Public Private Letters, Part 3: Dear Brooke.

Dear Brooke,

It's your birthday! Hooray! You're 25 on the 25th. Happy Golden Birthday! I wanted to wish you a happy birthday by writing you this public private letter today.

Well, as you know, my birthday is in 5 days--just 5 days after you were born, so was I! Hooray for being born! But really, it's a blessing to be alive. The older I get, the more I realize this. I mean, living hasn't always been easy--for you or for me. There's been three times when my world sort of got turned upside down, and I know you've had a few of those as well. For me, the first was when I had cancer at age 10. The second time was the dark days of my hospitalization in 2013 and the following months of recover. The third time was when my cousin Colby and then my Aunt Jan died. You've stuck by my side through all of these and more. Through thick and thin, we've been pals. Since 4th grade we've been buddies. But more than buddies or pals, our friendship has grown into something especially beautiful over the years.

You're another one of my Soul Friends. You're one of the ones I want standing by my side if/when I get married some day. (It was such an honor to be part of your bridal party!) You're one of the ones I know I can call when I'm having a rough day, and we'll pick up our friendship right where we left it. You're the one who knows so much about me because we grew up together. You're the one who I know will explain things to me that I don't understand about life. You're the one who will laugh with me or at me, and both are okay because you're also the one who will cry with me when I need to.

Though we live far from each other now, and though you are married and have a whole new and separate life from the one you had when we were growing up, I'm glad you still choose to let me be part of your life--through random phone calls and Facebook and Instagram, I feel like I'm there with you.

I sure wish we could take some time to celebrate our birthdays together, but this will have to do for now. Please know that I love and appreciate you. More than anything, my sweet Soul Friend, I am proud of you. You've worked hard, pushed through, and overcome. More than that, you've relied on God, and there's nothing I could be more proud of than that. To see the way you love people and the way you love Brian still amazes me. I know it's not always easy. Life isn't always easy--Jesus never said it would be, and an easy life is simply not one of God's promises--but you embrace it. I know marriage isn't always easy, but you're making it work. Hear me when I say: You are enough, you have enough through Christ Jesus, and you will always be okay as long as you have him in your heart. I know you know this, but I just wanted to take a minute to remind you on this anniversary of your entrance into the world--because it's a big deal. Your birth, your life, the little things you do every day matter. (And perhaps I needed to hear that, too.)

I love you, Brooke. Always have, always will. Happy Birthday.



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