Today, my oldest daughter celebrates her birthday. Just a few years ago by my reckoning, she played with stuffed animals and Polly Pockets; now she is a young lady, plotting and scheming to get behind the wheel of my Honda.
Rachel turns 5. How the years have flown!
On this, her 15th birthday, I have meetings in the city, and cannot join in the festivities the way that I could if I worked from home today. Instead, Iâ€™ll take the time I spend commuting on the train and write a quick tribute to my beloved Rachel.
If you donâ€™t know Rachel very well, you may not be aware that she is a person with a tremendous amount of drive and personal discipline, packed into her petite frame. In a quiet, unpretentious way, Rachel pursues her goals with single-minded passion and iron-jawed determination. Whether clawing her way to â€˜Aâ€™ team status in swimming, or earning high grades on her Potterâ€™s School English assignments, Rachel perseveres and works through obstacles to ensure that she meets her goals. She is conscientious and diligent and serves as an inspiring example to the entire family.
If youâ€™re among those fortunate enough to number Rachel among your friends, then you know that she is fiercely loyal and protective of all those within her sphere. She is especially kind to those who are discouraged or neglected, and quick to befriend someone standing alone. Rachel exemplifies Christâ€™s compassionate love to those who need it most, and she brings honor to our family in the way that she conducts her relationships.
Some of my very favorite people in the whole world.
Even inside the walls of our home, she is characterized by kindness. Her sense of humor, care and consideration of others in the way she conducts herself within the family, help to ensure that everyone gets along. She uncomplainingly does her share of the housework and can usually be counted on to make a clever, sassy remark that gets everyone laughing. She is kind to her younger brothers, and does not complain about sharing a room with her 8-year-old sister. If Sarah or David are plagued by bad dreams in the night, or are sick with the flu, Rachel is often the one they go to for help and comfort, rather than parents.
Last summer, Rachel had the opportunity to attend WorldView Academy, which seemed to impact her love for Jesus significantly. She continues to grow in her faith and in maturity of her Christian walk. She takes personal responsibility for her relationship with her Lord, and brings her parents great joy by walking in the light. While many teenagers neglect their faith and spend their teen years ignoring or even running away from God, Rachel lives out her spiritual maturity and seeks to make the most of her high school years for the glory of her King. She tirelessly serves as a leader in AWANA, and helps out with the church nursery on a monthly basis.
In some surface ways, Rachel is a typical teenage girl: she loves funky clothes, can text nearly as fast as I can talk, and spends hours connecting with her friends, on Facebook. Below the surface, though, there is depth and wisdom and character far beyond her years. She has a serious, thoughtful temperament, and cares deeply about Justice and Righteousness. Rachel is like a deep river that runs unseen, beneath the ground, or like a priceless masterpiece hanging quietly in the corner of an antique store. She reminds me of the stories where a valuable lost sword, painstakingly forged in ancient times, is found in some simple setting, concealed in an unassuming, plain leather scabbard.
Not my actual daughter.
Not that Rachelâ€™s exterior is plain or simple â€“ far from it! She is a very pretty girl, growing more beautiful every day. But the tempered, true steel of her character makes itself felt in everything she does, and is very pleasing to her parents and to her God.
Yesterday, I had occasion to rebuke Rachel for some snappish things she said to Daniel, and the poor way in which she responded to her motherâ€™s correction. As she patiently received my rebuke, a tear of frustration and shame running down her cheek, I was reminded of how godly and teachable she is, even in moments of conflict. She really wants to be a Champion for God in the depths of her soulâ€“ she really wants to do what is right and to earn His commendation. Nobody likes being rebuked, and it is sometimes hard for Rachel to accept our flawed pronouncements. But we rarely have to correct Rachel about the same thing twice â€“ in her quiet, determined way, she examines herself and corrects her faults, as prompted and assisted by the Holy Spirit.
I donâ€™t know what God has planned for Rachel, or how He will use her to glorify His name, but I am confident that she will be, and already is, Mighty in the Land. Iâ€™m very proud to call her my beloved daughter.