This past weekend my church started a new series, “Heroes of Christmas.” (Check it out and then check out the next sermon in the series this weekend, either in person or via the church’s site/app.) It was such a great reminder for me to have a little grace with myself, and to give a little grace to others.

My mind stays in a constant state of contemplation and awe. Reminiscing on the things of my past and wondering at where I am now. As an adult, I realize things that I never picked up on a kid – things my mom and granny shielded me from, how certain experiences shaped me in ways I never even felt coming. I look at my daughters and I see a world I never could have imagined as a child.

T-Daddy and I talk a lot about the life we want them to have, the things we want to give them. To be honest most of this is rooted in our childhood. Things we never had. Things we wished were different. We realize we can’t change the past, so we want to try to change the TDs future. How can we save them from the villains of our own stories?

Dangerous neighborhood. Broken home. Teased. Smart. Constant outcast. Misunderstood. Low self-esteem. Not the cool kid. Unreciprocated loyalty. Always searching for greener grass. Good person doing bad things. Shame. Regrets. No rhythm. Hurt person hurting people. Sometimes selfish. Sometimes giving. Book reader. Video game player. Music lover.

That’s just a part of our story. It’s not all good. I’m a girl from the southside with divorced parents and loose relationships with my siblings. I grew up in the church but blurred the lines between right and wrong to fit my agenda, to make people like me. T-Daddy is a guy from every side of the city with his own skeletons in the closet. When we got together, we were two broken people trying to not let the other person break us more. We had no real agenda or motive. There were lies and truths dressed in lies. Contradictions and everything that comes with not having a plan.

Out of that came two smart and beautiful daughters. We want them to be more confident in themselves than we ever were. We want them to love God and follow Him even when everyone around them is telling them “it’s not that bad.” We want them to move mountains and anyone who dares stand in their way. We want nothing but the best for them. I believe that’s what every parent wants for their child. And honestly, we already have some, if not most of that.

Our girls are growing up, in a two-parent, God-fearing home, surrounded by people that love and adore them. Family and friends of different backgrounds. They even have the older girls loving on them at school. (The goodbyes at pickup man….it’s a real thing). They have a genuine love for God and church…that they want to share with everyone they meet. T-Daddy and I regularly overhear them talking about Jesus’ love for everyone. TD1 and TD2 are so close, it’s beyond heart melting. They are being exposed to so many opportunities at such young ages. It’s all truly a blessing.

Who would imagine that from T-Daddy and my stories, God could create such a different ending? I definitely couldn’t. Not when so many of my friends and family have similar stories or experiences. No one could have told me that some of those themes could be foreign to my children. Yes, they will have their own stories, and they won’t be all good. But God can change that too. Just like He allowed them to have a different beginning than I had.

So often, it’s easy for me to look at my past and think there’s no coming back from that. But that’s not true. How awesome is it that God can take our stories, no matter how dark and ugly and still give us something beautiful from them?