Eden is sleeping in the backseat of the car, I'm parked in front of Home Depot looking at paint samples... Trying to make a decision of what colors to purchase, and I realized that I needed to write.

To get what's on my mind out:: so here we go...

My twenty fifth birthday is coming in less than a week...

I think of all the ups and downs that have happened in my [almost] twenty five years on earth...

What I mostly reflect on is how much I have changed in the last eight years...

There is a lot in my life that most people don't know. That I still don't know if I will ever share here on this blog. There's a lot of pain, hurt, unworthiness, shame, and rejection... just a small glimpse into my past. I struggled for a long time with my self-worth.

But eight years ago I met Ryan.

Many people didn't understand how fast our relationship developed. How we just meshed together.

I look back and I know why we meshed...
He loved me unconditionally.
Regardless of my past.
He helped teach me how to love myself.

He has encouraged me and pushed me to grow. God uses him to show me His love. To give me a daily reminder that He never left me, even in the darkest valleys.

Now do Ryan and I have our struggles, of course, but at the end of the day there is love. A reminder of hope and joy.

As I reflect over the last eight years, I think about::

my relationship with my family... it was challenged and it grew into something now I wouldn't trade for the world.

at 18:: I was getting ready to graduate high school, planning a wedding in my senior year, would be married and moving to a new town. All in two months.

the many moves and adventures Ryan and I have made, the excitement and joy of being newlyweds, the struggles we have, the growth we've gone through, the loss of two babies, and the birth of our beautiful daughter.

I remember being pregnant with her and knowing my life was changing again, and nothing could prepare me...

For the love.
I look at her and I see joy.
I see love. I see light.

I look at my little family and just burst with joy!

I see the growth both our families have gone through and I see joy!

I see the man Ryan has become, and again I see joy.

Now, while most people don't welcome getting older, I'm seeing its perks! Being able to embrace myself and love myself has been a long journey, but I'm claiming that year TWENTY-FIVE will be one of me seeing joy in myself. To be intentional about seeing joy every morning!

So here's to joy and the last few days of being 24 ;)