A Grateful Heart

Words can be such a comfort and a blessing. They can change a day by being the pivotal moment, bringing light in the darkness, joy in the midst of sorrow, laughter in remembering.

Today a dear friend sent me a picture of her daily calendar. No message, just the photo. The January 15 entry:

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed.

Proverbs 11:25

It moved me to tears. Tears of remembering, of gratitude, of joy.

Today was Mama’s birthday. Our ninth without her here. I didn’t want today to be about being sad about that. She would not like that one bit. When my friend sent me this message, she had no idea it was Mama’s birthday. Or that this verse describes my Mama so well. Mama blessed so many people during her life, and gratitude was her focus. Even after the love of her life passed on, she continued to find things to be grateful for. Every. Single. Day. The last gift she gave me was a gratitude journal. I was not in a place at the time to fully appreciate it, as I missed my Daddy, and just a few short months later, she was gone from this world as well.

But over the years, I remember and I think about how she found things–big and small–to be thankful for. To give thanks and praise for. She never ceased letting others and her Creator know how thankful she was–no gifts or blessings too small.

Time and timing are fascinating to me. And with the message today and another one I received earlier in the week, I was reminded of my Mama, on her birthday, and to be thankful. To my Mama for the blessing she was and continues to be in my life. And I’m thankful for those who have reminded me, without even realizing it, of how she lived her life.

In honor of Mama and Daddy’s anniversary in December (this would have been their 54th), I created a wish list for a young teacher who teaches children for whom books are not always readily available. So many of you reached out and sent gifts to her classroom, and it blessed my heart. Thank you all for taking time to lift up this young teacher, with thoughts, words, prayers, and gifts. For whichever way you blessed her and her students–I am grateful. And so is she. Miss M sent me this note and asked that I pass it along. (Amazon doesn’t always make it easy to thank senders on a wish list, and she didn’t want to miss anyone.)

Dear Friends: As I’ve watched box after box arrive with books and supplies for my classroom, I’m reminded once again of how God works through the hearts of His people. I arranged all of them on their little shelves for them to come back Wednesday, and the first thing they wanted to do was grab them and start flipping through the pages. I don’t know to adequately say thank you enough on behalf of all of them! You’ve blessed a young teacher’s heart. And what is normally a hectic time of coming back to school after Christmas was made a little easier and a little more fun. Thank you all for your generosity to us!

Ms. M and her Kindergarten Class

Gratitude. Mama would have loved Miss M…..and her sweet students.

Today I’m thankful for friends who send photos without really knowing why, for teachers who love and encourage and empower young children each and every day, and for people who send books and supplies for children they will likely never meet. On this day of remembering my Mama, I am thankful for the way she loved books, loved children, and loved sharing books with children. I remember how she so enjoyed giving gifts and how her presence was the greatest gift of all. In a world where things can seem so frightening and chaotic at times, the reminder of what Mama’s last gift to me–that gratitude journal– encourages me to focus on, brings me some comfort and peace.

“Find something, just one thing, anything, to be thankful for, Tara. We are so blessed,” she would say. “The Lord loves a grateful heart.”

Thank you, Mama. Love you. And thank you, friends.

Love to all.

If you would like to send a book or crayons and haven’t had a chance to yet, here is Miss M’s Wishlist . Thank you all again!


she is comfort
the sound of rain on the faded tin roof
the hum of the needle making stitch after stitch
the first ice cream of summer, dripping down the cone
the smell of tea olive blossoming beneath the starlit sky

the sound of her voice
on the other end of the line
reassures me
reminds me
rejoices and refreshes
like a balm to my aching soul,
sore from too much too soon

she listens to my stories,
my worries, and my joys
she remembers what I never knew,
and tells of days past, people gone
mending the cracks in my foundation
that come from time and distance and loss

she is the voice of those who can no longer speak
she is the shoulder of those I can no longer lean on
she is the counselor, speaking for those whose wisdom is now a whisper in the wind
she is the love for those who loved us

she is
as she always has been


and as I watch her head bowed closely next to my child,
their voices joining together in lyrical conversation
with notes of laughter for the chorus
I am thankful
thankful for who she was then
and for who she is now
now that they are gone

she can never replace
she would not want to
nor would I ask it
but her stitches
of love, day in day out,
help ease the gaping wounds
her touch brings healing
and her heart brings light

and warmth
as the scent of vanilla and patchouli
waft from her back door, welcoming us
as we climb the steps of the porch

where she is



Cold Sun Landscape

By Emmanuel Huybrechts from Laval, Canada (Cold Sun Landscape) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The “M” Birthday

When Aub turned 3, I planned, with the help of my Joyful friend, a party with the theme of “Pink Pigs, Puppets, and Pizza.”  (I do love alliteration!) It was a lot of fun, as all of the parties were back then, and I even had her third birthday picture made in her favorite pink nightgown with all of her pink pigs sitting beside her.  I love that picture.

Tomorrow my girl turns 21.

I don’t know how that happened.  Cliche’ but true.  The days were long and the years were short.

And now–here we are.  21.

Tonight I mentioned to my older friend who is the epitome of wisdom, love, grace, and spryness that I guessed I was done.  Twenty-one equals grown, right?

I was walking behind her, and saw her shoulders shake with her mirth before I heard her laughter.  “Oh me…..okay.  Sure.  We’ll let you think that for now.”

I know better.  I really do.

My girl wanted a very laid back birthday this year.  I was good with that.  It seems like the world right now is a cyclone of chaos and to do’s and needs and what not, so a chance to sit.  And be.  And not much else.  SURE. YES.  The gift that keeps on giving.

We gathered in the backyard with the fire going (I’m getting pretty good at starting them now), and I set out the hot dogs and fixin’s along with the sticks for roasting.  I had a few decorations I’d put together for the day with a small sign with the theme for her 21st birthday “party.”

I returned to alliteration eighteen years later.  (I was in a play in Junior High with Beta Club, and my one line that I still remember was “I just love alliteration.”  I looked up what that was, and you know what?  Turns out I do.  To this day.)  Only the letter has changed.  This year’s theme?


Mason Jars, Mermaids, Makeup, and Monograms.

My baby girl who isn’t a baby anymore loves most things Southern.  Traditions, cornbread, grits, pearls, and Mason Jars for anything from drinking out of them to storing things.  I tried a Pinterest project (ha–close to a fail, I’d say, but since I learned from it, we’re moving it to the WIN column) and “frosted” some jars with mermaids inside.  If you want to know more, let me know.  I’ll do my best to tell you the right way to do it, which the folks on Pinterest most definitely did NOT do.  As for the mermaids,  a dear friend of mine and I talk about them as a symbol of not only adapting but transforming into something beautiful wherever you are.  Aub is about to enter a whole new way of life, with this “official” adulthood thing.  I don’t want her to feel like she’s underwater…..I want her to grow a tail and swim–take off and make the new way of life her own.  As for the makeup, she loves it.  Since she’s 21 and not 11 anymore, I’m okay with that.  She is beautiful inside and out, makeup or no, and as long as she remembers that, I don’t have a problem with her enjoying the world of makeup.  (I do have a problem with the folks who didn’t recognize that her cake, designed and made by her loving Mama, was a compact and NOT a toilet.  We won’t even go there, folks.  I’m about to get sappy, and I can’t if I revisit my emotions attached to that experience.)  Monograms needs no explanation–I’ve written about that before.  She loves ALL THE THINGS monogrammed.  Even her cookies.  Today we were talking about her monogram, and she said, “I do love it.  It’s so asymmetrical.”  You’re welcome, boo.  Of course I thought about that when naming you.  Ahem.

Tonight as I remember where I was exactly this moment 21 years ago (calling my parents, his parents, my dear friend, heading to the hospital), I am thinking about that letter M and all of the other things it could have stood for–Mercer (where she might maybe perhaps go to grad school), Mouse (her nickname before she was born), Mama (who loves her dearly), Mic drop (something she does regularly), Mississippi (because she is a really good speller and knew how to spell it almost as soon she knew her alphabet…..and so many others.  But as I sat down by the fire last night, and realized how far she’s come, and yet this is only the beginning, I thought about the things I wish for her in the years to come that start with the M.

*Make time for the things you love.  Don’t toss the things you enjoy doing aside permanently for the sake of your career or even another person. If you love it, make time for it.

*”Make hay while the sun shines.”  Work hard when the opportunity presents itself.  Never go halfway.  Give it your all.

*Make a difference.  In whatever you do, do it in kindness and with good intent.

*Make someone laugh or smile.  At least once a day.  And it’s okay if that person is you.

*Make other people feel important.  Because they are.

*Meander on the less traveled path.  Learn to love the other way around.

*Mix it up.  Try new things.  Attempt something you never thought possible.  Eat a new food.  Read a different genre.  Take archery lessons.

*Move.  Your arms.  Legs.  Head.  Dance.  Walk.  Run.  When you are moving, it’s harder to sit on your pity pot.  Trust me, I know this.

*Middle.  Sit there every once in a while.  Or more often.  It offers a different perspective, and different perspectives can be very good to try out for size.

*Master something you’re curious about.  Painting.  Knitting.  Piano.  Underwater Basket Weaving.  No one can ever take your skills away from you.

*Music. Listen.  As much as possible to as many kinds as possible.  Music can lift your spirits or rest with them where you are.  Never be without music.

*Make.  Create.  Share.

*Motivation.  Seek it.  Offer it.

*Move on.  Move beyond.  Don’t get stuck in that one bad moment.  Or bad experience.  Or held up by that one person who doesn’t get you and never will.  Let it go.  (Yeah, I said it–I sang it too.)  I feel that it will be okay.  It will be okay.  

*Muse.  Listen to her.  Let her guide your thoughts and your words.  Write.  Please.  The world needs your voice.

*Metamorphose.  As much as it takes.  Change.  Adapt.  Grow.  Never stop growing.  Adapting.  Becoming.

*Miracle.  You are mine.  Be good to my treasure.  Because I love you.

And I give thanks for you every single day.

May Light shine upon you, today and everyday–chasing the darkness away, so that you can reflect all the good that has gone before you and offer a glimpse of all the good you will bring in the days and years to come.

Happy 21st birthday, Aub!  

You are loved.


The first pink pig is on the left.  Squealer.  He went everywhere with us way back when.  


My attempt at a Pinterest project.  Win some, learn some.  Definitely learned some on this one.  


Monogrammed Mason Jars made by our sweet neighborfriend. As delicious as they are beautiful.



It’s a compact. And completely safe for our food allergies, so this is a definite WIN, and definitely looks like a COMPACT!


Our girl’s post about one of her gifts.  The one about adapting.  And making this new life work for her.  After all, who doesn’t want a mermaid tail of their own?  Just keep swimming.  



Catching Sight of Him

Cooter is enjoying his drama program.  Each week he heads through that door and doesn’t look back.

Well not much anyway.  When he is on stage delivering his lines (yes, he’s already memorized them! what a relief), he will glance over and smile with this “nailed it, did you see that?” look on his face.  I smile and sometimes offer a thumbs up.  He’s in his element, and that is a joy to see.

They’ve progressed to the point in rehearsals that all of the children wait backstage for their scenes.  Once they begin, I don’t see him except on stage until it’s time to leave.

This week there were a group of parents waiting for their children near the front door close to the end of rehearsals.  Since I stick around the whole time, I had already walked over and signed him out.  I stood off to the side, waiting.  As the crowd of children headed our way from the back, I finally saw Cooter.  He was moving with purpose towards our direction, but his eyes were steadily searching…..for me.  Oh my heart.  And then that moment when I moved into his line of sight and he saw me…..


His eyes lit up and he smiled that smile, and his stride was a little more relaxed.  It warmed my heart and soul and made my life to see the expression on his face.

And then just like that, I was his age–or maybe a year or two younger–again.  I was on the playground right after school was dismissed, and I was carrying something that Mama had sent treats to school in.  I was looking for my someone to find me and take me home.  I can still remember that exact moment the crowd parted, and there he was, that handsome, smiling fella I called Daddy.  In that moment, I was relieved, safe, and home.

So it was a very precious thing, this moment that Cooter and I had, where I got a small taste of what that day was like from Daddy’s perspective.  He found me just as I found him.

March 23 is my Daddy’s birthday.  The day to make a cake, light it up with candles, sing, and have him blow out the candles.  It’s the day I give him way more than one card because there were always several that made me laugh and think of him.  It’s the day that we all try our best to make him feel loved and bigger than life.  Because he was.

This will be the fifth year we celebrate his day without him here to give me a pickle or two off of his cheeseburger pizza.  The fifth year I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time in the card section and perusing ideas of what to give him on Amazon.  The fifth year we don’t hear his laugh or watch the children trying to help him blow out the candles.

But it will still be special.

Tonight I’m thankful for the man who first looked for me and never gave up finding me, no matter how far away I wandered off.  I give thanks for every single year of his life that I got to spend with him, listening to his wisdom, sharing my ups and downs, and swapping stories.  I am especially thankful for that day that I was feeling so lost and there he was.  And I know that’s how it has always been–when I was the most lost, Daddy has always been there to help me find my way back.  And in a way, he still is.

Most of all, I am thankful for my little guy whom my Daddy named Cooter because he loved cars just like that mechanic on that TV show years ago.  Because I was loved and looked for, I can do that now.  Now I get to see what being found looks like from the other side.

And it is beautiful.

May you all have someone to look for and who looks for you.

Love to all.


My sweet Daddy, at age 26, and me at 9 months old. The man who has always looked for and after me.  Love you, Daddy.  Thanks for everything.



holding my hand

if we are all, as the writer Ram Dass says,
walking each other home
then I am so thankful that you are here
to listen when I laugh and when I cry
to take in my stories
and keep them safe

and when I lose my way,
it is you, always you,
who gently takes my hand,
just as you did when I was little–
I do remember–
and walks me back down the dirt road
to the little house
that holds all those we love
and their stories

all I can offer you in return
are eyes that see all the beauty you are
the sweetness of your soul
and the depth of your heart

and my hand
as we take turns walking each other
back up the path
to find what is sure to surprise all of us
at the end-shaped beginning


Always Heading East

Tonight after the pizza supper that Cooter requested special for his 9th birthday (I can’t even with this whole 9 year old thing y’all, so that is why we are NOT talking about it right now), we were headed home.  The sun was setting, and as we do from everywhere we are at any and all given times, we were headed east to go home.

Apparently we never travel east of our home because we always seem to head into the darkness this time of night.

The Fella had to stop for something, so he pulled off the main road into the store parking lot.  I sat, peering into the darkness feeling, well frankly, sad.  Tired.  Listless.  It’s dark.  I can’t see.  There’s so much I can’t see in the unknown ahead.

To get out of the parking lot, my Fella had to turn the car around to the west before getting back on the main road and heading east.  When I looked up from my gloomy thoughts, what met my eyes was breathtaking.

One of the most beautiful sunset paintings I’ve ever seen.  I can never get enough of those, but this one–this one was truly spectacular.

We started back on the road to home with the painting behind me.  I turned in my seat to see it just one more time.  When finally I had to turn back and face the darkness to the east, I was different.  I felt different.  I was better.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the darkness, by what’s ahead.  Maybe when we get to that point, we need to take a moment to turn all the way around and see what else is out there. What is directly in front of us is rarely all there is.

I believe in the power of pulling over.  Of taking a breather.  Or a shower.  Or a nap.

You know.  Whatever it takes to change perspectives.  To lighten the load.

Love to all.


Happy Birthday and Being Held Close

A few years back my friend told me about how, in the Celtic culture, the Holy Spirit is symbolized by the wild goose.  Since that time, I’ve found comfort in seeing a flock of them grazing in a field or near a pond and in the sound of them flying overhead in the grey winter skies.

Today was no different.  On a day that was filled with the things that needed to be done and called me here and there, it was a precious day.  My Mama’s birthday.  Since my brother let the cat out of the bag about her age about 35 years ago, I don’t think she’d mind my sharing that this is her 70th birthday.  And our third one without her here.

I held her especially close today as we sat in a class about animal predators and prey and parasitism and other interesting things to know about animals, and as we went from one appointment to another this afternoon.  But it was when I saw the geese today that my spirits lifted just a touch, and I knew that we were also being held close today.




May you find just what you need to bring you comfort right when you need it most.

Love to all.

Watching Her Become

We’ve been excited about tomorrow for MONTHS.  And now, it’s finally here.

Our Princess’ 11th birthday.

Standing on the precipice of growing up and staying small, of childhood and adulthood, of elementary school and middle, of little girl and young woman, of joy-filled wonder and emotional angst, she is a sister and friend and daughter and student and swimmer and dancer and gymnast and pianist and scooter rider and ball tosser and bicyclist and laugher at jokes and unloader of dishwasher and our imagination-run-wild gift from God.

She is.  A blessing.

Born in Japan, she surprised us two weeks early.  I barely had my bag packed, but it was enough so that I was able to grab it and drive myself and Aub to the hospital when my water broke.  The funny thing is I felt no fear.  Each morning when I changed her diaper in those early months, I would say out loud to her, with her: “Thank you, God, for another day.”  And we would laugh together.

Her name is an old English name meaning joy or happiness.  Spelled differently, it’s also the middle name of one of my favorite cousins.  She carries her name well.  For the most part, she is a loving and affectionate child who loves hugs and laughter and games and being with people she loves.  And Minecraft.  How she loves Minecraft.  Other times, when she’s not so loving, well, she’s a Scorpio.  Watch out for that.  When her voice deepens (and it’s laughable if it’s not your name she’s saying), someone is in deep trouble.  And she knows how to let loose and do some correcting.

We recently saw an old video of her and Cooter on his first birthday.  We were all encouraging him to dig into his little mini-cake.  She was bouncing around talking about cake and wanting some, but when he went for it, and we all got excited, her voice deepened, and she immediately started reprimanding him in her three-year old voice: “Cooter, no!  Do not do that.  Mama, he is making a mess!”

And so it is.  To this day.  She’s his best friend and his third Mama all rolled into one.

She has her own sense of style and is unapologetic as she somehow pulls off the oddest of combinations.  I’m envious and a little bit in awe of that.  She has a very strong sense of justice.  Don’t let that sweet face and smile and twinkling eyes fool you.  Say something to her that lets her know you don’t see women as equally capable of living life, and she will. LET. LOOSE.  All the madness.  I do hope she will see a competent woman President in her lifetime, because as we are studying government and elections, she is about to lose her mind over this issue.  She is constantly checking with me to make sure no one is leaving any other group out.  When she senses injustice, something she just cannot fathom, it upsets our whole home because she carries it with her constantly.

Tonight I’m thankful for this next chapter in our girl’s story.  What a beautiful unfolding of her soul we get to see.  The one who came into this world loving pink and dresses and dancing and playing dressup is growing into someone who still loves those things but also loves jeans and hoodies and blue and purple and dressing up as real people who have made a difference in this world.  She talks about traveling and being in the Olympics or coaching or teaching or being a Mama or all of these things.  Our girl already knows where she is going to college and is ready for me to make a room deposit for her at the “Oldest and the Best,” where her Maemae, her sister, and I all learned.  She dreams of a day when race and gender don’t matter, that a good heart is seen only for that, and of the day when food allergies will be cured.  She loves biographies and Harry Potter and books about fairies, and each night when I sit in the quiet house, I hear a creak that means she’s gone into the library searching out another book to help her fall asleep.  She is a beautiful, unique soul whom I get to love and learn from up close and personal.

And for that I am most thankful.

Happy birthday, baby girl!  May it be the best one ever. yet. always.  Love you mostest.

Love to all.

Just for fun, a sample of the art in our birthday girl’s room, which shows her beautiful and complex spirit.  

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.

A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think.  She loved it, because Disney and all those movies--her FAVORITES.

A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think. She loved it, because Disney and all those movies–her FAVORITES.

A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess.  She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday.  And so it was.

A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess. She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday. And so it was.

A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.

A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.

This year's gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her "returning to college" sister.  This one melts MY heart.

This year’s gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her “returning to college” sister. This one melts MY heart.

A Shining Light

I remember the day we asked him to be my baby to be’s godfather.  It was a happy moment for me, but it was not quite so for him.  I don’t mean he wasn’t joyful, but he took it very seriously, and he thought about it before just blurting out “yes.”  From that moment on, he has loved this child of mine as though she were his own.

And she is.

She has been his since he came to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning to greet his new goddaughter just over twenty years ago.  She has been his since he held her in the recliner that had been her great grandfather’s.  He held her for HOURS, not wanting or needing a break.  Just holding on to the small bit of wonder in his arms, only a few weeks old.  She’s been his since his cards and notes and letters always put a smile on her face.  She’s been his ever since he has been at all of her big moments–the sad ones, holding her hand and hugging her tight, and the happy ones, high fiving her and watching her soar with his chest filled with pride and love in his eyes.

She’s been his all of her life.  He’s a doting godfather, but he’s also the kind who reminds her to be her best self and to “take the high road.”  Even when things get hard.  Even when other folks try to bring you to do battle on their path.  Take the high road.  Always.

I am thankful for the vision that came to me that summer of 1995.  The idea of this man, who was known and loved by my new family for almost all of his life, being in my child’s life just seemed natural.  It was important to me for reasons I could say and many more I could never quite put my finger on.  All I know is, in that moment, I chose wisely.  Very wisely.

Today I had an appointment with someone I saw last week.  He made the comment that I was much more relaxed than I had been the week before, which was funny since I arrived a few minutes late.  The thing is that this person is full of grace.  A few minutes late is NOT worth stressing about in his book, as he has impressed upon me time and again.  That right there.  That grace–that is why I was less stressed today.  I wanted to tell him that the relaxed me he saw had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the good and beautiful and grace-filled people I find myself blessed to have around me.

And that’s why tonight, on the eve of Aub’s godfather’s birthday, I give thanks for him.  He has taught her by example what a good man looks like and does.  He has shown her unconditional love and challenged her to be her best self.  He has sympathized with her and then told her to rise above.  He has celebrated everything in her life from birthdays to graduation to an evening of listening to her and her college classmates yelling and cheering.  He asks questions when boy’s names are mentioned, and he pays attention to her dreams and goals and cheers her on.  He is one of the good and beautiful and grace-filled people who surround her as she continues becoming the best person she can be.  Those folks are rare treasures indeed.

I remember one evening before she was born, after our childbirth class I think it was, that Aub’s “Uncle B” was going to join us for supper.   We exited the elevator to see him waiting in the lobby of the hospital building.  The sun was going down behind his head.  I remember being struck by trying to see him with all that light behind him.  I don’t remember anything else about that evening, like the class before that moment or the supper after.  But I remember him.  And that light.  And that’s how it has always been.  No matter how hard or sad or dark things have gotten in the past twenty years, he has been a constant, steady presence, a light in the darkness, reminding us that we are loved.  Just by being there.

Tonight I’m thankful for this man who has always been there for my girl.  On this day that celebrates his presence in our world, I am thankful for his presence in our lives.  Happy birthday, B!

Love to all.

Thankful for Aub's godfather who helps guide her on her path.   (A walk in wintry woods, Stockholm, Sweden) via Wikimedia Commons

Thankful for Aub’s godfather who helps guide her on her path.
(A walk in wintry woods, Stockholm, Sweden) via Wikimedia Commons

The Fella’s Big Day

Shortly after I knew the Fella might be the One, I had a dream.  It was a time of war, very WWII era like–planes flying over, dropping bombs, warships on the water, fire everywhere, people frantically running.  And in my dream, I stood there watching it all.

And I had a sense of peace.

Because in the midst of all the chaos, I saw the Fella standing over across the way, handling things.

And that’s all I needed to know.

It’s not that he was rescuing me.  Or anyone else.  I’ve reached an age where I realize that there is no such thing as someone else really rescuing me.  If I find myself locked in a tower, I’d better get to work figuring things out for myself as to how to get out of there if I want out. And if I don’t, that’s on me too.

But here’s what I do know.  If I find myself locked in a tower or pursued by wicked and evil, I know that I want the Fella there.

Because he remains calm.

Yeah, well, sometimes it is to the point of frustrating me just how unshakeable he can be, but when I get myself “situated” as my Mama used to say, I know his calmness is just what I need.  He is a rock.  My rock.

He has seen me through the heartbreak of death and the joy of new life and the fear of illness and worry over raising children.  He doesn’t slay dragons for me, but he sure stands by my side ready and willing when I take them on.  And he’s okay with me taking them on.

Which is pretty huge I think.  He empowers me, and he believes I am capable.

And he makes me laugh.   Which is pretty much my most favorite thing ever.

Tomorrow is his birthday.  We’ve been together for fourteen of his birthdays now.  His first one, we weren’t yet engaged, and his birthday came before mine, so there was ALL THE PRESSURE of what to do about a gift, how much to say in a card, and all the stress.

I like being an old married couple so much better.

Because this year, he’s getting a–

*spoiler alert, Fella, if you haven’t opened your gift yet, DON’T read this*

goofy Star Wars humor t-shirt and some Lego minifigures that we hoped he’d like and homemade cards because we are all about the creativity and using all the colors.

And all our love.

But he gets that most days anyways.

I am thankful for this Fella who was born ALL THOSE YEARS AGO.  (Yes for six weeks he’s TWO years older than I am, and I do not let him forget it a single day.)  He jokes about how he lived in Georgia for a couple of years when we were both teenagers and how he drove by our exit on the interstate several times and what if, all those years ago…..

Then he laughs and says I would have never given him the time of day back then.

I don’t know for sure if that’s true or not.  But I’m mindful of a quote my friend shared at Evening Prayer last night.

“When conditions are sufficient things manifest.”–Thich Nhat Hahn

And so, instead of being sad over all the years we missed being together, I am thankful for the fact that conditions lent themselves to this Fella crossing my path a little over thirteen years ago and him inviting me to come along with him.

It’s been quite the ride we’ve had, the two of us.  I’m glad my Fella’s the One riding shotgun as we see where this road takes us and our crew.

Happy birthday, Fella.  Thanks for all the days.  And the love.  But mostly for the laughter.  😉  And because it’s your special day, I’ll save you the last bag of sweet potato chips.  Yeah, you’re just that loved.