It was impossible to top last year's extravagganza, but Hope had a great 14th birthday last week. I kept reminding her that it was going to be more low-key than last year, but she was equally tickled at the gifts she got at breakfast on the actual day, as well as the much-smaller-than-last-year-but-fun family party we had.
A highlight she looked forward to all week was opening all of the homemade gifts from her cousins (each of whom she proclaimed as her 'best cousin' as she opened their gift). Marlow cross-stitched her name and framed it and Isabel made a beautiful painting of Hope with butterflies. Rhys and Blake both drew amazing pictures of a dragon, and Rhys' even had some Chinese characters on it. Blake's drawing even made it to her binder cover-- a coveted location for sure.
Her favorite gift from us was a Halloween costume that I spent hours searching for. She's obsessed with princesses and brides but it's virtually impossible to find anything modest in a teen size. I ended up finding an adult size that Isabel is currently taking in for her. It's so nice to have a seamstress in the family again! Super precious at her party to see Rhys helping her figure out what to do with the headpiece. (Those two are really becoming close now that they're at the same school and it's really cute.)
Most of the time it feels like Hope has always been here, so it's pretty unbelievable that it's been less than a year and a half. She has come so incredibly far and is doing remarkably well. We still have a ways to go in some areas, but I think a lot of what we are experiencing is normal teen stuff. And thankfully there are a lot of "normal" teen things that we aren't dealing with. She's delightful, diligent, respectful, thoughtful and engaging. I'm pretty sure I was none of those things at 14. Or 37 1/2.
We can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for Hope the next year.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the significance of 14th birthdays for orphans in China. Had Hope still been there, last Wednesday would have marked her very last eligible day to be adopted. Ever. Would you join me in praying for the many children who will age out this year-- that God would move in the hearts of His people to obey His command to care for the orphan, and minister to those who have already aged out and lost their chance of having a family this side of heaven.
Adopting an older child is the hardest thing we have ever done, and undoubtedly much harder for Hope. But obeying is always worth it. Our children are always worth it. And I think you can tell from these pictures that it's been worth it for Hope too.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18
At dinner on her birthday. I love this face she makes when she's disgusted (by us, usually).