Dear Baby Girl, what started out as an idea has now become a tradition six years in the making. I’m so grateful that you still let me take pictures of you in my wedding dress, even though I know it’s not your favorite thing because you hate the big clips that hold the dress tight on you. When I posted a sneak peek of your pictures, I was surprised by how many people look forward to this session of ours, and that got me to thinking (because I think I’m an over thinker who probably thinks way too much into things…I think) about why people love it so much. The one word that kept coming to my mind was the word community. Maybe people in our little community love it so much, not just because you are cute and they like the idea, but maybe they feel excited because they enjoy getting to watch you grow up too. You see, we live in a small community, one where we can root for one another’s kids (even if we don’t know them well), love and support each other, and walk alongside each other when there is grief and sorrow. When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to grow up and move to a big city and get as far away from our single four way stop light town…but wouldn’t you know it, I came back not long after I left and even ended up a mile away from the house I grew up in. Maybe I was too scared to leave, or maybe I was drawn back to my little community because it felt like home. Either way, I am glad I’m back, because I get to raise you in this sweet, quaint town where people still stop to chat and everyone you drive by gives you either the hello head nod or a one hand wave. Community is important….and not just the kind of community you live in, but even more important, the people you choose to hang around and call your friends. You see, the people you hang around with become like your own little community, and it should be a safe place for you to be yourself, to laugh when something is funny, to cry when something is sad, and to dance like a crazy person when you want to be silly. My mom has a group of friends she calls “the tribe” (aka, her community) they are her go to girls, the ones she can tell things to without worrying they will gossip, the ones who will stand beside her and hold her hand when life throws a curveball, the ones she texts when there is exciting news to share. These are the type of people I pray you surround yourself with as you grow. So you are probably saying, “Ok mom, I get it…find a good community to live in and a good community of friends…anything else?” Why yes, baby girl, please don’t forget the most important community of all, the one with you and the Lord. The Lord is your safe place, the rock you can lean on, stand on, cry on, laugh on, dance on, feel overwhelmed on…do you get my point? God will never leave you or forsake you, He will be your constant through all of your choices, your failures, your joys and I pray you stay in His community and feel His love for you because He, like our little community of Payne, enjoys watching you grow into the beautiful little lady that you are. I love you so much, and I hope you know I will ALWAYS be in your community.
And just to see how much you’ve changed, here is a little glimpse of each year.