When I met her, she was literally a hot mess. She was angry and loud, fearful and fearsome. It took a long time to gain her trust. For over a year, all of our conversations were one-sided. I talked my head off, and she just stared at me, daring and begging me to go on. For another year after that, she flew into hysterics when people looked her in the eyes. Like a regal, breathtakingly beautiful tyrant.
Once I convinced her that her secrets were safe with me, she started sharing her heart, bit by bit. I have learned to trust her at her word; she is honest and true. I see in her the epitome of grace and compassion. I once watched her give the last of her meal to a hungry boy, knowing that she would have rather polished it off herself. She holds doors open for strangers, she treats old people kindly, she is gentle with babies and small animals.
She dances with abandon, like she has hot coals under her feet and ants in her pants. She curls around a good book in such a familiar way that it brings tears to my eyes. She laughs loudly and from deep inside her soul. When she cries, you have no choice but to cry with her; your heart breaks alongside hers.
I am fairly certain she has a better relationship with Jesus than I do. She is keenly aware of His presence in her life, and she loves Him with her all of her heart. Every move she makes begins and ends with an observation of His will in her life.
I have been blessed ten thousand times over by knowing her. She is, far and away, the best person I've ever met. She has manners and modesty, wit and tact to rival any good Southern belle. She prays fervently for her enemies, nonexistent as they may be. She carries herself with confidence and assurance that while she may be the center of it, she has room in her heart for the whole world. I would do well to learn from her.
She is a fountain of joy when I feel like my own wells have gone dry. I have seen the faces of sad, lonely people brighten in her presence. She has certainly brought light into my life.
Happy birthday, Ladybug.
I love you louder than a lion, and stronger than steel.
I love you fluffier than a tutu, and more colorful than a rainbow.
I love you higher than frogs jump, and more than you'll ever know.