I would stand in the gap for her for the rest of her life.

The first time I saw her, I didn’t know I would end up listing her as the beneficiary on my life insurance policy.

 Or ending a relationship before it ever started because the man thought it was odd that I chose to continue having a relationship with her after she was no longer my stepdaughter.

 Or that I would have my first real chest pains as a result of her telling me about boys hitting on her when she became a teenager.

 I had no idea, when I saw her standing on a picnic table at the age of three, shivering in her cute little bathing suit, being wrapped up in a beach towel, that she’d end up permanently changing my life. She has. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

 I know that being a stepmom is a different experience for everyone. For me, it was a beautiful thing. It allowed me the opportunity to invest in the life of an amazing human being who I’ve been lucky enough to watch grow and develop into someone I admire, love, and am blessed to maintain a close relationship with today. I can only speak from my own experience; she and I shared countless unique moments. Tears no one knows about. Laughter that made our sides hurt. Excursions we still talk about. Pictures we’ve taken together. Mistakes we have been able to love each other in spite of. Songs we listen to for each other. Poems we’ve written for one another. Words we’ve whispered to one another.

“I love you, Beef, because when I am sad, you make everything better.”

 There’s a fierce love I feel for her. There’s a verse in the Bible (Ezekiel 22:30) that references “standing in the gap” on behalf of the land. For the rest of her life, I would do this for her, in every way. She knows this.

 I love her.

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