Today's thirteen (plus a few) is a tribute to the children who have or who continue to make a positive impact in my life. They have inspired me in one or more ways to be a better person and I hope I have done the same for them. While most are now adults now, they were not when they came into my life. They are listed in the order that I first met them.
- Ty - my nephew whose life impresses me more with each passing year. His strength and character are an inspiration.
- Christy - my daughter who I rely heavily on for many things (beginning when she was just a young teen and I became a single parent) but especially for giving me an honest opinion and for making me think and question when I get too set in my ways.
- Justin - my son who helps keep me calm and keep things in perspective and who set an awesome example in high school of how to handle great disappointment with a right attitude and strength.
- Beth - a friend of my daughter when she was a teen who taught me how much I enjoyed having other kids in my home and having the opportunity to get to know them.
- Jeremy - Christy's then boyfriend, now husband who I have watched grow into a good man and awesome dad and who's somewhat quiet nature provided a sense of calm and stability when life seemed anything but those and who I could (and can) depend on if I needed help with something.
- Mariah - the infant daughter of a man I was engaged to (long, complicated story) who taught me that I could love someone else's child as much as I did my own. Little did I know that God was using this precious little one to prepare me for blessings ahead.
- Shantelle' - my husband's (and now my) daughter who makes me laugh and who through her struggles reminds me that we, like she, are all stronger than we think and who's love and respect I treasure.
- Bradley - my husband's (and now my) son who from the beginning at a young age ask me the tough questions and the philosophical and spiritual ones that made me think and often caused me to do some of my own searching to be able to answer his queries.
- Talgat, Kairat, Gulbanu, Juldes and many more - meeting and working with these children at an orphanage in Khazakstan made a permanent and lasting impression on my life and my sense of what matters. I will never forget them.
- Amira - Justin's then girlfriend, now wife who is the most genuinely kind person I have ever known. She, by example, challenges me to be a little nicer, a little softer, and a little less cynical. Her kindness, caring and hospitality (especially after the wreck) have blessed me beyond measure. I could not have chosen a better wife for my son if I had picked her myself.
- The Disciple Now kids (especially Lauren D., Lauren C., and Rachel)- a youth ministry at our church that for several years brought a group of middle schoolers into our home for a weekend of spiritual growth that caused us to grow too and allowed us to connect with many wonderful kids. We were often amazed and blessed at how much further these kids were in their walk with God than we were at their age. A few left such an impression that we have made an effort to keep in contact with them and continue to pray for them and they, in return, have continued to be a blessing.
- Karlee - Bradley's girlfriend who has more determination than most people and more inner strength than she knows.
- The grandbabies, Jaiyda & Isaac - who bring joy just by existing and who can put any problem in perspective with a hug or a smile.
There are others we've come to know along the way - friends of our kids and kids of our friends - who we enjoy, appreciate and love. Some we still see and some we don't, but we are grateful that our paths have crossed with each of them.