Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sticks and stones...

This is probably one of the first posts that I'm really nervous to write. Scared of how others will take what I am about to say. Though the other posts I write are just as honest and raw as this one will be, I wrote them from a place of complete acceptance of where the Lord had led me in our journey. I was confident in the lessons I had learned through our experiences and unafraid of criticism that may come from others as a result.

But this one. This is one that is still heavy. One where I'm still "not there yet" and, depending on the moment it happens, can speak out of an ugly place. One that I can see the old me in over and over again. One that can bring life and power and open new doors to new perspectives. This one's a little different.

I've been thinking of writing about this same thing for quite some time but, as a result of not knowing what to say and how to say it kept me away from this topic. But, of course, as He does, God slapped me in the face with it again today. And now I just can't walk away.

I began Saturday with an early morning meeting for a professional certification that I am pursuing. Warren stayed home with the boys and off I went. The meeting ended earlier than I had expected, around 10:30 or so, and I took the opportunity to visit my favorite little ladies at the nail place I go to. One of my guilty pleasures. I rarely get to go since I almost always am on my way somewhere or have babies with me so I was excited for the opportunity to have a little bit of "Me time." As I walked in, I noticed there were several others ahead of me so I sat down in the chairs to the side and waited. One of the ladies there is one I work an ACT tutoring program with so we immediately began to talk. I mentioned to her that I wouldn't be able to attend an upcoming ACT workshop due to the fact that I had to take Cash to Children's the same day for a check-up. She knows a lot about Cash's story so I just stated in passing "Cash just has an appointment to get his blood checked. You know, since he's at a higher risk for leukemia." Another lady sitting to the side, one that I had never met, heard my comment and immediately expressed concern. Surprised by the word leukemia, she said "Has your son had leukemia before?" Since it's often complicated to explain Cash's story in a public scene, I first said "Well, he has Down syndrome but also had a rare condition when he was born called Transient Leukemia, that puts him at an even higher risk for childhood leukemia." When I first mentioned that Cash did, in fact, have Down Syndrome, she immediately began the "ohhhh, I'm sor...." that I often get when telling people about his diagnosis. I cut her off before she could completely finish by expressing that it was totally okay that he had Down syndrome. She immediately took interest to his diagnosis and began on the topic of children with special needs.

Now, let me preface with this. As we talked, I immediately noticed that she came from a genuinely caring place. So, though many of the words she spoke would have normally hurt my heart, I reminded myself of where I could see her heart was coming from. She noted on the "happy" stereotype that we usually get. How people with DS are just "so happy all the time." You know, they live in a blissful state of fairies and rainbows and never feel actual pain or disappointment. (Those are my words, not hers.) I saw this as an opportunity to explain that, although Cash is overall very loving and happy, he also has a feisty side. A few other ladies and I laughed that his feisty spirit probably stemmed from his fiery red hair.

The lady continued to discuss the topic of special needs. She commented on how she was so happy that now "people like my son" can have jobs. You know-jobs as cart pushers, grocery baggers, or some menial task to give them purpose and identity and the opportunity to contribute to society. These words stung my heart. Though these are perfectly fine options for so many individuals, much of my goal on allowing the world to see our life with Cash is for them to see his potential. For the army that lies in our community to not see Down syndrome first but to see Cash as Cash and dream BIG alongside us. Dreams for a life, jobs, education, marriage, etc. that is anything he chooses to make of it.

Again, knowing she truly meant well, I just commented that we believe that Cash will be able to go to college and accomplish much more, especially with the incredible opportunities available in our world now. She agreed and continued on the topic.

The next thing she said is the exact topic I've bring trying to avoid. She said "you know, I don't even really consider disabilities like Down syndrome and Autism to be in the "retarded" category as much anymore." She had dropped the r-bomb several times in our conversation moments before but this is the first time I felt like I really had the opportunity to address it.

This is the moment I've dreaded since Cash has been born. The moment when someone at school calls him the r-word and I have to explain its meaning to a child that understands he's different for the first time. The first time we would pass an adult while he happily plays in his stroller and hear them describe him using this word. The moment when someone associates his genetic condition with a word that speaks death, limitations, and negativity.

I knew it was coming but I don't think my heart could ever have been ready. The milliseconds that passed between her words and my response felt like minutes in my mind. I was searching on how to explain how that word made me feel to a stranger. How to not come off as if I was angry or hurt but instead approach it with love so that maybe this lady could walk away with a new perspective.

I was searching for something so profound that it would blow the roof off that nail place and allow everyone sitting there to walk away with a new understanding. But, you see, I didn't have it. I couldn't find those earth-shattering words that are so captivating that you walk away patting yourself on the back on how awesome you are. So, to mask my hurting heart, I simply and calmly stated "You know, many try to stay away from using that word anymore because of it's negative connotation." I spoke of a few alternative catch phrases that are often used to describe individuals with special needs and we went on. I didn't speak much after that. I was probably too busy licking my inner wounds and trying to recover from the situation I had been dreading all of Cash's short life. The last thing I said was, "we are so much luckier to have him than he is to have us."

You know, if this would have happened six months or longer ago, when my Aunt had passed away and I was just really dealing with Cash's diagnosis and my often intense anger at the Lord, I would have responded from a very painful place. I was running low on grace for others because I was wallowing in pity for myself. I was selfish. Broken. And so, so angry inside.

Before Cash, I had used that word before too. I've always been very sensitive to how my words made others feel so of course I never used it to describe anyone. I would often use it interchangeably with the word "ridiculous" when I thought someone was being silly or crazy. I had no idea of the power of this word. I've been there. I can understand how, if we just don't know, we can't make a change.

I know some of you reading this are thinking how sensitive we are in today's world. How "we can't take offense to every single word" and blah, blah, blah. I've seen your comments on social media and how the world just needs to "toughen up." Your argument may be true in some circumstances. But, if toughening up means that we just say what we want because we live in "'Merica" and we have the "right" than I certainly don't want to live in your America. What if the trouble with society is not that we aren't "tough enough" but, instead, we lack grace and love for other human beings simply because they differ from us. We spew division, hate, and close-mindedness with our words without thinking of the person first.

You see, the words we speak can bring life or death. In Matthew 12:37, Jesus says, "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." What comes from our mouth is often a representation of our heart. (Matthew 12:35)

Proverbs 12:18 says that "the tongue of the wise brings healing." Healing, y'all. What we speak and how we speak it can bring HEALING to a broken soul. Who would seriously not choose the opportunity to help heal another? Our words have the power to bring hope to those who have no hope. Allow those who feel alone and weary to feel loved and renewed. That's our power and the power God has allowed us. Those of us who get the incredible privilege to be Mommies and Daddies have an even bigger opportunity to teach our children about the power of their words. Because if it doesn't begin with us now, our children will live in a loveless, Godless word full of people who feel it's their God-forsaken right to say what they want when they want.

As we come to the end of October and Down Syndrome Awareness month, I hope you'll remember the power God has given you. The power to speak healing, hope, and joy. The opportunity to breath life into the hearts of those around you.

All with our words.



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Color

There are moments in your life where God calls you out to something so much bigger than yourself. Something that requires you to transform your heart to be so much more like His but terrifies, stretches, and even overwhelms you. Marriage, motherhood, tragedy, profound change. Some of these moments are so wonderful that you immediately recognize the beauty and joy that come from it. Others first come as something you never asked for, may not "deserve" (since I often feel so entitled to God's blessings to me), or even just truly don't want. As time passes, your heart changes, and God heals, you immediately begin to see the flecks of beauty. You begin to feel the ways He's called you to a world that is so much bigger and more beautiful than you ever knew. One that allows you to love with bigger love, dream bigger dreams, and see with clearer eyes. 

I remember first seeing Parker and thinking that I was born to be his mom. His little life began to pull me out of my selfishness and teach how to love a little life that I truly felt I didn't deserve. 

Marriage has taught me how to love better. How to understand the emotions and thoughts of another even when I don't want to. How to fight for God's desires of faithfulness, commitment, and plan even when you're tired and just kinda wanna give up. 

All of these moments I immediately recognized as beautiful, happy, "big" life moments. I immediately knew they changed me right when they happened.

But then, almost exactly a year and a half ago to the minute that I'm writing this, a little boy with almond eyes, curved pinkies, and an extra chromosome completely rocked my world. And, in all rareness, at first I was devastated. Oh, how I loved him but he came with so much more than I expected. I didn't understand his differences and the fear of the present and future shook my life in a big way. As I look back on this day, the rawness of that day is still strong. When compared to all the days of my life full of color, this days feels like it was put under a different filter. Like the photo of this day looks better with black and white. Simple yet so commanding. And maybe there's a reason for that. God used that day to cleanse me. To call me out of a place of comfortability and "Leave It to Beaver" Christianity and into a new desire. As I've lived in this world for a year and a half, I feel like I've lived so much more life than I did in the 26 years before. I've had to determine the life I want to live and the woman I want to be. The type of mother I hope to become who's children are kind, thoughtful, and mighty. The kind of wife I need to be that supports, loves, and encourages her husband even when our relationship and I feel weak and weary. I've been blindsided by the loss of a beautiful friend. My family has been raggled by the loss of my beautiful Aunt who we yearn for daily. 

God has used Cash and his 47 chromosomes to call me out. At first it didn't feel "fair." I didn't feel strong enough and I didn't understand how that little soul would challenge me in ways I never knew. 

But this world, y'all. This new world is brighter, full of more color than all those days before. It still has it's fair share of heartbreak and sadness. But, it contrast so beautifully with that first day in black in white. We love better and deeper. We set and push for big dreams. We understand the beauty of different and how we all are really just the same inside.


Today begins what I'm sure you'll see on social media, the first day of a month devoted to bringing awareness to the unique characteristics that come with Down syndrome. I hope you'll not only learn and understand more about Down syndrome but that you'll also learn more about yourself. That you'll join us in new world that still has sorrow, sin, and loss. But also a world that allows you to love yourself, your family, your friends, and even strangers in a way that Jesus does. 

My Parker said something profound the other day. He always talks about his Daddy "fighting bad guys." He was talking about those bad guys in the car on our way home from school and how he was going to fight them in typical 4 year old fashion. I said "Parky, did you know that God loves those bad guys even though they make bad choices." "He made them just like he made you and me." He thought for a second, and so matter-of-factly said "Well then we have to love them, too."

I hope it's always that simple to him. That we just love others purely because Jesus does. That's our new world.

Happy October and Happy Down syndrome awareness month! I hope you'll walk with me on this journey. 


Follow us on instagram @blueroselife and we'll take you with us! :)

Friday, September 16, 2016

My Blue Rose

If you haven't noticed already, there's been a change in the name of my blog and Instagram. There's a story and deep meaning behind this change.





Since Cash has been born, I have had more experiences that have been completely God-ordained than I did in my whole life before. Deep conversations with the Wal-Mart cashier listening to the story of her life. A Wal-Green's associate with tears in her eyes as she looked at my boy and remembered someone she had loved like him. Soul moving connections with mom's who feel the ache and joy for their child that I feel. Through Cash, the Lord has opened my eyes and heart to the stories of others to remind me frequently that He has purpose for my child. For our family and this journey we have began. It's like I was blinded before. So consumed in myself that I didn't notice the heartache of others, much less feel it. I didn't see or appreciate the battles that they had fought and won and lacked the sensitivity to truly be interested in their journey.

We began building our first home in June. In early August, before school began, we knew we needed to go ahead and choose the type of rock and brick we were going to use. Warren couldn't come so Mom decided to come with me during her lunch hour. Before we went, I called the man who owned the business we were going to purchase from to tell him we would be coming by. He told me that he wouldn't be there but that his wife, Emma, would and she was much better than him in helping to pick out something that matched the look we were going for. With the kids at school, mom and I went over there, intending for it to be a quick trip so she could get back to work. We went in and asked for Emma. I immediately felt drawn to her due to her sweet smile and warm personality. She helped me pick out our stone and brick and we began to small talk as she processed the order. At some point, I can't remember how or why, I began to mention our journey this past year and told her that my son, Cash, was born with Down syndrome in April of 2015. She paused, looked at me with tears heavy in her eyes and simply said "I have one, too." At first, I didn't understand what she meant. But, as I processed her statement, I realized. She spoke of "her Cody" with such breathtaking love and pride. He is around 30 years old and also has Down syndrome. She mentioned that a year or two ago, she and her husband had planned a trip to Costa Rica. They just didn't feel like they wanted to go without Cody so they decided to take him along. As they checked into their hotel after arriving, Cody not far behind, the receptionist said "I have a blue rose, too." Not understanding what she meant, they asked her what she was referring to. The lady explained that, in Costa Rica, blue rose's are considered one of the rarest and most beautiful flowers. Anyone who finds one is considered incredibly special. She said that, when a child is born with Down syndrome, they are called a "Blue Rose" because it is considered so beautiful and rare. As I listened to her story, tears fell down my face. It was the Lord's beautiful way of reminding me that our Cash was just the way He had planned. So beautiful and rare. Highly favored. As we both cried, Emma said that she felt that, someday when we get to heaven, she wonders if maybe we will all be like Cody and Cash. That maybe they are how the Lord meant for us to be all along.

Two hours later, we left with our brick ordered and hearts full.





I've thought of this encounter countless times since. I actually saw Emma again a week or so ago and my heart jumped as I immediately felt that soul connection again. We talked again and shared tears about the ways our boys have blessed us. You truly never know the purpose you can bring to someone's journey. God used Emma to do that for me.

I was reminded again about how blessed we have been by our Blue Rose. I often find myself sad for other people that they don't get to have a Blue Rose. That they don't get to experience the joy that lies in the unexpected. The beauty that comes from what once felt like ashes. The awareness that comes with an experience that challenges you to see the world and people as Jesus does.

Since this experience, the Lord has awakened a desire in my heart. I always said that I thought it would be neat to write a book someday about our journey and the way God has used the reality of our sin to draw us near. I never thought it'd be something that I'd actually do but God has began to put this ache in my soul to write and share in hopes of reminding others of the honest life He desires us to live. I don't know how long it will take me or if anyone will read but I'm going to do it. As a result, this blog is going to take on a new life. I hope to post much more consistently as I piece together what the Lord wants me to say. I pray that you will read as I begin this new, scary, and vulnerable project and share with others our story. The story of our Blue Rose.



Friday, July 22, 2016

Soul See-ers

When Cash was first born many moms with children with Down syndrome told me that, most days, they didn't even think about Down syndrome or the fact that their child had it. I wondered how they could say that. It was all I saw, all I thought about. I would see people look at me funny in the grocery store and immediately know they saw his Down syndrome, too. When they gave me sad eyes, some even brave enough to say they were sorry. All because they saw it. 

Those days were hard..are hard. I wanted desperately for others to see my son for who he was when I struggled to do the same. I truly never believed that I would ever be able to look at him and not remember that he had Down syndrome. I knew without a doubt that I would always, always love him and that we would always push him to do big things but I just couldn't see how I would ever not look at him and remember his extra chromosome. 

A couple months ago, something I thought would never, could never happen did. I looked at my boy and I began to forget about his diagnosis. I even began to have days where I wouldn't think about Down syndrome at all. It dawned on me that I finally understood what those other moms meant. I saw him for his spicy attitude, sweet spirit, and courageous heart. I saw him for his ability to fight for what he wants, his love for people, and how he loves to raise his hands and worship in church. God likes to move mountains despite me sometimes. I think He knows that's when I see Him best. 

Many times when new people meet Cash, they comment on his bright red hair and toothy smile. In our conversations, I often find myself at some point mentioning that he has Down syndrome because I don't know if they can tell. My image of him is so separate from his diagnosis now that I honestly have to remind myself that most people see those beautiful almond eyes and know immediately. I find myself praying they'll give him a chance. That they won't immediately put him in a box of happy, angelic humans limited to child-like emotions. That they'll believe with me for big dreams. That they'll see him with clear eyes. 

Many of society's recent events has made me think back to those feelings. The days when I only saw Down syndrome. When I was a "surface see-er" rather than a "soul see-er." We often let our sinfulness occupy our judgement. We see someone's color and put them in a prejudged box that limits the impact they can have on us. We see special needs,  age, physical impairments, political affiliation and forget about the person, the soul. We hurry along, trying now to make eye contact for fear of how we might make them feel. That's what I did and still do, sometimes. What if, instead, we gave them Cash's toothy smile or even asked them about their day...about their story. What if we became better "soul see-ers." 

Most people won't get to have Down syndrome in their life and learn all the things I've been able to learn. I used to hate those two words. Some days I still do. But I look at how much I've learned, how much better I see, how much deeper I love and I'm so thankful for it. You're sneaky, Jesus. You know just what we need to mold us to be more like You. 

I challenge you to find someone so different from you today and try to see their soul. Shake their hand (though I prefer hugs :)), show them some love, remind them they are valuable, and listen to their story. If we want change, we have to be change. It starts in our own hearts. 


If this picture of Cash and Parker doesn't show you some soul seeing in action, you need to check yourself. 🤗



Brooke

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

When God doesn't feel good.

I was recently asked to speak about our journey with Cash at a small women's event. The week before, I told my husband that I didn't think I was in a place that I could do it. My beautiful, precious, soul-inspiring Aunt had just passed and we just weren't ready to let her go. I'm not sure if we will ever be. I was suffering from crippling anxiety attacks that often came when I least expected. My family was experiencing deep sorrow. I was in a season where I was struggling with moe anger as to why my child has to struggle. God didn't feel "good" to me. I was angry at Him and I just didn't see how I could speak to a group of women about His faithfulness when I didn't feel like He was faithful. 

I wish I could tell you that I don't doubt. That my faith could move mountains and that I always believed that God loved me. God spoke to me long ago when we first learned of Cash's diagnosis that He needed me to be real. That the ugliness of my humanity, the deep sin in my soul, would allow others to see His light through me. So, once again, here we are.   I believe many times we waste so much time ignoring our dark parts. We fake it til we make it so that others don't see. As a result, we allow that sin to fester within and it grows bigger and bigger until it explodes. When all along, the Lord was asking us to just deal with it and move on. 

I told Warren how I just couldn't speak. I was too angry. Too broken. Too faithless. He said, "maybe you should anyway." "I would have so much more respect for a pastor if they spoke about how they were struggling." I hate when he's right and I have to admit it. But, so often, the Lord uses his softness to speak to my heart when I need it the most. I knew this was one of those time. As I spoke at the event, the Lord used it to bring healing to my heart. And to remind other women that they weren't alone. 

But what do I do when God still doesn't feel good again? When His plan seems unfair? When someone who claims to follow Christ has wounded you so deep that you can't bear to call Him good?

You wait. You remember that our emotions are full of worldly impulses that often blind our eyes and paralyze our hearts. And then, you wait. You wait for Him to remind you. Remind you through a toddler giggle. The soft breaths of a sleeping baby. The hugs from those you love that wrap around your soul and bring healing to your heavy heart. Deep conversations with others that leave you feeling full again. Clarity found in a silent moment. You wait for Him to use simple things to remind you that He is good. That He is fighting for your soul even when your emotions suffocate you. That there is so much that we can't see and can't understand until eternity becomes our home. 

I wait. And after my emotions have softened and the anger has faded, I can remember that He is good. I deal with the sin and fight against it. I won't let it overcome me. 

For Erin. 

For my Aunt Deb. 






Brooke

Monday, March 21, 2016

My people are the best people: National Down Syndrome Day 2016

In case you didn't already see it plastered all over your social media pages, it's National Down Syndrome Day.

I must be honest in saying that I never imagined that such a day would be one that celebrates the life of my beautiful son. As I have been thinking of what I'd like to say to the world on such a day, it was simple.

As you wear your #crazysockforCash, I hope you'll take the moment to talk to your children about my child. Tell them about his fire red hair and his heart-winning smile. Tell them about his baby rolls and how he loves to snuggle. But, what I'd also like for you to tell them is this. Tell them that he may not always look like them. That his eyes may look different and he may be smaller than they are. His words might sound funny sometimes and he may need extra help in school. Tell them that, although he will probably love to give hugs and smiles, he may also have bad days where doesn't always know how to maintain his emotions. But tell them not to be scared. Help them understand and embrace the differences. Remind them that he, too, will have dreams and aspirations. He may dream of falling in love, going to college, and living on his own. Help them get past the awkward glances and misinterpretations. Tell them that although he has Down Syndrome, it doesn't define him.Teach them to be open, kind, and knowledgeable.

Days like today are filled with less fear of my child's future. I've been absolutely overcome with ugly tears that have served as a reminder that my people are the best people. A reminder that my people are raising children to accept and love my son. A reminder that my people are good, loving, and open to differences.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being my people.









Thursday, March 3, 2016

To the woman who's not alone.

I sit here, surrounded by more papers to be graded than you can imagine, but can't shake the things my heart feels compelled to speak to you.

Throughout this life, I have realized that much of my passion lies in helping woman realize their worth.

Throughout the past 6 months, some of the woman who have changed my life the most are going through the darkest times. I have seen cancer rattle the bodies of those I love. I have seen my dearest friends go through life-changing illnesses, insecurity, and divorce. I have watched women I love lose their child and I, too, have felt the heaviness of grief. The list is endless. So, I want to speak to the women who can't do it alone.

To the woman battling disease. You don't deserve any of this. You don't deserve the days you've lost to pain. You don't deserve the moments you've lost to doctors visits, chemo, and treatment after grueling treatment. You don't deserve the time this disease has stolen from you and the joy you feel like you've lost. I am overcome by your strength. The incredible strength that it takes to look death in the face and refuse to collapse in its shadow. You could spend so many of your days angry, overwhelmed, and bitter and no one would blame you. Why on earth would a God who loves you not protect you from such pain? I've felt that, too. I want you to remember, on those dark days how incredible you are. How Jesus is sitting right beside you saying "You go, girl. You are so beautiful. You are so strong." On those days when you are angry that this terrible disease has stolen you hair, your health, and defeated your spirit. You are so, so loved. You have changed the lives of so many. Keep fighting.

To the woman who lost a child. It's true that no one really knows the pain that you feel like another mother who has also lost a child. I won't pretend to tell you that I know. The countless nights you've spent weeping, crying out to the Lord to take you, too. The times you've picked up the phone to call or text but then remember that you can't, only to relive that hopelessness again and again. It's not fair. You, too, don't deserve this. You feel angry that you area having to stand in the gap for your children's children when they should get the chance to watch them grow themselves. Your strength is breathtaking. I hope that, on those bitterly hopeless nights that you'll remember the smile on your child's face. That you'll remember all the lives that they have touched and the incredible beauty they brought and are still bringing to this world and that you'll find strength in that. Their impact is never far and you are far from alone. Keep fighting.

To the woman fighting for your marriage. You fight, girl. Fight for God's promises. Fight for your children. Fight for yourself. And, if the time comes, find strength in knowing that you gave it all you could. I know the days and nights can feel lonely and you wonder if this haze will ever lift. I hope that, at the end of this journey, you will still realize your incredible worth. You are strong, beautiful, and oh so worthy of love.  The Lord's promises haven't been forgotten and He will restore all that the devil has stolen from you. Have faith.

To the woman who wants a child. I have seen the despair in your eyes. You feel hopeless and alone. You hurt in silence but those who know your heart see. I pray you feel consumed with hope. That you'll find strength in how much you are loved to continue in faith. I pray you have every single desire of your heart in more fullness than you ever dreamed. I hope you realize that you are more than enough. You have the most beautiful strength. Hold your head high, momma. I believe with you. 

To the woman who feels unloved. Oh, how I know you. You put that pretty smile on with your make-up each morning and pretend like no one sees. The moments when you compare yourself to another and feel so inadequate. For all the times you feel like you have failed your children, your husband, and yourself. I pray that the Lord holds you close. That He overpowers that nasty voice that says you just aren't worth it. His love for you is endless, pure, and able to conquer those mountains.

To the tired momma. Girl, I feel you. You feel like the responsibilities never stop and sometimes you just need a moment for you. You feel tired and sometimes miss the days when you go to use the bathroom alone. You lose your temper, say things you shouldn't, and forget to cherish the little moments. Let's cut ourselves a break. Don't let anyone tell you how to love and raise your children except Jesus. Squeeze those babies tight with me as we teach them how to be kind, honest, and true to themselves. You are so strong and deserve a cupcake whenever you want. 

To that teenage girl. My heart has such a soft spot for you. You are beautiful, fragile, but so incredibly strong. On those days when you feel less than enough, remember your incredible purpose. It is so much bigger and wider than you have yet to see. On those days when you've given too much of yourself away to others, remember that your heart was never meant to be broken. No one will ever fight for you harder than you will fight for yourself. I hope that someday soon  you'll see all that you are. You are stronger than you believe and worth more than you see. Fight, girl.

As you go through each day, I hope that you'll remember to look beyond the surface. To spend time looking into the heart of each other and seek to the lighten the burden of another. Being a woman is hard, y'all. We are all not alone. Though our experiences are different, we can find strength in knowing that we don't have to walk this journey alone. You see, though I may not know your exact circumstance, I know you. You are my mother, my Aunt, my best friend, and myself. You are my student, co-worker, and neighbor. You are so far from being alone.

The darkness if lifting and the sunrise will be breathtaking.