Saturday, January 26, 2013

To Mother is to Learn

I've always known that I loved being a mother.  Since I pushed my first child out after two and a half hours of unproductive pushing over seven years ago.  What I didn't know is how much being a mother would change me.  I knew that my job would be to love them.  That is usually the easy part for me.  I knew that it would be hard too, it is actually much more difficult than I thought it would be.  I knew I would lose sleep and shed tears.  But I didn't know how much I would be changed. I have six children, only three of them here living and breathing on this earth.  

I wear this ring to honor all of my children
I had no idea how much being a mother would bless me.  I was so blessed when I had each of the boys because I really wanted to be a MOB (mother of boys).  I felt like that was a special gift that God had given me to earn that title.  I was enthralled with it.  I embraced the dump trucks and sports memorabilia (as much as my ex would allow since he doesn't like sports).  I loved being a mother of sons.  It was so awesome.  I felt like it was healing for my heart in a way that I did not know it needed to be healed.  I expressed this thankfulness to God and through the zeal with which I approached mothering my two stairstep sons, born a mere 14 months apart.  I loved that they were so close in age.  I knew that whether they fought or not they would be partners in crime and mischief and life together.  

Partners, buddies, brothers and friends   
 After the boys there was a lot of turmoil in my life and eventually I got pregnant again and I lost that baby.  And again and lost that one too.  I can't express to you the grief of watching a child grow within you for months only to know they died and nothing else.  Not their gender, not their name or eye color or who's nose they had.  I had a friend walk through these times with me.  We lost two babies back to back together.  I'm not sure Angie and I can ever disconnect from one another because we have gone through grief together.  Needless to say after these losses I was worried.  I didn't want to risk my heart again.  I had two healthy babies and then two totally inexplicable miscarriages.  

But we did eventually try again and I got pregnant again.  I wasn't as nauseous in the beginning so I was sure I was going to miscarry.  I didn't really let myself believe I was pregnant until 11 or 12 weeks.  Of course my belief was confirmed by the beginning of me not being able to keep anything down at all.  This time I felt a shift in my thinking.  I really wanted a girl.   I felt like my heart had healed enough that I was willing to risk a mother daughter relationship.  I had been terrified of what that would mean for me before.  Boys had seemed safer.  But come on, really?  I had two boys back to back, my thinking was that therefore I would have another boy.  

And then she came into the world, my daughter named after a fictional princess, Eowyn Nate'.  A princess that did what no man could do and slayed a great evil creature.  I wanted my daughter to know she was not less than anyone.  She could do anything anyone else could do and probably more than others could do.  But she was also a princess.  She was good and beautiful and perfect.  She had grace and strength.  Her beauty no more made her weak than her strength could cause her beauty to lessen.  They both exist in balance and both are required of her in this world.  They have different but important purposes.   

To become the best version of herself she would have to learn to be a good steward of both.  She shouldn't use her beauty to wound and wield power.  Nor she should use her strength to become an overlord above others.  She needs to use her beauty to heal and her strength to fight and defend the weak.  Sometimes the weak will reside within her own soul and she will have to use her strength to defend the more fragile parts of herself.  Sometimes she will doubt her beauty and look to others to confirm its presence.  But one reminds us of the other.  When she feels her strongest she will not doubt her beauty and when she embraces her beauty her strength will shine.  

My daughter has reminded me of the truth I need to learn about myself.  I am beautiful and I am strong. No matter how many times I was told that I was weak, insignificant and ugly and unattractive and unintelligent, if I don't believe those things about her, I should not believe them about me either.  Becoming a mother has both reminded me of who I already am and stretched me into who I can become.  You cannot teach your children what you don't truly believe.  You teach them what they see in you, not the words that come out of your mouth.  If I want my children to believe they are kind, smart and important, then I need to treat them and myself that way.  

Being a mother has soften the harder edges of me but also sharpened a blade that allows me to cut out all of the useless parts more quickly.  I am so thankful that becoming a mother has caused me to learn.  Without learning we stagnate, and then die.  There is not a neutral gear in life, you are either going forward or backwards.  

You is kind, you is smart, you is important.  

Thank you beautiful smart girl...

for teaching me that I am too.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Not Every Loss is a Defeat

and Not Every Win is a Victory.  

Sometimes we have a single perspective that if we win it's good and if we lose it's bad.  If we get the job - good, if our interview goes terribly - bad.  But this is a very one dimensional perspective.  It would be really easy to look at my life for the last year and say I've been losing and therefore that's bad.  To be honest there are times that I've totally embraced that perspective.  I've had one or two sobbing on the bathroom floor kind of moments and moments where I have just felt defeated period.  

BUT  (and it's a big butt ;-)) as I reflect on the last year of my life I see many defeats that were actually victories and some wins that were disguised as losses.  It's not entirely my perspective, but truthfully that's most of it.   

Sure, I've lost a lot.  But I have gained so much more.  I have freedom, happiness and peace.  There is finally some justice.  That has been a long time coming.  And it's possible that others would not think it's justice.  But they're wrong.

As I was sitting down with bathed, jammied, homework finished children the other night watching Veggie Tales I had an overwhelming sense of peace.  It was an epiphany, I don't use that word casually.  "We are good, we are better than good, we are great."  It went something like that.  I was reflecting on how healthy and happy my children are.  How healthy and happy I am and how blessed we have been.  It helped that they all smelled like baby shampoo and were behaving like little angels.  

It's the truth, and it's a very pleasant one.  Partially we are good because I am focused on creating a good life for us, I have a positive attitude that is not unrealistic.  I am aware of what our challenges are and I don't allow myself to focus to far in the future.  I take one thing at a time.  In my house, the tenor and tempo depends on me.  

I am the one who decides to surmount challenges or succumb to them.  I am the one who decides when we really need to make chocolate chip cookies instead of dinner tonight.  I am the one who decides to parent in a way that is effective yet not easy.  I am the one who chooses my tone of voice when speaking to my children, the voice that eventually becomes their inner monologue.  I am the one who chooses to work too hard, not enough or just enough.  I am the one who decides to cut myself some slack, or not to.  

It rides on me, that's both a comfort and a challenge. But I get to choose my mandate and my mandate is love all of us, myself included.  To focus on the positive in our losses and our victories.  Sometimes victories can make me a little gun shy.  I get nervous, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But that is an unhelpful and earthly perspective.  Every good and perfect gift is from God, he means for us to accept them with open arms.  Not hedging wondering if we're going to get smacked for licking some icing off the side of the cake. 

Today I choose to schedule a celebration, complete with cupcakes and champagne.  

She's allowed to have the cupcakes
But not the champagne

Not even with those big brown eyes

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Today is my sister's birthday, not Brooke or Meredith, the ones you would've had a chance of meeting.  But Blair Denise Taylor, she would be 29 if she were still here breathing in oxygen on this planet.  But she's not, she's been gone from us for well over twenty years now.  And I have cried.  You wouldn't think a loss that old could still produce a wound but it has.  

I guess the psychologists call these 'anniversary responses,' or something like that.  I don't really care what you call them.  They hurt and I wish she was here with me living life beside me.  Many years I've been able to breeze past her birthday with hardly a passing thought.  It's May that hits me hard.  She was hit by a car on a sunny day in May.  I was the only eye witness, a little girl, a week shy of her ninth birthday.  

I can still see every moment of the accident, I remember the color and texture of the ball I was holding.  Some trendy 80s toy, it was blue and yellow in the middle.  I can remember my aunt sprinting across the yard to Blair and her holding her in her lap and screaming that someone call 911.  I remember the two ambulances coming because they heard the 911 call incorrectly and they thought more than one person was hurt, I wonder if they thought I was hurt too?  

Didn't they know I would need an ambulance too?  One for my heart?  Because my bed sharing, hand holding, constantly fighting, spunky, little sister was gone.  The blondish version of a friend I took everywhere with me.  

The tears won't stop now.  As I have given birth to each of my children, gotten married and watched Brookie get married too, I have wondered... Where is she now?  Why is she not here?  Would we be as close now as we were then? 

She was my partner, my closest sibling in age and in life.  There was no replacing her, there never will be.  I don't know if Meredith and Kevin felt the pain the same.  I know the pain my parents felt was different, intense in a divergent way from mine.  

But my pain was the pain of losing a witness to my life.  She and I were meant to live together, side by side.  She wasn't my child, she was my sister and my friend.  And I miss her.  

How do you miss someone you haven't seen in 20+ years?  How do you miss an adult sister that you never experienced as an adult?  I don't know.  I can't explain it.  I just know the pain.  I know that I still love her.  I know the pain of explaining who she is to my children when they see pictures with the absent aunt that they will never know.  One they will never meet.  

Why God?  Why won't they get the grace of meeting her?  I know the pain of watching my children grow older than my sister ever got to be.  I know the panic that sets in every time one of my children reaches the age she was when she died.  The panic that God will do to me what he did to my mother and take them.  That frantic illogical prayer that is almost heretical in content.  

"Please God, don't do to me what you did to my mother, please don't take them"  I'm quite sure it is heresy in some way, but my heart screams at me to pray it anyway.  As if Blair's death was a mark against my parents, a deliberate act of God against them.  

In my better moments I know, I know that God doesn't take children to punish us.  He didn't take Blair for that reason.  There was no sin so grievous that my parents would have committed that would cause God to be that way to us.  After all, lest we forget, God knows what it's like to lose a son.  Because his own son died, and he grieved for him.  

The way we grieve, as if someone has cut out part of our soul.  God knows that pain.  He has walked it and he wants to be the one to take away our pain, not the one that creates it.  

There are a million questions about evil, death, and destiny we could ask here.  But that's not the purpose of this.  The purpose of this piece is to allow our pain to be felt.  To sit there with it and know that it is necessary for us to be honest about it.  We hurt, we don't understand, we question, and cry and scream.  God is big enough to take all of that from us.  And he is standing there ready to take it the minute we lay it down.  But he's not going to yank it from us.  He's a gentle God and he won't force us into anything.  And he knows far better than we do how important it is for us to allow ourselves to FEEL IT.   

We are not to live our life with our hearts and heads disconnected.  We are meant to live as full, whole people.  So, I sit here today in my yoga pants without a shower, cuddling my daughter, crying, knitting and writing.  Because I'm allowing myself to sit with my heart.  To feel it.  To not be afraid of my pain.  Why would I be afraid of something that I know I can lay down? Lay at the feet of God and watch my healing happen.  

He is with me, sitting on the couch, present in the smell of my daughter's hair and the comfort of the cello music in the background.  He believes in me, he believes in Blair and he knows how much it hurts.  I might not like the pain but we're both thankful that I'm enough like God that I can feel it.  That I am enough like God himself that I feel pain, just the way he did.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cuddle please

Do you remember your mother's body from when you were a small child?  
Did you take comfort in her arms? 
Did she seem to have some special power?  

When I think back to my youngest childhood memories I remember her body almost as if it was an extension of my own.  Because of course, my very existence came from her.  I remember every curve and the smoothness of her skin and even her hair like I owned it all.  As if were mine.
Early this morning my oldest had a bad dream and came to me.  Rowan never gets out of bed in the middle of the night.  He's grown tall, looks like a 'tall drink of water,' which is exactly what everyone used to say about me at his age.  I quickly welcomed him my arms and stilled his fears.  And he did exactly what I'm so used to his younger sister doing - he molded his body into mine.  He KNEW just how we fit together.  It was natural and comfortable, because after all his existence is because I ate, drank, breathed and pushed him out into this world.  Without me as a willing participant he wouldn't be here.  But I was still surprised because he's grown so much and doesn't do this cuddling thing all that often.  As he curled in I realized the top of his head is just under my chin and his feet come almost all the way to mine.  And yet he still has me memorized.  

This shouldn't surprise me the way it does because I can still look at my mom and she's totally familiar to me.  I have watched her body change over the years and now that I'm older I have heard her complain about her weight or smile, etc.  But I have never been able to look at her and analyze her body from a neutral perspective.  She's my mom, I don't remember being an infant and her nursing me or curling up in bed with her as a small child.  But I can't count the number of hugs and kisses I've received.  I know how ticklish she is and we can cook in any kitchen without running into one another.  The umbilical cord has been cut for 32 and a half years but there's an undeniable bodily connection present still.  

I have seen this with my own children.  Harvey seems to try to memorize me intentionally, brushing my hair, caressing my skin.  Eowyn will cuddle with me and place my hands where she wants them to be on her own body.  And Rowan will tell me to 'watch my air' because he's comfortable enough with me to tell me how to breathe.  

To be honest, I don't feel nearly the positivity toward my body that my children do.  I can list my flaws in 4 seconds flat.  I'll spare you the list.  But 9 months ago, I saw my daughter mimic my actions when she stepped on the scale in the morning just like I do and stepped off with the same facial expression I do - disappointment.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  And instantly I knew I needed to change my perspective.  

It's not about me anymore.  It's about what I'm teaching them, both my boys and my daughter.  If this body of mine has brought 3 living children into this world and given 3 more back to heaven then it deserves some of my respect and kindness.  It deserves the gentleness I treat my children's bodies with, and to be spoken to and about the same way I would speak to and about them.  Because how I treat myself is either how they will view themselves, or how they will treat others. 

There was a wedding in our family recently, my sister got married and it was a gorgeous sight.  For the months ahead of time the women in the family talked about what they weighed, losing weight for the wedding and how to minimize all of our unattractive parts in the dresses.  The men didn't talk about these things.  I'm sure they talked about other things, like how much money this is costing.  Or something??? 

But you know what happened at this wedding... everyone was gorgeous.  My mom was gorgeous, the bride, my sister, my children, and even I was happy with how I looked, mostly.  All of that worrying and negative energy didn't add to our joy on that day.  We loved and cherished each other not because we had lost 10 lbs or had our hair done the right way.  We had a fantastic time because we were there to celebrate together and we were family to one another.  We have each other memorized.  I knew just how many dances my dad would do before the wedding started.  How my brother would look in a tux with his longish blonde hair.  I knew the facial expressions Meredith and I would exchange before they even happened.  And I knew that my mom would be beaming about her baby girl getting married.  And that my children would look darling, regardless of how they behaved (which they did perfectly FYI).

We memorize our mother's arms much like we memorize the people from which we came or our life long love.  There's a comfort and familiarity that we can breathe in.  Whether it's the memories of repose in your mom's arms, or just how your sister looks when she's overjoyed; we know them.  I feel like my children are walking parts of my body.  My heart is walking around outside of my body, in three different directions.  It's vulnerable and scary... and awesome.  It's the most worthwhile risk I've ever taken, being a mother.  And when my seven year old, entirely too tall kid, crawls into bed looking for someone to chase away the nightmares.  

I remember, my heart may walk around outside of me, but it still knows where home is.  

Michael, Rowan, Meredith, Harvey, Nick, Brooke, Michele, Eowyn, Billy, Shannon

Happy Birthday Mom, I hope you know how much we love you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hedge your bets or Go all in?

I've never been the type of girl to enter the pool slowly.  Well, maybe an actual pool if it's really cold, but not life as a metaphoric pool.  I'm more of a cannonball or pencil dive kind of girl. Never learned to do a swan dive, still can't.  If I'm in the water, I'm ALL IN.  If I decide this is the particular course that I am taking, I am single minded about it. 

What the heck is the point of being in the pool if I'm not enjoying myself?  

I throw my littles up in the air, teach one of them how to float and snuggle the littlest close simultaneously.  In the pool of life, I'm a committer, no toe in the water, checking it out first.  I also rarely know the weather before I step outside.  I'd rather be cold than late.  But I bring my A game.  I think that others are surprised by my enthusiasm and zeal for the things in this life and I have tried to tamp it down, more slowly ease into things.  I just can't!  I'm a passionate person and I enjoy being that way.  It makes life a lot more fun.  Why do something if you're just not really excited about it?  If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.  Or as my ex-sil said once if it's 'worth doing it's worth doing naked.'  ;-)  No worries, not running around naked. 

I'll be honest, this leaves me vulnerable a lot.  I give of myself completely and I don't hold much back.  I bring what I have to the table or the pool (switching metaphors on you).  And I lay it out there.  I can get rejected or hurt or judged because of my frankness.  I have been encouraged to hold more back and not be so forthright with others.  I'm not totally sure that it has always served me well relationally to handle things that way.  But whether or not it has served me well I have learned a lot. 

Some people really appreciate the way I handle life.  Maybe others are put off by it?  Intimidated by my zeal, or occasionally just annoyed by it.  But the more others are secure in themselves the better they deal with my honest approach to life.  I'm not going to stand around and talk about paint colors and the weather for hours.  Small talk is boring.  My friends, kids and family always know where they stand with me.  That's a good thing. 

I don't understand people that are capable of double mindedness.

This is great in a lot of ways.  I am relieved of a lot of doubt.  I make quick, thorough decisions.  I push forward when others would be too intimidated to continue.

However, I have one area where I hedge my bets.  It's risky for me to even admit this to you.  And that is with the body of Christ.  I'm scared of the Church.  Well, not scared.  But I don't trust you guys.  I spent the better part of a decade in an abusive, loveless, marriage and a lot of that time I was asking the church for help.  And I was told: it was my fault, that if I tried harder, had more sex, was more submissive and occasionally if I were thinner that then I could expect and deserve love.  But because of my vows I had to stay.  Let me tell you if you ask me to go all in with you and your Church now, I'm going to be a bit prickly.  

My heart is raw, I feel like it is one big, walking, wound.  Because my heart is big and holds a lot of love but if you even touch it, that will cause excruciating pain.  It's ironic that I have a lot of unexplained bruises lately.  My doctor thinks it is just anemia.  I think it's my heart reminding my body to be gentle, be gentle with yourself it's saying.  You're hurting and that is okay.  

But despite the fact that I'm walking wounded I find that I can't stop taking the risks to fully live...  I need to let myself heal, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop living.  It will give Jesus and the angels a smile when the next risk presents itself to me and I leap toward it.  Because that is how I live my life.  I am all in.  And Jesus because he knows me, much the way I know my own family, will smile that knowing smile, slightly shake is head and feel a warmth in his heart.  Because I am most comfortable being me, all of me shivering in the ice water of the pool  And Jesus wants me to be my best self as well.  He may be dangling his feet on the side of the pool waiting with a dryer warmed towel, or else he's swimming and splashing right beside me.  But I know where's not, and that is where I have felt the church: sitting in judgement over me shaking their heads and wondering why I can't get my crap together.  
An early tribute to MLK

I may not be 90 one day but hell if I'm going to stop living my life now.  

JUMP, the reward is worth the risk.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Only the Lonely

What's your experience with loneliness?  Do you feel it a lot?  How do you cope with it when you do?  Are you married and lonely?   Or single and thinking marriage will be the panacea to your loneliness?  Do you surround yourself with friends or pets or children?  Do you try to connect a lot with others or God?

I have been lonely or felt isolated regularly in life.  I've felt it a lot this week.  In a discussion with a friend about this she said to me I think that loneliness is part of the human condition.  And I thought: she's brilliant, of course it is.  We are isolated or alone in our hearts and minds and experiences because we are the only one experiencing exactly that at that moment.  I am the only one I know currently divorcing someone like my ex.  My friend is the only one I know who feels this holy discontent because she's living somewhere that's miserable and feels like she might be called to be doing something bigger, but can't figure out how to put that into action.  Another friend is the only one I know with five kids, running a successful business, homeschooling and has to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning regularly to get things done.  Another friend woke up to the reality that her two year old has a tumor this week and has no idea what that means yet.   Then there are the myriad of other friends who just hate their job, are working hard to make ends meet with no success, can't find the answers they want from God, can't find a friend or just got dumped.  

This is not to say that everyone's life sucks because there is much to find pleasure in.  But if we don't actually talk about how we are feeling our hearts get stuck on repeat and it's difficult to move on and grow.  We need to face our loneliness or isolation and figure out what it's about.  Because even if our network of friends and family isn't experiencing our exact circumstance right now they can still be here for us.  And God is still here for us.

I have felt this.  I have sat with my friend Karen or Naomi and vented and talked and cried and they have done the same.  We've eaten chocolate and bitched about men and life and money and children being difficult.  But when they leave there it is again.... loneliness.  And as my friend Deb pointed out, I think this part of us is here to stay.  

There is a purpose to our feeling this way.  And the purpose is to push us back to God.  Because He is the one who is ever communing with us.  He will be there when we've woken up for the 5th time last night.  And for that moment right after your friends walk out the door.  And for me, I feel like God understands no matter what I'm going through.  He meets me inside of my soul and there are no obstacles that I have not created for him having a complete understanding of my pain, or confusion or doubt.  He can never not understand what it's like to be poor, attacked by a worthy adversary or stay up all hours of the night doing what needs to be done.  And even if Jesus didn't have my exact experience while walking around on this planet; God is still our creator and so he understands us because he made us.  

He wants to meet us in our pain.  He also wants to meet us in our pleasure.  He did after all create the most pleasurable experiences we can have on this planet. We should not be afraid of these moments on both sides of the mountain.  They both have a purpose in our life.  

If I can get outside of myself long enough to think, I know exactly what can happen.  I can center my spirit, my breath, my being on God and I will feel Him meet me there.  There will be comfort and communion and peace.  This practice is more like meditation for me and less like traditional prayer.  I'm not speaking many or any words; it is a purifying of focus.  I have learned how to do that through my study of yoga: how to meditate and center.  Sometimes laying down and feeling the floor has given me an awareness of what is going on internally for me.  Then I can play the internal filing cabinet game: this goes here, this goes here, I need to do deal with this now (rarely the case) or this just needs to be thrown out (happens a lot).

After I've become present and accepted the mess of files lying on the floor, I can enjoy the feeling of the floor, the coolness of my breath and the warmth of God within my soul.  But as long as I'm hyper-focused on the feelings and the doings of life I forget about my being.  There's a lot for me to do in life.  There's a lot of responsibilities that I have.  And when I get stuck in these cycles of rinse, wash, dry, repeat, I get lonely.  I get overwhelmed and I forget.  I forget that I am a human BEING.  God has called me to do one thing on this earth and that is to love.  Loving is part and particle of being.  The more I produce the less I am.  My soul shrinks as my productivity increases.  And I get lonely, but I am lonely for me.  I have stopped communing with myself. 

Note to all of us: enjoy your own company.  I like myself.  I like what I have learned about who I am.  I like that I'm a walking paradox, who loves Jesus, swears like a sailor and can sew a quilt.  If you're feeling lonely I challenge you to get to know yourself better.  Maybe the panacea for that ache is right in the middle of your heart, where God and you can commune together.  Communion isn't some funky Christian word that means bread, blood, wine and bones.  It's about being present.  Being present with God and with each other.  Sharing a meal and a life.  I encourage you to make sure you are living yours.  Living and not just surviving.  


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Hope you guys don't mind, but I'm going to be talking to Jesus here today and just let you listen in, OK?  Good...

Hey God,  How've you been?  I'm happy to say we've made it to 2013.   I experienced my very first New Year's Eve out celebrating as an adult.  It has been a year of a lot of firsts for me.  Some of them I have enjoyed.  Some of them not so much.   

But Jesus, I wanted to let you know that I am grateful.  I have seen your hand on our lives, guiding us to a healthier and happier path.  I know that the life of a Christian can be one of constant attack, but I have also embraced pursuing happiness.  Being happy is a really good thing.  I want to battle well when needed, stand firm as a person and a believer, but also to enjoy all the wonderful things you have given us in this life.  

Like children who fall asleep in the middle of the living room floor (notice the train in her hand?)

Uncle Nick zipping up "Kiwi's" jacket (his nickname for her)
Little boys who lose their two front teeth for Christmas

Zeke and Addi and Karen our weekly vistors and playmates.  My kids think Zeke and Addi are their cousins. ;-)

Very happy birthday boys. I now have a seven, six and two and a half year old, how did this happen?

And having the time to read six books to the kids in a row before bedtime.  A glass of really good moscato, the comfort of friends and family.  

Thank you that I got to experience my sister's beautiful wedding.  Thank you that all four of us were in it, even though that took some doing.  Thank you that my family is happy.  God, I can not tell you how much that means to me.  The simple joy of a happy family is more profound than I could have imagined.  

I'm thankful to have reconnected with my sister, to get to be a part of her life and get to know the people who are important to her.  I'm thankful for good counsel, a great therapist and friends who know I always have an open door for them.

Jesus, I want to let you know how grateful I am that I know who I have become.  I have learned so many things about myself over the last year.  I have learned that I am not the best house keeper but that my house hardly ever goes two days without having an extra loved one or two walk through the door and stay a while.  I really like that about me.  I have learned that I am capable of a lot more than I imagined.  I have learned that apparently I'm a bit of a smart ass.  (when multiple people start telling you this, it confirms it).  I have learned that I am louder than my very loud sister Brooke.  Hmmm, this one actually shocked me, I'm sure it didn't shock any of you.  I possess an inner strength I can only attribute to your presence in my life.  I have learned that I have plenty of emotions, I'm not stoic and I can cry.  I like this about me, too.  I have learned and confirmed over and over again that I am a good mom.  I can be there for them and be their safe place.  

Jesus, I'm not sure what 2013 holds for us.  I'm not sure what the next step is for me other than that I need to leave my house in 30 minutes.  I'm not sure if I'll ever remarry or how I'll make a living long term.  But I am sure of this:

You are present in my life.
My children are healthy, happy and safe.
I have what it takes.
And it's okay to enjoy life and embrace it.  

 Please help me honor you today.  Let it be so.

Thanks for listening in on my conversation.  Hope it blessed you too.