One week ago Rob and I got to watch our beautiful oldest daughter give an end of the year speech to the entire elementary school and all their parents. Louisa was in a speech competition a few months ago and won third place! We were so proud of her but it never entered our minds for her to do it again. She was asked by the school to speak at the end of the year assembly AND at the end of the year ESOL celebration. We couldn’t believe she actually wanted to do it. I’ve pretty much cried daily for the past month. Each child’s last day festivities really got me this year. Life just moves too fast. I was fairly emotional the night I took her to the ESOL event, it was hosted in my old high school auditorium. As I carried her up the stairs and got her settled at the front of the room I just couldn’t stop feeling overwhelmed at God’s mercy and the amazing story He has written with our lives. When I stood on that stage as a senior and sang my heart out to Oklahoma, I never would have dreamed that I would have a daughter one day bravely facing an audience in that same place. It seems like yesterday that I was there, with friends, experiencing what was one of the highlights of my young life. My adopted Chinese daughter got to experience one of her lifetime highlights there too and that’s pretty incredible.
The next day she faced another audience and again my own past life kept flashing up before me. We were in the church I grew up attending. Louisa sat in the choir loft that I used to sit in. And I sat in the balcony to watch her. The same balcony I used to love sitting in because it was more “cool” to sit up there. The balcony where I used to stand by my grandmother, Bebe and sing my heart out alongside her to the old fashioned hymns that she so treasured. Love and passion for Jesus Christ filled my heart as a young girl in that place. To get to be in that same spot and watch my child pour her heart out to a room packed with people was to say the least, extremely moving. Louisa spoke of not knowing her birth parents and having to live in an orphanage in China. Of the friends she had there. Of waiting years to be adopted and finally being brought into our family. She spoke of the amazing work her teachers have done for her. They have all gone above and beyond to invest in both of our older daughters. She spoke of having a different past from her classmates but that they all have similar hopes and dreams for their life.
I thought about the dreams I had for my life. Dreams nurtured in that very room. Dreams to serve my Lord with all I had in me and more. I don’t think the “young Katie” standing in that place 20 years ago could have imagined this story. But I know she would be proud. Proud that the older version of herself hadn’t turned back from her First Love. And she would be cheering us on… “go further up and further in”. When Louisa finished speaking, the entire sanctuary of people stood up and gave her a standing ovation. Everyone around us was clapping and cheering and had tears in their eyes. I was just speechless. Louisa sat in awe and took it all in. She was beaming and I was balling my eyes out.
We are very proud of our girl. She and I have come to this mother and daughter relationship late in the game. We have a lot of years to make up for and we’re trying to do it as quickly as possible. I stand amazed at how God is working this out, at the tender details of letting some of these first huge moments in her life occur where my own did. Giving us a bond we wouldn’t naturally have had. It is an unlooked for blessing.
Louisa is right, we have different pasts but we do have the same dreams. To live a life well lived.
Louisa’s speech ~ https://vimeo.com/129271608