Yesterday was International Day for Women and to be honest I had no idea about it. And then I saw about a million different notices of it mid-day. Is this a real thing? Is this a social media holiday? Seriously I cannot keep up.

Needless to say I celebrate being a woman everyday. I surround myself with strong amazing, beautiful world changers. And I gave birth to a girl who will move mountains. I raise my sons to respect women, and watch my husband do the same. My children are raised in a house where their Father loves their Mother relentlessly, on good and bad days.

But for years I had a deep seeded fear I was an inconvenience.

I can even remember going back to my childhood being afraid of asking for certain things because I didn’t want to be a burden.  I was always afraid that I asked too much. If I desired to be a part of something I would hear a voice in my head saying that I wasn’t good enough. If I struggled at something  I was worried it was because I wasn’t smart enough, and if I did well I always thought it was a fluke. This fear caused me to use my gifts sparingly, and create different(pretend) gifts that I thought people would like better.

I took the negative and made it my truth. I was desperate to be liked by other girls, and I would tear myself a part when I was left out. I could never keep up with the trends or changing moods. I was raised where we included people all the time,  where our little black and white TV was enough, and we gave to people who had less and loved more. I didn’t understand why that wasn’t popular. I still don’t.

As a teenager I constantly compared myself to others. I was merciless when it came to my body image. Looking back I realize I forgave toxic people too easy, and I tried too hard to please everyone. I felt huge amounts of guilt when good things happened to me.

When I was 17 I had a huge shift happen in my life…I began to prefer the safety of home with my parents and my little sisters. I began to write every day. I made and kept good friends. I met my future husband. I stayed with some nuns at an Aids hospice. And I fell madly in love with God.

Fast forward.

I became a wife.

And soon after became a mother. With Jonah. Then Daniel.

For years I fell into the whole trying to fit the mold of what a Mother/Woman should be. Suddenly I realized I hadn’t washed my hair in a week, hadn’t bought anything for myself in years, was still wearing maternity clothes, and the kid was two. I couldn’t balance and I did a lot of sacrificing…and it was enough for that time. I cherish those memories. Every one of them. But it was a hard season.

But then I lost my first daughter. Our beautiful Mary Therese.

(Pregnant with Mary Therese, and our little Daniel. I’ve never shared this picture before)

And suddenly it changed who I wanted to be as a Wife, and as a Mother.

She changed me. I began to use my gifts more freely. I wrote more. I cherished more. Through my grief I began to live more.

Then came our Micah.

Then came our Grace. Our amazing Grace Mary.

I made a vow when she was born she would never doubt her worth. That she would be told every single day what a gift she is. And that she would never ever think she was an inconvenience.

Grace knows she is strong. Not just because we’ve told her that, but because she’s proven it. Fighting for her health for the first five years of her life, and because of her Dad, who just like her brothers, has taught her to work hard everyday. He’s also been adamant that she knows the right way to do push ups, and requires her to do them. (Seriously, she could out push up any one.)

We work hard on teaching her how to voice her needs. We celebrate her when she sets limits and tell her it’s ok to trust her instincts and say no. No is an honorable word in our home. Being raised with brothers, she wasn’t used to girl drama until school so we’ve worked on it,  and continue to work through it. She’s not afraid to say sorry, and not too proud to say “I forgive you.” She still doesn’t understand why friends will be your friend one day, and be mad at you the next. She doesn’t like being left out. Like mother. Like daughter.

She is feisty and sensitive. She has to work hard at school and never ever stops trying. She is feminine and brave, and the most happy person I’ve ever met. She’s the kind of person I’ve always wanted to be more like…she’s the kind of person you want to be friends with. She’s magical. She knows she is worthy of great things.

I celebrate her everyday. 

It took me a long time to realize that good friends are worth the wait. I have friends who span each season of my life. They are women who are unique and beautiful souls. And their lives haven’t been easy. Their stories are so vastly different, and their real is different.

Everyday I celebrate them. I don’t need a hash tag for it.

My tribe is filled with women who have loved through the greatest of losses and still show up most when I need them. The women I love don’t tear each other down- we believe in each other completely. I celebrate My friends who have risen above addiction, adversity, and every sort of journey that has broken them–and still give this world their best shot. I celebrate my friends who get my quirky, crazy self and get me, and say hi to me in the grocery store when it’s clear I’m a)not wearing a bra. b) haven’t brushed my hair. c) am wearing my workout pants backwards. I celebrate the women who became my family when I married their brother and son- who love me completely. My sisters…who have taught me so much, and love me so much. I celebrate my Grandmother, the most faith filled person I’ve ever known. My Mom…who has and will always be my biggest cheerleader.

My daughter Mary, who is now with her Granni Great in Heaven. Who I know is just loving her so completely. Who I miss and love with my whole heart, and who continues to change me everyday.

And these two. The person I continue to find and remember, and the little girl I’ve been given. I don’t take a moment of her for granted. I used to hide my gifts but I’ve been working on fighting for them now. And I will always fight and pray for all women. Those who are slaves or are persecuted. Those who are abused. Those who live a life imprisoned by addiction and grief.

I will fight for all of us.  And it’s not with bold harsh words…it’s with truth and grace. It’s with a grateful heart. It’s with great big love. It’s with Faith lived. It’s by living my real, and giving glory to the one who made me who I am.

A woman…A daughter….a sister…a bride…a mother…a child of God. My own revolution of real.

I celebrate you…

You are worthy.

You are relentlessly loved.

I promise.