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Beautiful and Messy

Probably the best way to describe life as of late.

It is incredibly beautiful. More than I could have even imagined. More than I could have hoped for.

It is also messy. But, not messy in the sense that it is negative. Life isn’t linear or perfect.

When it comes to the blending of families, both can be true. Both can be true and it can be good. I believe this for multiple reasons.

The beautiful, wonderful parts affirm our hope and joy and delight. When we see what we have prayed for on display before us, we cannot help but give thanks that our dreams, desires and wishes have come true. There is something so incredibly powerful about a dream realized. Whether a big dream or a small one, it doesn’t matter. The joy felt is real. Celebrating the goodness of life makes this life worth living.

The messy parts of life offer us the opportunity to exhibit more compassion, grace and empathy. We cling to the parts of our stories that our true and throw off the lies and fears that threaten to strangle us…..and we then choose to grow and understand. The alternative is to remain stagnant and hard hearted. The messy allows us to move and to grow and learn to love others better.

Most of us are afraid of the messy parts of this life, if we are being honest with ourselves.

Throwing in the towel is easier than sticking it out. Hiding and closing ourselves off from experiencing all that life has to offer feels much safer than to expose our very souls to another. Are you kidding? That sounds downright terrifying.

I don't cry very often. I don't mean to say that I don't believe in crying or that I have never cried or that I am incapable of being emotional. Contrary to popular belief, on the inside I am incredibly sensitive and tender. And that scares me because that means that I am vulnerable. To be vulnerable means that my heart is open to attack. Not wanting to be hurt again is my rationale behind every decision. That also means that it can be very lonely since I tend to close specific parts of myself off to others, which then can lead to isolation and the inability to receive love from those who want to provide it!

However, one of the best pieces of advice that I received nearly two years ago from my father are rapidly coming to memory. "You have to let life happen." Since that profound statement, it has become a motto. A hashtag of sorts. It is the running theme of the book that is being written in my heart and my head (and on my google doc...although the writing process is moving at a snails pace). Let life happen.

My fiancé and I have been navigating the waters of blending our families. Each of our children getting to know one another and becoming comfortable with each other. Each child very unique, with their own thoughts, ideas, hopes, abilities, temperments. I don't care what anyone tells you, the blending of families is beautiful and messy. He and I are lucky to have had resources and good friends who have helped us with insight and advice and even books to read. However, we will hit speed bumps. Both of us have had (and still have!) our moments with our children where we are left shaking our heads. To give you an idea, the oldest child is 16 and the youngest is 9. Pre-teen and teen years. Three of them are girls and one is a very active boy! Lots happening!

What you will never hear from either of our mouths is how awful it is to parent teenagers (because I believe my teens are amazing). We will also never say how awful it is to have mostly girls or to pray for us, as if they are so difficult and worse than boys. Our kids are wonderful individuals who are growing and learning and navigating this new life the best way they know how. They did not ask for their parents to get a divorce. They did not ask for the life that they have right now. So they are navigating as best as they can. It is messy at times, yes. Frustrating. Maddening.

But I will go so far out as to say it is incredibly beautiful as well. It has been everything I had ever envisioned and more. I gained two more children to love and care for. I didn't need to birth them. I am grateful I get to play even the smallest role in their lives.

Embracing what is and allowing yourself to grow through each experience is empowering. I don't know many people who are able to skip out on experiences that challenge them and truly live a life fulfilled and with meaning. Living a life filled with roses means that occasionally, the thorns will prick us, and we need to start pruning. You can't escape it. You must embrace all of the beauty and the madness because then you will see a fuller, richer picture of life.

Letting life happen means choosing to life a life filled with joy, stepping into it all with grace and compassion and persevering even through the most challenging parts. We cannot control any of the outcomes of our decisions and choices. We only have the freedom to choose. We don't know what the other side will look like until we step forward. Standing still gets you nowhere. Paralyzed by the fear of the unknown does not produce a full and beautiful life.

Which is what we all want, correct? We want our lives to be rich and full, surrounded by those we love and living out our purposes and dreams and who we were created to be by our Heavenly Father.

I want my family to experience all of the goodness that I currently envision in my mind and heart. In order to achieve that, I must embrace the messy parts with the good.

I am so ready. Let's do this.

Tiffany Rhea

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