To read the story of our precious Harlynn Renae, start here and follow the "next" links at the end of each post. Thank you for coming and sharing with us in this journey.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Thanksgiving

We decided a long while ago this year we were going to do holidays just the three of us. We're focusing on our little family, what we've survived, and how it's brought us closer together in ways we never anticipated. As we carve the turkey and say our prayers, we're thankful for Harlynn. We're thankful we had the chance to know her, love her, and that we continue to have the opportunity to share her story and help others. We're thankful for the people who have loved and supported us through this, thankful for the new friends we've made, and are thankful for the lessons we've learned.

We've also learned the hard way that life throws challenges, sufferings, and unexpected events at us. All of us. When nothing goes the way we expect it to, we feel beaten up. Run down. Totally, and completely, helpless.

That's been our year. It started with a "beautiful" pregnancy. We then lost our baby. And now, as we close out 2013, we're faced with the winds of change once again.

One of the first questions Brent asked me in the hospital room after we lost Harlynn was, "Do we dare do this again?" I dismissed his question. I couldn't answer him. I was incapable of letting my mind go there. 

Our first daughter entered the world in her own dramatic rite. I nearly died, sick with severe HELLP syndrome, and she was born via emergency cesarean at 32 weeks. She weighed 2 lbs, 12 oz, and was in the NICU for 30 days. We praise God daily that she's here with us, yet we still have not forgotten the experience, or the trauma it introduced us to.

Our second daughter was expected to be completely healthy. Her heart stopped beating in my womb. Two pregnancies. Two unpredicted, unexpected outcomes.

Do we dare do this again?

It was a couple of weeks later, that Brent's question was really eating at me. I didn't want to put him through this again. He nearly lost his wife once. This time he lost his daughter. I couldn't bear the responsibility - whether warranted or not - of putting him through something like this once again. I certainly couldn't bear putting Haley through losing a sibling again. 

I sat him down in the living room, and we had a hard, but open discussion about growing our family. I was okay with not. Fear resided in every ounce of my being when it came to the mere thought of being pregnant again. There are no guarantees. The words my husband spoke, however, resonated such peace with me. He said, "We had pretty realistic expectations this time. But next time, we know all of the possibilities. Chances are, though, it will end better rather than worse."

That conversation changed everything. The chance of us attempting this again were on the table. I struggled, though. I knew if I voiced my confusion or thoughts, people would try to "help" me by saying things like, "You shouldn't even be thinking about that now." But I couldn't help it. I thought about it all the time. Do we dare?

The reality is, no child will replace Harlynn. She will always be our second child, we will always remember her, and we will always consider her a part of our family. Always. The question, then, was - do we go on to have a third?

And I suppose so. September 17th, 2013, I got the second line on an at-home test. Positive. Pregnant.  I was excited. Then I was terrified. Then I was a whole gamut of emotions I didn't even know I could feel simultaneously.

I know fear is not of God. Yet I am fearful. 

Yes, I am pregnant. God has given me peace about the pregnancy itself. I know this baby is healthy and vibrant now. I know it will continue to be so throughout the pregnancy. It's the end of the pregnancy - the delivery and beyond - that has me terrified. Will this baby survive? If this baby survives birth, will it survive beyond? Will I have to bury another child? 

We've been careful about who we tell and when it's appropriate to share our news. Mostly, I didn't want to be penalized. "She's already pregnant again? That didn't take long..." or, "How could they even think to do this again?" or even the polar opposite, "Oh good. Maybe now she can move past her grief over losing Harlynn." The fact is, I can't care what your reaction is. I have my own stuff to sort through in this.

So, what now? The truth is, being pregnant after any loss - a miscarriage, a stillbirth, losing a child - is terrifying.  You are gripped with fear. The what-if's race through your mind as a whirlwind. I have no innocence. I know too much. There are too many things I am aware of that "could" happen.

Talk about the miracle of life: it's a miracle any one of us is here.

My doctors have been wonderful. They've let me cry, they've hugged me tight, they've assured me they can and will do whatever it takes to bring me and baby to the end in total health. But they know, and I know, there are no guarantees. 

I'm due the end of May. We covet your prayers in this. However, the fact of the matter remains: No matter what happens, no matter the outcome, our lives and our souls rest in God's hands. He will carry us through a happy ending, or a sad one, and we will rely on Him for our strength.

Next: It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Prev: A Visit

Monday, November 25, 2013

Marriage Matters

I might be obsessed with blogging about marriage and how important it is to make it the partnership it could be. I suppose, though, of all things I could obsess about - this isn't so bad.

I woo and schmooze over how amazing Brent is as a husband and father. Just tonight he gave himself a Hello Kitty tattoo because his daughter asked him to. That alone should make your heart melt for him too. (But keep your melty heart hands off, people.)  And even though he sometimes does things that make me want to pull my own hair out for fun (like clean his glasses with my face cloth, spread dishes over the counter/stove instead of putting them in the dishwasher or even stacking them, and a host of other quirks) I will continue to fawn over him as my husband, and as one of God's best creations ever.

It works like this: when wives are crazy about their husbands, their husbands don't think their wives are crazy.

When Brent and I had been married for about seven years (insert seven-year-itch jokes here), we were in some troublesome waters. I would lie in bed and night and think about who would get the house, and how we would share custody of our cats, when we split up. Because it was obvious we were going to split up. Things were bad. Really bad.

Then I read a little book called "Love & Respect". I do believe I'm still married today because of that book - and a heap-load of dependence upon God.

I'm not saying husbands are perfect. I'm not saying men aren't jerks. I'm especially not saying women should bend over backwards and put up with harmful treatment. What I am saying is: a little respect goes a long way.

I cringe when I see some women (especially in the church!) berate, degrade, and mock their husbands. The very men they expect to carry them through their own trials and pamper them when they have a bad day, they are all too eagerly dragging through the mud. It breaks my heart. I used to be there...I used to do that... and I nearly destroyed my marriage as a result.

I heard a challenge on the radio today, and I'd like you to join in with me. Spend the next 30 days not uttering a single criticism of your spouse. And....(yes, there's more)...tell them one thing per day you're thankful for about them. It's very fitting with Thanksgiving around the corner, I think. 

Your marriage matters. This is a person you fell in love with and couldn't imagine spending the rest of your life without. This is a person you stood beside and vowed to care for and honor. This is a person who loves you like crazy. (And loves you when you ARE crazy.)

I'll never forget those words Brent spoke to me one morning as we made the bed, not talking to each other, in the midst of our discord after I started reading and implementing that book. He stood up, looked at me, and said, "Whatever you're's working."  And that was that. My heart started beating faster and I knew... I realized... I had been doing it wrong for far too long.

So - spouses - make sure your spouse knows they matter. And make sure they know they matter more than the stuff about them that drives you nuts.

And Brent - you are my knight in shining armor. You are my hero. You are my soulmate. You can clean your glasses on my face cloth any day if it means you'll stick around with me. I love you, Brent Ryan. Mushy mushy gushy goo.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Visit

Today at lunch, I made the all too familiar drive to the cemetery. I pulled in through the gated entry, turned down the long road that led to the infant section, and parked at the curve. I let out a sigh as I flipped up the collar of my jacket, and got out to walk to Harlynn's spot. Her spot is somewhat sheltered, so even though it was roaring-windy today,  it was just a strong breeze as I stood above her stone marker. I stared and I stared. Today was one of those days - and I've been having so many lately - where my brain cannot comprehend how it's possible my daughter died. She's underground. She was full of life, growing inside of me, and in an instant, everything we hoped and dreamed for Haley's little sister, was gone. I stood there, staring, until the chill of the wind got the better of me and I began to shiver. I told her the same thing I always tell her when I turn to leave her spot, "I love you, little girl. Every moment of every day."  

I got back in my warm vehicle and sat to watch her spot. Lately with the temperatures, I get out to make sure her place is orderly, and then I'll sit in my car a while and talk to her from the cold, and safe from having my words carried in the wind to anyone who might be nearby. On the radio, was a preacher giving a sermon about leaning on God through pain and suffering. As I settled back into my seat, he made the comment, "I've spent far too many times delivering messages at the head of tiny caskets." I heard it, I choked on it, and I began to cry. 

How is it possible?  How is this possible?!  I have to go to the cemetery to visit my daughter. It doesn't seem real, even now, even seven months on. It doesn't seem real.  I began to think of all the things that would never be. I would never see her first steps. Never hear her first words. Never have her bring me random treasures that she finds in her toy box. How is this possible?

When it was time, I drove out of the cemetery, back to work. I hadn't eaten, so I pulled in to Dairy Queen to get a hot dog while I tried to dry my eyes and pull myself together. The wind was really blowing out in the industrial open. I pulled up to retrieve my order and a lone leaf blew right in my window, looped around once, and landed squarely in my lap. "Look what I found, mommy!"

I heard it. I heard those words. I stared down at this leaf that had flown into my lap - cracked, battered, and torn. It would be something a little girl would be proud to discover. It would be something that I would say, "Oh, wow! Look at this leaf, what a great find!" as it was handed to me. It would have been. was.

I left it on my lap, and pulled ahead to the parking lot after retrieving my food. I turned it over my in my hand a few times, as I half-smiled. I almost couldn't part with it, but I carefully reached and put it back out the window. It went straight up. Straight up, and disappeared. 

Call me crazy - some of you probably do - but I'm taking it as a moment I would have never had otherwise. I may never get to spend the rest of my life getting to know Harlynn or what she'd like or take interest in, or play, or sound like....but I do believe I get glimpses of those would-have-been moments now and again. I do believe today was one of those glimpses.

I miss my daughter, terribly. As blessed as I am and have been in these months surviving without her, I miss her still. Anything I can hold on to as a tangible experience with Harlynn, I'll grasp at any opportunity.

It's a beautiful leaf, baby girl. You did such a good job. Thank you for finding it for Mommy.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Watching Over Me

I've just put laundry away, which is my least favorite household chore. I love washing and drying, and even folding. I'm very particular about how things are folded, and I become easily agitated if Brent folds something differently than I would have. Putting it away, however, is brutal. I would much rather live out of laundry baskets full of neatly folded clothes. I have always been this way. Brent can't stand it. So because I love him, once in a while I put my clothes away. Tonight was one of those once in a whiles.

While doing so, I was listening to The Canadian Tenors (who I've recently discovered dropped "Canadian" from their name...?). There was a song I've heard a dozen or more times, but when I heard it tonight, it really struck me. The song is "Watching Over Me."  Before I post it here, allow me to explain where I stand on a few things.

I've written before about lies believers believe. In addition to those, I also don't believe Harlynn is an "angel". Not in the biblical sense. I believe she is an angel of sorts in my eyes - she was and always will be perfect, innocent, and my little angel. But I do not believe she is a literal angel in heaven. She may even have wings, but I believe the Bible is very specific about angels, humans, and the souls resting in eternity, and I believe there is a distinct difference.  

I hope that makes sense.

I'm not sure if Harlynn ever gets a window from Heaven. I'm not sure if she knows what we look like, how often we go to talk to her at her resting place, or if she'll ever see us seated 'round our dinner table. I believe in my heart of hearts, however, that she somehow knows who we are, how much love we have for her, and that she looks forward as much as we do to the day we can be united in joy.

All that said for probably no point at all. But I wanted you to know it before I posted the song. I'm not sure why it struck me tonight - but it gave me such peace. Not just because the song is beautiful, but because I do believe there will always be an inexplicable connection between the life that goes on around us, and how it represents my love and relationship with Harlynn. The beauty of the sunsets, the song of a bird, the warmth of the sun upon my face - sometimes these simple things that happen all the time - make me feel incredibly close to my daughter.

I'm not asking you to understand it. I'm only asking you take me at my word for what it means to me.

It just so happens the first video I found of the song was put together by another set of loss parents. The song spoke to them as well.

The pure, the bright, the beautiful that stirred our hearts in you
The whisper of a wordless prayers; the streams of love and truth
A longing after something lost
The spirit's yearning cry
Striving after the better hopes; these things can never die

There will always be the shining sun
There will always be the rising of the sea
There will always be an angel watching over me
There will always be an angel watching over me

A timid hand stretched forth to aide a brother in his need
A kindly word in grief's dark hour that proves a friend indeed
So shall a light that cannot fade leave on thee from on high
And angel voices say to thee, these things shall never die

There will always be the shining sun
There will always be the rising of the sea
There will always be an angel watching over me
There will always be an angel watching over me

There will always be the shining sun
There will always be the ocean's rise and fall
There will always be an angel watching over me
There will always be an angel watching over all

Next: A Visit
Prev: Seven Months

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No More Bubbly

I realize some of you may lose some...or all...respect for me for even sharing the details I am about to. I can assure you, this isn't a story I want to publish. It brings me nothing but embarrassment. Yet, for the last few days, I have felt convicted to share. And even though I don't want to, I'm going to. So if your perception of me changes, I hope our relationship doesn't.

Almost five years ago, I had my very last alcoholic drink. I wasn't an alcoholic. In fact, I was a social drinker. A lively party friend. A fun drinker. I drank once in a while, sometimes not even once a month, when we were with friends. Or family. But when I drank...dear gracious. I drank. And drank. I had no off button. And a guaranteed way to make me drink more was to tell me I should stop drinking.

I am a binge drinker.

Nearly five years ago, I drove to Wyoming to sing at my best friend's vow-renewal ceremony. There was a marvelous reception afterwards, which was more or less a class reunion. I danced with the little kids. I danced with my friends. I danced by myself. And in between cutting a rug, I drank Morgan and Diets. Lots of them. We closed down the bar and I was in no condition to drive the eight blocks to my parents' house. I hitched a ride. From the bride and groom.

So here it was, one of the most special nights of my friends' life, and I sat in the back seat of their truck. Drunk. They took me to my parents' house and we sat outside talking for a while. Suddenly, I had to pee. Badly.

I excused myself from their truck and fumbled at  the front door, trying to get the key in the knob. I dropped the keys. I picked them up and hurriedly tried to unlock the door. I couldn't hold it anymore. There, at 28 years of age, on a freezing cold night, I peed on my parents' doorstep.

And it froze.

Once I finally made it inside, I apparently dropped my coat off on the kitchen floor, went downstairs, took a fifteen second shower, changed into sweats, and went back outside - not closing the door all the way behind me - to the truck. 

While spending even more time ruining my best friend's magical evening, I cried some emotional tears over the state of my marriage, world peace, and other booze-infused woes. Finally, at 5:00 in the morning, they dropped me off, said goodnight, and went home to try to catch a few hours of sleep before catching an early morning flight to spend a renewal honeymoon.

I woke up far too early, before 8:00, and called my husband. I told him what had transpired the night before. His sympathetic "Oh, honey...." prompted me to tell him, "Babe...I have to quit drinking." He knew it. I knew it. It was time.

I walked upstairs and pretended to be anything other than hungover. The first words out of Dad's mouth were, "What's with the frozen puddle on the doorstep? What'd you do, pee?" I was mortified. And why on earth would that be the first thing he would assume? I made something up. I told him I upchucked all the water I had chugged before leaving the bar. Mom came in. "Valerie, you had us worried sick. And what is the frozen puddle on the doorstep? Pee?" If I ever felt three inches was at that moment. I lied again.

The rest of the day I was sick. Hungover. And contemplative. Here I had driven 700+ miles to be a part of my friend's special day, and made it all about me and my drunken stupor. I, once again, lost total control of my willpower and responsibility, and as a result, sacrificed my dignity. Again. I reflected on the other times I had let myself get carried away. Never did I end up proud of myself. Never were the pictures taken any bit flattering. Never did I wake up the next day and think, "You know what? I made the world a better place by being completely drunk last night. Good on you, Val. Good on you." No. All quite the contrary. I was always ashamed, always embarrassed, and always questioning my own character. 

The last drink I had was sometime shortly before 2:00 a.m. on March 1st, 2009. The very last drink. I haven't had a drop since. 

And here's the kicker. I didn't just stop drinking because I brought embarrassment upon myself. I didn't just stop drinking because I was tired of the headaches and the nausea. I didn't just stop drinking because every picture taken of me while drunk looked like I was about to trip over my drooping eyelids. I quit drinking because none of the behavior I exhibited while drunk was anything I wanted to leave as my legacy. I quit drinking because I realized I couldn't drink responsibly in social settings. 

I quit drinking because I couldn't be the God-honoring woman I desperately desired to be, especially while under the influence of alcohol. 

Now let me be absolutely clear; I do not condemn the consumption of alcohol, nor do I think you're wrong or bad if you drink. So many of you are so responsible, and that is highly commendable. I, however, wasn't one of those people. I had a problem. I let alcohol get the better of me  more often than not. So this post isn't about drinking, or alcohol, or me passing judgement on anyone who participates in said activities. It's about me, and why I quit drinking. Please don't read more into it than that.

And for the record, I came clean months later to my parents and told them their suspicions had been correct. Totally weird for them to even think of or consider, but correct.

I get asked a lot if I'll ever drink again. As if this is some hiatus from imbibing to prove my willpower and self-control are more powerful than I gave myself credit for, and once the proof is out there, I can just pick up and drink again. The answer to the question is no. I won't ever drink again. Would I be able to control myself? Most likely. But it isn't part of my life anymore. And it doesn't need to be. And I'm okay with that.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Seven Months

Seven months ago today, at 12:16 a.m., I pushed one last time and felt the wave of pressure leave my abdomen as the nurse wrapped Harlynn in a blanket to place her in my arms. Her still, perfect body, conformed to my heaving chest as I sobbed over her. Desperate for the things I would never have with her, I wrapped my finger with her hand, pleading it would somehow wake her from her eternal slumber. Those moments, that day, replay themselves continuously. So much I remember, and so much I've forgotten.

It isn't any easier, now that it's been seven months. The fact is, it makes it somewhat harder. Hard to fathom that seven months have passed by without her here. How can time not have frozen, even for a moment? How can seven months have flown by? How can the world have kept spinning as if burying her in it's earthen ground didn't slow even part of a rotation? Seven months. Seven months.

I just can't seem to wrap my mind around it. I remember so much of those days, the hospital, coming home - it doesn't seem possible that they took place all those months ago. Weeks, maybe. But months? So much has changed and so much continues to change. Every day I think about what she'd be doing, what she'd look like, how many times Haley would try to blame her for something. 

Last Sunday we went to visit our dear friends who just had a baby girl. Haley was covering their daughter with kisses and hugs. She wanted to hold her, cuddle her, and not leave her side. It was adorable. And it was heartbreaking. She should have had this. She should have been able to do this with her sister. When it was time to go, Brent asked Haley if she was ready to leave. As she crouched by the bouncer with little baby L sitting in it, she shook her head no and said, "I'm not ready. I don't want to go."  I didn't blame her. The entire time she knew I was pregnant with Harlynn, all she talked about was giving kisses and hugs and helping feed the baby, and give her baths. And here, before her, she had that opportunity. She didn't want to leave. 

I can't express to you how it made me feel, because you wouldn't understand. Some of you would try to "reason" with me on why I shouldn't feel that way. So to avoid me getting completely upset with you, I'll just tell you - you wouldn't understand. But it was devastating. And comforting. And once again, my heart swelled with pride for the beautiful little girl my Haley Laine has become. It isn't fair she lost her sister, nor will it ever be. But she was loving on her vicariously through baby L. I know it. I could see it. She is such a good big sister.

Now, as we enter the holiday season, I'm thinking of ways to make memory after memory with Haley, and including Harlynn in each of them. We'll bake cookies and frost them with purple frosting. We'll fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child with things Haley would have wanted to give her sister. We'll get an ornament, Harlynn's ornament, to display front and center on our tree. We'll talk about all of the reasons Haley is still an amazing big sister, and all of the ways she'll continue to be one. We'll read the Christmas story from Luke, and wonder what Harlynn is seeing in Heaven as she fellowships in person with the Lord.

And on Christmas day, the day that marks 37 weeks since losing her - the day that represents us being without her for as long as we were with her - I imagine another day of simultaneous heartache and joy. 

I realize my sentiments may seem the same. That I may sound as if I'm on repeat when I talk about missing our daughter. But what I express is all I'm able to understand. I have to process through it, no matter how long it takes or how many times I have to say it. And each of you are innocent bystanders I've taken along for the ride.

So as today marks seven months without Harlynn, I have to give pause. I remember her powerful karate kicks. Her hiccups. The doll we were going to give her. The spoiled little sister she would have been. And I have to give thanks - that if anyone were able to know her, love her, remember her - that it was us. That it was our family. 

We love you, little girl. Every moment, of every day.

Next: Watching Over Me
Prev: Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 9, 2013


I remember a time when Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. Family would gather, laughter would fill the home, food and memories would be shared in abundance, and the adults would soon pass out on the furniture from their food comas while us little ones played together or watched parades and other nonsense on television. Thanksgiving was about reflection, gratitude, and the one thing no one can ever take from you (no matter how hard we may try to get them to sometimes) - family.

I remember how it never seemed like a holiday unless there were tons of people around. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents, Friends, Strangers - it didn't matter who. Everyone was loved, or at least tolerated, and everyone enjoyed themselves. It was family. It was being together. It was sharing in Thanksgiving. It was being grateful to live in a country that recognized the importance of such a thing. Thanksgiving was a sacred day. A wholesome day. A special day.

And now...I can't say those values have survived the generations. I can't say people look forward to gathering around a table, offering up a prayer of thanks, and looking forward to counting how many times Grandpa snores from the rocking chair.

Thanksgiving has become a holiday second to Black Friday. Second so much, that now stores are opening on Thanksgiving day to offer the latest and greatest in deals and material junk that won't work six months from now, or will have torn or somehow malfunctioned. Items that will sit on a shelf, forgotten, for years to come, or end up in next Spring's garage sale pile. Yet people are crowding, stampeding, and toppling over one another to get their hands on these....things.

The turkey doesn't even have time to cool before some are lining up outside the doors of stores to rush in and spend more money and time in a mad rush of insanity. Who would have ever thought people could die from shopping? Yet it's happened, every year most recently. No regard for one another, only the goal of getting what they want in mind, and sacrificing courtesy, character, and compassion in order to obtain it.

It's sick. It's backwards. It's sad.

This year we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving as a family of three plus one, remembering our precious Harlynn and being thankful for each other and our time with her. We'll be thanking God for bringing us through the most tumultuous year of our lives, and for not forsaking or abandoning us in our grief. We'll watch parades, play games, and eat until we pass out on the sofa from our food comas and wake when Haley pokes us in the face out of curiosity. 

We'll be staying indoors and not wandering out to public places. We'll continue to keep, and teach, the sacredness of family time and holiday meaning. We'll focus on each other instead of deals or gifts or plastic, fabricated items.

And we'll be thankful. Even if I catch the oven on fire like I did the first time I ever cooked a turkey...

Next: Seven Months
Prev: Little Miss Haley

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Little Miss Haley...

Haley Laine...I couldn't let tonight go by without penning how you filled my heart with joy and guilt and love and fear all in one fell swoop tonight. You, my special girl, made my heart melt into a puddle of mush. I want to tell you - I'm so proud of you. You're three, but you're so smart. So intuitive. So sweet. So innocent. And all the kisses in the world aren't enough to give you.

We've had a great few last days together. We've had tickle fests, dance-offs, you've helped me in the kitchen, you've given some good snuggles, and when you weren't whining or in time out, you have been an amazing three year old. I love your giggles, I love your sneaky grin, and I love it when you exclaim, "That's a great idea!"

I love it when you ask me if I can sleep with you. I love it when you don't want me to leave. I love it when you cling to me and tell me to stay. I love it when you ask if you can come with me. I love how excited you get to tell me all about your day. I love when you squeal and run to me. I love it when you ask me to turn up the radio because you want to sing along.

And through all of these activities, I always wonder, always question, always doubt, that I'm doing a good job as your mommy. I always fret you're feeling a little left out when I cry about missing Harlynn. Or when I tell you that you can't help me make your peanut butter and jelly sandwich because it's just quicker if Mommy does it. I always wonder, if given the choice, you'd want to spend time with me over Mr. Rogers or Reading Rainbow reruns. 

When I took you trick-or-treating on Halloween, you were so well-behaved. (Save for the time you helped yourself into the single man's living room as he stepped away to grab some candy...we talked about just walking into stranger's homes...)  We were surrounded by children who were not so behaved, and I found myself repeatedly thanking God he had given us such a mild-mannered little girl. When you didn't want to go to one house because it was too spooky, I was so proud of you for telling me instead of just going along with it because everyone else was. And when I told you that you had to wait until the next day to have candy because it was so late, yes you were upset, but you were so mature about it. You're three, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Because you're such a stinkin' good kid, Haley. You really, really are.

So tonight, as Daddy and I were putting you to bed, you hugged my arm as I sat next to you, looked me straight in the eye and said, "When I grow up, I want to be just like you, Mommy."

It took me a second for what you had said to register. Surely you couldn't be serious. For all of my faults and shortcomings, you must have said something else. You want to cook just like me? Knit just like me? really said you wanted to be just like me.  And that's when my heart flooded with an entire spectrum of emotion.

I pray you don't have to learn things the hard way as I did. I pray your stubbornness only comes in to play to help you, and not to hinder you. I pray you have more patience and self-control than I do. I pray you learn to trust God a lot sooner than I did. I pray you understand what a personal relationship with him is before you're in your 20s. I pray you aren't as critical or as paranoid as I am. But I pray you hold fast in your faith in whatever circumstance life throws at you. I pray you find a man as wonderful as your daddy, and you know in your heart to hold on to him. I pray you sing at the top of your lungs, and love a-million-and-one songs. I pray you bake a pie from a pumpkin. I pray you learn how to make a mean meatloaf. And I pray you love your child or children as much as I love mine. 

And I do, sweetie. I love you more than you'll ever know. And I love that God blessed me with a little window into your head and heart tonight with those sweet, innocent words you spoke. 

And I pray I don't disappoint you. You grow up to be just like Haley Laine. And if you have a trait or two of mine, I'll consider my mothering a job-well-done.

Prev: 10.26.13