My 38th birthday.
I've learned a lot of things about life in the last 38 years.
Today though, I've learned something new.
Maybe it's not new...let me try this sentence again.
Today though, I've relearned one of the most important things there is to learn.
We're on the 42 floor of the Palazzo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
It's the nicest hotel room I've ever stayed in.
I can look out our huge window and see the lights of the Las Vegas strip below.
Jason and Emily and I spent a few hours walking along the Vegas strip...we had a destination in mind but it was a lot farther away than we had planned when we started our sojourn.
We saw every type of person - saw more alcohol than I have ever seen in my life - and saw pictures thrown on the ground that can be described simply as pornographic.
We walked through casinos that were filled with people gambling and rode an elevator with some very drunk people. It was in the middle of the afternoon.
Tonight we went to dinner with Jason's co-workers and boss, and when Emily let us know that she was done with her day, she and I left dinner. Em kept her head on my shoulder as we walked back through the casino to our hotel room, and we both breathed a sigh of relief as we walked into our room and left Las Vegas outside of our door.
Jason's co-workers expressed sadness that I left my birthday dinner before my food had even arrived but Jason knows me and said, "Trust me. She's okay with this."
I put Em in the bathtub ... mostly because I felt like I needed to wash this day off of her ... and as I watched her splash and play in the water I thought about things.
Every person who saw Emily smiled.
You could see the hardness of some people literally soften as they looked at my little girl.
Many people commented on how sweet she was.
The hotel staff wave and smile whenever they see her.
Emily represents the polar opposite of this city.
She's pure and she's innocent.
She's filled with peace - and light - and goodness - and people are drawn to that.
Tonight after Jason came back I ran a hot bubble bath and soaked in the dark as I watched the season premier of Gray's Anatomy on my iPad.
And afterwards, I sat on my bed with Emily asleep next to me, and the lights of the city outside my window, eating my birthday cheesecake.
All I need in my life is inside this hotel room.
The kind of joy and happiness that comes from winning a few dollars in the casino or that comes from the buzz of alcohol?
The happiness that comes from living the high life?
It's not lasting - and it's not real.
I will take my life - my simple, quiet, clean, wholesome life ... and I will thank God every day for it.