Last Thursday, we celebrated Sunny’s 36th birthday. The kids and I plotted together to make the day as special as possible. Joshua has been whispering to me for months about what we were going to get her for her birthday. (Sidebar: I love that he’s so thoughtful, especially when it comes to his Momma…some girl is going to thank us for that someday.)
I let the kids pick out a few gifts for their mother and I had a few already in mind that I wanted to give her. Taking the kids shopping actually turned out to be a huge win:
- They picked out a candle that they knew Sunny would love (with my sense of smell — or better yet, my lack thereof — that’s never happened)
- Abby Kate picked out a T-shirt with the words “Blessed Girl” on it; apparently, she’d been wanting to get this for Sunny for quite some time
- Joshua picked up his usual — a couple of packs of Chap Stick. He knows his Mom pretty well, I’d say
- And Jackson was with me at Hallmark when we decided to get Sunny a new purse; he claims the idea was all his…and I’ll just leave it at that!
I’m constantly reminded of how blessed are children are to have Sunny for their mother. She’s the perfect balance of tenderness and firmness – she can correct them in one breath and love on them with the next. I can’t help but think that her balanced temperament will help them come to a more mature understanding of the heart of God.
In addition to being a full-time Mom, Sunny devotes herself to the education of a classroom full of precious first-graders for 180 days every school year. I had the chance to watch her in action in her classroom during the “awards ceremony” on the last day of school. One at a time, she had each student come and sit down in a chair at the front of the class. She proceeded to present awards to each child: AR Math certificates, medals for completing the year’s math unit, etc. But she saved the best for last: she read “warm fuzzies” to each student — a compilation of what their classmates had to say about them. You could just see these kids beaming as each statement washed over them — Katie is pretty; James is funny; Holly is my friend; Derrick is good at sports; Grant is kind. I know Sunny well enough to know that this act of blessing was one of the most important parts of her school year. I know there are scores of young people who have been blessed by her intentional efforts in the classroom these past few years.
I love this picture because it captures Sunny’s beautiful smile. I like that I’m a bit out of focus in the shot; instead, Sunny is the focal point of the camera’s eye. I feel that this photo captures my perspective: in my view, Sunny is in full clarity; I see her as this joyful, beautiful human that brings more into my life than I can articulate. I can’t even remember what I said to make her laugh like this, but I’m grateful that my life consists of the daily reality of Sunny’s smile.
The past year or so has been difficult for our family, particularly Sunny. In 11 months, she said goodbye to her brother, her father, and her grandfather — all the men in her family. I’d give anything to be able to change that for her, but this season of grief has given me a new appreciation for Sunny’s strength of character. She has handled it all with her typical grace and determination. Unwilling to wallow in her misery, I’m proud of the way Sunny has handled all of this in stride. Her resilience and unwavering faith is inspirational.
Sunny, I love you and I’m wishing nothing but God’s continued blessing upon you in the days and months to come. May this year be the year of the Lord’s favor in your life. May He honor your faithfulness in ways you cannot imagine. May He renew His mercies toward you daily. And may you continue to be a source of light and joy to us all.
Baby, you’re the greatest.