Dear Shelby Jennings Boatman,

I don’t know when, if ever, you will actually read this. But I’ve gotten in the habit of writing letters to my friends’ babies and well, you are my friend’s baby.

Like, a really brand spankin’ new baby.

Shelby, I want to tell you something. For the rest of my life, when I think about God answering prayers, I will think about you. I cannot tell you how many nights I sat and cried with your mama, praying that someday, she would have a child. I can’t tell you how many roadblocks tried to keep you from ever being a being. Ask your parents that stuff- it’s a lot of technical medical mumbo-jumbo.

But I can tell you the minute your mom told me you were coming, I knew that God heard us. I knew that you were the one He made, the one He picked for such a time as this, the one that didn’t need to be a day earlier but couldn’t be a day later. I am as sure as the sun rises that your life has purpose. Live like it, Shelby. Live a life with purpose because I knew you before you were you and I am certain the girl I prayed for is a part of God’s story for this world.

Your parents are going to absolutely make you crazy. Your dad is going to take too many pictures and your mama is going to make too many lists and she will teach you be so polite it will make you sick (and well-mannered). And at some point, I know that you will say how glad you are that Ansley and Adam are your parents. Your grandparents are going to want to talk to you on the phone. Do it- they are amazing and you have a lot to be thankful for in your gene pool. Your aunts and uncles are going to buy you lots of stuff. That’ll be awesome.

And me? Well, I’m going to want to bake lots of cookies and laugh at your jokes. I’m probably always going to ask you what book you are reading and expect a real answer. I may hug you too much because I’m trying to squeeze out some of that faith that your parents have sown into your life. I’m also going to cry a lot. Cause, Shelby, that’s how I roll.

Finally, I want to say thanks. Thanks for being such a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness. Thanks for showing up, just in the nick of time, before hope was ever off our lips. Someday, when you are old enough to need to hear a story, I’ll tell you mine. And right smack in the middle when you start to wonder if I give up hope that God can hear us when we pray, I’ll say, “here’s where it gets good, Shelby. See, here’s where you came along.”

With so much love,

Honorary Aunt Annie

(Aunt in charge of entertainment)