So many small and large groups of the most thoughtful people have changed my life in the last few years. In 2006, when I moved to Chicago to begin college, I never anticipated this vast and lasting impact.
My time at North Park showed me the true love of God. I was able to shape my childhood surrounded by faith into an experience of my own. I was blessed with a pastor who loved unconditionally, fought for what she believed in, and always believed in me. I traveled to Mexico, India, and Bolivia embracing the beauty of simplicity. North Park taught me to be a fearless (with the grace of God) leader.
During undergrad, an unforgettable family, the Nicholson’s, came into my life who will forever be my “Chicago” family. I cannot express the love they have shown me and how flawlessly they took me under their wing as one of their own. The joy this family has brought me is unfathomable.
My community of literacy. Where to even begin. This group of families has treated me like family. Their children have taught me. So much. They have taught me beauty. Fortitude. Grace. Love. Acceptance. I have learned to slow down. They encompass my passion as a special education teacher and give me the strength and ability to grow. Jimmy, without fail, if I am ever having a hard day — I leave happy. You bring out joy in me. You bring out joy in the world around you. Conor, your determination, fortitude, and laughs always remind me to keep going, even if it’s hard. You are such an inspiration. Sean, your laugh is contagious and my heart melts everytime you see me, and sign, “How are you?” Katia, your caring heart always makes me feel welcome and loved. You have a gift to care, and you will continuously touch people’s lives.
My Skyler. Oh, my Skye. You have taught me so many beautiful things. I could never anticipate loving you so much. You have taught me about family. You have taught me to listen, because small voices have big things to say. You have shown me that life is full of small, precious moments that can be so easily missed unless you take a breath and embrace them. You have taught me how to be a mother one day. You have given me hope, and so much grace. You my dear, will always be loved.
School, has been a blessing. I love to learn. I love to be challenged, but again, I never anticipated the joy this group of peers would bring me. I started a cohort 2 years ago, and the 15 of us have learned to become teachers (and so much more) together. I have learned that it’s okay to be imperfect. I always look forward to laughing, this group of people are so great to laugh with.
My horse community. I started riding horses again to escape. As much as it is still a beautiful escape for me, once again community has found me. Through people and horses. My trainer, friends, small people, old people, parents, staff, they all share a contagious love to be near each other and ride. I am taken care of here. My horse brings me peace and deep pleasure. I could go on forever.
I am so blessed and thankful because, dear God — sometimes life is hard.