"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Girl With a Voice

Eleven years ago today, baby Madisen burst into the world like a captain commanding attention from his troops. Not content to serenely slip onto God’s green earth in a normal fashion, she sent nurses and doctors scrambling to prepare for an emergency C-section on her behalf. She’s marched to the beat of dramatic flare and adventuresome spirit ever since.

I suppose it’s only fitting that in 2001, her birth year, the name Madisen with its various spellings sat at the top of the charts, right where our own Maddie reigns. Just like Daryl Hannah’s movie name from “Splash” we pulled her name directly off a Bainbridge Island street sign. Her name derives from English origin and means “Son of Matthew” even though she’s the “Daughter of Tony.” We appropriately nickname her “Mad Dog”, “Mad Girl” or just plain “Mad” for the years of fit-throwing in Target, Kroger, friends’ houses, restaurants and church. It’s obvious the pinch of Irish O’Connor blood trickling through her veins overpowers the 1/8 teaspoon of calm, cool English blood.  
With two siblings quite a bit older than she, Maddie matured more quickly in the ways of the world than her friends. In many respects, this maturity paired with her magnetic, outgoing personality serves her well. On the one hand, she speaks before she thinks, forgets to filter her words and tender her tone. Yet, she courageously rescues those being bullied and speaks up on behalf of those too timid to fight for themselves. Maddie pontificates her point of view without fear and will argue a topic to death.
One day at school, Maddie fought with another boy about the Big Bang Theory versus creation. Her voice rose as she related the story to me. “Mom, he kept saying “big bang” to me under his breath over and over again. He made me so mad!”
I assured her that he was achieving his intended effect on her—making her mad. “He’s just trying to get your goat. Ignore him, and he’ll stop.” My advice was like telling a cat to stop chasing mice.
In first grade, Maddie kicked another little boy because he wouldn’t stop following her. Second grade she punched a boy in the face on the bus because he pestered her one too many times. Third grade, when an older girl bullied her on the bus, Maddie be-bopped down the bus steps straight into the principal’s office to report the incident. When I asked her if she was scared, she stated, “No, mom, that girl was crying in Mr. Richardson’s office.”
Maddie is not afraid to voice her opinion yet fearful regarding performances of any kind. A girl who loves to be the center of attention, make people laugh and tell jokes, she loathes being the lone person on stage performing. Piano recitals unnerve her; gymnastics meets make her anxious; singing in front of an audience petrifies her. Maddie desires to control the situation—how, when, where she draws attention. When she’s forced to perform, she doesn’t feel in control.
Still, she is a social butterfly to the nth degree. When school begins each fall, Maddie detoxes for a minimum of three weeks from the summer season of fun, friends and furlough. Forgetting that summer is over, she views school as an extension of her social season—until the teacher clamps down on her chatting. For a girl who epitomizes the word “fun”, school is utter drudgery. For approximately 7 hours, she must listen, learn and lock her lips. Difficult to do for a girl who’s wiggled like a worm since her birth weight, 6 pounds, 13 ounces.  For this reason, recess remains her favorite time of day when she is released from desk and task to fun and freedom.
Expressive, exuberant and energetic characterizes this bundle of joy. Spreading happiness wherever she goes, Maddie gabs with old and young alike. She doesn’t know a stranger, communicating with maturity well beyond most teens. Her greatest struggle, self-control, surfaces often in her daily life—in speech and behavior. Still, she loves God deeply and desperately desires to please Him. I see this love in her journal writing, her questions and conversations.
I pray that she becomes a strong young woman of faith, not ashamed of the gospel, proud of the girl God created her to be—a girl with a loud voice and a principled point of view.  



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