She starts third grade today. She’s eight years old but is still a newborn and is on the cusp of losing her naivety and entering tweendom. And as I made her lunch this morning she unexpectedly told me she didn’t want her princess sandwich-keeper and I projectile-teared all over her turkey sandwich. Where’s the fine, blurry line between keeping the little in your girl and giving her freedom to grow up too? I can’t make time slow down and I’m trying so very, very hard.

This girl of mine…she’s so special. She’s cute and smart and innocent and sweet and full of sugar and spice. She’s loving and a leader and tries so hard to do the right thing and beats herself up when she doesn’t. She treats her brother like a baby king and carries him around on her shoulders never letting his feet touch the ground. She’s sassy and cracks me up all the time and is such an anomaly of introvert and extrovert and I realize daily how much she takes after me and how much that scares me, too.

Third grade was pivotal just 31 years ago and was the first year that boys started to be cute and they didn’t have cooties and I wanted to get special valentines from them. My first kiss on the cheek came in third grade and I had an innocent crush on Bo from Dukes of Hazard. And I learned times tables and started being able to write my name in cursive and I actually got in trouble in the classroom one day that year with my name written on the chalkboard and everything. I hadn’t known what peer pressure was before and suddenly I wanted to be just like everyone else and the essence of what made me me was pushed aside so I could fit in.

Oh how I do not want that for her.

I prayed for her today. Early while it was dark blue outside and the sun had just yawned and stretched and had its first cup of coffee. I yawned and stretched with it and we had our coffee together and I prayed for her and for this year. Because I have a long list of intentionality I still haven’t finished and I need to be intentional about being intentional.

I prayed that Jesus would walk with her this year. That He would link His gentle arms in hers and be her guide and her friend and her conscious. I prayed He’d whisper clearly in her ear and drown out the shouts of everyone else no matter how loud they yell. I prayed He’d pour His strength into her so she doesn’t waver when faced with temptation and fear and that her shoes have soles of peace so her confidence comes from knowing Who she really belongs to. I prayed He would draw her talents and giftings and abilities to their fullest potential and that her mind would stay sharp and smart. I prayed He would remind her that He is in her heart always and that He is her Savior and her King and her Friend and that His plans for her are for a hope and a future. I prayed He would shower her with love — today and this year and forever and ever amen — because He loves her a million times more than I ever could.

I read to her what I had prayed and I cried and I held her on my lap for just a minute longer because I didn’t want to let go. I gave her not one but two slices of turkey bacon and wrote a big “3” on her toaster strudel. And as my tears dried and I promised I wouldn’t cry when I dropped her off at school, I watched the icing melt across the edges and into the beginning of a new day.