International Women's Day: Celebrating the Women in My Life

Celebrating the Women in My Life

To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can’t see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life.”
-Nancy Reagan

Last night as my husband, Rob, and I shared dinner, we talked of our future, like we often do. Will we retire here in Virginia? Close in proximity to our three children? In a lake house?

“Well, you know what I really miss?” I said. “Living near our children and just being able to hang out with them.”

I love being a mom. Sure, I’m still a mom, but now that all three have grown up and moved on with their adult lives—which have taken them logistically far away from home—I miss their physical presence.

The Two Most Important Women in My Life

International Women's Day: Celebrating the Women in My Life

In honor of International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate my two daughters, Candace Rose and Brooke Janell.

Never in a million years could I ever have imagined the sheer joy these two would bring me. Each serving as one of Life’s great teachers in my life:

Candace Rose. From the moment the nurse put her into my hands, I was in love. A whopping 9lbs of love personified. I couldn’t put her down. Our first night together, she slept on my chest, nestled near my heart. Everyone told me how I was spoiling her, but I argued that something spoiled was usually left on the shelf to rot. I can’t spoil her. Love doesn’t spoil, love nurtures. We spent four years together before brother and sister were born. Her voracious appetite for learning unfurled a world filled with reading, playing, creating, and reading some more. Oh how I wish I’d had an iPhone to record her musings. One of my earliest memories is seeing a grand design spread across our tiny living room carpet—she’d taken the clean clothes from the laundry basket and created a lovely pattern, evenly spaced and creatively placed. Enter her strong will + “I’ll-do-it-myself” attitude, coupled with tenderness and evident compassion for those who hurt and you have the Candace Rose we all know and love today. Her modern-day marvels teach me daily: Take risks, listen to your heart, be stubborn in all the right places, love others deeply, always “Sobremesa,” embrace diversity, help your fellow man and work very hard.

International Women's Day: Celebrating the Women in My Life

Brooke Janell. For so long, Brooke was known to us as “Twin A.” But when “Twin A” became “Brooke Janell,” (named so by her father), we were madly in love. Petite from the get go, a mere 6lbs. 4oz., Brooke inherited her father’s dear, tender, kind, quiet nature. Extremely shy, fearful of dogs and clowns, compliant and most importantly, so peaceful. Her smile lit up the entire room. Still does. She’d sit for hours and let me fuss over her hair—curling iron, over-sized bows and all. A little style icon in training. Enter medical challenges: allergic reactions at four months, eczema, food sensitivities, learning obstacles, and so much more—all which shaped little Miss Brooke into the fierce, faith-filled, and really fun-loving woman we know, love and celebrate today. Her passionate zeal for life teaches me daily: Be you, speak honestly, deal with conflict now, form meaningful relationships, pray hard, laugh harder, and always, play board games.

The Woman Whose DNA I Share

Mildred Helen. Celebrating my Momma today, for her DNA has served me well. As a young woman, she left her tiny hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, to join the Marines. Wow. One of the first women Marines (1949). Met my dad during boot camp. Married and lived the life of a service wife. Moved three children from place to place. Lived with relatives while Dad was serving overseas (wars and all). Struggled through her husband’s alcoholism. Kept our family together. Prayed and loved her God with a fierce conviction. A survivor through and through. She’s taught me: faith is everything, family requires selfless love, time, patience and commitment, and above all else, “Enjoy your life with Rob,” she says. “The two of you are so blessed. Live it up!”

International Women's Day: Celebrating the Women in My Life

Women Around the World

When doors opened to be with women in Kenya (October/November 2015), it was almost too much to bear. After two trips to Thailand (November 2009), where I sincerely felt as if I’d been to the mountain and back—twice—Life took me on a very long, arduous journey—where I felt my heart was turned inside out and upside down and placed on repeat mode. I came to the place where I wasn’t sure what the future held for me, professionally. But, then, in truest God-fashion, He lifted the veil and brought a loving church into my life, filled with the most amazing women of God. In an ordinary hallway, he brought my pastor’s wife, Sheryl, to me and with her very loving, very gracious hand, she extended a divine invitation to travel to Kenya with her and the Tree of Life Team. Those sixteen days not only healed my heart, they set it on fire. I simply have to share God’s message with women all over the world.

International Women's Day: Celebrating the Women in My Life

Thank you for indulging this longer-than-usual post. The women in my life deserve even more. I am most grateful for them. On this #InternationalWomen’sDay, why not take a moment to thank the women in your life. Let them know specifically HOW they have influenced your life (share on our Facebook, too!) And, take a moment to sit with yourself and whisper a little affirmation to yourself. Yes, you deserve it. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. If you need prayer today, please let me know: janellrardon@gmail.com.