Today is your big day sweet daughter of mine.

For 9 months I have dreamed of this day….the day I will get to kiss your cheek and tell you how much I love you and look forward to watching you grow into a woman.

I sit here with tears streaming down my cheeks thinking about how loved you are even before you have taken your first breath here on earth.

There are so many stories I can’t wait to tell you someday.

I will tell you about how your daddy is dreaming of holding you in his arms for hours at a time, and how he doesn’t wake up for much of anything at 4:30 am except fishing, hunting, and meeting you for the first time.

I can’t wait to tell you the stories of how your big brother and sister have fought over who gets to hold you first and how they have counted down the months, days and now hours until your arrival.

Your affectionate sister has her rocking chair all prepped for snuggling you, clothes all arranged to dress you up, and a special bracelet she made for you she can’t wait to put on your wrist.

Your tenderhearted brother has talked to you in my tummy and smiles from ear to ear everyday as he felt you kick and roll around .

So many stories to tell.

Family and friends all over the country and world are awaiting your arrival.  I don’t think I would be exaggerating to guess that hundreds of people have been praying for you and will wake up this morning anxious to hear the news of your birth.

There are two things I want to tell you today that I hope you carry with you from the moment you take your first breath until the second you take your last…

First I want you to always know that you are loved.

But second I want you always to know that there are hurting people all over the world who need you to share this love with them.

All around world today children will be born.

Some will be born into the love that you will know.

But many of these babies won’t have a line at the hospital of family waiting to have their turn to meet and hold them and tell them they love them.

There is a mom somewhere today that will hold her baby in her arms for the first time and feel many other emotions than the joy I am feeling right now.

Fear that she doesn’t have a safe, warm home to raise her baby.

Sadness that her child’s father doesn’t want anything to do with being a Daddy.

Around the world today babies will be born who will never know the comfort of a mother’s arm.  There are all kinds of reasons that the moms of these babies will choose or be forced to turn their baby over to the government to be raised in an orphanage or by a family that is not their own.

Some of these babies will be loved just as you are….a “forever” family has been praying for and dreaming of welcoming these children into their homes.  Some of the babies born on this day will have to wait for years to meet these forever families.  But the day will come and they will someday know the love of family that you will know from the first day of your life.

But sweet child of mine, most of these babies will grow into children and then become adults who have never known the love of family that you will get to experience every moment of your life.

As I have been getting things ready for your arrival, my prayer has been that all the days of your life you will not keep this love to yourself, but that it will pour out of you into the hearts of others.

In this past week I have thought of some things that I sure don’t want to forget to tell you….

I want you to know….the swing you will rock to sleep in was given to you by one of my elementary school teachers who used it for her beautiful grandson that was adopted into their family last year.

I don’t want to forget to tell you…the car seat you will ride in was given to you by a family who bought it for a precious foster child that they took care of for months and months.

I also want you to know…the Ethiopian coffee I will drink in the sleepy days to come was sent to me from a friend who just returned last month to bring home another child from an orphanage to welcome into their family.

I have to tell you….yesterday was parent child dedication at church.  You kicked wildly in my tummy as Daddy and I prayed over dear friends of ours who were dedicating three daughters that they have adopted into their family from the foster care system.

I also want to make sure you know…for the past few months a sweet teenager at church has been mesmerized by my growing belly.  She had rubbed on it and stared at it asking me all kinds of questions about you.  It was just a year ago that this teenager was an orphan in Ecuador.  But because our friends had love to share, they welcomed her into their home and are surrounding her with a love she has never known before.

Oh, and just last night…I tucked one of your brother’s friends into a bed in the room we have prepared for you.  Just four years ago this precious boy laid his head down to sleep in an orphanage on the other side of the world, but sweet friends of ours took in this boy and his two siblings to be a part of their family.

Sweet, sweet Bethanny.

In the years to come, you will learn that the unconditional love that you will be surrounded with all the days of your life, is the love that is given to us from God above.

You are surrounded by our family and friends who have chosen to not keep this love to themselves but to pour it out into the lives of others.

My forever prayer for you is this…to love God, to love who you are in Him, and to love others.

Do not take this love for granted, my child.

Share it as if it is not yours to keep.

Pour it out with abound to a world full of children and adults alike that are desperate to know such a love.

Baby girl Buxton...arriving November 2013