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2013 was a year of growth as well as a year of great loss. Although my loss was great, my personal growth was even greater. I’m sad to see 2013 go because it means a distance is growing between now and the time my mother was last here on Earth in April. That’s difficult for me, however, I remained strong as she was dying. Although, when my step-mom, Valerie was dying in the hospital in September and her exploiter, Herbert Williams, stood next to her bed with a smirk I had no more strength to give. The evil that stood at my side didn’t break me, but it sure slowed me down. Then in October, when my favorite aunt died (the last of my father’s siblings from my childhood), I simply shrugged and shed a single tear, as I had no more tears left to weep.

Nonetheless, I look back on 2013 and embrace every moment of it and am thankful for the ability to experience and embrace the sadness, which is an essential component to the great strides I’ve made in my personal growth. 2014 is going to be absolutely amazing. So, live life, love God, love your family, and be grateful at every turn. Considering these losses, I couldn’t have asked for a better year, because it’s all a part of life, and God asks each one of us to embrace this life He has given.

I love my amazing husband who sacrificed so much this year for our family. My husband is a man of good character and I am proud to be his wife. My children, who are astonishingly naive and innocent fill my life with so much joy I can’t even put it in words. My in-laws, who are ever present to care for my family have taught me the importance of being interdependent. My dear sisters, who I learned from and leaned on throughout this year deserve great praise. My nephews and nieces and cousins have all gained a new importance in my life. My friends, both young and old I love you and thank you for being there for me. May God bless you all greatly in 2014. Let’s all make plans to be with each other more often. Love more often. Live more often. Be present and embrace life more often.

Here’s to a very Happy New Year!