The strong woman.

She may not look it. In fact, her strength may hide behind years of weathered skin and deep-grooved laugh lines.

Underneath her smile is wisdom and a strong resolve that was forged through a life of character-building trials.

She’s dealt with chronic pain and an estranged spouse.

She’s experienced abuse, infertility and the desperation of loving a prodigal child.

She’s raised children, endured sleepless nights rocking babes and nervously pacing as her teens were still not home and out of her control.

She’s felt gut-wrenching heartbreak and the utter exhaustion that comes with caring for a child with special needs and facing unimaginable challenges on the daily.

She’s seen that people will sometimes desert, belittle and betray you.

She’s had days that she didn’t know if she’d make it.

But she did and she became unexpectedly stronger within.

She cares more about people and less about what they think.

She understands that love is not about how a person feels, but their level of sacrifice and commitment.

She understands the importance of having tough skin and an exceptionally soft heart.

She no longer cares about the c-section scar, muffin top or stretch marks that gradually grew with every babe placed in her arms.

She knows that life is precious, that babies grow fast and in a short breath they are out of diapers and headed to kindergarten.

Then, with a mouth full of braces, they have their first crush. And before you can exhale, they are headed off to college with a car fully loaded and part of your heart.

This strong woman has felt the overwhelming emotions of letting go.

Of dancing with the groom. Of losing her husband of 50 years. Of seeing her daughter fight through cancer.

She has lived all the joy.

She’s cheered at all the games, watched all the recitals and picked out the perfect prom dress.

She’s rode the roller coasters, danced in the rain, ate her share of chocolate sundaes and tucked her kids into bed a thousands nights.

Yes, she is strong.

But as her body began to weaken and age, she realized there was only one thing that truly mattered.

Through it all, God had never left her.

Yes, she had drifted in seasons of neglect, busy and distraction.

But God had waited.

Over time, she discovered that she couldn’t take much of this life with her to the grave. Only her legacy and her precious Jesus.

And He had never left her side.

She didn’t always see it. But Jesus had. He knew. He held on when she was too weak. He wiped her tears and lifted her face.

He had been her strength.

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