And then she got out the computer. Her fingers flew, her mind raced, and she created a schedule. For not only would Clara get to dress up like a princess and sip tea as her Christmas gift, she would also get to have a sleepover. Complete with a schedule of events.
One of the most dear things to me about this undertaking was that Avery was eagerly recreating the type of gift that my mom does for the kids every year -- a package of goodies that represents an experience-to-come of some sort . . . and a sleepover.
Well, the gift was very well received, and last weekend Avery's planning and Clara's hopes came to fruition. Little Clara, in all her pink cuteness, walked in our front door, ready for a very special weekend. She hoped that it would include pink tea. It did.
We had our tea party right away, because, well, who wants to delay pink tea?
And then Avery moved on to the next item on her agenda: stories. She had prepared a stack of princess books, and the girls (after applying makeup), snuggled on The Big Chair for all of them. Avery read, and read, and read . . . and read. She read with inflection and a unique assortment of voices, and Clara listened, and listened, and listened. It was the sweetest thing ever.
After dinner, a princess movie, and more stories, they were tucked into bed. Bethie eventually joined them, and I kissed and blessed three precious pink brows before they slipped into dreamland.
The next morning we scurried off to church, where I promptly realized that I probably should have prepared a little bag of diversions for the girls, since they had asked to sit in the service with us. I needn't have worried. They were content to blow their noses (my Kleenex ran out), swing their feet back and forth, follow my pen as I attempted to scribble notes ("Are you writing down what that man is saying?" -- I'm pretty sure I didn't get all four sermon points . . .), and run a little blue rubber worm up and down the chairs. And then they became thirsty. But, thankfully, they were content to sweetly wait until after the service, all the while swinging their legs in anticipation. Dear girls.
After church we enjoyed our traditional Sunday brunch (they chose pink tea, of course), followed by a nap. I lingered next to the room with my book and tea, just in case I was needed, but the little princess was exhausted and fell asleep almost immediately.
Avery, starting to experience that floundering feeling, asked if we could wake Clara up. (The "sleep" part of a "sleepover" isn't so thrilling, you know). The afternoon was getting away from us, and it would soon be time to get her home, so I eventually gave Avery the okay. Clara's cheeks glowed with rosy sleep as she shuffled out of the bedroom, and her eyes were still heavy -- but not too heavy for some more pink tea. I poured out. She sipped and sipped, sweetness personified, until it was time to go.
When we returned home, the memory of it lingered, Avery glowed with pride and satisfaction, and I smiled longingly over the lone cup still sitting on the table. There's something so very dear about having a small child in the home. Especially if that small child happens to be Clara.
* * * * * * *
This weekend, the excitement mounted as not one girl but thirteen gathered for another kind of celebration: Bethie's 13th birthday. The girls trickled in, giggling and blushing, eager to gather for the sweetness that young teens have a way of creating when they come together.
They played games, enjoyed a book exchange, and feasted on fondue. (The bacon dipped in chocolate was quite a hit.) Bethie blushingly pulled out her guitar at her friends' request, and she played a song or two. You can imagine my joy and delight as the songs veered toward worship and the girls all began to raise their sweet voices together: "Here I am to worship . . . ." Oh, my heart.
As I look at my teenage daughter -- I look up now, mind you -- I'm reminded of the words that I pray for her so often. I pray that in her love for people she would have opportunities to draw them to the love of Jesus, that her warmth would cause others to warm toward His open arms, and that her joy would point back to the joy of knowing the Lord. And that always and forever her heart would resonate with the beauty of surrender, "Here I am to worship . . . ."