Angel here and I have shared with you all some of my most personal stories in life.  One of the most valuable lessons I have learned over the years is family is not always the group of people you are born into but those who have come alongside you in your journey and never left.

As I type tears are flowing thinking of the people over the years who have adopted me into their families and brought me into their homes as one of them.  Growing up as I have shared momma worked a lot.  When I started High School she often worked nights and weekends.  This left her to worry about where I might go while she worked.

Thankfully I had joined the girls' soccer team at Apollo and the girls on that team took me under their wings and helped me to literally soar through my teen years.  My friends Nicole Tipton Blandford, Kelli Atherton Robertson, Kelly Coomes Murphy, Laurel Beaty, Jaclyn Raley Beckham, Sara Blandford, and Katy Evans Harrison and their parents fed me, loved me, disciplined me, and helped my momma provide stability when she was away.  We all fought like siblings and goodness we love like it still to this very day.

I look back and think I am not sure where I would have been without those girls.  The helped pave my way for success in life.  No, they weren't blood relatives but to be honest they were there for me more than some of my family through the years.

My former soccer coach/dad figure, Mike Wilkerson, pushed me to my limits.  He guided me and helped me stay the course I needed to win in life.  He was real and matter of fact with me when I needed it most.  It wasn't always sunshine and rainbows with him but to this day that man is still one of the people I look up to most in my life and we talk for the most part on a regular basis.

Fast Forward to adulthood and I remember back to my divorce in 2009.  I was left with two little boys, a house in near default, and no parents to help me.  I put our house up for sale and literally within one day of it being on the market it sold.  Where would I go what would I do?  In swoops my best friends Travis Thompson, Jamie White Wright, her husband John, their best friends Todd & Amy Nave, and the whole Habit Hill/Philpot crew.  They loved me at a time in my life when I wanted to give up.  Invited me to get-togethers, loved my boys,  hugged me when I cried and made me feel like I was normal.  And when my house sold and I had to move they showed up early one Saturday morning and packed my house and helped me begin a new normal.  I am forever grateful for their selfless love for me.

Those friends who have prayed with me cried with me and accepted me for the hot mess express that I am. Meredith Gabbert who has loved me through the darkest times in my life.  I ugly cry thinking how many times this woman has saved my life.

I think of Blake Templeton came to me late in life but she just feels like she has always been right by my side.  She and her family helped our family through a very tough time in our lives and she never fails to call my phone or send a text at the perfect time and I love her for who she is to me.

And my Lisa Aull who is like is like the big sister I never had.  She has loved my family like we were literally her own.  Her smile is like sunshine and she can make you feel like the most important and special person in the world.  And she is the only person I would allow to take Charlotte on a plane and away from us without my supervision.

And last but certainly not least I think of my partner in crime, my brother by another mother, Chad.  He has been a special part of my life for 20 years now.  He has loved me, encouraged me, pushed me beyond my limits and expected the best from me at all times.  He reminds me a lot of how my mother would be if she were here.  To be completely he means more to me than most could even imagine.  He is one of the most loving, kindest, most inspirational people I know.

I am thankful family is not defined by blood.  My family is all of those beautiful and amazing friends, co-workers, people who have loved me through and cheered when I succeeded.  I think of Debby, Penny, Stacey, Jennifer, Amy, Robin, Sarah, Sara and so many who have made me feel like I belonged.

I LOVE EACH OF YOU MORE THAN YOU COULD KNOW.  THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME.