyes weren't so puffy and she began to look around. And at three months old, she started to coo and smile and kick and flail all at the same time, whenever she saw me. And I fell head over heels in love. The light behind her eyes and the joy in her smile seemed to introduce a literal ray of light directly spot-beamed onto my heart. So in her nursery one day, at three months, in the big house we had just moved into, in the upstairs room with Mowgli and Bagheera and Baloo painted on the walls, I laid her on the carpet, in the light of the window, and I basked in the reflection coming from her. 

"Sunbeam," I said. "You were just what I wanted. How did God know? I didn't even know, until here you are. Just exactly what I wanted."


 It's still true. I could never have planned what she'd turn out to be like. Besides, she's still working on that. (Aren't we all?) She's taller than I am now. Tan and green-eyed. Fun-loving and determined. Driven to do what she is capable of, including working hard to become an Honors student--something that seems to come much more naturally to some--and an athlete--again, something she has had to train and push herself toward. Her efforts were rewarded just this month with invitation to the National Junior Honor Society and her school track team's "Rookie of the Year" award.

But her heart is to share joy and health and well-being--shalom, really--to others. She has just begun finding her place in a new youth group. The main draw for her was not the size (though there are many kids there--and she still loves "kidz"); it was not the music (though it is contemporary and very engaging); it was not the games or scavenger hunts or promises of pool parties over the summer. Her main draw, the one thing that she found MOST appealing about that youth group, was the fact than unbelieving kids attend. Some come with friends from public school. Some are invited from larger neighborhoods. But they're there, and she wants to know them. She wants to be able to talk to unbelieving peers about the hope she has in her Jesus. 

Longer term, she remains committed to a vocation she felt a calling for when she was just six years old. When her sister Miriam was born, and almost lost at birth, Emma got her first introduction to the NICU unit at Mission hospital. She was escorted in to the unit with her four-year-old sister to meet her baby for the first time, face to face. Little Miriam was on a ventilator. A tube was inserted through her mouth and taped down so that most of her face was obscured. She was bound to the incubator bed by straps because seizures were predicted. Her little hands had been given rolls of gauze to grip because her body had reacted to its trauma with such muscular contraction that the NICU nurses suspected her fingers could seize that way and possibly atrophy. The gauze rolls were to keep them adequately spaced to prevent such atrophy. A huge mass of tubes and wires and electrodes were attached to baby sister's body and head, including an IV line inserted into a vein there. She was still covered in blood and gore from her birth.

And six-year-old Emma was not shocked or appalled or frightened. She was overwhelmed with love for her baby. She spoke to her, and Miriam's eyes--the only part of her that could really move then--rolled toward Emma's voice. It was right then that Emma decided she would become a NICU nurse and that she would help babies wherever they needed it most. Years later, conversations with missionaries convinced her she wanted to go to Africa and serve in medical and biblical missions there. As a NICU nurse, she was told, she would be practically like a full-blown pediatrician there, so great was the need. She is choosing her classes for her first year of high school based on that strong desire: Latin for medical school, all the science she can get. She has never forgotten either Miriam or the other babies there and the calling she felt at the time. 

I'm amazed at how busy her life is already. And yet, the time we have together is so good and so precious. She is, so far, of all the children, the one most interested in seeking parental opinion. She is reasonable, even when she's hurting, and recognizes the need for adult input to affirm or gently redirect her at times. So far we've been blessed to not have to police her in any way at all regarding boy-girl issues. She is natural and at ease around both boys and girls. She doesn't feel the need to try to look older than she is or to present herself as provocative. (Perhaps it helps that she already does, naturally, look a few years past 14, but she isn't pushing for 20 like some girls her age seem to experiment with--and I think I did.) Her confidence seems to lie in something else. I pray it is in something eternal.

On the day of the spring semi-formal, some of the girls were leaving directly from school to get manicures, pedicures, and professional hair styling. (Even if we could afford that, I doubt I would do it for a middle-school semi-formal banquet, but I admit I almost certainly would for a Jr.-Sr. prom and of course for her wedding, if I can get her to agree.) Emma stuck around to see if her track coach had any workout assignments for her. "All the other girls are going to get dolled up," he said, "but Emma. Emma's going to the ball as Emma."


It was so true. And I'd have it no other way.

Thank you, God, for 14 years with this shiny Sunbeam. Thank you for the way she is growing up in you. Her eyes are on the prize and you have filled her heart with the knowledge of the true riches that aren't found in beauty and charm and pretense, but in Christ alone. She preaches to me almost daily that truth. Oh, how I wish I had had so firm a foundation when I was her age. Grace upon grace.


Psalm 5:12 -- "For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Remember: The significance of a story someone failed to forget

My cousin Renee worked for many months or years transcribing the love letters written between our great-great grandparents, Henry Johnson Spicer and Eda Lucinda Ferguson. The book is entitled Miss Eda, My Dearest Friend: The Love Story of Henry Johnson Spicer and Eda Lucinda Ferguson of Wilkes County, NC.

The letters were written back before and during the time of the American Civil War. Some relative had stored the letters in a trunk, which survived a house fire in 1942. My Uncle Sammy, Renee's father, had acquired those letters and held them in his own safekeeping for many decades, hoping that some day they might be preserved in book form. And his daughter has done just that, 150 years after the correspondence took place.

It seems like an inconceivable amount of time, and I wonder how many lives will be touched by the memory of HJ and Eda's story in the future. To think another 150 years might go by with descendants calling them by name seems, yes, inconceivable. And yet, it most certainly isn't the first time that a simple love story has been told and preserved in great detail. I've been reflecting on that this evening: a 3100-year-old love story, recorded and remembered in great detail, and actively read and remembered and retold today.

I am talking about the love story of Ruth and Boaz.

It seems to me to be absolutely implausible that anyone who knew Ruth and Boaz personally might have thought theirs was such a remarkable story that it could possibly be remembered millennia into the future--or even more than a generation or at most two.

Who could have thought at the time that the story of Ruth and Boaz would be so valuable as to record it in the kind of detail it contains? How many of us can think back to stories of our great-grandparents, and tell not only their names, but their occupations, the places they lived, the type of climate they lived under, the legal transactions they participated in, even the specific name of a former sister-in-law who left the family after her husband's death? But that's the kind of details we have in this seemingly inconsequential couple of Ruth and Boaz.

They seem to be just a fairly average family with a nice story of how they met. Some trouble, such as poverty and loss of loved ones too early; but they are getting by. An old woman, a young woman, a man, a baby. It's a family story. That's all. A lovely, endearing family story.

It's only later, when that couple's great-grandson David turns out to be the unlikely King of Israel (who saw that coming? Shepherd boy, youngest of the family) that the story takes on any real significance historically. Ruth and Boaz couldn't have known they were in the royal lineage. Their story contains no supernatural revelation about creation or catastrophic world events. No ground opening up to swallow anyone, no rivers turning to blood, no seas parting. There is no great war, no battle skirmishes, no girding up of loins to face an enemy. There's no taunting by the prophets of false gods, no child sacrifices, no pillaging. There are no talking animal oracles, no dreadful prophecies, visions, or revelations. Yet even in this ho-hum drama, a terribly minor character, Orpah the sister-in-law of Ruth who returns to her homeland and never sets foot on Israelite soil, is carefully recorded so that she is known by name.

Just imagine if this were the story of friends of yours. Let's just say, for instance, that it's my friends Brad and Caroline. They met after one had experienced a pretty difficult early life. But she had persevered and seen God's guiding hand through it. How they came together makes a great tale worth hearing over cocktails at a party, and remembering fondly. Eventually, they knew the great joy of bringing new life into their union with the birth of a daughter. They rejoice. They go to work. They raise their child. They pay their bills. They meet with friends. They are pretty much like the rest of us.

Now fast-forward a few generations. Who remembers Brad and Caroline? Who knows their daughter's name and how many years after they were married that she was born? Where he worked? When she left her job and why? What the weather was like the year they married? Seems unlikely, doesn't it? But that's only a glimpse of it. Fast-forward 3100 years. That's right, three thousand one hundred years. We're talking Star Trek generations, comparatively speaking. Who is talking about Brad and Caroline then? Who is drawing wisdom from their story?

And yet, that's how it is with Ruth and Boaz. It's been three thousand one hundred years (give or take) since Ruth gleaned some grain and those two met and married and had a son. And yet we know the fine details of their courtship, marriage, business practices, and even who gathered their child onto her lap after he was born. We know their story and draw wisdom from it, and reason for celebration and encouragement and hope. Good, plain folks.

Just good, plain folks. But their story was of critical importance to establishing the validity of the lineage of David for the purpose of the Kingship. Boaz was of the tribe of Judah, and though Ruth was a foreigner, grafted in by God's choosing and her adherence to her mother-in-law's faith, David is legit. Did David, know, however, while he was out making music in the fields and telling lions to scram from the pastures where his sheep grazed, that he would one day need to know in such detail the courtship story of his great-grandparents?

It's a remarkable thing to me that such a simple, common love story would be so carefully preserved for that length of time, when it had absolutely no historical significance evident at the time of its occurrence.

Perhaps there's more to each of us than we can ever begin to comprehend. Perhaps how we came to be and where we are now and what we do with our short little lives really does matter. Perhaps our little thread in the tapestry has a greater role in holding together the big picture than we can see. It reminds me of a quote we hear fairly regularly at church:

You are more sinful than you dare face, BUT you are more loved than you dare imagine, AND more instrumental than you dare think.

You matter. Remember.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Words(?) of "Wisdom" from Anonymous

This entry is just for pure fun. And amazement.




I have a frequent commenter on my blog. “Anonymous” visits almost daily, and has the most profound things to say. I thought someone else might enjoy (or help decipher) some of the great wisdom Anonymous has to offer. Here’s a collection of some of the more recent nuggets of philosophy and literary artistry Anonymous has left for me here:


Must you are some of the most basic aspects of cash flow management?
No wonder why t-shirts are visible for the duration product launch
so other events.

Must I am, that’s a most basic aspect for sure. No wonder.
Wait… what?


I do accept as true with all the concepts you have introduced on your post.
They're very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too brief for starters. May you please prolong them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.


(Emma thinks THIS ONE is the funniest one, and I certainly see why. MY POSTS are “too brief for starters”? Obviously, this person was on the WRONG BLOG!)


Trinium's trucking software.can grip both large but also small trucking business owners.

(Look out, all you trucking business owners! They’re coming to grip you!)



Getting these solar panels may indeed be expensive just enough.

(Wow—those are really nice solar panels, but they aren’t quite expensive enough for me.)



This has this eroding effect by concrete over the time.
Plastic, wax and fat are often would keep things take moisture out.

(Speechless.)



I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.

(I’m not 100% sure, but I think this was one of Shakespeare’s earlier works. Try reading it with a  British accent. You’ll see what I mean.)


Call us at an attorney using Houston today meaning you can. This is how these cases have always been handled, nine times out of 6.

(I promise you, I did NOT make this up! I certainly hope the attorney is better at law than at math! Is “nine times out of 6” like saying “150%!”?)

This just in: (5/15/13)

A lot of the diseases that are today have first been caused by the whole wrong eating practices. Keep the jar filled with beer, up to all about an inch from the top.
 
Finally! One that makes some sense!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Surprised To Be Loved

But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

From The Message

Think on These Things

No one's life is free from challenges. Whether because of testing, to prove to you that your faith is genuine so that you will not doubt your salvation, or tempting, when the evil one wants to shake that faith and make you think God cannot possibly keep his promises to you, life has challenges.

Our battle is in the spiritual realm. It's going on all the time. But we are not left as orphans. We have tools to use to strengthen our minds when facing challenges, when under attack, when discouraged, when left to work alone though perhaps we (as I) do much better in small community. We are charged to speak encouragement to one another. We are charged to capture our own thoughts ourselves.

Today's one of those days when things are clicking along well, just like they should. The big challenges are kind of on hold at present, and I almost know the serenity prayer by heart, and can summarize at least the overarching gist of it as it applies at this very moment with Atticus Finch's words, "It's not time to worry yet, Scout." But for some reason, my body and brain chemistry just won't cooperate. That caffeine-addicted chihuahua that lives under my ribcage is doing his flips and the irrational anxiety that met me with the alarm clock is fully active today.

So what is in my power to do in this case? I don't want to opt for the afternoon glass of wine that probably would put H.Anx (the chihuahua's nickname) to bed for awhile. (Though I am not by any means a tee-totaler, I am very cautious about using alcohol for medication purposes, lest dependency gradually develop.) So I told two friends: anxious day. Please pray for peace. And I trust them that they did indeed pray for me. Both are the kind of people who know me well enough to accept my request for prayer without requiring details, and both are mature enough believers to entrust me to God rather than choose first to try to fix things for me instead of surrendering me to our mutual Father, which is what I always need most.

And second, I have chosen to take the words of Paul to the Philippians, and think on these things:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. --Philippians 4:8

I've often read this verse and it's left me kind of blank. I don't readily bring to mind true, honorable, lovely things, at least not things that really work to CHANGE me. What's true? 2 + 2 = 4, now, always, forever. So what?

What's honorable? A firefighter entering a building to save a person he or she is not related to. Good stuff, but it doesn't help me right now. What's lovely? The gerberas blooming in the front yard finally. Thank you for beauty, God, but H.Anx isn't responding to that.

So today, I want to take each one of those suggestions, and specifically name something to think on that is relevant to this challenge. I want this favorite-verse-of-many to take root so that it affects change in the way Paul was thinking when he wrote it, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for all our individual and common good.

Whatever is

True:  The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. -- 1 Timothy 1: 14
Grace, unmerited favor, overflowed abundantly for me. I didn't do it. I didn't earn it, therefore I cannot lose it. Because of who God is and what He has done by his own great love and mercy, I am secure forever in his grasp and nothing can separate me. This is true, as the next verse affirms: This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Honorable: This is a humbling one as well. The dictionary says "honor" is integrity. It refers to something worthy of being held in esteem. A biblical translation can be "above reproach." Were it not for God's promises, none could claim to be honorable or above reproach, and seeking to think on such a thing would only condemn. But for this:
You, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven. -- Colossians 1:21-23

Who can claim to be above reproach, and therefore honorable? All that is honorable is made so by the work we could not do. And to maintain that state, God makes it just about as easy as it can be: Believe the gospel and confess honestly to him my sin and shortcomings. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. -- 1 John 1:9. He is faithful to make us honorable. He bestows honor to the dishonorable who confess honestly to him, and trust by faith in his righteousness alone, and not in a checklist of rules to keep for salvation or honor. (Romans 10: 5-11.)

Just: The enemy of peace has a powerful tool on his side where justice is concerned. The God who by no means will clear the guilty is to be feared. And yet, he who does not clear the guilty calls himself first by the name of MERCY and takes upon himself the due punishment on my behalf. The penalty must be paid, and so it is. Justice is satisfied once for all who believe.

The Rock, his work is perfect,for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. -- Deuteronomy 32:4 


The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation." -- Exodus 34: 4-7

But he was wounded for our transgressions;he was crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. -- Isaiah 53:5


Pure: With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you deal purely, says 2 Samuel 22: 26-27. Note it is not with the pure God deals purely, but "with the purified." How does this process of purification occur? Is it within my grasp? Not on my own, no, but access has been given. Peter reveals it: Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God and this word endures forever. -- 1 Peter 1: 22-23 and 25.

Purity that endures forever, for who can call unclean that which God himself has made clean? Oh, quiet your accusations, evil one! You cannot take from me that which has been done for me.

Lovely: 2 Samuel 1:23 tells us that the friendship of David and Jonathan, who should have been divided as enemies but were united by faith in God's perfect plan, is lovely. God brings together that which, in the world, is impossible. Most impossible is the union he brings between people, his enemies, hopeless and dead on their own, with his own perfect self. Esther, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon assert that womanhood is lovely. God's design for me, regardless of the world's standards that I can never, never achieve, is lovely in his eyes. He regards my form as lovely. My Maker is satisfied with me. So lovely is womanhood to him that he uses both explicitly feminine terms and the word "lovely" to refer with pleasure to Jerusalem, the dwelling place of his cumulative beloved, in its glory. To be as lovely as Jerusalem, his completed Bride, is indeed a thought worth savoring. Song of Solomon 6: 4.

Commendable: Ecclesiastes commends to us "joy." Yes, our challenges are great and the days are wearisome. Today turns to tomorrow and there may seem to be a purposeless repetition of the mundane. But that is the facade, not the truth. There is a Redeemer, there is a Balm in Gilead, there is an all-mighty One who works all things, even the small and repetitious and mundane and even the evil things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. -- Romans 8:28. We are not left to the endless cycle of seasons that the pagans worshiped. We who know that Redeemer are to rejoice in all things. To do so is commendable. Commend joy to one another! Likewise, commend one another as you see the Fruit of the Spirit in each other. Paul commends his friend Phoebe to the Roman church, calling her a servant (Romans 16:1); he commends even the quarrelsome Corinthians because of their faithfulness to lift him up and their attempts to follow his examples (1 Corinthians 11: 2); commend one another when you face hardships with endurance (2 Corinthians 6: 4) because it truly is God who wills and works within you! We can have confidence and joy in commendation, as we are commended to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give to you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. -- Acts 20: 32. Take joy!

Excellent: 1 Corinthians 13 tells us the more excellent way. Love.
Paul has just been talking about the various gifts of the Church, and how they might be used for the whole community's good. He has cautioned against looking down on one person's gift as well as looking down on oneself for not possessing a "high" gift. He simply removes from us any right to feel superior or inferior (and I admit to both, at the same time). But regardless of the distribution of good spiritual gifts, every single one in the whole community can give this even more excellent thing to each other: Love. Optimism for each other. Humility. Kindness. Patience. Concern. Compassion.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. -- 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.



Worthy of Praise:
I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,and I am saved from my enemies. -- 2 Samuel 22: 4
What other name in heaven or on Earth can I call upon? None other is trustworthy. And to him I have access. I call, and he hears.
For through him [Christ] we have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. -- Ephesians 2: 18-19.

These things. I am claiming them today to overcome the physiological, mental, emotional, and spiritual enemies that act to rob me of my peace.

So take that, H.Anx. Down, boy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jane Esther Cochrane, 12 Years of Blessings


 
This week kicks off birthday season for us. We get to have a birthday just about every two weeks until the beginning of July. So it's party central, and that means it's time to stop and reflect a little on these beautiful, beloved, still relatively new people God has blessed us with the privilege of nurturing and guiding and watching grow and learn and give and lose and hurt and glory for a few years.

Jane gets to start the season off by turning 12. The Angel Child is a full-fledged tweenager now. She is wrapping up her first year of middle school, and ending strong. It's been a good year for her, as far as academics are concerned. She's learned some lessons about perseverance through her great improvement in Cross Country in the fall. She's learned about self-discipline in managing a dramatic increase in homework and expectations from homeschool to fifth grade at school to (cue music of Doom) Middle School! She's made new friends, been invited to other homes for parties, bonfires, sleepovers, and mission projects. She's felt the glory of being awarded high honors at two levels of Science Fair, and felt the sting of disappointment and injustice at being dismissed without serious consideration when taking the same Science Fair project to the state level. She's also learned that she can lose something she thought her heart was set on, and yet at the same time rejoice with another who achieved it apart from her. She has learned to say, "Look how God is blessing you!" when she might be tempted to feel passed over instead, and to give thanks for it.

Life has its challenges for Jane. She has to work hard. She has health issues that are foreign to most of her friends. She has a keen sense of justice in a world where injustice more often seems to rule, and the apparent victories of sin cut her deeply and offend that sense of justice in her. Justice for her even trumps mercy and grace at times, to a parent's frustration and concern. But then, just when I think I have reason to worry, she blooms in amazing loving affection, concern, and deep-reaching-into-her-sacrificial-soul grace to pour out good unexpectedly on another sometimes undeserving soul with absolutely no expectation of receiving anything in return.

I know God's got her. She hears his voice. She is learning to walk in humility and let him be her God. I see the fruit in her, his little lamb, maturing.

Happy birthday, Jane Esther Cochrane. You live up to your name. You truly are God's gracious gift and a shining star, and you are greatly loved.

  
You've come a long way, baby.
Jane at one year old, 2002.