You are 15 today.

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I have been thinking about this day for some time and was curious about how I would feel when it actually came. Lately, I have been allowing myself to FEEL all of the feelings for each moment in my life. Allowing myself to feel what I need to feel to process it fully. So I cried this morning after I got off the phone with you lol.

You were born in Joplin, MO, our first child and first grandchild on both sides of the family. We had waited five years to have children. I wanted everyone in the family to be there when you were born. And that they were! We had aunts, grandmas, grandpas, cousins all in the room when you were ready. You gave us a little scare during labor, but our doctor was fantastic, and everything turned out wonderfully. 

We teased about making sure I delivered you before lunch so I could eat. You were born right before noon! My little sumo baby with that chunky face and lots of dark hair. It was weird to hold you for the first time, to see you for the first time. While a baby is inside their mom’s stomach, all she thinks about is holding her baby for the first time, what they will look like, what features they will have. You were absolutely beautiful!

Your journey was just beginning. We loved having you home with us, and all the family loved coming to visit. It was like something sparkled now in our lives. Something dull was now shining.

We made the decision that my full-time job would be to stay home and take care of you. I sure didn’t think I was equipped to be a mother, at some points in my life not even knowing if I would be one. But I took this job very seriously, and we made the best of our days together. You have always been loved more than you will fully be able to comprehend; until you have children of your own. 

We always thought you were so smart! Your dad taught you to memorize the states in a song. I remember people thinking that was so cool to hear a toddler sing all the states. Heck, I can’t even do that lol. 

You loved school and made friends quite easily. I got the chance to come and volunteer with your teacher. I will treasure those memories. This next year would prove to be the most challenging for us both. When things changed at home, you noticed. You have always been very intuitive. I wish now I would have protected you from it more than I did. I was broken and didn’t know what life was going to be like without him in it. Because of that, you grew up faster than you should have. You instantly became a second mama to your little sister who was three years old. Some days I honestly don’t know how we made it through, but you became a source of inspiration for me. You were so strong even though hurting deeply. 

Still to this day that is true. You and your sister are my inspiration; my inspiration to do hard things, to make a difference in someone else’s lives, to want to change the world. 

When I was 15 years old, I started dating your dad. We were young and naïve, each of us on our own journey to find ourselves, but that never really happened; for me anyways. We just knew what it was like to be with each other. Though, I don’t regret loving and marrying my high school sweetheart (your father) or what we went through together, the good or the bad; I am beyond thankful that journey was ours and not yours. 

You have learned to love yourself first. You have learned what priorities are. You are compassionate, kind, funny and intelligent beyond words. You are a team player and a passionate leader who sees the best in everyone. 

Dear 15 year old, you are going to go so far in life. Don’t apologize for being you. Live your best life and LOVE it. Live each day as a testament to others that things don’t have to be perfect for you to be your best self. Always be kind and never give up. Pray every day and thank God for your blessings. 

I will always be right beside you for the next step in your journey. 

Sincerely,

You’re number one fan and biggest cheerleader, MOM


Finding Me

Someone asked me to explain what this picture meant to me. 

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I thought long and hard about it. Why this particular picture means so much to me. Throughout the years I've always been somebody's sister somebody's best friend. It's never been something about me in particular. It was always somebody else's worth that defined who I was as a person. I had a friend told me once that they had known me for years but didn't really know who I was because of me always talking about other people and never actually about myself. That really struck me hard, but I didn't know how to fix it because that's who I always had always been. 

Then I met my ex-husband and slowly even the little bits of who I was taken from me. Instead, he tried to put what his version of me was in my head. That I was obsessive because I wanted to know where he was when he disappeared for days on end. That I was crazy when in reality he was just projecting his own issues onto me. 

Once I left him, I realized that I had no idea who I was anymore and I've spent the last almost 6 years trying to figure that out. Finding new names for myself that don't include somebody else's name to show my worth.

Like:

Survivor

Loved

Accepted

Important

Never in a million years would I have foreseen where I am today 6 years ago. I was in an abusive marriage and scared for my life. Terrified of what would happen if I would leave. Always on the brink of financial ruin. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been on every state assistance I could get. I’ve had my power shut off multiple times. I’ve not had a vehicle and had to figure out where I was going to find the money to ride the bus to work. I’ve been unemployed and 7 months pregnant where no one would hire me. I’ve dealt with a drug-addicted, cheating, abusive husband.

 

Earlier this year I was asked to be part of the leadership staff for a ministry that I hold very dear to my heart. Ladies in this group have become my dear friends. They have pushed me out of my comfort zone many times. I’ve become more involved with mentoring people. Something I told people I would never feel confident enough to do. Pushing myself outside of myself has been trying at times, but very rewarding.

I love to take pictures of things just for fun. When Janelle suggested that I take pictures and try to sell them, I laughed at her. But, I’ve been trying this year to live with more purpose, so I decided, “why not.” I never imagined I would get the response that I’ve had. That I actually might sell some of my pictures was completely ludicrous to me. But I have. 

I have slowly come to realize who I am and who I was meant to be. The process is never easy, and sometimes it’s been downright painful, but coming to realize that I have worth as a person by myself without having to associate myself with someone else is means more than I could put into words.

So, that’s what this picture represents to me. It’s a declaration of myself. That there is beauty on the other side of the pain. That there is hope even when you can’t see your next step for the darkness surrounding you. You will come through on the other side. 

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Joy