Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Nursery and Taking His Name and Love Upon Us

I never knew what an act of trust it was to send your little munchkin to Nursery and put them in the care of strangers for a couple of hours each Sunday until I had a mini munchkin of my own. BH and I served in Nursery (a sunday school class/playtime/snacktime/songtime for children 18 months to 3 years old) in our first ward after we were married. I loved it, did my best to be kind and firm with the kiddos, loved on the ones that that worried when they were away from mom and dad, played with the shy ones, encouraged the rambunctious ones to care for the others, just tried my best to treat them like their moms would want them to be treated. But mostly we just loosely controlled chaos and doled out handfuls of fruit snacks and animal crackers.

Then after we moved, bought a house, and had a kiddo of our own, I find myself serving in nursery again. It has been fabulous to have somewhere to take our Baby Bear to play with other kids and do activities and keep her attention during church. I love playing with all the munchkins and hugging the ones that are fussy (especially since our church is during universal toddler nap time hours). It's even more controlled chaos with a lot more three year olds and just one or two younger kids, but there's still a lot of animal crackers and fruit snacks.

One week when there were a few of us working in nursery, we had more people than we needed and the other gals offered to let me go to the adult Sunday School and Relief Society. Normally I would jump at the chance to sit still for a couple of hours discussing the gospel with other adults, but instead a rush of anxious questions ran through my mind.

Would they watch and make sure she sat in the middle of her chair instead of on the edge so she wouldn't fall off? Would they watch and make sure she only tried to eat one cracker at a time instead of shoving a whole handful of them in her face? Would they notice if she started to eat the crayons or took liberties as to what was considered appropriate coloring surfaces? In a class full of three-year-olds would they be in tune with the needs of a little 15-month-old who wasn't even old enough to be there in the first place?

All the ladies in nursery with me are responsible, caring individuals, but I found myself suddenly worried about leaving her with someone who wasn't me.

Now that she is 18 months, her chair sitting, cracker regulating, and appropriate crayon use skills have all improved and I don't worry about her so much. She has even stopped taking toys from other kids unless it's really really cool.

I no longer worry about leaving her in nursery, but I have learned how important a responsibility it is to care these adorable kiddos and the huge amount of trust their parents have in us Nursery ladies. I may have accidentally set a precedent that the kiddos (and adults) can all take their shoes off and pile them in a corner, but otherwise I try my very best to treat each child as lovingly and carefully as their parents would.

Now this would be a good place to say, "What a wonderful lesson I've learned!" and move on to some lovely thought about Easter and bunnies and rolling colorful eggs down hills. However, as I am learning is the pattern, there was a even more powerful lesson to be learned.

via LDS Media Library

I had all the kiddos gathered around me on the floor for lesson time. I sat on the table in front of them and held up the picture from the lesson for the week. In a crazy rare moment, they were all paying attention at the same time. I asked my favorite question, "Who is this?" They all cried out in unison, "JESUS!", or rather "Je-bis" or "Zezus" or some other adorable variation. I told them the story about how Jesus loved children, how He gathered them around Him, how He sat them on His knee and hugged them, how He wanted them to live with Him in heaven forever.

I looked around at these little mischievous angels gathered around me, sitting at my side. I looked at the one darling little blonde who was always so nervous when her daddy left that she would sit on your lap for an long time just snuggling with you. I looked at my baby girl and knew just how much I wanted her to be mine forever.

via LDS Media Library
These little kiddos probably wouldn't sit at the Savior's feet in their mortal childhood. They probably wouldn't hear His voice or talk with Him in person. But they would grow to have a relationship with Him. The lessons and hugs and images of heaven would have to come from those who represented Him, those like me who had taken His name upon them in covenant, who were tasked with the incredible responsibility of caring for His darling children, not just for a couple of hours, but for a lifetime. What an incredible trust He places in us to represent Him, to teach our children about His love by loving them ourselves, to show them the love of their Heavenly Father and Elder Brother through the love of their imperfect parents.

Oh how He loves us, our Savior, our friend. Oh how God loves us, our Creator, our Father. I know because I have sat at the feet of those who love Him and have taken His name upon them. I have been loved and hugged and taught by those that took seriously the sacred responsibility to be His representative not just in name, but in mission and love. I guess I just realized that it's my turn to share His love, not just with the little kiddos in Nursery, but with all of God's beloved children.

Love you all, Happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Intention and Compassion and Community

Community. It's one of the reasons I love blogging. The support and love we can share with each other, the things we can learn from each other. But there is also a risk associated with being part of a community.

Each time I put myself out there and offer something of my heart and soul to the world I worry a little bit. Will today be the day that someone finally lets me know how lame they think my mom stories are? Is this post going to be the one that offends someone even though I spent hours trying to find the perfect words to express my point of view with love and humility? Will this be the day when someone tells me that my new Etsy product is just downright ugly?

Honestly, with topics such as gender roles and same sex marriage on my blog I was expecting to get some negative feedback. I was expecting a bump in the road, or a road block or two.

I wasn't expecting to be thrown off a cliff. And certainly not by lovey moms like me.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     

I was watching this documentary the other day about girls in India and the clash between traditional cultural values and the more modern culture that is growing in their country. It started out with an interesting overlap of stories, both following girls of similar age. One was attending a camp designed to strengthen her Hindu cultural traditions and one more modern gal was participating in a pageant to be Miss India.

The story began to develop as each of the girls shared more of their philosophical beliefs and their reasons for participating in the events. The traditional gals were trying to keep the moral strength that their religion and historic culture gave them and their country. The modern gals were looking for a platform that would give them a voice and opportunities in a country that consistently overlooked them and set limits on their choices. It was easy to see how both sides were seeking for the best for them and their fellow country women, but each in different ways.

The real complexity came when the film explored where these good intentions led the girls. The camp the traditional gal attended strengthened the girls views that her only valuable contribution to society was to marry and bear children, that her only worth was that given to her my her husband. Their classes included instruction on how to handle and shoot a rifle so that they can protect their religious and cultural values by killing those who opposed them. The film followed the pageant participants as they underwent the beauty regime demanded by the pageant, including botox, and challenges that judged them solely on their legs or bikini bodies, all for the chance to have a career and be judged one day my their own ideas and abilities instead of being told what to do all their lives.

It was a great film, very thought provoking, but I didn't immediately see the parallels these two extreme examples in a country half way across the world had to my life.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     

I'll not go into the details of what happened this week. In my interactions with a community I had thought myself to be a part of, I had done what I believed to be a good job and offered something I believed of value to the community. However it did not meet their expectations. I had done research before offering my little piece of myself to the community, but I hadn't done enough to equal all that that their collective experience had given them. When the first few people came to me with concerns, I was a little hurt, but tried to step back and review their criticisms to find if their concerns were valid and how I could make a better offering to the community. 

But it quickly turned from a few concerns into a torrent of negative words and judgement. I was accused of a lengthy list of horrible things. Multiple people believed they knew the intentions behind my actions and that they were neglectful and malicious. Every detail of my offering and my online presence was scrutinized, every detail of my life that could be gathered was used to prove their theories. They posted notices of every action I took, every message I sent in response to their concerns. They shared links to my etsy shop, my listings, my blogs, and specific blog posts that they used to try to prove their point. Little things that I enjoyed in my creative process where used to show that my intention was just to get gain for myself. My admission here on my blog that I am a new mom and didn't know everything was used to show that I couldn't have possibly had the ability to offer something of value to this community with such vast knowledge and expertise in the field.

I read all of this with hurt feelings so I saw much of what transpired through that perspective. I have since tried to ruminate and let my thoughts and feelings simmer a little. Now that they have distilled down to a few different points, I can see this experience a little clearer than I could while I was in the midst of it.

All these ladies were just a bunch of momma bears that loved their little ones. Their intention was to ensure that their kiddos and all the kiddos of the world got the best of the best and everything they needed to be safe and happy. It is easy in that mind set, with those great intentions, to begin to see the world in black and white, good and bad. If something is less than we expect it, if someone's view is other than our own, it becomes easy to cast ourselves as good and everyone else as bad. I was just caught on the wrong side of those good intentions.

They couldn't know my intentions, my reasons for doing what I do, the kind of person I am or want to be. Only I can know those things, and of course Heavenly Father. I can weigh their criticisms, their concerns, and their advice carefully. I can sift through all that was leveled at me, searching for things that can be constructive, to help me improve myself and what I offer to the world, and leave all the rest. I don't have to be burdened by carrying around all of their accusations and negativity around with me. And most importantly I don't have to believe in their judgements.

The only people whose judgements I need to have faith in are those that know me perfectly, my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They know me better than I know myself. They can tell me about my intentions and let me know where they need improvement or further mastery, or encourage me where those intentions are found to be noble and good.

I also found that I can only prove faithful to my intentions as far as my knowledge and abilities can allow me. We can only do the best with what we have at the time. The knowledge I had at the time of my offering was good, and I did the best I had with it. But through this experience I found more information that led me to make a different choice. I am proud of the offering I made and still believe in it, but won't put it back out there until I know it will meet every one of my revised expectations.

I learned a lot about myself and who I want to be. I kept hearing myself say things like "I am not going to be that person that quits because someone else doesn't approve of them" and "I have always believed in being honest, professional, and kind. I'm not going to let negativity take that away from me." I learned that I didn't just really like this offering I sent out into the world, but that I was really passionate about the needs and people it would serve. I reiterated and stood by my commitment to send out the best product I can and make sure my customers are 100% happy. I learned that the only people whose opinions I truly cared about were those people that are close to me. My family and friends rallied around me and supported me without trying to justify my mistakes. They honored me for my intentions without having to believe me to be perfect.

But perhaps the most powerful thing I learned this week is how I want to relate and communicate with other people. I hated that people immediately judged me to be a good or bad person based on one offering I sent out to the world, so I will refuse to judge them to be good or bad people based on one online interaction. I saw that good intentions don't justify tearing someone down, so I want to learn to build people up, even when I offer criticisms or concerns. I found it hard to meet the expectations of people that had different stores of knowledge and experience that I did, so I will try to consider the varying experiences of those I meet in my interactions with them. I found it easy for people to say harmful things when they didn't know I would be reading them, so I will strive to always speak as if the people concerned are next to me. 

It may sound trite to say, but I am profoundly grateful for this experience. Not only is my business going to come out of this like a phoenix, stronger and more lively than before, but my personal life has been strengthened as well. I am more devoted than ever to being an intentionally compassionate person that believes in the best of those I meet. I am more committed to the causes that I strive to serve in my offerings to the communities of which I am a part. I am stronger and more resilient as an individual. And, as it happens with almost all trials, I have a stronger foundation in my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

If nothing else comes from my offering to the community but that, my relationship with Heavenly Father is reason enough to put forth a little piece of my heart and soul. I hope to do so with compassion every day.

Lots of Love,
Monica Lynn

Thursday, March 13, 2014

{wonderfully wed} answering prayers

I remember exactly when I heard the very best piece of marriage advice I ever heard.

I was single for many years so I had time to read up on this thing before I entered into it. How naive I was to think I had any idea what married life would be like! Even now that I've been doing it for a few years I still feel like a newbie. So I read a lot of advice, gather a lot of tips, and pay particular attention to stories about happy marriages.

There is a lot of wisdom out there. But none more powerful than can be found in the temple. I was blessed to be able to attend a variety of sealing ceremonies before being sealed to my own Beloved Hubby. It was in one of those ceremonies, for my darling step sister, that I heard this little gem that has stayed with me all these years.

Before the actual religious ceremony starts in an LDS temple marriage (also called a sealing because the husband and wife are sealed together in this life and the next), the temple sealer who is performing the ceremony has a chance to offer some sage advice to the couple, often a treat to those family and friends in attendance as well.

The temple sealer on this particular day advised my cute sis to ponder and think about what her new husband would be praying for, to listen carefully to the prayers he offered as they prayed together. He likely had offered many prayers leading up to this day, praying to find her, to be worthy of her, that she would love him as he needed. And there she was, the answer to his prayers.

But this didn't need to end on the temple alter as they were sealed together. She could continue being the answer to his prayers, listening to what he asked and finding ways she could help facilitate those things he most desired in life and in his family. She could be an instrument in God's hands and a partner in His work with her loving new husband.

I've been thinking a lot about that recently as my BH and I have been considering a couple of big decisions. I wonder what he prays about when he speaking alone with His Father in Heaven. Since we talk about pretty much everything I have a pretty good idea, and I've been wondering how I can be a part of the answer to those prayers.

Does he pray that he pray that he will be able to provide for our family today and the next day?
I should express my gratitude to him far more often for the work he does to sustain our family. I should do my best to make sure I use our resources in a wise and wonderful way to make sure we get the most out of the money we do have.

Does he pray that our relationship will continue to grow and blossom as the years grow on?
I can find ways to express my love to him everyday, in old and new ways. I can give him confidence that my love for him burns bright by always treating him as my knight in shining armor, not just my relief babysitter.

Does he pray that our daughter will grow up to have a strong testimony and a beautiful relationship with the Father and her Savior?
I have the responsibility to nurture a strong testimony of my own to guide her as an example and cultivate an atmosphere in the home where the Spirit will feel at home and reside so my daughter can learn from its guidance.

I hope to be more attentive during our prayers together and really listen with an open heart to be able to understand the prayers of my hubby. Then, with the guidance of the spirit, I hope to more fully be the answer to his prayers. I already have a big one under my belt, being his wife and mummy to his kiddos, but there are so many more ways to be an instrument in the Lord's hands in his life.

What are some ways you have been able to be the answer to your spouse's prayers? In what ways do they act as the Lord's instrument in answering yours?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

{mormonmommyblogs} eternal life

My newest piece is up on Mormon Mommy Blogs today. This one has been rolling around my mind for a while before I could formulate it into words. Do you ever have those thoughts that make an impression but you can't really explain to others for a while? This one's been around for about 15 years and I finally got it into words. Full post is below :)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *  

Eternal Life. How would you define eternal life? Heaven? A place of happiness? What we receive after we endure to the end? The place where God lives? Being exalted and living with our Heavenly Father? I've heard these and much more in my many years in the church. Eternal life was always one of those big general ideas in the church that I knew about by hearing it in context with other topics, but one that I couldn't seem to define. Until one day I read a scripture that changed my life.

You know the kind; a verse you've read a hundred times before, but had never caught your eye, hadn't said much to you until exactly the right moment. I don't remember where I was at the moment or what led up to it, but I remember exactly how I felt that day when I read John 17:3 for the hundredth time.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent. John 17:3

I learned a lot about my life in that one sentence of scripture, that one line of the Great Intercessory Prayer.

You see, I was teenager. One that hadn't grown up in church, but had known of it's truth for a while. My testimony was built in Seminary and Young Women's and I was learning all this on my own. When a youth leader of mine had challenged us to imagine Christ and Heavenly Father sitting next to us as we prayed, I gained an understanding of my personal relationship to them. As I read and sought to understand the scriptures in those years, I learned that not only did He want to hear from me, but that He wanted to communicate back with me. As I felt and responded to the promptings of the Spirit in my life, I came to understand that He knew me as an individual, as His daughter, and that He wanted to be a part of my life. My personal knowledge of His love for me became the cornerstone of my testimony and remains so today.

I knew that He wanted to be a part of my life, every day of it. I knew that I wanted to continue to learn of my Father in Heaven and grow closer to Him in this life, right now. So when I read the Savior's definition of eternal life, to know God and Jesus Christ, my life changed. I could no longer see it as a challenging trial that had to be completed well and endured faithfully until the end, when I would finally be rewarded for my good choices. Instead, it became a glorious and wonderful place where every day, every moment, held the opportunity to live life with Him, to feel His warmth, and bask in His love. Instead of a trophy waiting at the end of the race, eternal life became the beautiful scenery and loving companionship that blessed me as I ran along.

We can't come to know God completely in this life. We'll never know all His reasons or understand all the ways He cares for His children. But we don't have to wait till our mortal eyes can see Him. As we welcome His love and influence into our lives, as we communicate with Him through prayer, the scriptures and prophets, and the gift of the Spirit we can come to know Him better. We can come to live each day with Him as a part of our lives. We can come to know Him a little better every day. Every day we can have a little slice of eternal life.

image via media library

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

{mommydom} how can i be me while i'm being mommy?

I've only been a mommy for a little while now. I am not an expert. I don't know if I will ever be an expert at parenting or ever be able to share anything applicable to anyone else's life.

The only thing I know really well is my life. And I am an expert in one little area of parenting, one tiny little adorable corner. I'm an expert at my little Baby Bear. I'm not an expert at knowing everything I should do with her or how to do it, but I am an expert at knowing her. She's adorable.

Now that she's not a baby anymore I feel this need to record everything I learned, because I am already forgetting. Hopefully it will all come back to me when I need it and this mommy brain will have some pockets of good memory. But until then I'll write down a few things I've learned in this crazy learning experience called mommydom. Mostly for me later down the road when I need to remember, but if it helps you too, all the better.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

The past couple weeks I've been holding my breath. I don't want to move, or flinch, or even sneeze at the risk of disturbing this elusive exotic creature that has come sneeking into my life, this crazy endangered species called balance.

I'd heard rumors of it, had seen hints of it, tracks it had left in my life telling me that I had just missed it, but I hadn't seen it since becoming a mommy. Then one day, I blinked and it was there.

The past few weeks have been wonderful. Don't get me wrong, we still had melt downs and sleepless night or two, but on the whole we have been happy, rested, excited, and gaining traction on projects and to-do lists that have sat around collecting dust. I've felt so peaceful, happy, and productive that I almost don't know what to do with myself.

I am expecting it to pass at any minute, so I have been trying to enjoy every day of it. In the mean time I want to share some things I've learned about how to find balance, or at least create a space where balance can find you.

Prioritize Your Priorities:

Of course spiritual things come first. Unless the baby gets up before you and steals your scripture time. Like every day. And prayers are super important every day. Except for those nights when you fall asleep before you even finish getting undressed.

And family is number two most important. That's why you give up all your time to their needs, which, let's face it, are endless. And of course they need a clean house to live in so they can be healthy and happy so even when one of them isn't devouring your immediate attention, the stock pile of dirty dishes is waiting to take their spot. That is except for us working Mommas. When we have spare time it usually goes to work, to help pay for that house and all those dishes.

What we seem to forget sometimes is that happy families and marriages are built on the foundation of happy, healthy, fulfilled parents. That includes you Mama. And families learn how to have relationships with their Father in Heaven by watching their parent's relationship with Him. That means you Mommy.

More than a clean house, an extra paycheck, or cupcakes for the school bake sale, your family needs you. And not just any you, the healthy strong and happy version of you.

So when you are prioritizing spiritual matters first, that includes your own relationship with God. When you prioritize family next, that includes yourself as a member of that family. Your needs are just as important as everyone else's. We Mommas have to learn not to confuse self care with selfishness.

So how can we be the best versions of ourselves while still being Mommy?

Prioritize Time:

Have you ever seen that object lesson with the jar, the marbles, the sand, and the golf balls? So you take this jar and try to fit all these other things inside. And you don't see how all this stuff is going to fit. You try putting the sand in first, then some of the golf balls, and try to shove the marbles in the corners, but it just won't fit.

The same thing is true with our lives. We only have so many hours in a day, so much space in our jars. If we we try to pack everything in at random we'll never be able to fit it all in.

But it can fit. You put the golf balls in first. They seem to take up the whole jar, but as you drop in the marbles they shake down the sides and through the spaces between the balls. You find that they all fit. Then you take some sand and pour it in little by little, tapping the sides of the jar, letting it settle into all the tiny crevices. Voila. Magically everything fits.

The same strategy works with our time. If we put the big, important things in first, like scriptures, prayer, that mysteriously wonderful thing they call taking a shower, they will all fit. Then we can add the marbles; the school projects, the Sunday School lessons, all those things that seem so big and daunting but aren't so bad if you have the time. After that, we can fit all the little things into the cracks, all the errands that need to be run, the trips to the park, all that smaller stuff that makes life full and delicious but won't hurt us if it gets missed for a day or two.

And magically it will all fit. At least most of it will, in my experience.

And one important thing to remember, you are not a marble. Your needs aren't sand that fits in the cracks where others leave time, if they leave time.

You are a golf ball. You are one of the first things to take care of. So do that with the first time you find during the day. Put aside your work laptop and the dish rag for later in the day and spend the first chunk of time you find on yourself.

I know, I know, this is where the guilt kicks in. We have to learn a new mantra, I am not selfish, I take care of myself so I can take care of others.

It can also be hard to focus on ourselves when our to do list is looming in the back of our minds. You can set a specific allotment of time for personal investment, be it an hour, 20 minutes, wherever you find your balance. When we find ten minutes or half an hour we spend it on ourselves until we've reached our time allotment and move on to other golf balls. That way we can tell the to do list to wait, knowing it will have its turn a little later in the day.

Prioritize Your Tasks:

Once you find the time, the next idea is to use it well. Have a list of tasks you'd like to complete in order. Maybe for you it's small list of repeated daily tasks. Or perhaps it's a rotating list of personal projects you can never seem to get to. Start by thinking, if I have only ten minutes today, what is the one thing I want to do? Put that at the top. If I have ten more minutes, what would I do next? Put that next on the list. I find that if I already have something in mind to do when the moment arises, then I can just jump into it and make better use of the time I find.

Also think about the things you can do that would have the most impact. Often I find that I get the best return for my investment if I spend time meeting physical needs, strengthening spiritual connections, or find fulfillment by creating something or learning something new.

Perhaps taking a shower or really doing your hair is at the top of your list. Taking the time to care for your physical needs can really give us energy and confidence during the day. (By the way, naps are totally a good use of time). Or perhaps your most neglected need is to spend quiet time meeting spiritual needs. Inviting the Spirit in our lives gives us peace, confidence, and inspiration to make it through our days more joyfully. Perhaps indulging in a creative outlet is your number one. Being creative is a Godlike trait that we can pass on to our children. When you strengthen your faith and show yourself some love, your whole family will benefit.

So what do you to when you just can't find the time?

Multitask the time you do have:

Listen to uplifting and educating media while you do tasks like cleaning and working. NPR, TED Talks, MormonChannel, Librivox, and Pandora are some of my favorites.

Clean while kiddos are awake. I know it is tempting to clean while they are asleep, but that is prime mommy time (and SLEEP time!). Get the kids to help or wear your little ones around in a sling or baby carrier. You can clean and get some good snuggle time so your kiddos will be more independent and less needy other times during the day.

Save your errands and shopping for when you and the kiddos need an adventure to bust the boredoms or stir-crazies. And who knows, maybe your adventures will end in a little impromptu nap.

Ask for help:

Try having a daily touch-base with your hubby once a day. Share how your day was, what still needs to get done for the day, and what he would like to do for the day as well. Perhaps he can take the kids while you do his errands. That way you can have a break and he can have some play time!

Create a mom group exchange with ladies in your community. Take turns with half the moms watching the kids while the other half have an hour or two to themselves, then switch the next week.

Utilize your free babysitting resources (a.k.a. grandparents and aunts and uncles) for more than just special occaisions. Set up a time to have the grandparents take the kids out to the park or the library and stay home by yourself.

Instead of cooking, send daddy and kids out for take out. You not only get some alone time, but you get off the hook for dinner and fewer dishes. All around good plan.

One last word on not feeling bad:

It is important to make sure you get quality time with yourself. That will be easier to do if you also get quality time with your hubby and each of your kiddos. Then no one feels neglected and they'll be willing to be without you for a bit.

And when you come back you will be a happier, healthier, stronger, more peaceful and resilient Momma that can live a better life and take better care of all your roles and responsibilities and lead a hopeful and optimistic life.

So go ahead. Put Mommy First!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

{guest post} @MormonWomen

I'm excited to be sharing some writing over at MormonWomen today! Their site is dedicated to telling the story of Mormon women in their own words rather than letting stories and assumptions tell our stories for us. Love their site, follow, and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 14, 2014

{dear friday} to my love

To the babe of babes,

I think often of how we first came to be.

I had spent many years thinking I knew where life would take me, thinking I knew what love would mean. I dedicated my life to showing forth the faith and sacrifice worthy of a grand kind of love, the kind that could change and challenge you,  make you into a wonderful kind of human being. I believed when my time came for love I would have a beautiful story to tell. 

So I played the heroine,  strong and kind and patient.

I thought I knew where love would grow, what flora it would produce. I imagined a bouquet of perfect roses, carefully cut and arranged to showcase the most beauty.

But love grows wild. It grows in the hedge rows of our hearts wild free, its beauty unfettered by any human design, knowing only the influence of a Creator's touch.

In the name of a heroine I forgave those I believed to be my story's victors and neglected to see who my true hero was.

I didn't see you.

Until one day I found love growing in the hedge row of my heart. I found you there waiting patiently for me,showing forth the faith and sacrifice worthy of a grand kind of love, the kind of love that can change you.

That love changed me. It works in me each day I am blessed to share with you. I am more than I was without you,  more than I ever hoped to be.

You gave me your name, you gave me my title of wife, of mother. You gave me our daughter.

You gave me me, the me I had wanted to be. For that and a thousand things, I love you.

Happy Valentines Day my love.

My love forever,