|Top Step, Left to Right: Jocelyn, Michael, Kaitlyn|
Bottom Step, Left to Right: Joey, Ella, Haley
Each of you are special to me. You are all very different, but all special. There's not much that I wouldn't do for you. I wouldn't give you a million dollars even if I had it (yeah, right), because that wouldn't teach you how to be industrious. Outside of that, I think I'd do anything for any one of you. I'm not going to speak to you in any particular order of birth or by family -- in fact, I'm going to mix you all up so you don't try to figure out who I love more -- because I love you all.
Savana, I love you because you are easy going. You are an open book. You say it like it is, but never in a way that hurts people's feelings. You are a lovely young woman, and a sweet reminder of your father. You are so much like him. I know that you have a testimony of the gospel. Keep that in your heart for a time when you are able to return to church. Never forget that you are Heavenly Father's precious daughter, and He loves you.
Jocelyn, every time I look at you I get tickled. You are such a character and have such great determination. Nobody is ever going to be able to get the best of you, because you are going to stand up and let the world know you are here. Don't you ever doubt that you are loved! Don't you ever think that we didn't love you as much as our other grandchildren because you are adopted. Being adopted makes you special in a whole different way. Your parents fought hard to get you, and we cheered them on every step of the way. You are loved!
Kaitlyn, you are quite a little charmer. You are busy and you definitely have a mind of your own. This will take you places you can't even dream about. You have a smile that can melt butter. You are young yet, but I think you have a great sense of "mothering." I've watched you with my dog, Oreo, and there is a tender connection with animals, too. You make me smile when I'm near you.
Ben, you have a great personality, and a wonderful smile. You could sell snow to an Eskimo with that smile. You have developed a photography interest that could be an answer to your future if you use your talents for good. If it doesn't turn a profit for you, at least you will have a hobby that you love. I know that if you use your talents for good, you will find your place in this world -- whatever you end up doing. As you look for a partner in life, look for someone with a kind heart and a winning attitude.
Joey, you have a heart of gold. You are kind and loving. You are a gentle soul. Be as determined as you are kind. Stay close to the gospel. You can have a wonderful wife someday, because you are the kind soul that girls look for in a husband. So when you go looking for a wife, look for what is on the inside. You want to marry a kind soul too.
Haley, you are full of bullets and are going to go places. No one will ever be able to take advantage of you, because you're going to let them have it. You are so much like me that it's funny. A word to the wise: Learn from my mistakes; you don't have to repeat them. You will take anything bad and put it to work for you. Don't be afraid to let people get close. We are different in one way. You have the personality to pull it off where I didn't.
Eli, I'm writing this on your third week birthday, so I don't know you that well yet, but I'm looking forward to getting to know all about you. I just want you to know I love you, and I'm happy you are here. You are a special little baby, and I love to cuddle you in my arms. Even though you are too young yet for me to know you all that well, I want you to know I love you. Your middle name, Bernard, is after my grandfather. We called him Pa. He was a great man, and you have inherited his honorable name. Take good care of it. Pa used to say, "You always want to keep yourself just one step above the other guy." He didn't mean to look down on other people. What he meant was to keep your standards higher than those around you. Be honest and true.
Michael, you are such a character -- and so smart. Take advantage of that intelligence and keep learning. You can have a great life if you stay close to the gospel and don't stray away from the important things. Never doubt that you are loved because you are adopted! I love you every bit as much as my other grandchildren. Being adopted makes you special in a different way. Your parents worked hard to get you, and the rest of us cheered them on every step of the way. You are loved!
Sabrina, you are a lovely young woman. You've had adversity in your life, but you are coming out strong. Take the pain from the past and put it to use by serving others. You have empathy for others and can relate to their fears and their trials. Make good use of that. You are beautiful. Remember that your inner beauty is what counts most. Don't lose that, and you will do just fine. I hope that someday you will see it in your heart to find your father's church. He may not have gone to church often, but he did love and have a testimony of the gospel.
Ella, you are such a lovely child. I love it when you smile. You are young yet, so there are still so many things for me to learn about you. I know that you are kind and loving. You are going to grow up the middle child, and I am a middle child. Just because you are in the middle doesn't mean you aren't important, or that you are not loved. You're going to have to hold your own against those brothers, which will make you tough -- but don't let it make you too tough. Keep that sweet gentle spirit in you always.
Now for all of you. Look for partners in life that will uplift you and make you better than who you are (which is not to say that you aren't already special :) because you are), but there is always room for growth. Don't look for a spouse that is "cute" or "good looking" -- look for someone who will make you better than you are -- and you will find that each year that person will become even more "cute" to you. Besides, we all grow old and wrinkly very quickly anyway. :) My dad used to say, "When you're thinking about marrying somebody, take a step back and think about how the person will look when they've been up all night with a baby, when they wake up in the morning before they brush their teeth or have combed their hair, when they've been cleaning up puke all day, etc. -- Then, if you still love them, marry them."
My dad also used to say, "I don't have anything to leave you but a sense of humor." That applies here. A sense of humor will go a long way to making life easy and more beautiful, so if you didn't inherit it, develop it. :)
Remember who you are and where you came from -- and always hold on tight to the rod and walk the narrow path that will lead you back to your Heavenly Father. Stay close to the gospel, magnify your callings, and honor the priesthood. Please see your way to the temple. I don't want any empty chairs at that big round oak table in heaven.
I love you all!