Dear Evangeline (4 Years)

Dearest Eva,

Happy fourth birthday to our delightful little girl!  We could never have imagined what joy God would give our family through a little girl.  This year has been a wonderful and challenging adventure, walking with you through your fourth year of life.  We are so grateful for you, Eva-lein.

You have grown up so much this year, seemingly moving into a new phase of being a little girl.  You decided one day that you were done wearing diapers (after Mom unsuccessfully tried to help you a few weeks earlier) and simply told us and did it.  Of course, you had some accidents, but once you set your mind to it, it was pretty much a done deal.  You don't like being rushed into anything, and one of your favorite phrases is:  Let ME do it! (emphasis on me)  Quite often you do end up sweetly asking for help, but you enjoy the feeling of independence and still wish you were seven like your brother. ;)

You have had a lot of difficult transitions this year, the most difficult being moving back to Austria and then adjusting to Nathanael going to school and you remaining in Kindergarten without him.  "Hanael" is your all-time best friend, and you missed him terribly in the mornings.  Lots of tears and pleading, every day.  You also began napping at Kindergarten when Nathanael began school, and your ability to speak German improved exponentially!  You love singing your Kindergarten songs and playing in German in your "quiet time."  You switch effortlessly between the languages now and don't seem at all affected by it.  This year, you joined Nathanael in the kids' program at church, an easy transition since your big brother was already there to look out for you!  You recently outgrew your nap, and you were so excited to finally be a "big kid."

You love babies.  You enjoy being "Mama" and taking care of littler kids.  You still love to cuddle, and you ask us multiple times a day to cuddle you and tickle your back.  You received a baby doll for your birthday and are completely attached to her (though your Winnie the Pooh remains your necessary sleep item and even vies for the position of your pretend baby at times).  You also love to play dress-up with dresses and costumes, to play doctor or nurse, or other role-play situations like grocery shopping or working at a restaurant.  You and your brother like to put on pretend plays, in which your role is usually to sit there and smile sweetly or do whatever brother says!  You received a tea set for Christmas, and it's one of your favorite toys.

You love the outdoors, playing in parks -- swinging, sliding, sand and water play, climbing, jumping, whatever challenges you can find.  You received a bike as an early birthday present last month, and you took to it immediately, riding all around the park within a few minutes and singing with delight at the top of your lungs!  (The breaks took a few days to learn!)  You ask almost daily to go out and ride bikes.

Although you enjoy being with other people, you are definitely most comfortable when you're with us -- Dad, Mom, Nathanael, and Eva.  You love your family and your place in it.  We recently spoke with you about what you are thinking about choosing to be with Jesus forever, and you honestly told us that right now, you want to just stay with Dad and Mom.  We are so grateful that you are confident in our love and pray that one day you will see how much bigger and greater and perfect the love of God in Jesus is -- for YOU!

We sometimes don't know what to do with your depth of feeling, but we love you deeply and delight in walking this journey of life with you.  We love seeing your high highs and the sheer delight that explodes from your entire being, sometimes even in just one simple word like "yes" or "thanks".  You are able to bring such joy to others.  On the other side, you are not afraid to share your lows, and we feel honored to walk through the valleys with you, even if we don't yet know how to do it well.  We love you dearly, sweet one.  We thank God for you.  We celebrate you, Evangeline Elif.  Happy Birthday!

your mommy and daddy

a week ago, being Mom's big helper while babysitting for a friend
a month ago, the day your received your baby doll and learned to ride a bike
getting to "hold" a real baby!

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