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Today is my mother’s birthday.

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I have the life I have now (my family, my home, my relationships, my religion, my marriage, my fulfilled hopes and still-dreamed dreams) in large part because my mother, before she was my mother, at fifteen or sixteen years of age, shared her faith with her then-boyfriend. That’s her, and that’s him. :)

My mother has green eyes, and brown hair with red tints that come from her father. She is soft-spoken, and sweet, unless she’s managing the household budget or unruly children. She’s a marvelous cook, a wonderful baker, and she grows beautiful gardens.

I tell people I grew up on the family farm, but it is her family’s farm, specifically. The Sonnenberg Farm, Sunnybrook, with its blue silos and big red dairy-barn and the slow-running creek in the old pastures. I learned about insects and trees and flowers from her, on the walks we’d take in the woods or the fields or down our country road.

My mother homeschooled me and my sisters. And not the ridiculous homeschooling that shields kids from varying beliefs and perspectives while putting them years behind their peers, but the kind of homeschooling with lesson plans, strict scheduling, regular standardized testing to make sure we were on track, and questions every time I absolutely decided I knew what was right, what was true.

“But how do you know?”

“But why do you think that?”

“But what if it doesn’t work that way?”

“But what about this?”

“But have you ever thought about this?”

My mother taught me read, and then she let me read. My mother taught me write, and then she let me write – encouraged me to write. She was the first person to tell me I was good at it, sometimes, and she wasn’t wrong. She prepared me for work and college and then married life. She planned my wedding. I wore her dress. :)

So, Happy Birthday, Mom. Have a wonderful day. I owe most of my wonderful days to you. <3