Every year I do this.  Every year, on this day, I come to this space and I shut out all the noise and remember.  Every year on this day, I block out everything else and I allow my mind the room to think back on the remarkable memories of this day.

I remember the dark sky that shone with bright stars as we made our way to the hospital in the early morning hours.  I remember the crisp fall air flowing through my lungs and the nervous and excited beating of my heart as we walked toward the entrance of the hospital doors.  I remember the the quiet halls of the hospital as we made our way to our room.  I remember the hours that ticked by while “Welcome to Our World” played over and over again as we waited for the arrival.  I remember the way we sent my Mom and Dad away to eat because it didn’t seem that the arrival would happen any time soon.

I remember the way it all changed so quickly–the nurses telling us to get ready, your baby is coming. I remember Chad calling my parents and telling them that there would be no time for them to eat because the baby is coming quickly.  I remember the way my Mom swept back into the room and stood by my side while Chad stood vigilant on my other side.  I remember the way my Mom and Chad cheered me along and offered words of encouragement as I fought to push her into the world.

I remember the wonderful words from our sweet doctor, It’s a Girl.

The words “Welcome to Our World” poured through the room while my tears of joy were matched only by those of the wonderful nurse who had journeyed with us that day.  Her name is Chanelle, we announced.  She is Chanelle. In an instant, I learned the lesson that only those who have gone before me know–love doesn’t divide, it’s multiplies.  In an instant, I experienced the furious love of motherhood all over again when our second child, our first little girl, was born.

That was eight years ago.  Eight years ago she was born.  Eight years ago Chanelle came into the world.

She’s eight years old today.  Today, Chanelle is eight. . .
. . . and while shiny wrapped gifts and decadent cakes are lovely, I will always believe that words are better.  Today is reserved for her. Today, October 24th, my words are for her.  Today, Running Chatter is Chanelle’s.


There is this thing you do. . . I’m not sure if you even know you do it or I’m not sure when or how it started–but you always do it.  Maybe you do it because you’ve seen Gramps do it every time you leave his house.  Or maybe it’s because you’ve seen Poppy do it each time we’ve driven away from his house.  Or maybe it’s because you see me do it every morning when you ride away on the school bus.

Or maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe, it’s beautifully, uniquely you.  A lovely language all your own.

It goes like this:  when I leave to go to a shoot in the evening, you follow me out and stand at the edge of the garage, making sure that I see your good-bye.  Or when Gramps stops by the house to bring you chocolate milk or me coffee, you never let him leave without first running to stand at the edge of the garage to see him off.

It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of a meal, a show, a project, or a game.  It doesn’t matter if you are upstairs or downstairs.  It doesn’t matter if it is cold out or hot out.  It doesn’t matter what you are doing–you drop anything so that we see.  You drop everything so that you can see us off–so that we feel your love.

Oh Chanelle, this is who you are.  Beautifully, uniquely you.

Chanelle, I can’t imagine a world without you in it.  I can’t imagine a life without you a part of it.  I can’t imagine our house without your joy shining through it.


We are so proud of you, Chanelle.  So proud of the person you are and the person you are becoming.  We are proud of your compassionate heart and your gentle spirit.  And while I probably shouldn’t say this, I’m going to say it anyway–we are proud of your very sarcastic humor.
Chanelle, you are one of the bravest people I know.  Daddy and I have watched you, time and time again, walk right past nervousness and fear and walk straight into the world into experiences that are new.  In fact, the only time I have ever had to push you into the world was on the day you took your very first breath.  You are so, so brave.



And Chanelle?  There is so much to love about you.  We love the way you love and care for your sister.

You are so patient with her and so willing to teach her anything she wants to know. (And even things she doesn’t care to know.)



We love the way you hold your own with Charlie.  “I can’t” is very rarely something you say. . .





Chanelle, we love the way you love–freely and joyfully. . .





More than anything, though, Chanelle. . . we just love you.
We love the person you are and that heart that you carry in your little body.
We love the way you smile and laugh. . .


And that other part of you, Chanelle?  That quiet part?  The part of you that sometimes needs to disappear into her room to quietly play with her animals, color or read a book?



We love that part of you, too.

Because Chanelle?  All of the little parts of you are beautiful and wonderful and marvelous.  The joyful, quiet, sweet, and rambunctious parts of you. . .


We love them all.

And Chanelle, if you hear nothing else today, please hear this. . .



There has never been a day when we have not been proud of you.  There has never been a day when we have not been thankful that on this day, 8 years ago, God gave us you.
Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.

I’ll love you forever.




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