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God’s Blessings

Today is my 50th birthday. Last night I was lucky to celebrate with my parents and aunt and uncle. My mom of course made me a birthday cake. As they sang Happy Birthday and followed it with our family tradition of God’s Blessings to you, I began to realize how truly blessed I am. My whole life my parents have shown me unconditional love. They have modeled faith, hard work, caring for your neighbor and love in everything they do. My Aunt Roselee and Uncle Ron have been a part of every milestone in my life and have been a steady, positive force in my life. As a Godmother, my aunt has displayed faith throughout challenges including multiple bouts of cancer. My other Godmother, Aunt Jean, lives farther away but has always been a close confident. I spent a week every summer with her and often made the trip next to my grandpa. Memories from those weeks and moments remind me of how truly lucky I am to have had such people in my life. My aunt tragically lost her husband a few years ago in an auto accident. Remarkably she was spared and while it has been incredibly difficult, her faith continues to inspire many including me. I also got to visit with my grandmother yesterday, who at 98 continues to stay strong and remind me that she loves me and is proud.

I came home to my husband and children who have been some of my greatest blessings. As I went through high school and college without much of a boyfriend, I remember thinking I would never fall in love. Who would have thought I would have ended up marrying my best friend and that we would spend 26 years and counting together. For years we struggled with infertility only to discover that our children would be given to us through another mother. I am blessed by the struggles that brought our children to us. We can’t imagine life without Elena and Ben and are so truly grateful for the birth mothers who shared their blessings and their struggles with us.

My list of family members and friends could continue for pages and pages. There are so many people in my life who have been with me through everything like my brother, Mark, who annoyed and pestered me as a kid but who I love deeply and share most of my life and Dana, who has been my best friend since preschool. Then there are all of the friends that have entered the various seasons of my life and provided exactly the friendship and support I needed at the time. I can’t possibly name them all because it would look like a ranking list and there is no way I could rank any of them. They have each blessed my life at just the right moment and in the right way whether I met them 45 years ago or yesterday.

And then there are the animals. Growing up I wanted a dog and of course a pony more than anything. I never got them. My dad always said, “when you get a barn you can have animals. Animals belong in a barn.” My dad has been pretty right about most things, but he is only partly right on this one. Animals do belong in barn and they are a big responsibility, which I think is the point he was trying to make. But, animals also live in your heart and they guide and teach you in ways that no human ever could. My first dog, Suzie, helped me grow up in a new state and marriage. She gave me a reason to get up and fight depression when it struck hardest. My next dog, Pepper, was loyal beyond expectations. He taught me to love so fully that I thought my heart might break when he died. But when that time came, he taught me to enjoy and live every moment as if it were your last and that when it’s time to say goodbye, while it’s not easy, I won’t break and life’s great moments will continue to bless me. TinkerBell has been that next blessing. She tests and challenges me like no other and reminds me that learning how to express yourself in a constantly growing and changing body can be really tough. She teaches me patience, loyalty, perseverance and love. And these are just the dogs. My farm now includes horses, cats, chickens and ducks. All of them teach me the importance of daily habits and responsibility. They make me slow down and they fill my mornings with noises and duties that block out the business of life and bring me closer to nature and the God who blesses me. Riding has given me a strength and peace I never knew existed and has helped me understand my daughter in ways I didn’t think were possible.

As I reflect on all of this I realize some of my richest blessings have shined through my biggest struggles and darkest moments. That is why I want to share my birthday wish with you. I won’t share the whole thing because of course then it won’t come true, but I’ll let you in on part of it. A few years ago, my husband lost his job which initiated a whole series of changes in our life. At about the same time, four young men who I had the privilege to work with in Spring Lake Park, taught me some very important lessons about students, teaching, parenting and love. Over the last two years I have been struggling to write this story because I believe it was given to me as a gift and that its message can inspire many other parents and teachers to be and do better for our children and truly make our own and their lives matter. One of my life long dreams was to become a published author before I was 50. I hoped to debut this book today and share it with all of you. But, it’s not time yet. I’m still struggling to edit and learn the ins and outs of publishing. So instead, I am going to share with you what all blessings are made of, the struggle. Over the next year, I will be blogging every week and sharing with you my journey to bring this book to life. You’ll get glimpses into the story as I edit and refine the pieces, you’ll see my struggles and challenges as I update the website to reflect my growth, you’ll journey with me into the world of publishing, marketing and advertising. I’ll share with you my challenges of managing my time and business as I balance family, farm and faith. And along the way, I hope you will discover just as I have all the blessings you have in life.

Join me in celebrating 50 years of life and my journey to bring to life a story that will inspire you to play, teach you practices to become your best self and uplift you with purpose. Over the next 52 weeks I will launch my story and share with you the struggles and blessings along the way. May it bless you as it has me.Thank you for being a part of my many blessings and joining me in the launch of my first book, Because of 4.

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