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I know it has been while since my last blog. Though I have added a few post since then to the Facebook page, I haven't had it in me to post a blog. As I said in my last blog, Grief is a funny thing. At moments I want to talk about her all I can, and yet other times I try to shut every thought out of my mind and escape the reality of the loss, if only for a moment. However, I can't let this week go by without talking about my girl.

We have faced some firsts since we lost her in October. My birthday was the very next week. I pretended it wasn't. I even changed my birthday on Facebook so no one would send me "Happy Birthday" messages. I wasn't ready to be happy. And that birthday was everything but happy for me. Our first Halloween, one of Ella's favorite times of the year. Our first Thanksgiving and Christmas season. None of it has been easy.

As we faced our first New Year without her, I felt a heavy weight on my chest. I can't even find the words to describe it, but what is typically a time of looking forward to the future with great expectations and hopes now seemed very gloomy and hopeless. Emotions were, and are still, a rollercoaster. You never know when your heart is going to overflow with a rush of emotions that you cannot physically hold back any longer.

I've gotten pretty good at putting on "the face" now. But, this blog is my honest, I must admit that behind the forced smile and common pleasantries I am sad. I can laugh at a good joke. I can appreciate a conversation. I can enjoy time with my family. But, the sadness never leaves. I'm learning to suppress it when I must, but strangely it has become a companion to me. At this point, it's hard to imagine not feeling this way again.

Before this gets too dark and dreary, I want to also explain that my sadness drives me to help others not feel the way I do. It makes me mindful of the fact that all around me there are people who feel like me. The difference is that I have a hope and a joy that is not dictated by worldly circumstances. I can feel sad, but my spirit is joyful because of my faith in Christ, and I want to share THAT joy with as many people as I can before the day I see Ella again. Which brings me to another first that we are facing this week; Ella's birthday.

March 1, 2006 God gave us a beautiful gift, Ella Kate. She was one of the 4 most beautiful babies I've ever laid eyes on, and she just became more beautiful throughout our decade with her. From her dark chocolate eyes to her bashful smile, and from her outwardly shy personality to her high energy desire to be the diva of our home, Ella has always been a special kid. My kids would tell you Ella got special attention from us, and they'd be right. As a parent, it's impossible to treat every kid exactly the same. Sure you have rules they all abide by, but Ella demanded extra attention. She craved it and needed it, and all of us who lived with her knew that. It's really one of the things that set her apart, and it's also what she gave to others.

This Wednesday, March 1st, we want to honor the gift that God gave us. We are choosing to do that by living out what Ella taught us. If you have love, share it. If you have time, give it. We have both and we are going to show Acts of Kindness in every way we can on her birthday, and beyond. But, that's not all.....we want to celebrate it with YOU.

This is a picture of Ella serving at Golden Harvest Foodbank in Augusta, GA. When I do something for someone else I feel Christ in me, and Ella all around me. So, we are asking everyone who reads this blog and beyond to do an Act of Kindness wherever you are. This is how we can share her with others.

Be creative. Just show love. Just be kind. But what makes this a celebration is sharing it together. Post pictures of your Act of Kindness on Facebook. Or, post a status to let us all know what you did and what happened. You may encourage others to do the same. Make sure when you post it you use #forella. That's how everyone can see all the things being done to celebrate Ella and the gift she was to this world.

You are an encouragement to our family. We know you have your own lives and problems, heartaches and celebrations, but you have chosen to walk through this with us. We are so grateful and find the strength to face each day because of people just like you. So, go share that love with others this Wednesday and let us hear about it Go Green on Wednesday, and let's change the world with one Act of Kindness at a time!

#Birthday #forella #ActsofKindness #2017