It just doesn't seem like that long ago that she was a little blonde girl growing up here in Czech. I so clearly remember that cute smile, those sweet pigtails, and her joy for life.
From the very beginning the Czech ladies at our church here called her "Sluníčko", the Czech word for sunshine. And that she was!
Through the years she brought a lot of sunshine into our lives, and she still does!
As I was looking at photos this morning, I started thinking about the things I love and appreciate about Claire. And then I started seeing how certain characteristics about her today have been true for many years.
So here's twenty things I love and appreciate about you, Claire, with photos from the past to illustrate!!
1. Your relationship with your brothers. You three were always a little pack...Tyler protecting, Caleb making it fun, and you always being happy to be with your older brothers! I love how you went through life connected so closely to each other, working out your relationships, loving each other, and having a good time along the way.
I love that it's still as true about you three today as it was many years ago!
2. Your creativity and love for art. That started a long time ago and is a God-given gift that you've valued and developed. I love that it's such an important part of your life and that you've found many different mediums to express yourself through this gift.
3. Your relationship with your dad. I love that he's so important to you, that you seek out his help and advice, and that you two love adventures together!
4. Your appreciation for and attention to details. That started a long time ago and it's still true about you today!
5. Your sunny disposition. Even in the most difficult times you smile and look for the good. What a beautiful trait that is about you!
6. Your enjoyment of a good walk in nature. I love the times we've walked, in all seasons, and soaked in the beauty of it. You're great at that!
7. Your love for the Czech Republic, Lysa Hora and Malenovice! I love how you talk about these places and how dear they are to your heart. I'm glad this is home for you!
8. Your zest for travel. You've enjoyed a good trip since you were just a little girl, even if it meant packing a bag of things to go over and visit a friend! I love that you have a list of places that you still want to visit, and that the world is your friend.
9. Your enjoyment of the little things in life: an afternoon swing, a pretty necklace, the green of spring. You are good at enjoying it all!
10. Your willingness to try new things. Though you may feel a little fearful, you don't let that stop you from stepping into adventure. What a good trait to have!
11. Your love for hospitality, setting a pretty table, and rolling out a beautiful spread of good food. You give such a gift to people when you offer your hospitality! I miss your baking!
12. Your love for your friends. You are devoted, loving, kind-hearted and thoughtful of those you love. That's a beautiful part of who you are.
13. Your uncomplaining spirit. Many people today don't know the health struggles that you've been through, and part of that is because you haven't dwelled on it or complained about it. When you had to wear that eye patch for a year, you never complained which amazed us!
14. Your bravery. This goes along with the uncomplaining spirit but is a little bit different. You have endured some very difficult things in your life, especially when you were young. When you had to have eye surgery, you were very courageous for your age. It's still something that we love and admire about you today as you trust the Lord through difficulty.
15. Your ability to smile and laugh. How I used to love that cute little giggle and the twinkle in your eye as you went about life. And you STILL have that gift!
16. Your willingness and ability to look at yourself from God's perspective. I love that you so quickly turn to Him and not to the world to gain perspective. You are honest about yourself and quick to change when He reveals things to you. It's one of the things that is so refreshing about you!
17. Your delight in the Lord and all the things He's created. You have an amazing ability to see the world through His eyes, and to value creation and your Creator. I love this about you!
18. Your quiet and gentle spirit. You bless people with your tenderness and kindness, and have a beautiful way of reaching out to others from this characteristic by being thoughtful and thinking of others first.
19. Your relationship with me! I love that we always were, and still are, close and connected, even though an ocean separates us right now. How I treasure my relationship with you!
20. Your relationship with your heavenly Father. Though I'm putting in a picture of you and dad, it's representative of your closeness to the Lord. How I treasure that you know Him, love Him and follow Him with all your heart.
Happy Birthday dearest daughter!! You bring so much joy, delight and sunshine into our lives, and I love you deeply and am so thankful for you on this day, your 20th birthday!!