To my third daughter on your third birthday:

When I was pregnant with you, and even before I was, quite a few people told me that I shouldn't be having more children. That I shouldn't be having you. That your life never should have come into existence. I never stood up to them, I only smiled or bit my tongue or walked away. I knew something that they didn't. You were created with a purpose, whether you would have cystic fibrosis or not. 

There was a 25% chance, just like with your sisters, that you would have CF. Your biggest sister has it. Your middle sister doesn't. And after you were born, we learned that you don't have it either. But it wouldn't have mattered to us if you did.

It wouldn't have mattered if you were born with missing limbs or fluid in your brain, half a heart or spina bifida because that's how God created you. We would want you and love you exactly as you were created. Exactly as you are and for who you are. Each of us has a God-given purpose. What matters is whether or not we live up to it. Do we hide from it? Do we accept it? Do we embrace it? Some people live out their purpose in just a day of life. Most of us are never 100% sure of what our purpose is, but a lucky few find it, understand it, and work towards fulfilling it. God gives us each gifts as well. But some of us don't use them. Some of us let the worries of this world bury our true gifts, talents, and purpose. But there is a plan for your life, just as there is for the lives of your sisters.

You are strong-willed, wildly goofy, and very curious. You courageously scale windows and have no problem ignoring your mother's pleas to stop.  Every night you stumble out of your bed and wander into mine, and when the sun comes up you proudly proclaim, "I slept in my bed all night". You rarely give up on getting what you want, no matter how long your timeouts last. And you flat out refused to potty-train until you decided it was worth it. As a friend likes to remind me on the harder days: God knew who He needed for His army when He created you. And it's my job to steer you towards living out His purpose for you. 

People have called me selfish for choosing to have you after your sister's diagnosis. They don't think I should have "risked" creating another child with CF. They think I should have done what they did, or what they think people like me and your father should do — which is to have created our children in a lab and then chosen which of you got the green light to grow and develop. Any of you with CF like your sister should be "discarded" they say. As if your sister's life lacks value. As if her struggles with CF make her life not worth living. As if she isn't a precious gift just like you and your other sister. Would I discard your sister now because she has CF? No.  And I would not discard you, no matter what. Knowing what I know now, I would choose to have each of you again, even if I was told that you would all have CF.

I let God have control over the people whom He wants for His army. I let God decide if my next child would have CF or not. I let God decide because, quite frankly, He knows a lot more than I do. He knows more than I could ever dare to grasp with my tiny mind. He knows what tomorrow will bring. I have no clue. And none of our attempts at planning and controlling our lives will ever change that. I have no idea what will happen in the next 10 minutes, never mind years. But I know He gave me you and I know there is a reason He did. 

As you go through life and meet new people, remember that hair color, eye color, number of limbs, lack of a nose, or a genetic defect like CF don't make a person who they are; those are just pieces of the puzzle. And none of that is a determining factor of whether or not your life will include suffering - every life has that. There will be days when, like your middle sister, you will wish you had CF because you see the extra doctor appointments and the treatments and the extra food as fun that you're missing out on. And there will be days when you'll be glad you don't have CF because of the pills and blood draws you see your sister deal with. And there will be days when your sisters will need you - to help them through heartbreaks, life struggles, and illness. And I'm so glad I didn't decide that your life wasn't worth it because you may or may not have not been "perfect" in society's eyes. 

Life for your sister with CF hasn't always been the easiest, but she's been extremely healthy and happy. She's smart. She's gentle but tough. She taught herself to read at age four. She loves animals. She loves drawing. She loves reading. She loves school. She wants to be a vet or a scientist. Maybe she will help discover a cure for CF. Maybe you will. But that's hard to tell right now since you currently want to be Elsa from Frozen when you grow up. 

Every life, created at home or in a lab, created with CF or not, has value and purpose. You were an unplanned, unimagined surprise while we were low on cash, in the middle of moving, and feeling stressed out. But when you were placed on my chest after a quick labor three years ago today, I immediately noticed how different you are from your sisters. You were smaller by a pound than they were, but your fingers and toes were so much longer. I know one day you will be towering over them and your short mother. After a few days with you, it was easy to see that you let your opinion be known at all times. You didn't sleep like either of your sisters did and you hated the bath. You didn't have time for that. You had things to do. And there is much more for you to do, and your sisters too, CF or not. 

So today, on your third birthday, and on all of your birthdays in the future, remember that as you are living out God's purpose for you, other people can think what they want. We know that God must have really seen a need for your silly, stubborn, cuddly, determined spirit because He created you without a second thought. And we loved you without a second thought from that first moment we learned you existed, whether you had brown hair or blonde, blue eyes or hazel, short toes or long, CF or not. 

Happy Birthday! 

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