After writing posts for both of my daughters on their birthdays, I thought it only fitting that I do the same for myself!

Happy Birthday to me!

This has been a full, rich, painful, beautiful, long, amazing, surprising, miraculous, arduous, labor-filled year. I have known many tears, much frustration, and deep anguish. I have also known more laughter and life than ever before. I have been struck again and again by how amazing it is that both can coexist and frankly, be enhanced when juxtaposed to one another.

I’ve had many conversations with Emma and Abby this past year about what it means to let more than one thing be true at the same time: disappointment and hope, sadness and joy, frustration and desire. And this has been a year of that being enfleshed within me – on their behalf, certainly, but powerfully, on my own.

I have found much strength within me these past twelve months; strength that has enabled me to make difficult decisions and then live with the ramifications of such, strength that has allowed me to survive – and even thrive – in places I’d feared (and avoided) for many years. And that strength has, amazingly, not made me tougher, harder, or colder; rather, its enabled me to feel more tender, compassionate, and “present” to my own heart and the heart’s of others. I’m grateful.

Last year at this time I could have never been convinced of or prepared for the twelve months that were about to commence. Note to self: be glad you don’t know the future! Out of curiosity, I went back to the past – to my blog posts from about a year ago to see what I was writing. I came across some October, 2006 reflections on the women of Proverbs 1 and 31 that were amazingly prophetic for the year that was to come:

These women – metaphorical and real – are who I want to be: wise, listening to and living with those on the margins, gaining strength through perseverance and struggle, dignified and fearless, forever laughing with the abandon of a child. God knows and loves this woman. I am becoming this woman.

Indeed, I am. I feel more wise, more able to listen to those who are unseen, forgotten, or harmed, strengthened through perseverance and certainly struggle, more dignified, more fearless, and often laughing both with the abandon of a child – and with my own children.

I am this woman. Amazing.

That’s a year worth celebrating in the midst of acknowledging and grieving its losses and pains.

Another year older. Another year of being the grateful recipient of consistent, unpredictable, mysterious, and precious life.