In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

Goodbye, 2016!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Holidays,Home,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Love,Matthew,Me,Owen,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 4:17 pm on Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wow! Time really flies. It’s hard to believe 2016 is already over. It’s been a pretty great year for me and my family. We’ve spent a lot of wonderful times together, accomplished some really big goals, and received some huge answers to prayer.

One of the biggest events of the year happened in March. We bought a new house and moved to Knoxville. It took several months for our house in Harriman to sell, but I know it was all in God’s timing. Everything worked out perfectly for us financially, and we moved into our new home the day after we had Elijah, Abby, and Logan’s birthday party . . . so we had a lot of helping hands. Our new home and neighborhood have been a perfect fit for us. The house is  two-and-a-half stories, five bedrooms, four bathrooms and has a big bonus room for the kids, an office for Matt, and a huge backyard. So, it’s perfect for our family of eight! As a bonus, we have great neighbors on both sides of us, and the neighborhood has a big pool and sidewalks on both sides of the street. There are lots of kids around us, both in our neighborhood and the one behind us. Hailey has friends from school that live in the neighborhood behind us who walk over to play with her. It’s been great. We are so very thankful for the home the Lord provided for us. It reduced Matt’s commute to work by about twenty-five minutes. Now, he drops the little kids off at school on his way to work, and he gets to come home and have lunch with me on most days.

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I mentioned we moved right after three of the kids’ birthdays. Elijah turned 12 on March 25, and Abby and Logan turned 7 on March 26.

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Kyra and Owen’s birthdays were in June, and we celebrated with a big pool party. Kyra turned 14, and Owen turned 10.

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Hailey celebrated her 9th birthday in October. (For some reason, I can’t find a picture of her with her cake.)

We were super blessed to be able to take the family on another beach vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida back at the end of July through the beginning of August. We took our first family vacation to the same place back in 2014 right after we got married. We enjoyed it so much we chose to go back. This time, we took Mammy, Grammy, and Aunt Whitney with us. We all had a wonderful time and returned just in time for the kids to start school the next day.

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Professionally, Matt got a new position with the Army Reserves and transferred from his old unit near Cincinnati, to his new unit in Washington, D.C. He is now working with the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s not any closer to home, but he at least gets to fly now instead of having to make that long drive to Northern Kentucky. I got to go with him back in August. It was my first visit to D.C., and I really enjoyed seeing everything, even if I did most of my sightseeing solo, since Matt was working. We’re hoping to take all the kids to D.C. in the coming year.

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I did well with my writing pursuits in 2016. I published Little River: Vol 2 in August, and I had multiple publications for my short fiction in literary journals. I had five or so book signings over the course of the year, as well as being accepted into the Author’s Guild of Tennessee. There’s other news to share on the writing front, but I’ll save that for a future date. No contracts have been signed yet. (Wink, wink!)

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In September, God answered our biggest prayer and gave us sole custody of Hailey and Logan. I won’t go into any details, but I just want to give God all the glory. He told us in no uncertain terms over and over and over throughout the course of the year that He was fighting that battle for us. It brought great peace to all of us, and the kids are happy, healthy, and thriving. God is so good!

We had a lovely holiday season and got to spend time with our families.

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Halloween

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Thanksgiving

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Christmas

I could have inundated this post with photos, but these few will have to do. If you want to see more photos from our day to day lives and you are a friend of mine (either in real life or online), you should friend me on Facebook. That is where I am most active. I don’t add people I don’t know on Facebook, but I do have a public Twitter account where I occasionally post photos. Please feel free to follow me there.

I hope 2016 was as good to you and your family as it was to me and mine, and I hope 2017 is even better for all of us!

Happy New Year, Friends!

It’s Been A While

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen — Rachel at 1:15 pm on Monday, October 24, 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I could blog freely. About three years. The reason for that is gone now, and I’m itching to get back to blogging semi-regularly. I know I’ve said that a dozen times over the last three years, but, because of a recently answered prayer, our circumstances have changed and I feel free to write about my life and family again. So, here we go with an update post!

In a nutshell . . . things are great! Everyone is happy and healthy. What more can we ask for?

To be a little more specific . . . here’s a person by person run-down:

  • Matt – He’s working hard as always and taking good care of all of us. He recently switched Army jobs and left the unit he has been with for several years and went to a new one. We are really happy he doesn’t have to make that awful drive to Cincinnati every month anymore. That was getting really old. His new unit isn’t any closer to home . . . he’s now with the Army Corps of Engineers and drills in Washington, D.C. . . . but at least now he gets to fly and his travel is all paid for. His first D.C. drill was in August, and I got to go with him! While he went to work, I got to go sightseeing. I had never been before, so it was a lot of fun for me. He’s also coaching the kids’ soccer teams.
  • Me – The whole mom life keeps me hopping, but I know I’ve got it made. With the kids all in school during the day, I have lots of time alone. I’m trying to get into a better writing routine. I thought it would be a lot easier, but this school year has been so incredibly busy! It started out with a ton of events at their schools, and it seems like there’s always a doctor or orthodontist appointment, someone forgetting their lunch box, or some other errand that has me out running around instead of writing at home. Running a household is a lot of work; there’s so many moving pieces. I love my family so much, though, and I truly wouldn’t have it any other way. (Unless I had a housekeeper. I would have it that way!) So, new writing has been kind of slow, but things have been going really well with my already completed writing. Little River: Vol 2 came out in early September. That was very exciting for me. It is still being published weekly in it’s original serialized format in a local newspaper. I’ve already started working on Vol 3. I’ve had several book signings over the summer and done really well at a lot of them. I have one more coming up next Friday, and then I’ll have a long break between it and the next one I have scheduled in February 2017.
  • Kyra – It’s hard to believe she’s already in high school. For those of you who have followed this blog for a long time, you’ve watched her grow up! She’s fourteen, as tall as me, and a super great kid. She’s doing really well in school. She has taken to high school and really loves it. She goes to one of the best high schools around, and it offers a plethora of opportunities. She had no trouble making friends after our move, and she’s generally a happy kid. She loves to read (just like her mama!) and binge watch Netflix shows. She’s such a good kid. I couldn’t ask for better!
  • Elijah – He’s the kid who has changed the most recently. I guess puberty will do that for you. He’s twelve and a half and taller than me and Kyra now by  just a little, and he’s pretty proud of that. He’s still my quiet, shy, smart boy, though. He still loves football, and I think he appreciates my newfound enjoyment of the game (thanks to FanDuel.) We have spent more time together watching football already this season than I think we have in his previous eleven years combined. He plays for the Farragut Admirals, and he’s doing so well. Being the new guy on the team, he’s had to really prove himself and fight for a spot. He did that in a big way last week! He returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and then followed that up with a huge sack, five tackles, and three carries for positive yardage each time. He’s been playing a lot more offense since that game. I think he impressed the coach!
  • Owen – I adore this kid! He turned ten this summer. I think he is probably the most genuinely funny kid I’ve ever known. He makes me laugh every day. He’s another book lover. He really enjoys reading, and he’s so good at it! He reads way above his grade level, and he’s been expanding his repertoire lately into books his big sister and I have recommended. He has the best grades of all the kids. Straight A’s, without fail. He wanted to play baseball this Fall, but we were stretched too thin between football and soccer. We just couldn’t fit in a third sport. So, he’s planning to play Spring baseball when it comes around.
  • Hailey – She’s a sweetheart. She loves to be helpful, both at home and at school. She’s her teacher’s right hand in the classroom, always volunteering to help with any and every task. Her birthday is actually coming up next week. I can’t believe she’s going to be 9! She’s been counting down to her birthday for the last three months. Out of all the kids, she’s the one who looks forward to her birthday the most. She’s finally getting to play soccer this season. She played when she was in Kindergarten, but then the next two seasons just didn’t work out because of moving to Harriman and our family schedule. She played baseball and basketball for one season each between then and now, but insists that the only sport she really cares for is soccer. Signing her up this season was at the top of our recreational priority list! She’s been loving it. She’s on an all girls team, and she’s doing so well. She gets a little more aggressive each week. Her first soccer game was also the first soccer game I had ever been to. Turns out, they’re fast-paced and fun to watch. I guess I’m officially a soccer mom now.
  • Abby – My sweet baby girl is not much of a baby anymore. She’s seven and a half and as sweet as ever. I may have to fold her up two or three times to get her to fit in my lap, but we still make it work. She’s still my super precocious child. She’s still planning to be an engineer when she grows up, but she told us the other day that she’s reconsidering her desire to be the President as well. She said, “It seems like a lot of work!” She’s smart and rambunctious and is still the perfect mix of girly-girl and tomboy. She’ll be playing baby dolls with Hailey one minute and the next thing I know she’ll be outside playing in the dirt and ruining her clothes.
  • Logan – This one is really growing up a lot lately. Not necessarily in the physical way (although, that, too,), but he’s really starting to mature a lot in the way he carries himself. He’s a great kid and rarely gets in trouble. He is Elijah’s shadow. The two of them are thick as thieves! He’s playing soccer and doing great in school. He is naturally very athletic. He’s super smart and has a fantastic smile that catches you off guard by how completely adorable he is!

So, full disclosure . . . I wrote the above post a month ago, all the way down to the middle of the last paragraph. Then I got distracted by the kids coming home from school and never returned to it. Sheesh! The best laid plans . . .

But, here I am again . . . finishing it.

I don’t know what the future of my blog entails, but I think I’ll be blogging much more frequently. It may be a completely random mix of family news, my own thoughts about whatever crosses my mind, or just the random picture.

Stay tuned!

 

 

2014 – The Best Year Ever!

Filed under: General — Rachel at 11:38 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
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EDITED: Changes

Filed under: General — Rachel at 4:23 pm on Friday, December 26, 2014

Edited: After a few days of thinking about this, I’ve changed my mind. Password protecting all of my posts would hurt my readership, and that’s the opposite of what I want. I may occasionally write a post that I password protect specifically to keep certain people from reading it, but for the most part, I’m just going to write publicly and ignore the mean people. Screw them. I’m not going to give up what I love because someone takes shots at me. I read this quote by John Stewart recently, and I like it. “You can’t censor yourself for someone else’s ignorance.”

This post is more of an announcement than anything else. I have had this blog for over ten years. I started it in September of 2004. I have always enjoyed blogging, and I love that I can go back and read about what was going on in my life and with my family. I love the pictures and the things the kids said that I forgot about. I am a writer, and my blog is just one avenue in which I write.

I have been cyber-stalked for some time by some people who I am getting really sick of. I’ve censored my self in some areas just to be on the safe side, but I’m getting tired of that. So, I’ve decided to write whatever I damn well please, and I will just password protect each post. They can kiss my ass. (Pardon my language.)

Some of you have followed my blog for years, and some of you are family members that just like to see photos and read about the kids. If you would like to continue to read my blog, just send me a message and ask for the password. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. However, I’m going to use the same password for each post, so you’ll only have to ask for the password once. One of my New Years Resolutions is going to be to blog much more frequently, so I hope that my blog will be more enjoyable to follow. Bypassing the need to censor myself should make for a better blog anyway. So, if you would like the password for future posts, just send me a message by clicking on the “contact me” button at the top of the page. I’ll reply with the password.

Thanks for understanding!

Moving Along

Filed under: General — Rachel at 12:34 pm on Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I’ve come to realize that if I get caught up in waiting for “the drama” to be over so I can go on with my life and the things that I enjoy, I will never go on.

There will always be mean people who make my life difficult.

There will always be people who hurt and mistreat my kids.

There will always be people who try to steal my joy.

I can’t understand their motivation. I can’t stop them from doing the things they do. I can’t stop anyone from telling lies about me or my family. I can’t protect the hearts of my family like I wish I could. Hell, I can’t even protect my own.

However, I can keep moving along despite it all. I can keep living my life. Sure, they can cause bumps in the road, but the road is still mine and I’m moving along.

Still I Rise

Filed under: General — Rachel at 2:10 pm on Thursday, November 13, 2014

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Protected: The Actual Blog Post I Wanted to Write

Filed under: General — Rachel at 10:23 am on Thursday, November 13, 2014

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

In Lieu of the Blog Post I Would Like to Write

Filed under: General — Rachel at 11:00 am on Monday, November 10, 2014

There are a lot of things that I want to say that it seems like it would be much wiser for me to keep to myself for now. So, instead, I give you a poem I wrote a few years ago. When I wrote this poem, I had a different person and a different situation in mind. However, I keep thinking of it lately, and so I’ve resurrected it.

Go Ahead

I cannot change
The fact, that
I am not
Someone that
You want to know.
I didn’t ask to be
The object of your
Resentment.
Go ahead and
Blame me
For things I didn’t
Do, But
I can only fit
My feet
Inside of
Empty shoes

 

What’s New?

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen,Reading,School — Rachel at 11:20 am on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Things are going well and we are very busy around our house. We’ve got so much going on all the time. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I was still in school. I know we could have made it work and got everything done that needed done, but I can only assume that Matthew and I would be running ourselves ragged.

The kids’ activities keep us very busy. I’m really glad that they are able to participate in things that make them happy, and I’m thankful that I have more time now to be involved as well.

Kyra is running for Homecoming Queen at her middle school, so we’ve been busy trying to raise money for that. We’ve sold donuts, and Kyra, Brianne (her stepmom), and Mammy (my mom) have made hairbows in the school colors to sell. The three little kids got in on helping sell the hairbows at Elijah’s football games. We were all getting cracked up at Logan last Saturday. He was carrying a ribbon full of hairbows around, selling them with sheer cuteness. I think he sold seven bows. The three of them even managed to sell a bow to Papaw John! Kyra is also still taking piano lessons, and is working on a classical piece for her recital that’s coming up. After her first report card, she had all A’s except for one B. I’m really proud of her grades. Every time she gets an A in Math, I do a little victory dance in my head!

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Elijah is playing football, and he has practice three times a week and games on Saturday. This boy loves nothing more in life than to play football. He’s doing so very well this year, despite being one of the smallest boys on the team. He plays hard every game, and really puts his heart into it. During his last game, he got a fumble recovery, some tackles, and he almost sacked the quarterback…he hit him right as he was throwing the ball, forcing an interception. It was so funny watching him come off the field after that. Elijah doesn’t get excited over much of anything, and was still all business coming off the field. His coach picked him up and bear hugged him. After the game, Elijah was trying to keep his game face on and not smile, but, when I told him  I bet he had just won himself the defensive player of the week medal, he grinned really big. I tried to snap a picture of him smiling, but he ran away. I gave my phone to my mom to take a picture, and I grabbed him and tried to hold him still. He was trying to get away, but you can see his happy spilling out anyway.

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Monday at practice, I went to pick him up, and I was so excited, watching from the van, when I saw the coach give Elijah the medal he had been working hard to earn since the beginning of the season. I admit, when his team started clapping for him and one of his teammates slapped him on the back, I teared up. I was just so happy for him.

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Along with football, Elijah is also doing two after school classes, one of which is Dodge Ball. Spending an hour playing Dodge Ball after school on one of the days he doesn’t have football practice is good for him. Otherwise, he has entirely too much energy! Elijah is also an honor student, and got all A’s and B’s on his first report card. Of the two B’s he got, he was one point away from an A for both of them. I’m really proud of him!

Owen doesn’t stay as busy as his big brother, because he’s not really into sports. He played football one year, but wasn’t a fan. He is taking an after school class, though. Like Elijah, Owen is doing Dodge Ball every Wednesday. Yesterday was their first day doing it, and he really enjoyed it. A few weeks ago, the elementary school had Open House, and I was so pleased after speaking with Owen’s teacher. She just gushed about him. He looked a little embarrassed while we talked, standing there with his hands shoved in his pockets, not saying a word. His teacher said he was an excellent student, he was very quiet and obedient in class, and she said he was very sweet. I was actually kind of surprised. I would have expected to hear that he goofs off and talks when he isn’t supposed to, because Owen is our resident comedian. He is always being silly and making everyone laugh. I guess he knows when to be silly and when to be serious. So good on him! I was over the moon, though, when she showed me his TCAP scores for reading. My boy is in the 99th percentile for reading. In case you don’t know what that means, let me brag on my boy. That score means that Owen reads better than 99% of kids his age in the whole country! I was so proud of him!

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Hailey hasn’t been involved in extracurricular activities since she finished her baseball season this past spring, but she’s gearing up to be a little busier now. She is also taking an after school class. Yesterday was her first day of ballet class. Mammy told her the other day that we were going to get to see just how graceful Hailey Grace is. I was cracking up yesterday when Hailey was showing me in the kitchen what she had learned in ballet. Hailey is on a waiting list with Kyra’s piano teacher for a spot to take piano lessons from her. I’m really hoping that will open up soon. Hailey loves sitting down and playing around on the piano, so I would really like to see her get to start lessons soon. She’s also thinking about playing basketball this year, so, if she does, that will be starting up soon. The thing I am most proud of her for right now is all of her progress in reading since the school year started. Hailey has more homework than the rest of the kids combined. Apparently, first grade is serious business. At the beginning of the year, she was really struggling to read, but she’s doing so great right now. I work with her every day after school. She has developed a really good work ethic when it comes to homework, and she comes home every day, sits down with me, and we get it done. She reads each one of her stories to me twice, and she’s really doing the work to get better at it. At Open House, her teacher had lots of good things to say about her, and Hailey obviously loves her teacher and her class.  She’s got several friends at school, and is really doing great at her new school this year.

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Me and Hailey reading before bed.

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Our silly girl with her homework.

Abby is loving school! She was so excited for it to start, and she’s learning so much. Unlike Logan, Abby didn’t go to pre-school, so she’s learning everything for the first time in Kindergarten. I’ve struggled with feeling really bad that I didn’t have the time to work with her more. Especially since I homeschooled the first three and was so involved in teaching them the basics. So, even though it’s just Kindergarten, I feel like we’re already playing catch up. Besides homework, we’re doing a lot of other work with sight words, letters, numbers, and flash cards. Abby is super smart, so I know she will catch up to Logan soon. Socially, she’s doing great, too. She’s got some little friends at school, and also has decided she has crushes on two different little boys. She cracks me up talking about them! She also, apparently, goes by Abigail at school. The school doesn’t offer any after school classes for Kindergarteners this year, so Abby doesn’t have any extracurricular activities. She spends most of her free time playing with her siblings.

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Abby on her first day of Kindergarten.

Logan is doing fantastic in school. His teacher gushed about him at Open House. She even mentioned that she thinks he might be gifted. He definitely went to a fantastic preschool, thanks to Matt, so he is ahead of the curve when it comes to Kindergarten. He has one especially good buddy at school, and we got to meet the little boy’s parents at Open House. Apparently, he talks about Logan as much as Logan talks about him. Like Abby, Logan doesn’t have any after school classes available to him this year, so he’s pretty much just chillin’ at home after school. He keeps himself busy drawing, coloring and playing with his brothers and sisters. They’re all a bit obsessed with Club Penguin lately. It’s kind of funny to me when the younger kids bring back the things that the older kids were really into a few years ago.

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He had just said, “Rachel! Look at me! I’m a ninja robot!”

As far as Matthew and I go, we are mostly busy being parents. We do make a conscious effort to spend time alone together, though. Matt has been working from home on Fridays, which I absolutely love. It’s so nice to be home with him, just me and him. We’ve also had several date nights recently. We’ve done everything from a simple dinner out to a pre-season NFL game. We’ve went and looked at several properties, as we are wanting to find some land to build our dream house on. We’ve also spent a lot of time lately cuddled up on the couch watching football. (I must admit, though, that I have a propensity to cuddle up with the intention of watching football and falling asleep on him instead.)

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At a Cincinatti game!

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A quick ice cream date!

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On our way to drop the kids off in Matt’s sexy truck! 🙂

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At my nephew’s birthday party.

So, that’s all the latest for our crew. We are busy all the time, just enjoying being a family.I have a feeling that it’s only going to get better, too.

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Measuring Up

Filed under: General — Rachel at 12:43 am on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On my bathroom wall, there’s a series of pencil marks on the wall. Short lines with the children’s names and dates written beside of them. There are new marks every six months or so, tracking my children’s growth. It’s always quite the production when I measure everyone. They stand, heels against the wall, shoulders square, and I place a thin book on their head to make a level mark. They’re always very excited to see how they’ve grown.

Today, Hailey and Logan were looking at the marks on the wall, and I noticed them doing something I’ve seen my other kids do a hundred times. They attempt to measure themselves, and they misjudge their height because they try to measure themselves at eye level. They don’t see themselves as I do and measure from the top of their heads, but they look at the mark on the wall that is eye level and decide that is how tall they are.

It hit me today. That has so often been how I have measured myself. I cannot see myself from someone else’s perspective. I see only from my own viewpoint. I hear people say nice things about me, and I don’t believe it because that is not what I see. Over the last few years, I’ve learned to measure myself differently, though. I have had a few people speak truth into my life over and over until I could hear it. They told me that I was taller than I thought I was. They placed a book on my head, and drew a line on my wall. They said, “Look! This is how tall you really are. You’re bigger than you thought, huh? You’re growing.”

I have grown. Sometimes I feel like I’ve made no progress, because I look out of these same eyes and nothing has seemed to change. However, when I look at the marks left on my wall, I can see that, yes, little by little, I have grown.

I don’t feel small anymore.

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