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I remember so well the day we met her.  Early in the morning she let us know she was coming.  Of course, at that point we didn’t know if she was a she or a he.  Before long the mystery was revealed (as the nurse eloquently exclaimed “there’s no pee pee!”) and we were holding our tiny, soft treasure with black fuzzy hair and dark eyes.  I love the moment when they first handed my baby to me and I held her to me, eyes locked on each other.  So you’re the one I’ve been waiting to see all this time!

Some thoughts about Kaitlin on this her 18th birthday:

From the very start she was a mover and shaker.  As a little baby she wanted to be held a lot, wanted to see what was going on, almost as if she was already doing her best to secure her spot in the family.  As a toddler she didn’t learn to talk as early as Kimmi, her big sister, but she was crawling, walking, jumping and doing somersaults in no time.  Kimmi translated for her until she mastered discernible words.  “Mom, Kaikin wants juice.”  Until then we enjoyed seeing her approach us with the most serious expression, saying things like, “gozzy shaza betta bezza boss nana.”

She had the best belly laugh and stepped into her role as little sis and little shadow to Kimmi following her around, doing whatever she was doing, being friends.

It wasn’t long before she stepped out of Kimmi’s shadow, though.  She’s always seemed quiet and shy to people who don’t know her but is really witty, silly, animated, and strong.  Quiet Kaitlin surprised her 6th grade class and teacher toward the end of the school year by taking part in a talent day and singing a rock song in front of everyone with sunglasses on, complete with jumping up and down and head banging.

When she is focused on something that matters to her, she lasers in on it tenaciously, channeling all her effort and energy toward getting there.  She and some other grade-school friends at church started a little shop to raise money for charity.  For months they’d buy items and then sell them at a slight mark-up and with success.  She taught herself to play bass and acoustic guitar.  She worked all summer at a grocery store and bought her first car with cash.

She played on her sister’s soccer team when she was 8 but it wasn’t really her thing so there was no laser focus.  In fact, the coach had to often yell at her to get her to stop watching butterflies or picking dandelions on the field and start running and kicking.  She was lost in her own thought world – she was our “La la girl.”

Those younger years were peppered with tantrums and power struggles with her dad and me.  There were times we got so frustrated that we didn’t always handle it well.  There were many tears and not all from her!   I remember one time taking her bedroom door off the hinges for a while because she had slammed it one too many times in anger.  Intense emotion and passion are still within her, but don’t often show on the outside anymore.  They run deep.

Music moves her and is one of her biggest loves.  In the last few years she’s taken to writing songs to process what she’s thinking, feeling and learning.   The songs are a voice for her heart – the lyrics meaningful and thought-provoking.  (Well except for the song about being bored at 10:13 or something like that.)

Since she was young she’s analyzed and pondered big questions about God and faith.  I know she’s still searching and discovering who God is and how she can walk closer to Him.   Even though she’s my girl I still have times when I’m listening to her and feel amazed.  I realize there’s so much to her I don’t know or get to see yet.  I do see a leader who, when God gives her a goal and direction, will be driven to reach it with everything she’s got out of love for Him.  I can tell she doesn’t want a mediocre life.

She sees herself as awkward and gawky but I see a dark-haired, brown-eyed willowy beauty who is just beginning to step into all God has planned for her from the beginning.  Funny Kaikin, tender heart, faithful friend, loving girl…there’s more to you than you know.  I am on the front row eager to see how your life plays out.  I love you.

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