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Tomorrow is my husband’s 30th birthday. In honor of that, I have compiled a list of 30 reasons why I love him. The list goes far beyond 30 but I doubt he’ll live to 10 million.

30 Reasons Why I Love You

1.      Whenever you get up before me in the mornings, you push your pillow up against my back because you know I don’t sleep well without something to cuddle with.

2.      You’re so unbelievably smart about computers and math and all of those left-brained things.

3.      You make me feel beautiful every single day.

4.      You laugh easily and loudly and truly enjoy life.

5.      You don’t let things ruffle your feathers and whenever shit happens, you deal instead of having a meltdown.

6.      You always tell me the truth, even when it hurts.

7.      You have beautiful eyes.

8.      You dance with me in parking lots and catch me when I trip because I’m wearing flip flops.

9.      You hold me when I need you to.

10.  You clean and go through closets and organize because I ask you to.

11.  You don’t get mad when I move things and you can’t find them.

12.  You dream with me.

13.  You always kiss me goodnight.

14.  You don’t expect me to pack your lunches but you’re always appreciative when I do.

15.  You are good at compromising.

16.  You worked your way through JustFaith even though reading isn’t your thing.

17.  You love the Colts and very vocally watch them play.

18.  You make me laugh.

19.  You care about the people in your life and make time for them.

20.  You’re good at what you do and, even though you’re confident about it, you don’t let it go to your head.

21.  You care about what happens to people in other countries and those who have less than we do.

22.  You do things for the right reason because you believe they are the right thing to do.

23.  You honestly don’t give a damn about being popular or cool or any of the high school antics that people should outgrow. In fact, you didn’t care even when you were in high school.

24.  You aren’t concerned about keeping up with the Joneses.

25.  You show me that you love me even in the smallest of ways.

26.  You have strong convictions.

27.  You are willing to grow and change.

28.  You deal with all of my neuroses and OCD quirks and the millions of things I do that would drive most people crazy.

29.  You think for yourself.

30.  You chose me to be your wife. 🙂

Happy birthday, beloved. I am so lucky to be married to you. I love you!

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Dear Mikayla,

I know this is technically the day before your birthday. But when I got up this morning, I saw a picture of us and I started crying. Because this is the first birthday that I can’t be at. No matter how badly I want to be. So I decided to write this to you.

I remember the first time I saw you and how I thought you were the prettiest of all the babies there. I remember the first time I held you and you were staring up at me all “Who the hell are you?” But you didn’t cry. I remember getting up the next morning after only 3 hours of sleep and getting you ready for the day and taking you downstairs to eat breakfast. I was trying to juggle you and a plate of whatever that mush was called that you liked. A Chinese man saw me struggling and came over and grabbed the plate for me. I tried to say thank you in Chinese and got laughed at. I remember how much you HATED the high chair. And the stroller. And the car seat. You screamed and screamed but eventually you decided “This ain’t so bad.”

I remember going to the American Consulate and having to carry you, the diaper bag, and the stroller up the stairs because Mom had forgotten our passports and had to go meet Grandpa to get them. I remember holding you in the airport on our way home, standing in line with you sleeping on me. And even though my back was killing me, I refused to let anyone else take you. Because you were my little sister and I didn’t want to let you go.

I remember when you started to walk and we put the squeaky shoes on you. We thought it was the funniest thing. I was in Target a year or so ago and I heard a familiar squeaking sound in the next aisle over. Sure enough, it was a little Asian girl in squeaky shoes. It made me sad that you weren’t little enough to wear those anymore.

I remember how you used to go get a bag of lettuce out of the fridge and sit on the kitchen floor eating it. Nothing else, just the lettuce. I remember how disinterested you were in the chocolate cake for your first birthday. I remember how it was IMPOSSIBLE to bribe you like normal kids. Most kids would eat those last 3 green beans for the promise of ice cream but not you, no sir! You certainly managed to pick up on the trait of David stubbornness.

I remember when I came home from Liberty for Thanksgiving break, you were so happy to see me. And then when I had to leave again, you refused to tell me goodbye. I looked at Mom and said “Think she’ll ever forgive me?” From then on, it was always “Where are you going? How many days?”

I remember watching you and Emma run around at the rehearsals for the N.H.E. plays and looking forward to when the two of you would be on the stage. I remember seeing you wave at me when I was onstage during VBS and being unable to resist waving right back.

I remember having to trick you into going trick or treating. I remember dressing up and getting Matt, our neighbor, to play along so we could show you that it wasn’t scary. But your stubbornness prevailed even in the light of lots and lots of free candy. And then I finally managed to trick you into going two years ago and you had fun. You barely wore a costume but you had fun. You refused to let go of my hand, but you had fun. And then last year, you barely wore a real costume again but you let go of my hand and ran up to doors with the other kids. I was so proud of you.

I remember when you let me put your hair into pigtails like Boo from ‘Monster’s Inc.’ I remember how I finally gave up on doing your hair because you would just rip it out 5 minutes after we got to church. I remember holding you in the van on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s. I remember reading a book to you on your bed when I got home from Liberty for good. I remember the first time you read to me. I remember the first time you came to see me dance. I remember the first time I got to watch you dance. I remember the day you and Mommy left and I was struggling not to cry so I could be brave for you. I remember thinking how much I was going to miss you.

I know that these won’t be the only memories we have. They will just be fewer and further between. I love you with all my heart and you are the best little sister I could ask for. I miss you but I hope that you have a wonderful birthday.And even though we are thousands of miles apart, I promise I will always be here for you.

Happy birthday, baby.

Love always,

Lala

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Listening: ‘Human Behavior’ by Bjork

Thinking: It’s over. Thank God.

How to Annoy Me: Tell me I don’t update enough when, in reality, you just don’t read my blog.

How to Charm Me: Shower me with love and flowers and birthday wishes to ensure that I have a good birthday.

Quote of the Day: Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself. – Soren Kierkegaard

Random Quirk: When I finish pumping gas into my car, the first thing I do when I get back in is use hand sanitizer.

I am 24. Man, that feels old! I know it’s not but it feels like it.

I have led a pretty good life so far. Though they have their faults and can drive my crazy, my family is all still here and they love me. I have never been in need of food, shelter, clothing and I get more than just the necessities. My dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said “This semesters school bill paid off.” He replied that that was taken care of so what did I want? My response? Absolutely nothing. I have a laptop which, other than freezing occasionally and that grinding noise that I still need to get checked out, works well and does what I need it to. I have a digital camera and a cell phone. My car, though it sometimes worries me, seems to be working and at least gets me to work and school. I have plenty of clothes and more than enough shoes. I have shelves full of books to read and stacks of books around the room that I need to get through. I truly am blessed and I know it.

In addition to the material possessions and my family, I am surrounded by two wonderful sets of friends. Both groups give me things that I need and I can only pray that I am as much a blessing in their lives as they are in mine. I have a job and in this economy, that is definitely something to be grateful for. I am a part of a church that I love and am excited about. I am able to go to school and get a degree so I can hopefully get a job that I enjoy. I am part of a great dance company that is full of people who make me laugh and keep me excited about dancing.

Is my life perfect? No. If I had it my way, I would long be out of school by now. I would be working at a job that didn’t give me migraines from the stress. I would *definitely* not be living with my parents. But there are reasons for everything. For better or worse, I made certain decisions and that is how life goes. You make decisions and you live with the results, good or bad. This is something I struggle with every year around my birthday. I compare my life to other peoples, which when I’m being rational, I know is stupid. No ones life is perfect and those that appear perfect are probably using a great concealer. I don’t have to measure up to anyone’s standards but my own. (Most of the time, I remember this. Someone must slip me crazy pills around my birthday.) There will always be things that I want to improve or change completely. Some of those things I will be able to control but a lot of things, I won’t be able to. I want to strive to remain content, whatever my circumstances. It does not matter if other people think I should be moved out of my parents house or that I should have graduated or that I should be dating/engaged/married. When you look at the big picture of life, those things matter very little. As long as my life is pleasing to my Papa in heaven, that is enough. My security and significance come from the knowledge that I am deeply loved by God. My identity is who I am – and am becoming – in Christ.

May this coming year bring me closer to my Daddy and as a result, may I be a blessing to everyone around me. If I can accomplish those things, then the past 24 years and whatever time I have left will not be a waste.