Dear Niece #1,

Today you are 13. As with many aspects of life that sneak up, I find this sentence hard to believe. And then I look at you and no longer see a little girl and I know it IS true.

Today I stop and marvel at you, dear niece, and the ways you turned me into a proud hypocrite.

13th bday

Before you were born (and I have publicly confessed this many a time) I rolled my eyes when my friend Cathy gushed about her four nephews. Every time she went on and on I thought she was a pathetic single woman who was in want of her own children so much she poured that energy into her nephews.

And then you were born.

Game over.

I think I officially usurped Cathy in telling everyone everything you did and how fascinating and amazing you are.

If hypocrisy was a town, there was a new sherriff and her name was Aunt Amy.

I know it was a little disconcerting to you last year when you visited me in China to be greeted so warmly by my friends. As you get older, I will still be as proud of you and find you as fascinating as ever, but I’ll speak of it less. Deal?

Would you humor me and let me share one last story showing how clever and funny you have been from the beginning? You were about three or four and once again I had forgotten to pack some items when our family was traveling. This time it was underwear. Your mom had dropped you and me off at the store while she ran with your sisters to the grocery store. I hate wasting money, so if I was going to buy underwear,  I wanted ones I’d use. Well, good night the choices! The sizes, cuts, colors, brands. It takes a bit of reading and going back and forth. You were patient … to a point.

“Aunt Amy, what was that they said on the loudspeaker?”

I don’t know, I missed it.

“They said, ‘Just close your eyes and pick a pack!'”

I still laugh.

From the day you were born, you have a been a game changer. You help me see the world, myself, our family, and God in ways I couldn’t without you.

Because this is public, I’ll stop here. But thanks to you (and later to your sisters), I know aunts and uncles are not pathetic, they are containers of  joy that can’t be held back. To know that God loves you and delights in you so much more than your parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles is stunning. But he does.

My birthday prayer and hope for you is that as you continue to grow and move towards adulthood you will be rooted in love and belonging. And that you won’t be too scarred from having a crazy aunt (or several of us!).

I love you. Happy Birthday!

Love, Aunt Amy

Categories: Faith, Family



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  1. Nancy Petrie June 27, 2014 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Happy 13th birthday Emily, your aunt Amy talked a lot of you 4 precious girls when she was here in Scotland. We are sending love and birthday wishes to you. You will know like we do how special your Aunt is, how much she loves you and the miracle is that God loves you so much more. xx

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      Amy June 30, 2014 at 6:34 am - Reply

      Thanks Nancy, I love seeing your clan grow as well! To think how far everyone has come, it is inspiring AND reminds me of how time passes and to be as present as I can be :). xoxox A

  2. Mark Allman June 27, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Happy Birthday Emily!

    That was an awesome story and what a clever way to get Amy off dead center!!

    I hope you and Math are doing better these days!!

    I am sure everyone would like to read some more of your poems

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      Amy June 30, 2014 at 6:36 am - Reply

      Thanks Mark! I passed on your kind words. Something has clicked with Em and Math, though she’s made it very clear she will never follow in her parents’ footsteps and be an engineer, she no longer HATES math :) … and has done fairly well in it! But, she’s more of a creative soul who loves organizing (thus he skill at poetry, I think). I’ll see if she’s been writing any poetry. This summer she’s teaching herself to play the bassoon.

  3. Albert Davies June 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    That was lovely Amy, I love reading about children and their funny little ways I have lots of relatives scattered around the world, many I have never met in the flesh because of distance, but we keep in touch by Facebook etc lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren too. I never tire of having them around. to your niece Emily happy Birthday 13 is a special one a teenager now. go on from strength to strength Emily, your special Gods say you are, and he loves you so much.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy June 30, 2014 at 7:15 am - Reply

      Albert, I replied to this, but seems to have been lost :). I agree that kids are funny and I’m thankful for the small stories we have written down (thinking we’ll always remember them, and then they float away from memory!).

  4. Holly June 30, 2014 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Three comments in response to your delightful post:
    1. The 27th must be a special day, it’s my one and only sister’s birthday too!
    2. I absolutely LOVE what your niece said to you in the store while shopping for essentials :)
    3. My Aunt is one of the big reasons I live where I live and am married to an amazing man (Auntie introduced us!). I will never stop thanking the Lord for how he’s used her in my life.

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