Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Eighteen Candles!

18! 十八! Napulo ug walo! Dieciocho! Dix-huit!
That's right, e-i-g-h-t-e-e-n. My baby girl, this child who made me a mama, celebrates her eighteenth birthday today!!! Just where has all that time gone to and why has it flown by this swiftly?

Time truly flows like a relentless river... I am very much undeserving of such wild grace, this immensely beautiful gift and sacred privilege of being mama to this amazing and beautiful young lady... and for this, I am humbled... and deeply grateful to my Heavenly Father for His extravagant love and unending grace. He truly gives beautiful gifts.
Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. ~ James 1:17
Hubby and I found out we were expecting just mere days before I graduated from the University of Toronto's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (now Daniels Faculty). I had my eyes set on a career as an Urban Planner, motherhood far from my mind. I was surprised by this gift... surprised by motherhood!

As my belly started to swell and stretch and this life started to visibly grow within that hollow space inside of me, I marvelled at the miracle of life. I was surprised by this gift... surprised by motherhood!

On that cold and wintry February day, when my body signalled to me that the time had arrived for us to meet this baby face to face... and when after twenty-six hours of intense labour, this loud yet breathtakingly beautiful baby girl joined our family, I fell in love in a way that I didn't know I could. I was surprised by this gift... surprised by motherhood!

When my eyes gazed upon the face of this sweet cherubic little human and I knew right then and there that the only way to spend my days is to raise her up to be truly great... and when, right at that very moment, becoming an Urban Planner suddenly no longer seemed important to me... and when, right at that moment, I set my heart on being at home and chose to become a full-time mama, my heart skipped a beat. I was surprised by this gift... surprised by motherhood!

Side Note: Here are two of my all-time favourite quotes on what it means to raise truly great kids, not as the world would define greatness to be, but what being great for God's Kingdom looks like...
True greatness is a passionate love for God that demonstrates itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others. ~ Dr. Tim Kimmel, Raising Kids for True Greatness.
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. ~ C.S. Lewis.
Even though I eventually started working from home soon after my son was born, I've cherished this gift of being able, all these years, to work yet be at home both at the same time... being the first to kiss boo-boos, the first to see first steps, the first to hear first words, the first to be happy and to be sad with them... and many, many, many countless other firsts. I was surprised by this gift... surprised by motherhood!

From late-night feedings to early-morning wake-ups, from diapers to potty-training, from sleep-training to tummy-time, from mushy cereals to table foods...

From bedtime stories to good-morning cuddles, from ballet lessons to piano lessons, from meal-time struggles to bath-time giggles, from tangled hair to braided hair...

From disappointing basketball try-outs to celebrating straight-A report cards, from the first day of Kindergarten to the last day of elementary school, from the first day of high school to choosing universities...

From cheering loudly at basketball games to applauding proudly at concerts and recitals, from the first loose tooth to wearing braces, from a trike to a bike, from triple-jumps at track and field days to roller-blading down the neighbourhood sidewalks...

From a provincial writing award to a regional humanitarian award, from doing the hard thing to grappling with brokenness, from an adorable baby girl to a super-talkative toddler, from a strong-willed little girl to a determined young woman who is beautiful both inside and out...

From holding her hand to releasing her to fly... through it all, this mama has been utterly surprised by this gift... surprised by motherhood!

My prayer for this girl since the day she was born has been the verses from Isaiah 61:1-3... that, as an image-bearer of her Heavenly Father, she will be Jesus' hands and feet... to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release prisoners from darkness, to comfort all who mourn... that she will be an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour.

These eighteen years have been pure gift, wild grace... a blessing! Motherhood has been the single hardest, yet most fulfilling, thing I have ever done. I wouldn't trade it for anything else...
Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love, and whisper surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy's flame.
Happy Birthday, Alyssa!
I am forever grateful and count it as pure joy that God gave you to me, a daughter... a precious gift! You continually inspire me as you courageously and humbly live each day as an "oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour."

I love you very much... more than words can ever express {whether in person or right here on this blog}! 

I can't wait to see the brave and beautifully radical God-things waiting for you as you embark on pursuing an education, and eventually a career, in International Development {entering the University of Toronto as a President's Scholar of Excellence this Fall, at my alma mater no less! #proudmama :)}, to live out your passion to speak out for those who are denied a voice.

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

When your daddy and I first gazed upon your beautiful face in those small hours before that dawn of day 18 years ago, we wouldn't have dared to imagine that this is what your life's work and passion would shape into. Yet seeing all that God has accomplished in your life so far, I am in awe realizing that this is the path that your Heavenly Daddy has prepared in advance for you to walk... because He is One who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!
For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. - Ephesians 2:10
My beloved daughter...
As you step into adulthood, your mama can't help but beam with pride... deeply grateful for God's grace at work in your life. As you pursue God's calling and continue to embrace all that He has in store for you... may this be always true of you:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ~ Galatians 6:14
{Please pause the playlist on the sidebar of this blog as you watch this video.}
"The words leave my lips: 'When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace. For I am Yours, and You are mine.' I'm painfully aware of what I'm saying." ~ Alyssa{Video background music: "Oceans" from Brad Guldemond's "Lord I Need You EP"}

Compassion is a command, an act of worship, a song of thanks to Him.
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God!


  1. I love this. My Alyssa and I sat here and watched it. We were talking about how long we have followed her (and you) and it has been 4 years. She sponsored her Jazzy from the Philippines in 2011. She started her blog and found Alyssa's blog. We love you guys. Happy Birthday, Alyssa! Much love

    1. We love you guys too, Teena!!! Thanks for coming by today & celebrating Alyssa's birthday with us. :)