This age has clearly brought me a day of reflection and complete thankfulness. I've been thinking a lot today about my family and friends. They have all had profound effects on my life and I could not be more grateful for them and their place in making me who I am today. I have been so blessed with the people in my life. I just thought I'd take a minute to thank them publicly for everything they've been to me, and how they've contributed to bringing me to the place I am in my life right now.
First of all, my mother and father... they have taught me so much. I am so blessed to have parents who I can be so open with. They are both fantastic in their own ways. God bless them! They have been there for me through everything. They put up with my attitude problems and messy room as a preteen and my attempt at trying to figure out who I was as a teenager and into my early 20's. They supported me through my moves to NYC and DC and they have never once told me that they were angry with me because of these decisions. They have listened to me through laughter and tears. They have been there for my mistakes and my triumphs and for that, I am eternally grateful! They have allowed me to grow as my own person. They were protective, but not overly so. They always allowed me to make decisions and take responsibility for things. This may not have always been exactly what I wanted when I was growing up, especially when I had chores and a job when there were so many others who did not have to do those things. But now, I look back on the way they raised me, and I think they should be commended. It may not have always been an easy road, and believe me, not all of the memories are rose-colored, but they taught me the number one thing that I hope to teach Caroline as she grows... and that is the importance of unconditional love. They have given this to be my entire life and have demonstrated this act through the way they love others. I have made many mistakes, but they are always there to love me and pick me up. They tell me when I'm wrong and when I'm right, but sometimes they let me figure it out all on my own. But no matter what, I know, without a doubt, that their love will always be strong. It will never falter. It will always be a constant in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I only hope that I can do such an amazing job with Caroline that you both did with me!
Secondly, I want to thank my beautiful friends who have been with me most of my life. You know who you are. Best friends have a different meaning when they've been around for so long. Our relationships have grown and changed through the years, but ultimately these girls are my friends for life. We can go months without talking or years without seeing each other, but I know that the moment we are back together, it is like we were never apart. We all have had different accomplishments in our lives and I respect each and every one of them for who they are and who they have become. Just thinking of these girls makes me cry. Without a doubt, I would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for them. They helped shape me. We helped shape each other. We grew from little girls, to adolescents, to teenagers, to college students, to grown-ups, and we have been there through it all. We definitely don't see each other enough, but if I had it my way, we would all live on the same street for the rest of our lives. We'd have dinner parties and celebrations and raise our children together. I pray every single day that my daughter will be blessed with the kind of friendships I have been so lucky to have in my life. I meet new people all the time, and I have made many new friends throughout the years, but not a single person ever compares to this core group of friends I have had for so long. Thank you girls for being so much to me. Thank you for loving me and supporting me through my many ups and downs. Thank you for being such incredible role models and helping me understand that Jesus is the ONE who will always bind us together. You are all incredible women!
Third, I want to acknowledge my cousin Erika. She has grown into such a beautiful woman! She is my sister and my friend. It is such an amazing bond that we share. I have never had a sister, but she has well made up for that fact. I admire her on so many levels. Her spirit is so strong. and she is wise beyond her years. She is an amazing daughter, sister, wife and friend. She is one of the most honest and loving people I know. I look forward to seeing her as a mother one day. I love you and miss you! I thank you so much for being the beautiful woman that you are and for loving me the way you do!
And finally, I have to thank my husband. He is without a doubt, the most amazing man I have ever known in my entire life. I could not have picked a better man to spend my life with. Our meeting was divine intervention. It took me mere moments to realize that he is it for me. He is the only person I can see myself growing old with and I look forward to every single day we will spend together. He is my best friend. He puts up with all of me, and loves me with all of his heart. He embodies everything that I have ever known or learned about love. He is patient with me, even when I am not. He is kind through everything. He listens to me and supports me, but he lets me know when I am being unreasonable. He takes care of me when I am sick and lifts me up when I am feeling down. He knows how to lie quietly next to me when all I need is for him to be by my side. He makes me laugh like no one else can. He allows me to be my own person, but is very much a part of who I am. But most importantly, he is a wonderful father to Caroline. Seeing him with her is such a joy to my heart. I look forward to having more children with him and I look forward to seeing our family grow. I cannot adequately put into words how incredibly lucky I feel to be married to him. I never thought I would find someone who so perfectly meshed with me, but here he is and I have the privilege of seeing him every single day when I wake up and every night when I go to bed. I praise God for him. I love him more and more with every moment.
My daughter, as you continue to grow, I pray that you will understand how you are loved. I pray now, though you may not understand this love, that you feel it every single day of your life. I trust in my Lord to protect you through your days on this earth and guide you to live a life that is filled with love and honor to Him. Thank you, my child, for being in my life. I love you with all of my heart!