Frustrated by the layer of chaos accumulating on our dining room table turned collect-all-life’s-odds-and-ends holder, I began to make piles of the kids’ school work. I got to Grace’s pile and a lump formed in my throat. My boys’ papers are more refined, black and white, and resemble what you think of when you see “school work.” Grace’s papers are smudged with finger prints, paint, crayon doodles, and her name scrawled on the back of everything in big capital letters. I scooped up the mementos of her last year of preschool and took them to the basement to put them into a special box that I have for each of the kids’ most precious school work. And as I closed the lid, the tears started pouring down my face. My last baby is almost done with preschool.
As if this weren’t sad enough, we will also be saying so long to two of the best human beings I have ever had the honor of calling my children’s teachers since we have no more kids going through the school after Grace. Mrs. Leslie and Mrs. Shannon have been a shining light in our kids’ education. I know it’s just “preschool,” to some, but they have set a foundation for our kids teaching them so many of the basics like writing their names, counting, sorting and pre-reading but more importantly, what it means to follow directions, how to be “bucket-fillers”–how to be a friend to all.
I cannot believe after this month we will be parting ways and never again will I see Ms. Shannon’s beaming smile from the drop-off door or hear Mrs. Leslie singing the line-up song to our kids. We won’t have another Muffins for Moms day or field trip to Turtle Creek. I know we have so many other wonderful memories ahead of us, but these years with our kids’ in Mrs. Leslie and Mrs. Shannon’s class were magical (Oh! And Mrs. Candice when you subbed too!).
I just wanted to take a moment to say a special thank you to you on Teacher Appreciation day and to tell you, there should really be Exemplary Human Appreciation Day where you are the standard. We will always hold a special place in our hearts for you. So if you see me burst into tears on May 23, I hope you know,
it’s not just about my baby growing up. You will be missed greatly! But I know your future students will love you just as much as we do.
As wedding season is upon us, and I happen to personally know a few couples whose marriages are ending, I’ve been feeling very introspective about all of this marriage business.
When Scott and I went through our marriage prep classes, I thought I understood what “weathering difficult times“ meant. I anticipated arguments about who did the dishes last, why the house is so messy, or where did all the all the money go? What I did not understand yet were the arguments about feeling unappreciated. The arguments about feeling invalidated. I didn’t understand how being married to the person that you love, that you could ever feel alone even when you’re in the same room or how you could feel invisible for weeks at a time.
There are arguments we’ve had when I felt like I didn’t even know the person standing opposite of me. His face wasn’t the Scott I knew, but a stranger’s. How could that be the man I promised my life to? And I’m sure he has thought, “Who is this psychopath that I sleep next to?”
So why do it? Why even get mixed up in such messy business as holy matrimony? It’s definitely a lot of trouble and requires compromise to the point that you’re not even sure of what you wanted in the first place. Staying single, or becoming single again, you can live your life on your own terms, guilt free.
Now here is the truth, many days I don’t know why we stay married. I’d like to say it’s love more than an obligation or commitment, but I don’t know that it’s that simple. So I can understand why some people decide to call it quits. If you don’t have it in you to give your all and then a little more, then you’re done.
I think it’s actually that thing I’m always coming back to: Grace. I pray for my best efforts to be enough every day and somehow they are but it’s actually because of grace. It’s because what I bring to our marriage will actually never be enough, but grace makes it enough. The score will never be tied with any couple. One will always do something more or less than the other. I will always tell Scott I love him more than he tells me, but he will always be more financially responsible for us. I will always care less about how clean the floors are but he will always worry less about all the what ifs of life.
It’s our grace that we give to each other that keeps us waking up ready to make the same commitment. It’s never going to look perfect. In fact it’s usually ugly. We’ve both done so much to break this thing. But here we are, bruised and broken, but full of grace for one another.
I’ve often heard people say that raising kids is the hardest job there is. I would argue that it’s actually staying married because you will always be willing to forgive your kids. You will love them unconditionally. It takes a lot more effort to love your spouse that way. You never loved them as an innocent baby. They are not your flesh and blood. It is more work to dig deep and find that motivation to keep going when every fiber of your being is asking “Why? What’s in this for me?”
So if you’re thinking of taking that leap into the unknown, to buy the rings and register for some fancy dishes, those things are your consolation prize for the most difficult journey you’ve ever embarked on. You should know that it’s going to be messy. Bru
tally messy. That island of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean will actually look more appealing some days. But out of it comes the most beautiful imperfect kind of love you will ever know. It’s full of holes and cracks. But it can be solid and true if you give it grace.
When I was a little girl, I remember thinking grown ups were so put-together and self-assured. They never feel unsure of what they’re doing. Everyone thinks they’re great. They say things that make each other laugh and can even throw in the occasional swear word and it makes it even funnier! I distinctly remember believing that all of my life’s problems would be solved when I became an adult. I would never feel vulnerable or insecure again.
I’m thirty-six. I’m still waiting for that day to come.
Not only has it never come, if anything, I feel even more exposed and vulnerable most of the time (except after I have a “silly drink” or two, as my kids call them. I am suddenly hilarious and use only the best words; I know I am a grown up. Until the buzz wears off and I’m then analyzing every syllable I uttered while I was fuzzy in the head and feel so much less than I did before the silly drinks were consumed. Then there is usually a day or so of self-loathing to follow and I determine it will be best for everyone if I never have a “silly drink” again).
So I was discussing this whole insecurity thing with a friend. She was describing how her insecurity kicks into high gear when she is forced into situations requiring her to engage in conversations with other moms in public settings, particularly moms she has never met before. “Being a mom is so messy and you are so exposed…at the park, at school, at home…Mom on display and there is just so much pressure…it’s all fumbly and weird.”
YES! That’s it! It’s so fumbly and so weird (I told you I was going to use it, Jenny)! I’m in the adult version of being stuck on a bike without training wheels and I just can’t seem to find my balance, forever and ever, Amen.
But I DO see these other moms, dads, people resembling adults and they have it down. They are riding a two-wheeler, popping wheelies in the gravel, making it look so effortless and cool. Meanwhile, I’m praying Noah won’t forget another homework assignment this week which in reality I threw out by accident and is now covered by a pile of onion peels. And please, dear God, I hope none of the parents saw me getting pulled over today after dropping Grace off at preschool going 50 in a 35. Does the incompetence ever end? Sadly, I think not.
But what’s more incredible is, with the exception of a few dazzling people in this world who never doubt their ability, MOST of us are feeling like we’re falling off the bike all day long.
My wonderful friend Jenny reminded me of something so important last night, though. So you can thank her for the inspiration for all of this: “God sees you and he knows your heart. He loves you and is someone you can laugh about all these things to. It’s just part of being in a world with too many humans…Being a mom is like gold being tested in fire. It’s changing us. If nothing else, to remind us that we are not in control and we have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and soldier on.”
I know. You probably want to be friends with Jenny, too. She drops these truth bombs on me all the time. She helps me to see this parenting business with so much GRACE. And that is what we need to do. Put on the “Grace Goggles.” Dust off the lenses and SEE so clearly, we’re all just doing the best we can. And it really is enough, onion scented homework and traffic violations aside.
And sometimes we’re doing amazing and we still think it’s not good enough! Case and point, my profound friend rattled off an apology text after her last one saying that, “it probably didn’t make much sense” and “it’s late and sorry for the novel…”
…Um…that made more sense to me and spoke to me more clearly than anything anyone has said to me in weeks. Jenny, Mom of four, who moved her family across the country, during Christmas, while pregnant, and manages to make time for midnight therapy sessions for me, you’re my personal hero.
And I know if we all knew how much we we’re all dealing with that we never talk about on our Facebook highlight reel, we’d all have so much respect and genuine admiration for one another. But I’m telling you all right now, YOU’RE DOING GREAT. We all need to stop the self-deprecation and realize we’re doing our best and as long as we don’t stop trying, we can only get better.
Well, I’m off to pick up the kids at school. And don’t worry, if I see you pulled over by the officer on Cooley Lake Rd, I’ll salute you. I know how it happened. You’re just rushing to be enough for today.
Scientists think they have discovered a key to the secret to living a long life. They studied the lives of dozens of people who had lived to the age of 100 or more. They were trying to find clues linking behavior or lifestyle choices to longevity. Their studies left many surprised. The people in the study weren’t major health fanatics. They weren’t all vegetarians or non-drinkers. Some had smoked cigarettes for periods of their lives. Their parents had died at average ages, so it wasn’t genetics. They weren’t into exercising consistently. But the one thing that almost all of them had in common was a tight circle of friends, a support system throughout their lives. The people in those circles probably changed at various points in their lives, but they always had people to lean on, people who depended on them.
We live in a time when we can still feel lonely despite the presence of social media or the ability to call a person on any part of the globe and be connected to them in a matter of seconds. Now more than ever, we are overwhelmingly aware of what is going on in one another’s lives. We know everything from what our co-worker had for dinner to the gender of a new baby born hours before. So how can this epitomize a world of people who feel depressed and alone?
Because in a world where we constantly have a screen open for all the world to see “our lives”, what we are hiding or not being shown by others is the suffering, the inadequacy, the loneliness that every single one of us feels when we compare our imperfect story to someone else’s highlight reel. We have lost touch with the thing that makes us most beautiful: Our souls.
I’ve said it before but I think it bears repeating: We are not physical beings trying to live a spiritual life. We are spiritual beings living a physical life. Our spirits, or souls, are TRULY who we are. I’m NOT my gray hair, my crow’s feet, my scars, my self-centeredness, my fears, or my failings as a human being. I am imperfect, but I am so much more than my short-comings. I am a soul, created by the highest power. All of us are. The ugliest, clumsiest, saddest ones of us are all made by the One. We are most greatly affected by the energy of other souls. We thrive on positive energy and are destroyed by negativity. If we surround ourselves with good, if we channel our thoughts toward gratitude and focus on our blessings and not the things we do not have, our lives are full of light, joy, and love.
I heard something not long ago that made me pause. Jesus didn’t come to earth to help us get to heaven. Jesus came here to help us bring heaven to earth. If I’m being honest, humanity is screwing it up badly right now. Nikolas Cruz is a 19-year-old boy who will live the rest of his days in infamy. He killed seventeen people and injured many others. I keep hearing these stories and always amidst my tears and anger, come back to the simple question of, “Why does this keep happening?” I wanted to learn about Nikolas. People kept saying there were red flags. But when did they start popping up? Was he always a troubled person? I found out he was adopted. His adoptive parents are both now deceased, his mother very recently, in fact. He had been living with a friend when he committed the shootings.
But here is where I am stuck: He was once a child. He probably made animals out of hand prints just like my kids have. He probably passed out paper Valentine cards to his friends in grade school. He probably lived a normal kid’s life at one point. His younger brother lived the same life. Why didn’t he react the way Nikolas did?
What happens for a baby to grow into a killer? How does a person snap? How does a person become so broken that they think taking a life (or lives in this case) will be the answer? Several accounts of people interviewed about Nikolas said he seemed lonely, that it may have been his mother’s death in November that exacerbated the situation. But there is that word again: LONELY. Alone. In this world, how can a person ever feel alone? We can’t escape people if we try! I’m not saying Nikolas couldn’t feel lonely, I’m asking why he did. There are support groups all over social media to help people going through trauma. Why didn’t those help?
Because we have lost the true connection to one another and to ourselves. In our world, people try make that connection with things. Elaborate parties, clothes, food, money, drugs, alcohol, sex, fame, greed, anger, violence, and worse. And when we realize it’s love we need most of all, we don’t know where to look for that because everything is so fake and hollow. Having a real conversation with a compassionate, breathing human being seems far-fetched.
My kids have this book called, “You Are Special,” by Max Lucado. If I could afford to buy every person in this world a copy, I would. It’s a parable about these wooden people, the Wemmicks. They go around sticking dots on each other for their imperfections. They also put stars on the ones who are beautiful or talented. Punchinello is one of the wooden people with many dots. He is ashamed and only spends time with Wemmicks who are flawed like him. One day he meets a Wemmick named Lucia who has no dots or stars stuck to her. Curious, he asks her why and she tells him to go talk to Eli, the one who made them. So Punchinello goes to Eli. He tells Punchinello that the stars and dots don’t stick to Lucia because she has learned and believes that it doesn’t matter what the other Wemmicks think of her. She has faith in Eli’s love alone. She goes to see Eli every day and he reminds her that he loves her and he doesn’t make junk. So she believes in herself. Her faith is a sort of protective armor from the opinions of others. Eli tells Punchinello to do the same and the moment he starts to believe it, one of his dots falls off.
It’s a children’s story. But it speaks to me so much that I am always crying by the last page and my kids are laughing at me. But it’s a moral for all of us: God is here all the time. He’s waiting for us to turn off our screens and to stop passing judgement on ourselves and each other. He’s in our hearts. He’s begging us to listen and to be there for one another.
God is shouting to us from the lonely kid in the cafeteria wanting nothing more than a friend. God is calling to us from the nursing home where our elderly, alone and forgotten, are just waiting to leave this world. God is with the poor man I saw on the side of the road last week, standing in the snow holding a sign that said, “Even a smile will help.” God is begging for us to hear him and see him again, not in a blaze of light or an apocalyptic event, but in simple opportunities for kindness toward each other.
Even if you’re not Catholic, or if you don’t celebrate Lent, I am asking if you would do something for forty days. Maybe it will be a habit that lasts longer. I tell my kids all the time, Lent isn’t only about sacrifice. It can also be adding something positive to your life. Every day, just do one random act of kindness. It doesn’t have to be something big. As the homeless man pointed out, even a smile can help. It all has a ripple effect. And who knows, your smile could literally change the world.
Last night we ate at a restaurant the kids have never been to before, Sparkie’s. We rarely go out to dinner but Scott and I are trying to bolster our kids’ confidence and one simple way that was suggested to us is by allowing them to order their own food when we go out to eat. Plus, I was not in the mood to cook after being away from home most of the day. Scott suggested Sparkie’s because we were all a little burnt out on our usual spots. The kids loved it and were so excited to be somewhere new. They were commenting on the nice booths and Grace even let us know “The bathrooms are really cool!” We might need to get out more…
We were drawing pictures on the backs of the kids’ place mats, waiting for our food when Noah announced, “Someday I will move out and live in an apartment. Probably when I go to college.” I honestly couldn’t reconstruct the details of the conversation that lead to that declaration of independence, but I saw Scott’s head snap in Noah’s direction right along with mine. Noah is nine. How in the world he’s already thinking about such things is beyond me.
Grace weighed in on Noah’s plans with “You can get a puppy and I will come visit you!” as if this was obviously the sort of dinner conversation people have with their elementary-school-aged kids.
“Whoa! Whoa! Pump the breaks!” I looked at Noah who was smiling broadly back at me.
“What?” he asked feigning innocence as he pushed his glasses back on his nose by wrinkling his face to one side. Scott and I looked at each other both thinly suppressing laughter.
Scott said, “Let’s just get you through grade school first.”
“Won’t you miss us?” I asked playing along. I felt a nudge from my left side where Luke had all but melted under the table, his round eyes swimming with tears peeking over the edge.
“Luke what’s the matter?” I asked him. But I already knew. Luke, my sensitive kid, was fast-forwarding to how it would be when they grow up and move away. “Luke, you can stay with Dad and me as long as you want. Is that what’s bothering you?”
He managed a small nod, determined not to let those tears fall past his eyes. “And I’ll miss Noah,” he whispered. And there was the simple truth. Our kids really do love each other. Despite all their bickering and squabbles, they are best friends.
Anyway, it all got me thinking about our kids on a much deeper level. The fact that Noah has these kinds of aspirations shows me that they are becoming themselves, not just our children, but the people who they are intended to be. So often I think of the kids as being “ours.” But they really aren’t, at least not in a sense of ownership. We care for them and make sure we meet their needs as well as providing a framework for living a moral life. But the fact is, they belong to God. We are just taking care of them until they can take care of themselves.
And this is why I am so glad they have each other. I know siblings don’t always stay close, but even if they drift in life, they will at least have Scott and me in common. Their memories will have us in the background and that is something that only they will share.
It amazes me because there was a brief moment after Noah was born when I thought I would not want to have other kids. I was not one of those pregnant women who basked in the glow of pregnancy bliss. I was sick and gray well past the twenty-week mark and even my birth plan had gone awry resulting in an emergency c-section. I remember thinking it was probably a mistake for me to become a mother. I was too selfish, after all. I thought the worst thing I could do was have another.
But Luke had other plans for me, announcing his existence one early-September day when Noah was about ten months old and I was wondering why I felt so tired and nauseous. I am ashamed to say, my initial reaction wasn’t one so much of joy, but more of annoyance. I had just been through this! How could it be happening again? Well, of course I knew how, but I didn’t understand why. Hadn’t God and I sorted this out? I was a mediocre mom at best. I hadn’t quite stopped lamenting my inability to sleep an uninterrupted seven hours of sleep a night or go to concerts on weeknights as I did pre-children. I didn’t live for play-dates and the thought of quitting my job gave me a minor panic attack since we wouldn’t be able to afford daycare for two kids.
But Luke came right on schedule in May of the following year. And even though those early days of having two children are a fog of delirium (I literally hallucinated Batman was coming in through the nursery window one night in June after Luke was born), I know Noah and Luke were best friends from the second they met each other. They even coordinated a plan to help me lose my mind entirely by plotting to have Luke take his first steps the same day I was determined to potty-train Noah. So I chased them around for three days, trying to throw the potty chair under Noah while preventing Luke from getting a concussion on walls and furniture.
And then, I thought having such a tidy, two-child family was far too “normal,” so we threw everything off balance by trying for a third kid and wound up with Grace. In truth, the boys couldn’t have gotten a better little sister. She is down for anything that they throw at her. I still remember her humming the Imperial March song from Star Wars over the baby monitor when the boys were at the height of their Star Wars obsession and she was about two years old.
So last night I looked around our table at my family with a tender heart. This Saturday night was one I never would have pictured ten years ago when Scott and I used to go there as a newly married couple; Noah gushing praise over Sparkie’s exquisite mac n’ cheese recipe, Luke wiping ketchup from his mouth with the back of his hand, and Grace stabbing her bun-less hamburger with a fork while smiling about something Scott had just said. I felt humbled and undeserving of so much good fortune.
I read a theory a while back that we actually choose who we get to spend life with before we come here. We choose each other to learn from, truths about our souls, that sort of thing. It’s as if Earth is one giant classroom. Every person in our lives is a lesson to be learned. And how deeply blessed I am that these souls chose me to be a part of their journey.
Luke was playing a game on iPad recently called “Temple Run.” This animated character dressed like a little Indiana Jones sprints through this temple/maze/obstacle course, careening through the labyrinth, twisting around hairpin turns, vaulting over broken bridges leading to eventual and certain death. As he makes his way through the course, he collects coins in his bottomless adventure sack with infinite amounts of space while a massive gorilla with the head of a vulture is on his heels, waiting for him to trip so he can devour him. Luke is a machine at this game. He breaks every record that anyone has set. It’s actually amazing to watch a his brain work to respond that quickly. He doesn’t blink. I wonder if he’s even breathing.
Around this time of the year, I feel a little like that Indiana Jones guy. Life is like the obstacle course with all the items on the daily checklist because we have the everyday things that need to be done; make the beds, brush the teeth, clothe the tiny people, feed the tiny people, keep the tiny people alive…
…But then we have these added challenges with all the holiday hoops to jump through. Every Christmas card, batch of cookies, present checked off the list, party attended, is a bridge to jump. And I was like Luke playing the game this year. I was impressing even myself by beginning my Christmas shopping in July, having three batches of cookies in the freezer the first week of December, making it to not one, but two of my kids’ Christmas parties at school today–bonus coins!
I was feeling so good, sure I was having a type of runner’s high. I was in a euphoric hysteria laughing at the ease with which I was getting it all done. Tonight, we got the kids to bed in record time. I knew I could breathe easy from here on out. I looked back over my shoulder at that proverbial gorilla-vulture and flipped it the bird. “I’ve got this!” I turned back to continue the race, overly-confident, scooping up a laundry basket at the top of the stairs (Multi-tasking is my middle name!) and started hopping down the staircase.
Then something happened about four steps from the bottom. The damn gorilla must have hooked my foot and I thudded down the stairs on my butt, each step in quick succession, while my arm scraped down the molding on the banister beside me. I lie in a heap at the bottom of the steps wondering what had just happened.
Scott poked his head out into the hall, obviously suppressing laughter at the sound of his wife getting spanked by the stairs. “You ok?” he managed as I shakily got to my feet.
“Yes.” I whimpered. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or maybe I actually wanted to cry. My arm was stinging and I looked down at it to find a long scratch from elbow to wrist. I realized suddenly how strung tight I was. I started both laughing and crying as I limped to our bedroom. It was unclear in that moment of what was actually in the middle of those emotions. But I decided quickly that whatever it was, there was definitely humor in it.
So many times I think I am in control and quickly (and painfully) learn I am not. And the best part is, it’s all a part of the game we sign up to play. It’s a game in which we’re willing participants. We log in to run the obstacle course the minute we open our eyes and our feet hit the floor in the morning.
Even though I’m a little afraid to leave my room right now, I know I will have to go move the Elf and fill the water bottles so we can do it all over again tomorrow.
In a strange way, I am kind of grateful for falling down the stairs tonight. It was a rude awakening but humor and humility are two things we need to get through life every day.
“It feels like we’re living in a story.” I turned to look at Grace. She was standing in her pajamas, her hair hanging in a wild mess around her face. We had just gotten home from Dairy Queen, our car ride spent rocking out to Tom Petty as I held back tears over the events of the day. She still had chocolate smeared around her mouth.
“What did you say, sweet girl?” I’d heard her perfectly well, but I wanted to make sure my own subconscious wasn’t having selective hearing.
“I said, ‘It feels like we’re living in a story,’ ” she repeated.
“What do you mean by that?” I smiled at her and held out my hand. She took it and said, “Sometimes it seems like we’re watching ourselves on a show.” Then she nestled her whole body into my arms and just stared into my eyes. “But my heart is still beating and I’m still alive.” I think she was channeling something very divine. This response still has me marveling at its profundity.
Today. One for the history books, to be sure. A mass shooting in Las Vegas. The souls of dozens of people taken from senseless violence. And this on the heels of weeks of natural disasters devastating countless lives. I haven’t found the right words to tell my kids about some of this, but I think they intuitively know. It’s not a pretty story we’re living in at the moment.
If it is possible, one thing I find even more disappointing than these events themselves, is how awful people can be toward one another in their depths of despair. The ugly, hateful words people are flinging around in an attempt to find some “reason” for any of these things happening. Evil doesn’t care what color your skin is. It doesn’t care if you voted Democrat or Republican. Evil preys on fear. Evil just wants us all to be against one another because that is the only way it can thrive.
The people of our world are tearing it apart with blame, fear, and hatred. So what can we do- what can I do– to make a change? Well, here we are still breathing. Or as my four-year-old put it, our hearts are still beating. We are still alive. There is still a purpose for us to be in this story. Will your character be a light in this darkness? Evil cannot exist where there is love. And love is the brightest light there is.
We are still here because our mission isn’t done. Our story is still unfolding. So use that breath in your lungs to breathe good into the world. FORGIVE those who have wronged you. Demonstrate COMPASSION to those who need it, not just who you feel deserves it. LOVE one another. Jesus, Buddah, Lao-tzu all talked about these principles. It doesn’t matter what religion you are. If you have a pulse, you are here to grow in understanding of these things. Sometimes it’s not easy. If it were, our journey here would be very brief.
Every thought we have, every word we speak, everything we do, has an effect on everything in this world. We are all made up of energy. Atoms vibrating so fast it becomes matter. I’m not a scientist but I have read this quite a few times from reputable sources and I have it on good authority that at our most basic level, we are made up of the same “stuff.”
**Warning: I completely geek out over these things.** Ekhart Tolle wrote about this in A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose: “Physicists have discovered that the apparent solidity of matter is an illusion created by our senses. This includes the physical body which we think of as form but 99.9% is actually empty space. This is how vast the space is between the atoms compared to their size, and there is as much space again within each atom. The physical body is a misconception of who you are…So your physical body, which is form, reveals itself as essentially formless when you go deeper into deeper into it…That empty space is life in its fullness, the unmanifested Source out of which all manifestation flows. The traditional word for that Source is God.” (p. 250-251)
We can use our energy to channel love and compassion or we can channel fear and hate. That energy is what binds our bodies, minds, and souls together and what connects us (or repels us) to each other. And unbelievably we have freedom to choose what will define what we are made of. Think about it like this, we have it in our power to change the world on a sub-molecular level just by choosing what energy we will allow to flow through us.
I love that Mother Theresa quote so much, I have it on a wall in my house, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Well to take that a step further, what if we treated the whole world like our family? Can you imagine how beautiful that story could be? That would be one I’d be proud to share with my children.