You woke up at five this morning. You’re just like me, your sleep patterns erratic at best. I heard the chatter from your room just continue to amp up until you and your siblings spilled out into the living room not long thereafter. I held my breath as you took in the quasi-ridiculous unicorn/mermaid/High School Musical decor (because why be mono-themed when you can HAVE THEM ALL??) and opened your presents one by one. Because I knew. I knew that you had carefully detailed every hope you had for this tenth birthday. And I knew that a few of those hopes were about to be dashed. Namely, the golden retriever and the pug. And, oh yeah, the english or french bulldog. Basically, what you wanted was- oh I don’t know- a dog pound for your birthday. And what you received was… not. And your only reaction? Squeals of utter excitement and delight.

This is so characteristic of you and a perfect illustration of how you go about life. With joy. With delight. And with a laid-back, roll with the punches attitude that just makes you so, so easy. (And makes us want to give you ALL OF THE DOGS. So just keep holding out hope, girl. Because you KNOW I can’t say no to you for long.)

Your tenth year was quite the year for you, Elizabeth. You gracefully endured distance learning when it was the exact opposite of everything you love in life: proximity to friends and all. the. people. You just love your people hard, and watching you mourn the loss of so many of them this year- whether it was to quarantine or to America- was so hard as a mom. But you endured. Because you’re so dang strong.

AND ALSO. You were also apparently so dang adept at online chatting when you were supposed to be online learning, to which I quietly turned a blind eye. I just… couldn’t even dispute your priorities. Especially during a pandemic. So. I didn’t. Friends > fractions, man. Sorry, teachers.

But while you have a whole crew of friends at school and around this great, big world, it’s no secret that you and Mary Grace remain as thick as thieves. Thicker, if that’s possible. In fact, you two are already scheming how you might avoid the inevitable year-long separation when Mary Grace goes off to college without you. “Well. There are two choices. One of us will have to skip a grade, or one of us will have to fail. And I refuse to fail. So, it’s UP TO YOU ELIZABETH.”

Which makes me think maybe you should lay off on the Google Chat after all. I am just saying.

Though, let’s be clear. Your life plans don’t stop at attending college with Mary Grace. Post college, the two of you will apparently move to Manhattan where you will own a bakery. Or work as a dancer. Or MAYBE EVEN BOTH. The world’s your oyster, kid, and I would be zero surprised if this whole life plan pans out exactly as such. Because if I’ve learned one thing over the past ten-ish years, it’s that there is no stopping the force that is the Allison sister duo.Whew. You have no idea.

You really do love, love baking. And I happen to love, love(!!) not having to be in the kitchen all the day long. Even if it does mean surrendering my precious American chocolate chips to the hands of a ten year old. Still, worth it. You actually prepared half of our dinner last night when I was not even home to supervise (it is FINE YOU GUYS. it’s just how we do in Malawi.), and just like that, ALL OF MY DOMESTIC DREAMS CAME TRUE. And by that I mean, my dreams are to become less domestic?? I don’t know. Either way, Elizabeth, you’re an absolute gem.

Your great loves in life are holding pretty steady over time. Like the Tiffany blue Bentley convertible you’ve been saving up for for legit years. YEARS. I’m going to laugh so hard one day when you actually buy that thing. On your backup-dancer-cupcake-baker salary. It’s gonna be awesome.

You’re also still perpetually covered in glitter. You still don sequins nearly every day of your life. And you still love Lecrae. And Matt Kearney. And Justin Bieber. Okay, so you just really love music.

You hate(!) to sweat and are seriously one of the least competitive people I have ever met in my life, though you’re ridiculously strong and athletic and could beat ’em all without even trying. You told me with a straight face and complete seriousness this year, “I think the boys at school all like me because I’m the fastest girl in the grade.”

Ohmygosh I love you so much.

Elizabeth, above all of this- more than your love for glittery unicorns and hiphop and cupcakes- what defines you the very most is your love for Jesus and for others. I see your tender heart and your compassion and the consistent selfless love you pour out onto others, and I see Jesus in you. I see the playground Bible study you have started for your classmates this very week, and I see Jesus in you. I see how you have persevered through some super hard things in your relatively short life, and I see Jesus in you. You are so very strong, sweet girl. “Congo strong,” as we say. But I look at that strength and that tenacity, and I see Jesus and his strength and his grace and his really and truly awe-inspiring work. In you. Through you.

And it is just so cool.

Love you so much, Elizabeth! Happy 10th birthday!!

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