This picture was taken while celebrating the Hatcher Christmas at our house  this past year. There is something about it that I kind of love.

It's not the greatest photo in the world, by any means... the flash was on, the background leaves a lot to be desired, we look so-so standing there...  but still.

Each time I see it, I pause, tilt my head a bit, and take a moment to breath it in. 

Why is this?

I don't know exactly what it is, but my best guess is that I think it probably does a nice job of capturing us, right now, today, in our phase of life. I can see some age on both our faces... I see wrinkles around my mouth... and eyes. I see Richie's hairline reaching back... I see a man keeping in his frustration from the never-ending pain of a crushed ankle...I see that we both look tired... 

Looking deeper into those faces, I can see two carefree twenty-somethings falling so much in love that it seems just right to be the only two people dancing to a Tim McGraw / Faith Hill song in a karaoke bar in Lapeer, Michigan... I see a bottle of Coppola wine resting on the edge of a mountain after hearing the words "Will you marry me?"... I see two hearts pounding as we speak the wedding vows we so carefully memorized.... I see us in a convertible Sebring, hair dancing in the wind, as we travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas just starting to explore this country together... I see the awe in our faces as we soak in the beauty of killer whales swimming in sync beside by us in Alaska... I see us screaming, hugging, and falling all over ourselves covered in orange on the 40 yard line as we watch the Vols beat the Gators 30-28 with a 50 yard field goal in the final seconds of the game...  I see two innocent, ecstatic souls walking the beaches of Maui completely unable to comprehend how the 7 week old fetus inside me was about change our lives... I see us sneaking to the hospital on September 2nd, 2006 to spend the last few hours of our life as we knew it alone before welcoming our first born son into the world... I see us a little lost as we celebrate real estate wins with more money showing up in our account than we know how to handle... I see myself pulling out of our garage in this gorgeous, shiny Lexus feeling so proud, yet a little uncomfortable because this type of extravagance has never really been within my reach... I see us falling in love all over again as we take our boat to Neyland stadium to see the Vols take on the Georgia Bulldogs - It's at least 120 degrees and my 7 month pregnant body is about to melt... but the stillness of the lake on the beautiful sunset cruise home... spectacular... I see us riding the gondola up the slopes in Breckenridge with our two amazing toddlers... I see our money slipping away with no replenishment in sight...and can still feel the stress and failure of it... I see our 13 month old Charlie in a hospital bed, sick and lethargic... us desperate for answers... and me dropping to my knees when I hear the doctor say they are taking him immediately to emergency surgery because his life is in danger... I can hear the trembling panic in my voice asking where my kids are as Richie calmly explains over the phone he is in an ambulance on his way to UT Medical Center after having a tree fall on him... I see us... numb, quiet, still... as we try to heal our broken, exhausted souls in a hammock in Islamorada after walking through one of the most difficult years of our life... the medication... the therapy... the pain... the disappointment... I see us slowly building ourselves back to a stable, content, happy state... I see us nervously watching our sweet Sam walk up to his teacher on his first day of kindergarten... I see myself reaching for a hug as I show Richie a third positive pregnancy test in our kitchen, as our two big boys play Mario just a few feet from us... I see relief in my eyes as I watch the age 38 come and go for Richie -- that's a scary age... I see us finding peace and love on the cliffs of Jamaica, feeling stronger and confident in where we are in life.... I see us hugging a friend who just lost his wife to cancer... and embracing a mother who is standing beside her 7-year old daughter's casket... I see myself stepping off stage after speaking at my grandmother's funeral, searching the crowd for my husband to find assurance that I did okay... I see it in the tear he wipes from his eye.... And more than anything, I see the blending of our genes, our history, our lessons, our philosophies, our knowledge and passions making their way into our three boys as they start to become their own. 

We've endured a few battles, lived and loved in some amazing moments, and survived a few hard days... But we're hanging in there, you know? 

As I take on each day of this year, the last year of my 30's, I am acutely aware of this new decade that sits just around the corner. It seems like every other day on Facebook, I see another friend or acquaintance who has turned the corner... and it's good! I'm happy to be on the brink of forty years old. I don't want to pretend that it isn't significant to me, or that it doesn't matter - because it absolutely does. But it's not something I dread, or something I want to wish away. I completely embrace my age - the decade I am currently living and the one I'll be taking on next. What matters to me though, the reason it is significant, is in the deepest parts of my heart I want to know that I am living my fullest life in this moment and in this time.

I want to feel absolutely comfortable in my own skin... more than comfortable. I want to feel amazing in my own skin. I want to nourish my body... by exercising, eating real food, taking the right vitamins, drinking water, using good skincare. I want to nourish my soul by spending as much time as possible in places I love... my backyard, the mountains, traveling to new places, listening to music that makes me smile - makes me cry. I want to nourish my mind through personal and professional growth. I want to grow into an outstanding leader. I want to make a difference to other people. I want to take time to see miracles in the seemingly insignificant moments of my daily life that could otherwise go unnoticed. My kids... my gosh, I can see them growing, I swear by the minute. And I want to soak up every bit of it. I want to absorb the realization that they are truly growing up to be such outstanding young men. I can see this little spark in each of them, different from each other, but something unique that tells me that they are going to be spectacular some day. I want to reflect on these amazing souls we've been given and have formed and nurtured, and not take a single ounce of it for granted.

I love my age. Not for a minute do I wish to be younger. I only wish to be better. 

When I think of who I was ten years ago and who I am today... I am so thankful for my experiences, my failures, my successes, the wisdom I have gained, the respect I have earned which could have only happened through time, the friendships I have formed and those that have faded, the three babies I birthed and we've raised, the travel experiences we've had, our financial gains and losses, the heartache and pain and really hard times we've gone through... I'm truly thankful for each day of it. I cherish the wisdom that comes with age. Absolutely cherish it.

So I guess that's what I think about when I see that picture. It makes me think of time... and makes me know that it is passing by... and makes me want to make something beautiful out of each day.

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away"


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