This post is part of a series I'm calling The Mother's Project, where I will be highlighting the incredible moms in my life throughout the month of May. Check back later this week for more posts!

It seemed more than fitting to write about Tiffany on her oldest daughter's birthday. That's the birthday girl Briasia up there in the photo, and little baby Tyanna when she was in Tiff's belly. 

Bri is my unofficial goddaughter (though it's very official in my heart) but she only gave me that title after I agreed to have Oreos at the ready when she comes over on Wednesday afternoons. Bri is literally my favorite 10-year-old on the planet and I'm certain it's because of the way Tiff mothers her. When I was her age, my favorite thing to do was write acrostic poems for people, so Bri, consider this your birthday present:

B ... beeeeeautiful
R ... resourceful
I ... intelligent
A ... adorable
S ... sarcastic
I ... inquisitive
A ... admirable

To put it a bit more eloquently: Bri is wise beyond her years. She approaches very adult situations with innocence but understanding. She carries a lot, but manages to still be 10. That girl is just so much fun—she is so witty and not afraid to speak her mind. She has proclaimed herself my stylist and is not shy about letting me know when my outfit is not up to par. I get to pick her up on Wednesdays and hang out with her until Tiff gets off from work. They are some of my favorite hours in the week.

I'm going on and on about Bri because the things I love about her are a direct reflection of the things I love about Tiff. Tiff and I have gotten really close in the last two years and even more so in the last six months. We share a quick temper and a low level of tolerance for stupidity along with a deep appreciation of a good laugh and excellent writing. 

I'm thrilled to know Tiff like I now do, but our relationship grew out of a massive period of suffering in her life ...

On December 26, 2014, just four months after Tiff gave birth, Tyanna stopped breathing during her 4-month check-up. They rushed to the emergency room where she was kept alive by CPR for almost two hours. I remember that night so vividly because Tiff—the most independent, private, and controlled person I know—called me sobbing. I couldn't understand a word she said. I was in Pennsylvania visiting my family and I just remember sitting down and asking her to slow down and start from the beginning. 

Four-month check-up.
Not breathing.
It's serious.
Heart surgery.
They don't think she'll make it.

What? I just saw her the week before. I held her during church. She smiled at me, held my hand and cried because she was hungry.

I got back to Colorado five days later and Tiff was still in the hospital with Tyanna. She made it through open-heart surgery and was on a machine that pumped her blood for her and kept her organs functioning. She was alive, but the prognosis was not hopeful. We sat together in the waiting room and rang in the new year together, trying to laugh and find light in the situation. Tiff actually turned on some stand-up comedy because she was so sick of crying.

I will never forget that night because I genuinely thought to myself: Tyanna is going to make it through this because Tiffany is her mother. I knew Tiffany would fight for her in every way possible: she would memorize all terms, procedures, and medications and question the doctors fiercely to make sure her daughter had the best care possible; she would pray till her knees were scabbed; she would spend every available hour she had by her bed; she would will Tyanna to live.

And she did.

Tyanna spent almost fourth months in the hospital. And now she is home. She is so unbelievably happy. She is learning how to eat again, slowly but surely. She is on countless meds, including shots that Tiffany administers twice a day. But I've never seen such big smiles from girls who have endured so much hardship.

There is so much more to this story that I could write. Like how Tiffany started a brand new job on January 5 because she committed to it before Tyanna's heart stopped. Or how she stayed up late and woke up early to spend time with Bri throughout the months that Tyanna was in the hospital. Or maybe how she still called me when she knew I was having a rough day.

The respect I have for her doesn't even come close to the love that has grown. She is so important to my life and I learn from her on a daily basis. She has taught me (and so many others) about the power of faith, the humility of community, and the strength of a mother.

Because I truly believe Tyanna's life is an act of the Lord, I have to believe that Tiffany's is as well. This verse describes her better than any words I could try to come up with:

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ... We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Paula...Colorado mom.

Paula...Colorado mom.

Aneta...Bold (Part Two).

Aneta...Bold (Part Two).