Look at you in those sweet little glasses with your precious eyes barely open! (We will close our eyes in many pictures, dear girl, but it will all be okay. It's the lights that are wrong, not your eyes and there will be awesome pictures of you someday taken outside where God intended photography to flourish.)
What a special evening this was for you! You really nailed Kindergarten. Letters and numbers and coloring well within every line. You followed all the rules with eagerness, and you cried every Saturday because you were just SURE school was happening without you and your parents were forcing you to stay home. Your report card that year noted that you excelled in Bible and showed great leadership in that topic especially.
You didn’t know it on that Globe Theater stage with sweet songs about Sneaky Snakes and loving your own special self on repeat in your head but someday your passion for the Biblical narrative would find active, vibrant voice to the accompaniment of African birdsong. For, in fact, you are going to live (and raise a family!) on the African continent, in the country of Uganda very near to the majestic Rwenzori Mountains. Your neighbors will call you ‘Atwooki’ and you will worship on Sundays around a fire in the village singing songs in many languages. (There will not, however, be lions in your backyard. Only a giant dog named Bueller whom you will love with your whole heart.)
Oh, the world that awaits you! School will continue to be your jam and while you will receive an undergraduate degree in Psychology, your deepest dreams will take shape beyond that. In your future, just days after you turn 50, you will receive a Masters Degree in Theology with an Old Testament emphasis because you, dearest Cheryl, you will learn Hebrew! And also Greek. And you will translate scripture from the original texts and it will overwhelm you with the gift of it.
The stories you love, dear one, expand further than you can see from where you are now. And that is totally okay. Because His Presence is far more than the prose of any book and He is with you already because He delights in you. The true identity of Yahweh God will clarify and maintain from a moment when you least expect it and in a way that you will never again doubt it. He truly never leaves or forsakes because He is deeply, and forever, good. You already know this inherently, but it will take some flesh and blood stumbly-living to clear your view and fully claim your heart. You have some questions that will wrestle out in His tight embrace only where you will find His nearness secures and clarifies louder than any definitive answer ever will.
For now, just hop off that wire bench and scamper to your Mam-ma and Granddaddy who will take your whole family for ice cream to celebrate YOU. Drink the whole moment in because these times are also of the deepest good.
Steady on, brilliant girl. There is a warrior’s heart within you and a warrior’s path before you and you were designed to thrive within the boundaries of both.
Enjoy your ice cream and you might also eat an extra piece of bread when you think of it. (Trust me, you will be grateful you did.)