When I was a little girl, birthdays were EPIC events in our family. EPIC. That might be one of the things I have missed the most since my parent’s split when I was eight years old, being celebrated.

I say that, yet as I type this, my Sis is in her kitchen cooking up one of my favorite meals…our grandmother’s meatballs, two types of peas, and Texas Sheetcake. You don’t have to tell me how lucky I am; I know.

I digress.

When I started counseling in March 2016, one of the first aha moments came when my counselor informed me that an eight year old had been running my life all of these years, and part of our work would be centered around integrating the eight year old (boss of me emotionally) with the 45 year old woman (at the time) that sat before her (physically and mentally). I sat there stone-cold silent as the tears fell. Fear suddenly gripped my heart, and I had zero idea why.

I have had some HARD sessions in the two years since then, but that one left a powerful mark. I have written about it some (mentioned HERE), but mainly I have stewed on it…this whole long journey. At the beginning of this year - the very first counseling session of the year - I informed my counselor that on my 47th birthday (just four months from then), I wanted to be able to say that I was a 47 year old through and through. I was naming it and claiming it (so to speak). She nodded slowly. Since, I have attacked my straggling list, to do lists, old dreams, greatest fears, oldest strongholds with a fierceness that at times has left me terrified, yet I kept going. I claimed lionheart (lyon kè in Haitian Creole) as my word for 2018 and blasted my word out to friends, family, and the world in an effort to hold myself accountable. I know myself. Fear has been the strongest motivator in my life since age eight; I knew I was going to need prayer warriors to fight for me in the spiritual realm, as well as, encouraging me in my day-to-day in order to take on the most powerful stronghold…In. My. Life.

It has been every bit the battle I imagined too.

I am a bit weary (if I am honest).

Okay…maybe more than a bit. 😉

I am still here though.

I. Am. Still. Here.

In the crazy of 2012, there was a song (lets call it an anthem) that I would play on repeat I Was Here by Beyoncé. As I typed that last line, I could hear that song playing in my head even though I haven’t listened to it in forever. I think our greatest dream as humans is for our lives to matter. Will I be remembered? What is my legacy? Did I do any good here? I have had all of those questions on a loop in my head for what feels like my entire life, but they were stuck in a posture of fear and abandonment. What I mean by that is that there was never EVER going to be any way for my life to truly matter because I was eight years old, with no voice, and my contribution was my hustle…my work.

While I always say that I would never wish my 2012 on my worst enemy, the truth is we each have our own “2012” - we are either headed toward it, in it, or looking at it in our rearview memory. We all have a facedown moment that breaks us to a degree that even a well-cultivated toolbox of coping mechanisms comes up empty. I know this because mine did. God and I have spent a considerable amount of time, in the years since, confronting the fears that built my life, and while I am proud of the work God and I did hand-in-hand…I know that where I am today would not be if I had not checked my prideful heart at the door of a counselor’s office and entered. Alone. I like to say God needed a wing-woman, and I am grateful for them both. Both of us are - the eight year old inside of me and the (almost) 47 year old typing this. The really cool thing is that today they are both here, both remembering, both grateful, both feeling this moment.

A year and a half ago, I sold the last piece of real estate from my old life. In counseling the week before I would go visit it for the very last time, my counselor said the dangdest thing to me. I had confessed that I felt like I was abandoning myself at age eight by selling it, leaving it. She responded, “You are not abandoning her. You get to take her with you.” I wept for two days.

Integration.

I am sitting here looking out through the trees onto a pond, and I am remembering myself at all of the ages…that #bestlife year at four, Kindergarten, deaths, moves, my parent’s dropping of their basket, confusion, abandonment, parenting littles while a little, secrets, uncertainty, strangers, confusion, church, youth group, more moves, weirdness, abandonment, scarcity, lies, fear, awkwardness, the three musketeers, more moves, and I could just keep going…the building blocks of my childhood that built an awkward, broken girl who became an awkward, broken woman. I see her now. I see her fully without wincing or turning away. I look at her through the beauty and gift of newfound grace, and I love her - with my whole heart. She is beautiful and strong and resilient and funny. She is a protector, an encourager, and a mother. She is smart and thoughtful. She is passionate and determined. She is me.

That eight year old became a nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 year old woman.

{…and yes…I did NEED to type out every age since…and yes, I am crying and slightly hyperventilating…}

What a gift it is to be here…at 47. Thank you Jesus.

I am bringing my whole heart…my whole self to my 47th year. I am tremendously humbled and grateful to be here…now. Even more, for the first time in my whole life, I truly believe my best days are ahead of me…not behind. I cannot wait to see what God has for me next, but whatever it is…I am going to be ALL there for it. Grateful. Wholehearted. Fully Present.

Now…I have a birthday to get to. 😉 Thank you for joining me on this journey dear friends. What a ride.