There are women who go through their entire lives giving little regard to anyone's needs but their own.  We all know them and do our best to keep our distance.  Then there are women who seem to live their entire lives giving regard to the needs of everyone around them with a smile.  We all know them and do our best to try and rub elbows with them through this life.  This is dear sweet Rita. 

Rita bid on an Unveil your Cinderella portrait experience for her niece at the Red Devils breast cancer fund raiser we help to support.   Her niece is expecting her first baby in December, and she wanted to surprise her with this cherishing experience.  Unfortunately though, Rita learned her niece and family were moving away for a job, so she wasn't going to be able to use the portrait experience.  Rita decided to use it to surprise her husband.  (then later she told me she had to tell him on the ride home from her session because she was just so excited and couldn't keep a secret from her sweet Clay!)

Rita is a board member on the Red Devils and a very active champion for those walking through the throws of breast cancer.  Strangely enough, the day she came for her pre-consult, I had her welcome on my board along with another Cinderella visiting that day, Lisa.  Rita walked in, saw the sign and did a double take and seemed ready to burst into tears.  She had recently walked through a breast cancer journey with a dear friend Lisa who went to be with the Lord a few weeks earlier.  Rita was in the fight with her friend from start to finish.  She said, 'look she's right here with me, on your board!' 

That's the kind of woman Rita is, when the situation gets ugly, she's right in the trenches with those she loves.  I got to know a lot about Rita's life during our time together and find myself smiling every time I think about her.  We had a blast during her session.  I called her my Christy Brinkly--doesn't she remind you of her!?  I kept telling her, 'Rita, no one is going to believe you are 65!  No one!'  

A big part of Rita's journey dates back to years ago when, after many years of trying and pregnancies that did not end with a baby in her arms, Rita realized she was not going to be a mother.  She had a choice to make.  Allow sorrow and bitterness over what was not to be consume her, or embrace the lives that surrounded her and flood them with love.  She chose life and she chose it abundantly. 

She chose to be a blessing to her nieces and nephews in ways that have helped them reach their own dreams.  She's made incredible memories with them with once in a lifetime kind of trips and adventures.   She's also been there for the everyday down and dirty cleaning/cooking/and changing of diaper duty that consumes a day in heartbeat.   Her heart which has chosen joy, compels her to beam about her Clay who she's been married to 45 years!  To hear her talk, you'd assume they were newlyweds!   And she's the kind of wife that inspires a husband to write books of poetry for his bride and then read one at a surprise birthday party he's thrown her.   Many are those who love Rita and consider her a mother to them, which makes me think of the verse "He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children." Psalm 113:9.

At the very end our session, Rita wore one of my favorite Cinderella bottoms.  Meanwhile, Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" was playing in the background and Rita began to dance and sing and laugh...it was a moment precious to me.  I watched a woman who very easily could have gone through life carrying a heavy load that isolated her from everyone around her...instead she chose to lay it down and embrace life.   This verse was ringing in my head as I watched her dance, "Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the barren woman than of her who has a husband," says the LORD."  Isaiah 54:1Barren is not a word I could ever use to describe Rita, as it's clear her life is so full and flourishing with life in a myriad of ways. 

As we were talking about favorite books, Rita mentioned she was recently asked if she could change one thing in her life, what would it be.  She said she had to pause and consider...she realized if she had had children of her own she wouldn't have been able to step into the lives of her family members in ways that have been life giving and enriching to them and her on soooo many occasions.  So she decided she would not change that.  I'm not surprised!  Continue to be a blessing Rita--the world shines brighter because of your smile!