Today Sarah is eighteen!
As a surprise for her, I asked a number her family members and a couple friends to send me 3 (or more) things that tell what they like, love and/or admire about her. In just a few minutes, I will take take her breakfast in bread and have her read this post. I want her to begin her 18th birthday knowing how much she is loved.
Before I do that though, I’ll start with a few photos I took of her last night; the last time to take a picture of a non-adult daughter. (sniff)
(I added a brief description of each person to let readers who who is who in the family tree.)
UNCLE TIM (Becky’s Brother)
Sarah You are a beautiful young woman. You have captured with perfection the great attributes from the Campbell/Smith union.
Your love of words is refreshing and encouraging. Words actual mean things to you. Your love of life refreshes us all. Your life lived before God and your relationship with Him is your greatest accomplishment as we all join with you in life’s celebration.
AUNT BERIT (Tim’s Wife)
Sarah, I love your sweet smile, witty sense of humor and the beautiful woman of God you are.
GRANDMA CAMPBELL (Becky’s Mom)
Sarah, now that you are 18, I praise the Lord that you are strong and well. You were so brave during your illness. But because of all you and your family went through, you were a real encouragement to others going through similar problems. You have been a blessing to thousands!
Much love to a real trooper.
AUNT DEBBIE (Becky’s Sister)
Sarah, Happy 18th Birthday!
1. A Miracle
2. My niece (which makes me very proud!)
3. Courageous, witty, talented, smart, a hard worker, beautiful inside and out, someone I know I could count on when the chips are down (or up!), an astute student of Life and its continuous circle of Lessons from pain to joy and everything in between.
To sum it up, you are a real Lady.
I love you and I’m proud of you!
UNCLE RANDY (Debbie’s Husband)
You have a unique ability to stay focused on a task–I admire that.
I truly sense that you honor me as your uncle in a way that makes me feel I am important to you.
I see such a measure of faithfulness in you that is unique for a young woman your age.
I love the fact that you are so creative with your words. You are truly gifted in that.
You have grown to be a beautiful young woman. I am so proud of you!
CALEB (Randy and Debbie’s Son)
Happy Birthday Sarah! It must be pretty exciting to be 18, huh? I sure hope you have a great day! You are a very talented writer, have a great (and wacky!) sense of humor, and always seem to be very kind and caring towards others. Love ya, cuz!
AUNT RUTH (Becky’s Sister)
Well, Sarah, I do not get a chance to enjoy your company too often in this life, so I glean things about you from reading your blog and Facebook and whatever else your mother faithfully proclaims about you to the world at large.
You have a sweet spirit that loves to love your Lord Jesus and that is the best thing I could ever say to you. Please keep that as the most important goal of your daily life. I like that you are close in your family relationships, (even though you do have Nathan to deal with. lol) and have remained sweet in heart and soul even after going through hard times in your life. May you continue to walk worthy of the One who has called you and glorify His name. Happy Birthday.
You are the most honest and loyal friend I have ever had.
You are always there to give support to anyone who needs it.
It is always a pleasure and a joy to be around you.
You have the most beautiful smile! I can’t look at you or think of you without being happy!
You are so encouraging! I know I can go to you when I’ve had a bad day or a big disappointment and you can tell me it’s going to be okay and get me laughing!
You shine Jesus everywhere you go, and are the most authentic example of a Christ follower that I know. You live the way He says and are always quick to make decisions by His standards.
I LOVE YOU, SURI!!!!!!
Sarah, it’s so hard to boil down all the wonderful things you are into three phrases. I’ve known you since I was 4 and its been one wonderful experience after the next every time I’m with you.
First, I’d like to say that you are thoughtful. Ever since we met, you’ve always been willing to lend a hand or offer the better half to others.
Second, you are unique. Not only do you have awesome writing skills and a funky/cool sense of fashion, but Christ’s light shines through you in the way you carry yourself and interact with others.
Finally, you are funny! I love your sense of humor and have so enjoyed all the ‘stomach hurting’ laughs that we’ve had together.
I wish you the happiest of birthdays, Sarah! Love you forever!
UNCLE DANA (Steve’s Brother)
1. I remember you walking on your tiptoes before you were diagnosed with cancer and thought you were trying to be tall like the adults.
2. I admire your courage. You never acted like you were going to give up during your treatments.
3. You like to read books, which is uncommon for most young people in the digital age.
AUNT LYNNE (Dana’s wife)
Happy birthday, Sarah! I think you are adorable, charming and amazing. We are very blessed to be a part of your life and hope that we can continue to enjoy you for many, many more years to come!
UNCLE JEFF (Steve’s Brother)
Sarah, you are:
2. have eyes with wisdom beyond your years.
4. lover of all things in nature.
GRANDMA AND GRANDPA SMITH (Steve’s Parents)
We have had fun thinking of words describing you Sarah; many come to mind.
Grandpa chose creative, articulate, perceptive.
My choices: dependable, thoughtful, artistic. All of them mean: wonderful granddaughter!
AUNT CAROL (Becky’s Sister-in-Law)
Sarah…WOW you’re 18!!! I am just so happy to have someone so special for my niece!
I think it is awesome that you are writing a book. I don’t know anyone personally that has taken on a feat like that at your age. I’m sure it will be great.
I also so admire the way you love and honor your parents. You’re a great example for any child/young adult to follow. And you skip with your Dad…can’t beat that! I think it is so cool too that you have friends from your childhood that you are still great friends with! Especially with the traveling and going through all the cancer treatments. Don’t lose those friendships. They are treasures!
I was the first one ever to offer you a grilled cheese sandwich. Jessi was babysitting you and we were trying to think of things to feed you, and that’s what we decided and you liked it! Your Mom said you had never had one before, so you had your first one in Aunt Carol’s kitchen. Many moons ago!
I wrote this, but we ALL think you are an amazing young lady. We are so proud of you! Happy 18th Birthday Sarah! We all love you!
Phil, Carol, Jessica, Kristen
NATHAN (Sarah’s Brother)
Sarah: You are one of the most considerate and thoughtful people I have ever met.
You have a soft heart and are empathetic towards the pain and hurt of others.
You are incredibly intelligent and will be successful in whatever career you choose.
MEAGAN (Sarah’s Sister-in-Law)
You are quietly confident.
- It takes someone strong to be confident yet quiet.
You are peaceful.
- you draw people of all ages to share that same peace when they are around you. That is something many lack these days.
You are wise.
- you know your limits but you’re not afraid to push them when needed.
You have a great laugh!
Dear Bubitz, AKA Sarah,
Making you laugh is one of my very favorite things to do. You catch the most subtle of puns and often return the favor with a pithy zinger. Your blossoming sense of humor is a blessing which will serve you well as you enter adulthood. There is enough to cry about in this world. Those who can find humor in the daily stuff of life are a treasure. You are that kind of person.
As you enter your senior year remember the famous words of Frank Zappa who once sang endearingly: “Watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow….”
Oh! Wait! This letter is also being read by your mother’s adoring blog fans!
So. Ahem. I must pass along a tome of pastoral and fatherly wisdom.
(Sounds of throat clearing.)
So, Alwayseth rememberest to-eth putteth the toileteth lidst downeth.
(No wait, that was advice for your brother)
Ok, here is a profound nugget: “I before e, except after c or when sounded like a in neighbor and weigh. “ (Man, college pays off every day!)
“Think, think, think….” – Winnie the Pooh.
(You know better than most how I do love random conversation.)
But seriously, as you enter adulthood your decisions will have more weight and consequence. We arrive at places and chapters in life because of decisions, small, medium, large. When facing decisions, especially large ones i.e. choice of a college, career, spouse, etc. Look out as far as you can in faith and try to think through the possibilities and consequences, both good and otherwise.
You have suffered much in life and have mined your pain for wisdom and joy. Continue in that practice. Continue to allow God to bring “beauty from ashes.” Your greatest ministry to others will be birthed in pain.
God has surrounded you with a lot of delightful people who are one or two generations older than you. Pick their brains, harvest their wisdom, learn from their errors, glean from their glories. They need to tell their stories and you need to hear them. Be that generational bridge.
Trust in the sovereignty of God. He directs our steps in such subtle ways that often we are not aware of them except in hindsight. As you pray, as you dream, as you explore, keep His Kingdom in focus.
I love the sage advice of Fredrick Beuchner, who said (I paraphrase) “The will of God is where your greatest joy intersects with the world’s greatest need.” Someone else said that if you discover that, you’ll never work a day in your life.
You are entering into a time of greater freedom with its attendant responsibility. You’ll find your sea legs with both, I’m confident. Walking with God involves risks in faith. It involves doing things which you have never done before. It involves going where you have never been. In short in involves getting out of your comfort zone.
Just as the character Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit was told that he would have to someday leave his books in order to have an Unexpected Adventure, you too will have to leave the “safe” and familiar to experience the wonderful, beautiful and yes, sometimes dangerous adult world. I will continue to pray over you as you pursue your God given dreams.
I’ll pass along a few quotes which have served me well in life.
“Failure is not fatal; it is the price you pay to succeed.” – John Maxwell
“Money is hard come, easy go.” – unknown
“Don’t spit in the wind” – Jim Croche
“Never give up, never give up, never give up.” – Winston Churchill
“No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” – Elinor Roosevelt
“Everybody’s normal, until you get to know them.” – John Ortberg
“The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” – Erma Bombeck
“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” – Jamie Buckingham
“Be slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to anger.” – St. James
“God has not give you a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of self discipline.” – St. Paul
“I am with you always…” – Jesus Christ
I am very proud to be called your father. It is a delight to see you mature into a woman. You will be a blessing to many, an encouragement to the disheartened, a cheerleader for the underdog and a joy to all who know you.
Thanks for just being Sarah.
All my love, Dad
Sarah, as I sit and write this the day before your 18th birthday, I have to wonder how I ever got so blessed as to be your mom. I see a lot of myself in you (which is a pretty good thing) and I see a lot of your dad in you, too. (Which is a very good thing.)
But mostly, I see a lot of YOU in you. I see a young lady who is comfortable in her own skin, someone who notices things that other people don’t, someone who points out the most amazing subtle observations to me, and someone whose heart is tender toward God and other people–specially those who are hurting.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of you, sweet girl. You paved the way for me on the cancer journey as you demonstrated how to suffer with dignity, and strength and a never failing sense of humor. We are mother. Daughter. Cancer sisters.
The older you get, the more I am amazed by your wit, your compassion, your insight, and your listening ability. I remember one night after dinner when I was tired and discouraged, and you sat so sweetly and quietly and listened to me unload, asking the kinds of questions that only a woman with a sensitive heart would know to ask. And you listened so very well. I remember thinking when we were done, “That’s not a little girl across the table from me any more; that’s a young woman.”
And I was happy and proud and just a little sad too, because I knew that it was a foreshadowing of the adult Sarah, the woman who will soon leave this home and go out and make her own life.
As you begin the rest of your life, fly straight and fly true. Let daddy’s and my love be your wings.
I love you, precious baby girl.