Tanika Turns Twenty

Today Tanika turned twenty – at 12:04am CST to be precise.   Here she is, in her element.

I wrote the following ‘speech’ for Tanika’s high school graduation banquet last year – with a few pictures sprinkled in.  I thought it summed up pretty well who she is.  Next week she’ll be starting her sophomore year at Oral Roberts University (ORU).  I know. I know.   Time goes by so, so fast.  Can she really be 20?  We are proud.  Can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.  Because I know who holds her future.

Here she is with her brothers – Trae and Tobi.

June 9th, 2011

Dear Tanika,

“It’s the Fall of 1992 and I’m at the hospital sitting next to the isolette that holds your 1 ½ pound body and I’m reminding you of Psalm 118:17 – You will live and not die and proclaim what the Lord has done.  What I’m really doing is reminding myself, because we’ve been given the worst prognosis by the doctors.  They have told us that statistically it is highly unlikely that a baby born 4 months premature can survive.  They tried to encourage us by saying that if you did survive, you would have cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and if you ever went to school, it would be in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank.  As I sit there longing to hold you but not able to because of all the machines you’re attached to, I try to picture what you’ll be like grown up – fulfilling God’s call on your life.”

You were nearly 2 months old when I was finally able to hold you.  Check out how big my hands are compared to her body…

Look at you now.

“Have we ever told you how stubborn you are?  I haven’t figured out whether God gave you that character because He knew you’d need it to survive, or if it was developed as you fought to live.  You have a unique combination of compassion and intolerance.  That, together with your stubbornness makes for quite a personality.  To most, your compassion is evident – the stubbornness doesn’t show up though unless someone gets to know you well.  Remember the time you kept cabbage in your mouth for hours, me refusing to let you spit it out and you refusing to swallow?  A battle of the wills.”

If this doesn’t say stubborn…

“But what a heart for the lost you have.  When we started raising support to come to Niger you were 4.  You prayed every night that we would get enough money so we could tell people about Jesus.  Remember when, after only being in Niger for a few months you overheard me witnessing to one of the young boys that played in our compound every day.  After Sani left, you said ‘So Sani is a Christian now, right?’  I was surprised, but had to explain that no, he hadn’t made a decision yet to follow Jesus.  Your 5 year old heart was so distraught and you were almost angry with me.  You said “but you told me that we were coming here to tell people about Jesus.  He knows about Jesus now!”  You were upset the rest of the day – even in tears telling Grama that Sani was going to hell.”

“Do you remember your 7th birthday?  We had planned a party with several of your friends.  During the party, we asked the guard to keep the gate closed.  Children kept on coming and he kept on letting them in.  As the numbers grew, we finally told the guard we were serious about the gate – but he told us that all the children coming said that Tanika had invited them.  Indeed you had.  That day we saw the miracle of multiplication and there was enough food and prizes for everyone.”

“I could literally write a book about all the things God has brought you through and saved you from.  There is no doubt that we serve a miracle working God.  You are proof.   The doctors even say so.  We are fully convinced that God has an amazing plan for your life.  He has things in store for you that even you can’t imagine.  But as we have always taught you, those things will only come to pass as you fully give your life to Him.  We are sure that your heart desires to serve your Lord.  Remember though that it’s a decision that you have to make daily.  Daily take up your cross to follow Him – no matter what the world says.  Because when you live in obedience to His Word – the blessings that He has for you?  Well, you won’t have room enough to contain them.

We love you and your stubbornness so much, and can’t wait to see how the next chapter of your life unfolds as you seek God First!!

So as I reminisce about the hours and days and weeks and months we were with you in the hospital all I can say is ‘Look what the Lord has done.’  Look at you now.  You will proclaim the glory of the Lord.”

Love,  Mom & Dad

Happy Birthday Tanika!  I love you!

5 thoughts on “Tanika Turns Twenty

  1. Amen! Happy Birthday, Tanika! I remember your 16th birthday and us celebrating in Niger! Wow! Can’t believe that was four years ago. Yes! Look at what the Lord has done. We, too, look forward to seeing what more your future holds. We love you!
    Joe and Lenoir

  2. Happy Birthday, Tanika. You are a beautiful woman with a wonderful heart for God and others. We love you. Phil & Brenda Gay and Sarah Beth

  3. If only I could sing Happy Birthday to ya through this message…lol…Happy 20th Birthday Tanika. You have reached the year of redemption and almost half way done with a degree…but what I found out about life is that you graduate after 4 years on paper, but you dont really graduate in life until you can apply those things which you have learned, and you continue to learn and grow ya know? Don’t give up in whatever you set your mind to, and I know that comes natural for you since your mother and everyone else understands how stubborn you are. Lol. Great trait. “Be a tree, planted by the rivers of LIVING water who bears fruit in season.” I hope this good fruit from you. I pray the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be upon your life forever as you make a journey of faith into you second score. Blessing to you and the Childs family.

    Much Love,

    Sampson E. House

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