Isabella is six years old today. I like numbers, so…she is 1/3 of the way to adulthood. She is entering the middle third of her time in our home. (Yes, she will be out the door at 18. 😉 Unless she decides to graduate early like her mommy, and then she will mess up all my math. Which sounds just like something she would do.

The past few weeks and months on Facebook, my “On This Day” page has featured many status updates that show increasing excitement about meeting our little girl. Every thing was meticulously prepared, all the details were considered. And then she showed up.

From the moment Isabella entered this world at 11:17 p.m. on March 14, 2010, she rocked our world like we had not anticipated. I clearly remember the first time I left her with my mom. Matt and I went to dinner for our anniversary when was about two weeks old. As we drove away from our house, I cried. I cried and told my husband, “I want to drive away and never go back. Please don’t make me go back.” Yes, postpartum emotions are nuts, but I could tell that she was more than I had bargained for when I entered into motherhood.

Six years later…Isabella is so much more than I anticipated in my pregnant, pre-mommy days. She is more intense, more strong-willed, more challenging, more creative, more sassy, smarter, funnier and cuter than I ever knew a little girl could be. Truth be told…I have asked God why He chose to give her to me. Many times. She is very different from me and I don’t understand her in many ways. God has shown me some of the reasons why He picked me, and recently I felt like He revealed one.

Isabella is challenging in many ways, and it is a lot of work to figure her out. She doesn’t like to talk about her feelings or delve below the surface very much. I spend a lot of time praying for God to reveal things to me because I desperately need His help to know how to mother this one. God reminded me that I am not afraid to ask for help. I love to read, and when a problem or a new challenge presents itself, I look for every resource I can get in my hands to educate myself and to determine a course of action to solving that problem or facing that challenge. If you came to my home tonight, you would find shelves full of books, and many were purchased in the search for help and answers to a perplexing or even devastating situation.

There are a lot of books about parenting, and quite a few books about discipline and about parenting strong-willed children. But none of those books has given me a magic key that unlocked a secret to figuring out Isabella. Not one. So I’m still looking and praying and asking for help. And God knew that I would not give up on Isabella, that I would persevere no matter how hard it is and how little progress I can see. My faith is not in what I can see. It is in the God of all creation who created Isabella and knows everything about her. I believe He created her with a great purpose because she has a tenacity that truly amazes me. It is no accident that He created her this way, but it does make it incredibly challenging to mold and shape that personality to understand respect and obedience while still retaining this major part of who she is.

Did I say it’s challenging? Without Jesus, it is fully impossible. Once again, I’ll share my favorite verses because they apply here:

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

I value my own comfort far too highly. God gave me a child who does not allow me to be comfortable very often. And I thank Him for the gift of Isabella, the child who forces me to get on my knees, get in God’s face, and beg for help every day.

I wish I could see 10, 20, 30 years from now to know what this diamond in the rough will turn out to be. I will keep hanging on and trusting God to do His work in her and in me.

Happy 6th birthday, Isabella. You are an amazing child. You are only 6 and are a great force to be reckoned with. I pray every day that you will use that force for the glory of God so that others will know Him. I have no doubt you will change the world, Bella.