Happy 18th, Olivia!

I have always said that I want to thoroughly enjoy every stage of my children's lives, not losing the treasure of today because I'm grieving the loss of my "babies." It hasn't always been easy to do, because those babies were so very cute! But, then I look at where they are today, and I'm overwhelmed by just how amazing they are as "big kids."

And today we get to celebrate the oldest of those big kids.

If you'd asked me to predict who Olivia would become and what she would be like when she turned eighteen, I would not have come close to describing the amazingness of the young woman my firstborn has become. 

The child who seemed to attract a mess wherever she went, who wanted to open every closed door—especially the locked ones!—and disassemble anything she couldn't figure out, who bucked structure, and who tested and stretched every boundary has become a young woman who has learned to channel every ounce of that curiosity into beautiful productivity.

This gal could live in jeans and t-shirts, wrapping her hair up in her favorite hat and never wearing a stitch of make-up. Every now and then, though, she wants to add a blazer, heels, and jewelry to her jeans and cute top. Or, she wants to find an excuse to wear a formal. Ultimately, though, she always comes back to those jeans—if she's not secretly enjoying them even while dressing up, like wearing jeans UNDER her formal!

She considered prom this year because that would have been a great reason to find a formal, but something was missing from that activity: her sister. Angela loves big poofy dresses as much as Olivia loves her jeans, and Olivia couldn't imagine dressing up without her sister! 

The solution was to set aside prom and instead enjoy a formal photo shoot (at some point, I'll get Steven in a suit and in a photo shoot with them; he was otherwise occupied on this particular day), followed by a special family dinner—in full formal attire, at least for the two of them—as a graduation/18th birthday celebration. 

The love these two have for each other is so precious to me. And it's another part of the celebration of Olivia's transition to adulthood, because they will learn what it means to go from being childhood best friends to being adult best friends. 

Over the past year, Olivia continued to put her full effort into bringing in the scholarships needed to attend Ouachita Baptist University in the fall, and she succeeded beautifully! Although the upcoming transition is a little unnerving as she looks ahead to leaving the familiar and the family, we're also all so very excited to see how she blossoms in the coming years. 

She still loves to snuggle with Bunny, dive into fantasy, and create new jewelry designs (including the gorgeous necklace and earrings she designed for her birthday pictures). Writing fantasy and poetry continues to be her go-to activity for relaxation. And she loves being with her sister and brother. 

Olivia enjoyed getting a full year of participation with Arkansas Youth Chorale, including welcoming her siblings into the choir. The house is full of music with the three of them! But, Olivia is also looking forward to being behind stage instead of on it as she seeks out opportunities to participate with tech crews and audio-visual teams in the coming years.

I am so incredibly proud of this amazing young lady. She's learned how to work hard and is seeing the fruit of her labor. We are so excited to see how she continues to discover more about herself, her talents, her interests, and her direction as she grows in her relationship with Christ and her understanding of what it means to surrender herself to His lordship.

Olivia, you are such a treasure. Thank you for tolerating being the guinea pig and for your patience as I've learned through the years what it means to be your mom. I'm looking forward to learning how to be the mom of an adult daughter. Thanks for wanting us to be a part of that stage of the journey, too!

Happy 18th birthday!


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