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I’ve been thinking about brave girls.  Last week was International Day of the Girl and also last week Evie and I had our first real conversation about her birth mom.

We were talking about babies in bellies and how Elliott was in my belly and she asked if she was in my belly, too.  I told her that she was in her first mom’s belly and she wanted to know her name.

We talk openly about adoption and Ethiopia, but here was her first step to understanding the whole picture.  She knows she came from somewhere, and this was her beginning to understand that she came from someone.

I decided to make kik wot, Ethiopian red lentils, and while my daughter stirred the berbere into the simmering onions and oil, I told her the name of her first mom, her birth mom, her Ethiopian mom.   Without missing a beat, Evie blurted, “I love her she’s my best friend.”  Oh, she loves you, too, sweet girl.  Her precious first words about her mother melted me with their unabashed love and acceptance.  And I felt the weight of my responsibility to these two brave Ethiopian women, first mother and daughter, with me in the middle.

If I’m completely transparent about this important moment, I felt a flash of jealousy.  Pang.  Uncontrolled, at my core, before I could stop it, my very primal reaction to hearing my daughter declare her love for her first mom was jealousy.  It passed quickly, drowned out with other emotions for which I’m prouder.  The jealous drumbeat in my stomach faded away and made room for partnership, for playing well with others, for carrying the baton of her childhood and running a good relay.

Jealousy washed away in the torrent of love gushing down my arms and around our daughter.  Ours.  And the more I love her first mom the more I love her, love both of these two brave girls.  And I’m a little brave and they make me brave, oh how they make me braver and braver.

She pointed to her chest and asked, “Did she feed me with these?”  Internal giggle.  Yep, sweetie, she sure did.

And she repeated her name several times, feeling it on her tongue, and the name sounds brave and the name sounds beautiful.  We stirred our wot and smelled the yummy smells of her homeland and I hope her first mom would be pleased and I picture her there with us.

I’d ask her for pointers with our fiery, sassy little pumpkin.  Our kiddo is going to change the world.

We talked while we cooked, and the conversation led away from mothers and meandered into friendships.  Evie expressed concern about a boy, and I kinda feel sorry for anyone who tries to go up against our girl, because she’s cooking up some strategies.

Evie: I’m going to poke him with my sharp nails if he’s mean to me.

I’d just seen Malala Yousafzai’s interview on The Daily Show and was inspired when she talked about not throwing her shoe at her assassins because that would make her just like them.  She’d tell him that she wants education for his daughters.  Brave, brave, beautiful Malala.  I still had the image of Jon Stewart’s mouth hanging open, so I tried to make this a teaching moment for Evie.

Me: What’s another way to handle that, rather than being mean to someone who’s being mean to you?  What would Jesus want you to do?

Evie didn’t fall for my Jesus name-dropping.  In fact, my feeble attempt to shape her young mind backfired gloriously with her retort.

Evie: I’d poke Jesus with my sharp nails.

I’m not really sure what to do with that.  I think Malala would say she needs education, so we’ll just keep thanking Jesus she has access to that.

Inspired by International Day of the Girl and these brave girls in my life, I took a sec on Friday to write the two girls whom we sponsor through Children’s HopeChest.  More brave girls, both named Esther, because I have a thing for Esthers.  (God used a couple of Esthers to bring me to Evie.)  One of them passed her exams to get into secondary school and she’s working hard.  She’s witty and smart and the future of her village.

Evie, her first mom, Malala, and both Esthers.  Brave girls laying it all on the line.

And I ask myself, what does it look like for me to stand up for what I believe, to give everything out of love, to enter a new world, to never give up, to face the unknown?  What does it look like for me to be brave?  What does it look like for you?