Many of you don't know me personally.
I write here in my quiet corner of the world telling my story and preaching my gospel of co-parenting, surviving divorce, and how I have successfully managed to not kill my ex-husband over the last three years.
These are my truths.
The pictures I know how to paint for you with my words and my advice.
But, this...this is entirely different.
Because this doesn't make any sense.
But, as I read through the notes of encouragement on her Go Fund Me page, I find myself completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from people who hardly know her, and I am gripped with this urgency to help you know her.
This woman who changed my life 28 years ago when my mother brought her home from the hospital one cold February day.
This woman who took me from only child to big sister in a matter of moments.
This woman who I have fought, cried, and laughed with for most of my life.
I need you to know her.
I need you to understand the person who you are so graciously helping and praying over, because she is so much more than the sick heart with a rare genetic condition that rests inside her body.
I need you to see that the girl in the Facebook photos-the one everyone has been talking about for the last few weeks-is SO loved by SO many people.
But, especially by me.
The big sister who would move mountains for her to make her feel better and who would trade her places in a heartbeat.
A single, irregular heartbeat.
So, if you'll humor me for a moment, I need to tell you about her...my sister.
*****I need you to know that the day my mother brought her home from the hospital I ran around the house screaming.
Not out of excitement, but because I wanted my mother to take her back...out the door...to wherever she had come from.
In my almost two year old mind, she was not welcome there that day-or any day.
And that wouldn't change for many years.
I need you to know that my worst fights have been with her.
Every single hair pulling, face slapping, and whisper screaming fight.
Our friends used to come over just for the sheer entertainment of watching us fight.
We were like a more girly version of Fight Club and we were the only two members.
I need you to know that if someone would have told my fifteen year old self that she would grow up to be one of my best friends, I would of laughed in their faces and then later had to eat my words.
Because she is more than one of my best friends.
She is my best friend.
She is the only one who has stood beside me through all of the highs and lows for the last almost 29 years.
She isn't afraid to tell me what I need to hear even if it isn't what I want to hear. She will put me in my place, and take me down a couple of notches, but she always has my back-even when I'm wrong.
That's true friendship.
That's once in a lifetime friendship.
I know this now.
I need you to know that she is the funniest and the most sarcastic person that I know.
She literally makes me laugh out loud every single day, and most of the time it's at myself.
I'm convinced that the eyeroll emoji was specifically invented for her and trust me, most days it isn't dramatic enough.
She is my comic relief in the middle of a world that wants me to take all of this way too seriously-and I love her for it.
I need you to know that she is the most amazing wife and mother.
No one loves her boys the way my sister loves her boys.
She put my mothering to shame every single day.
From homework to play dates to bouncing a collicky baby for 18 straight hours every single day-she is a superhero.
I need you to know that she's prays like our mother.
Our mother who truly believes in the power of prayer, and the power of loving people through prayer. If you've ever had the privilege of hearing our mother pray, then you know this to be true.
My sister is the same way.
She genuinely loves people through her prayers. Like really loves them.
And there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not thankful to have her in my prayer corner.
I need you to know that she teaches me daily about humility.
I can't even tell you the number of times she has said to me, "But, I never asked for this."
Not her illness, but the genuine outpouring of love and support she has received over the last few weeks.
She never asked for a Go Fund Me page or benefit softball tournament or little white bracelets with her name on them.
We are Phillips girls with Dickerson blood running through our veins.
Our family does not ask for help.
But, God had bigger plans for this mess and He is using it to teach all of us what it means to truly need help and how to accept it with a humble heart.
However, I think it has been more of a lesson for me than for her.
She has wept and prayed over the money that has been donated more than anyone else.
Her gratitude humbles me.
Every single day.
I need you to know that even though her heart is sick, her spirit is stronger.
You know, I had someone tell me just last week that my sister needs to quit posting such "happy posts" on Facebook, because no one really believes she's sick.
But you know, that's the problem with an illness that is invisible to everyone on the outside-there will always be those who doubt you.
But, I would rather have people doubt her illness than doubt her faith.
Because it is her faith that allows her to give the glory to Him in the face of overwhelming odds.
It is her faith that will carry this work on to completion.
And if that's all the world ever sees, then so be it.
You know, I am aware that there is something so completely tragic about a beautiful, vibrant, 28 year old girl who has the heart of a 70 year old woman.
I have cried so many tears over this truth.
But, I am also aware that there are far worse things in this world, and that there are people with greater needs than ours.
However, in this life, we don't get to choose our valleys.
And while our valley may not seem as rocky or treacherous as the valleys others have been asked to walk through-it is still a valley.
A dark place that is full of uncertainty and void of light, but that is being used to shape us-to refine us into the people we have all been called to be.
He is teaching us lessons in this place.
He is softening our hearts rather than hardening them in this place.
And He is writing the most beautiful story in this place.
A story about faith and perseverance.
A story about trials by fire and peace that passes all understanding.
Yes, this story was ordained for my sister before she ever took her first breath-no matter how tragic it seems.
But, behind the story, there will always be a girl.
A girl who is a wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, and sister.
A girl who is my sister.
And I will forever be grateful that I got to be apart of the story.