Happy 25th birthday to my brave, sweet, beautiful girl.
I remember your birth so well. You were in a hurry to be born and you have been full of joyful energy ever since. You were a gift, a treasure from God.
I remember first noticing your love of children when the twins were born. You were almost 11 and Kendrea was 9, and the two of you carried them and played with them and sang to them. Now you teach a room full of children every day. I have seen you work with them, and you have a unique gift of understanding them, loving them and teaching them.
You are a favorite sister. You are the first to suggest something fun, whether it is wrestling with the boys or watching a family movie. But you are also a good listener and counselor, a good friend, a good roommate.
I don’t remember when I first noticed that people were drawn to you, but I have watched you gather friends from every age group. You have an exuberance for life that people love, and you are genuinely interested in others.
You are a lover of God. You accepted Jesus into your heart when you were a small child, but it was in your teenage years when someone very close to you turned from faith and God that you confirmed what you believe. Since then I have watched you navigate life with eternity in view.
Today is your birthday. Today you will be celebrated. Today you will open gifts.
But Marissa, your greatest gifts will come in this next, hard year. Your heavenly Father will give you packages each day to open exactly when you need them–His words, alive and powerful; His strength, lifting you when you are falling; His love, sure and steady through the darkest storm; His peace, like a blanket of goodness warming your soul. There is an endless supply of these gifts and a kind Friend Who carries them.
I love you, Rissa. Happy birthday.