It's a warm night in December. The sun white-washes everything I see, ratty blonde hair whipping around, Maggie's cheeks bouncing as she runs around the yard, the tiny ridges of Stella's first big tooth growing in as she lays back on the hammock, eyes closed tight, singing loudly. Two baby calves nearby cry back in response. The wind blows and pine needles fall. My girls wrestle in the grass and fight over sticks and scream and laugh. I want to remember it all.

I went to a birth recently, a goddess of a woman with dark hair flowing over the edge of the bathtub. Her pearl earrings and teeth glinted in the light that poured in through the window. She opened her mouth to grimace, then breathe, then smile. She squeezed her husband's hand until his fingers turned white and at the last minute she reached down and pulled her baby up onto her chest, pink and screaming. Her face looked heavenward, eyes closed, sobbing.

These little clusters of memories are embedded into my soul. They give me pause and fill me with gratitude and stand as reminders of how merciful The Lord has been to me. And to my family. And to all of us. So happy to be celebrating His birth this season, a birth that has truly changed my life and the way I live it.

I'm 28. It's almost Christmas. Life has never felt more difficult but I have never been more happy. 

This is the last entry in the "11 on 11" series that I was so lucky to participate in this year. I have grown to love these girls and their families: Sara Kaleho (MN)Sanna Lee (MN)Marie Sant (UT)Kelly Sweda (CA), and Brandi Tejeda (CO). Thank you so much for following along and for the kind words of support over the past year. You can check out Kelly's last post of the series here