Dear Summer, BRING IT.

I’ve always heard that things have to get worse before they can get better.   If that’s the case, then I have never been more ready for the “BETTER” to arrive.  As you most likely read in my post, I’m Wearing Mascara Again, I have been dealing with some life changing situations that have been very difficult for me emotionally.  Add to that sick kids who brought home some sort of plague-like respiratory virus that has put me to bed since last Monday and you can understand why I have been a little MIA as of late.

I’m beginning to think that winter is just not my best time of the year.  It seems that every winter something has happened that has caused me to wish and crave for the spring/summer.  Two years ago I fainted in my driveway in January and felt like I had hit rock bottom, then Joe and I reconnected in March and, well, here we are.

As I said in the Divorce Care Package feature on The Huffington Post Divorce site, the beach is my “happy place” that helped me for years as I was struggling with my divorce.  Since then it has become the place where Joe and I were able to build our relationship.  Every weekend we didn’t have kids, we headed to the beach.  Since I feel the most peace and happiness at the beach, it only makes sense that I relate those same happy feelings with summertime.

This winter has had its share of troubling issues.  Things have come to light in different aspects of my life that have been difficult for me to process and understand.  We have also just changed up our custody schedule so that my kids are now spending 50/50 with both their dad and me.  While I think this change will be positive for them (or I would have never agreed to it), they have been primarily with me for almost ten years now.  Change can be a good thing, but it’s not always easy to swallow when it means less time with your kids.  Thankfully I will still see them every day since they will come home from school to my house like normal and we stay in close contact even when they are with their dad.

That change affects us all because now my schedule is all crazy mixed up… and you guys KNOW how I feel about the importance of an organized schedule!!!!!  Now all of a sudden we have Monday nights with no kids, Tuesday nights with my kids, Wednesday night with my step-kids, and Thursday night with all four kids together.  This makes dinner planning a little different, but it’s nothing I can’t handle once I get used to the new way.

Emotionally I have been okay with this, although I have been struggling a little with the fact that my son and my step-son will be finished with middle school and will be going to high school in a few short months.  I may or may not have cried the entire way home from high school orientation (and proceeded to sign the boys up to attend a study skills boot camp one Saturday because I was scared straight about how intense high school can be).  And before I could even wrap my brain around the fact that they will both be in driver’s ed before I can possibly accept it, my son blindsided me.

My son has decided that he wants to go to high school out where his dad lives.  That may not seem like a big change, but I live in the heart of the city and their dad lives on a farm 25 minutes out in the country.  It has been a great experience for the kids to have the best of both worlds, but it blew me away that he wants to leave his friends to go out to school where he knows no one.  While my first instinct was to put my foot down and disallow it, I immediately felt a tremendous amount of pride at the job that his father and I have done.

How impressive that my 14 year old was brave enough to talk to me about something that you know could not have been easy for him.  He was very non-emotional and just discussed it with me.  While I admittedly didn’t handle it with as much grace as he, I was impressed with his candor and his strength in sharing his desires.  I may not agree with him, but I am going to stand behind him.  I would much rather he try it out and see how he does, then prohibit it and leave him resentful that I wouldn’t allow it.

Maybe it was my weakened immune system due to the stress of visiting schools and making major decisions, but last week I was hit by a truck.  At least it felt like a truck, but it was a potent kid virus.  I have literally been in bed since last Monday.  Needless to say, being sick makes me emotional and since I was ALREADY emotional, the past week has been a beast.

The one redeeming factor of the week was dragging myself out of bed on Saturday night to take the kids and grandmothers to our favorite Japanese restaurant to celebrate birthdays.  Although I couldn’t eat much since the smells were so potent, it was wonderful to be in the land of the living again… and even more wonderful to surprise all four kids with our planned trip to Disneyworld in June!  Seeing their excitement and knowing that summer will be here before we know it has lifted me out of the emotional fog I have been in.

Now I can go back to focusing on the important things in life.  No, NOT FACEBOOK (I gave up FB for Lent).

FAMILY.

I want to spend every second I can breathing in every moment of my kids.  It makes my heart ache to think about only having four more years with our boys under our protective wings, so instead I am going to focus every ounce of my energy on enjoying every second with them until then.   I want to stop worrying about the small stuff.  I want to laugh at their silly jokes and enjoy them harassing each other in the car.  I want to try to remember every second, because I have learned to accept that there aren’t that many before they are out of our nest.

 

 

 

 

I’m Wearing Mascara Again

I’m sorry I haven’t posted a blog since February 28th.  Although everyone who knows me knows that I am annoyingly optimistic and cheerful, I have been struggling over the past couple of weeks with self doubt, a touch of heartache and a boatload of fear.  I’m not ready to share the details, but would appreciate whatever prayers and good vibes and happy thoughts that you can throw my way.

So many people keep telling me, “You need to give it over to God and let Him handle it.”  I don’t know about you, but that certainly sounds like the best way to handle any problem… but the true issue is HOW to give it over to Him.  How do I just say, “Here God… I’m not thinking about this anymore”?

Granted, throughout my life it seems that good things always come from the doors that have closed in my life.  After my divorce, I moved to Greenville where I quickly got a good job with Bank of America Mortgage (just by starting a conversation with a random stranger at the cell phone store).  That led me to a transition job with SunTrust Mortgage that bought me time while I applied to law schools.  Once I got into law school, the kids and I were able to move back to Raleigh where they could be closer to their dad.  Since law school tried to kill me, I left after three semesters and had a new job working with a political consultant less than a week later.  After a year, I was offered a position where I work now (which is where I briefly interned while in law school).   All of this brought me back to Raleigh and kept me here long enough to reconnect with Joe (who dated one of my friends in high school)… and now we have been blissfully married for ten months today.  As I have blogged about before, HAPPY BEGETS HAPPY BEGETS HAPPY.

Sure we have had our share of insignificant struggles, but none of those compare to the darkness I feel as though I am facing now.  Decisions must be made that affect much more than me and they have far-reaching consequences for which I don’t want to be responsible.  I have been praying incessantly and I have cried more than I would care to admit, but the fact of the matter is every single day I feel more at peace in my heart.  Every day I feel like things are going to be just fine.  Every day I feel more and more comfort in knowing that whichever way this goes, we are all going to be fine.

I guess that is God at work in me – giving me peace when I have none and giving me comfort when I doubt.  I am so thankful for all of my many blessings and I need to focus on that.  I have transcended before and can do it again.

On Saturday, I wore mascara for the first time in two weeks.  I explained that significance to a friend of mine by saying, “Wearing mascara proves that I have not cried today and, more importantly, it proves I started the day with no INTENT of crying.”

Baby steps.

Sharing Toothbrushes & Whatnot…

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Our kids – LOVE THEM

We have survived almost ten months now as a newly blended family with little to no internal friction.  A couple of small bumps in the road, but no devastating crashes.  Pretty good for having a house with two teenage boys and two pre-teen girls who live in pretty close quarters.

Who wouldn't want to hang out in this room all the time????

Who wouldn’t want to hang out in this room all the time????

I won’t say “tight quarters” because although the boys share a room and the girls share a room, they are unquestionably large rooms.  The girls have two double beds in their room and still have plenty of extra room to lounge around and watch tv or play games.  The boys have bunk beds with a sofa and coffee table set up in their room – the perfect Xbox set-up for teen boys.  So they are definitely not suffering in any sense.

They do, however, all have to share the jack & jill bathroom that is between their rooms.

Four kids. Two sinks.  That wouldn’t seem like a big deal, but it also means four kids and four toothbrushes.  Recipe for disaster… Last week one of the kids was brushing their teeth (I will be vague so no one feels like they are being made fun of).  Another child also went to brush teeth and was confused when their toothbrush wasn’t where it was supposed to be.  It was quickly realized it was because the other child was using it to brush their teeth!! Ewwwwwww.  Everyone was REALLY grossed out and I ended up having to give new toothbrushes to pretty much everyone in the house JUST IN CASE.

Four kids. One toilet.  Thankfully this hasn’t been a big deal because two of our kids leave for school just as the other two are waking up, so different wake times usually mean different potty times.  There are the occasions where I wake to hear quiet footsteps on the hardwood floors in our bedroom and see one of the kids standing near the bed with a deer in headlights expression.  I then hear the whisper, “There’s someone in our bathroom.  Can I use yours?”  We are still trying to figure out why they don’t just go downstairs to another bathroom, but whatever.

Four kids. One shower.  Fifty thousand towels.  I kid you not, THEY GO THROUGH SOME TOWELS.  We recently picked up 18 towels at one time.  18 towels between four kids.  And Joe, the obsessive laundry guy (THANK GOD), does laundry pretty much every single day, so they were towels accumulated over just a few days.  One of the kids said, “I don’t like to reuse towels because I always think someone else used the towel after me. That’s gross.”  Ironically, that was the same child who had someone else’s toothbrush in their mouth.  Nice try.

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I’m a smart girl…

Being the problem solver I am, I resolved the “towel drama” by pulling out my old Bernina embroidery machine and each child now has two personalized towels to use each week.  They are responsible for hanging them up and no one is allowed to use anyone else’s towel.   It’s been working beautifully for a few weeks now!

Overall, the blended family experience for us all has been wildly successful.  Sure we have had to institute more rules in the house – with double the family, there becomes double the responsibility.  Everyone must carry their own weight, which has been a struggle for one child specifically.   We’ve instituted allowance, but rather than be happy that they now get paid in addition to the new rules, they are mad at how we “handle their money.”  Huh.  We also have more activities with four kids, so we all go to more stuff now… which again can be a major source of angst for a teenage boy who is all about his own wants and needs.  So we are working on it.  Considering it hasn’t even been a year yet, we are doing just fine. It’s constant give and take… and I know that someday the kids will realize just how good we have it.

I’m thankful for every second we have with each of them because it won’t be long before they are driving and out the door…  I may be a hot mess heap of hysteria at that time, so I will enjoy every single second of toothbrush/bathroom/towel drama until that day.  Then Joe and I will sit in our rocking chairs on the porch in New Bern looking out over the river and we will laugh remembering how much fun each and every day was with our party of six.

There Is No “Step” In My Love For Her…

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I stayed up long after my family went to bed last night just so I could decorate the kitchen for Valentine’s Day.  We have been snowed in here in North Carolina since Tuesday, so I had to think of a homemade way to tell my family just how much they mean to me on this special day.

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They ARE my life… nothing else matters.

I made a heart for each person in my family and I wrote all the things that I love about them.  On Joe’s, I wrote a letter telling him all of the many reasons I love him.  This is the heart I made for my daughter Crawford:

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So many people have a cynical view of Valentine’s Day, but even though I have spent most of my life not celebrating it with a “Valentine,” I see it as such a joyous celebration of love and life.  It’s a day that makes me want to be even kinder to everyone I encounter – whether it be at work or Starbucks.  No matter who you are, you know that it feels good to be loved.

When my husband walked out of the bedroom this morning, I literally popped up in bed with a smile.  I can’t explain the joy I felt just knowing that he would feel loved when he walked into the kitchen and saw his heart.  I reached over and read an email telling me about the death of my friend’s husband who has been fighting cancer.

My heart fell… and it fell far.

What a juxtaposition of feelings I was feeling.  The joy of love and life.  The sadness of loss and death.  All within a few moments.  My sweet husband brought me breakfast in bed soon after and all I could do was think about my friend losing her husband… on Valentine’s Day.  It certainly set the stage for a pretty sad day.

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He loves me…

It was slow moving this morning as I got ready for work.  I started letting everything bother me.  I got sad thinking about not having my daughter and son with me on Valentine’s Day.  Silly, I know.  It’s not like it’s a “major holiday,” but I was disappointed just the same. My heart was feeling very weighted down.

Then my sweet step-daughter came skipping into my bathroom and said, “Do you want to dress up with me today?”  She wanted to wear a heart bathrobe and a pink hairbow to go to work with me.  In a quick dismissal I said, “It’s a place of business, so we need to look nice.”  As she walked out of the room looking disappointed, I decided in that moment that I couldn’t let the bad news ruin my entire day.  I needed to live my day to the fullest and do whatever I could to make the day a little better for someone, ANYONE, else.

So Hattie and I headed in to work and she said, “Since I am not at school today and can’t tell all my classmates Happy Valentine’s Day, I am going to tell everyone I see Happy Valentine’s Day from this point on…”

And she did.

For the rest of the day, that sweet girl said “Happy Valentine’s Day” to EVERYONE she encountered.  One of my co-workers took her down to get cupcakes for the office and she said it to every person in the cafe (including my boss – who she didn’t know was my boss).

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Yummy cupcakes from Cafe Carolina

When we left work, she spoke to every person we passed on the way to the car.  Once in the car, she yelled out the window to people on the side of the road and people pumping gas.  She said it to the homeless man sitting alone in the corner at Starbucks.  She said it to the old couple getting in their car next to us.  Here is a quick video I took: http://youtu.be/jQJrw8OAFso.

She had said she would stop once she got to 30, but once she got to 30 she said, “You know how sometimes you have extra valentines, so you give those out too?  I’m going for the extra.”

SHE MADE MY DAY.  And not to mention she made the day of numerous people all over Raleigh.  And all by showing just a little bit of kindness and a smile.  And that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.  It’s not about romantic love.  It’s about showing those around us love and by showing those we love just how much we love them.  THAT is what it’s all about.  It’s about making others feel good.  It’s about spending time when people. It’s about telling our family and friends WHY we love them.

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My valentine for my dashingly handsome husband….

Tonight at dinner, when my step-daughter said to my husband, “We had the best day ever,” I realized just how much joy she brought to my day.  And then she looked at me and said, “I have a poem for you for Valentine’s Day: Roses are red, violets are blue, Yes I have a big smile, but you do too.”

Yes, sweet girl.  I do tonight and it is because of you…

I Love Being A Mom – Even in Winter Storm Pax

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No one is playing basketball today!

This has been one of the longest weeks that I can remember… and it’s not over.

Those close to me know that I am a very anxious person at times.  It’s not something I am plagued with full-time, but often situations that are out of my control are very difficult for me to handle.  This week’s weather left so many uncertainties that I was an absolute trainwreck.

My husband was in Greensboro for work and two of my kids had to get from their mom’s house to our house and the other two had to leave our house to go to their dad’s house.  Mind you, Greensboro is about an hour and a half away and both of our exes live about thirty minutes from our house.

Add in the potential for “debilitating,” “crippling,” and “devastating” weather (thankyouverymuch for that national news) in the south and it’s a recipe for a mom meltdown.  We are just not equipped for this kind of weather – physically or emotionally – so my anxiety has been in hyper-drive.

As a mother, one of the hardest things about my divorce has been letting go of the kids when they go to their dad’s house.  It’s not that I doubt him in any way, because I know they are well taken care of and that he makes good decisions.  My problem is I am not there to hold their hands.  I’m not there to clean scrapes or kiss bruises or wipe tears away.

Now that my kids are older, that fear is more related to safety issues beyond my control.  So this week, the potential weather had me in a frenzy with all of the “what ifs.”

What if I go in to work and the kids get out of school and I can’t get home to them?  What if Joe goes to Greensboro and can’t get home to us?  What if I need to go get two of our kids from their mom and I can’t drive in the snow?  What if they are pulled on the back of the four wheeler at their dad’s and hit a tree?  What if their step-mom gets stuck in traffic taking them out to their house and they are in danger and I can’t get to them?  What if the power goes out for days and I run out of fire wood and Joe is still not home?  What if the water stops working? What if… what if… what if…

If you have anxiety, then you know that all of that was running through my head AT THE SAME TIME last night while I was trying to fall asleep.  I think it was close to 2am before my brain finally gave me a rest and I fell asleep.

I woke up this morning still feeling anxious until I got a text from Joe that he had gotten up and driven back to Raleigh at 5:15am to avoid any bad weather.  He said he was going to pick up the two kids with their mom and would be home.  I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of relief. That was a major weight off my shoulders.  I had been an absolute basket-case worrying about Joe driving back in the bad weather just one day after out 9th month as husband and wife.

Thankfully, I brought my laptop home and had my calls forwarded, so I was able to work from home and didn’t have to worry about leaving my kids alone.  That is such a blessing on days like today because I was able to work all morning in my bathrobe and know my kids were safe and not alone.

I can’t explain the peace I felt in my heart when my husband and two kids came walking in the door this morning.  It’s that amazing feeling like a part of your heart that has been missing is back.  Slowly but surely I felt peace returning in my chaotic brain.  My children were picked up by their stemom and driven out to their dad’s house.  The snow had just started and I was a keyed up mess for the entire 30 minute trip until I got the text that they were home safely.  At that point, the snow was falling steadily and hard.  The news soon after started to show people deserting their cars on snow covered roads.

My entire family was where they were supposed to be and safe, so I did what any mom would do… I took a nap.  And it was such a good one. I slept hard and woke up to a beautiful snow falling out the windows by the sofa.  What did I do next?  I mixed a little drink and took a long hot shower… and then painted my toenails.  We cooked a nice dinner and ate together as a family (minus two).

Unless you are a mother, you cannot possibly understand the realm of emotions I have felt today – fear, hope, worry, love, relief, peace.  I have hugged all four of my kids a little harder today.  I have snuggled with my husband while watching the weather. I talked to my kids earlier at their dad’s house and was relieved to hear their voices (again).  I’m so thankful that they enjoy talking to me and telling me all about their day because I just can’t get enough of them.  I hung up with an “I love you so very much” and a smile… My cup has runneth over with love today as I have dealt with my fears and seen God take over and keep everyone safe.  It was one of those days where if I could actually hear God speak, then I am pretty sure he said, “Val, chill out… I got this.”

And then just to ease my stress even more, I got the call from work that our office is closed tomorrow.   That means when I climb into bed with my handsome husband in a few minutes, I can sleep well knowing that even if the power goes out or if the ice storm really does cause damage, we are safe at home… together.

The house is quiet right now, but I am not lonely.  My husband may be asleep in his recliner and two of our kids may be snoozing away already upstairs, but my heart is happy just because being a mom has to be the scariest but most rewarding job I have ever had in my life.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Lung Leavin’ Day 2014

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As a mother, one of my biggest fears is getting sick and being unable to care for my kids.  I mean, really sick.  Like a debilitating sickness or even something that would take my life.  If you are a parent, then you know that paralyzing fear of your children having to grow up without you.  It pains my heart to think of the things my children would have to do without my support and love.

That fear became a reality eight years ago for Heather Von St. James when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma – a rare cancer that kills most people within 2 years of diagnosis.  She had just given birth to her daughter Lily and was told she would live on 15 more months.

After a life saving surgery which included removal of her left lung, she and her family began celebrating “Lung Leavin’ Day.”  This year, on February 2, 2014, they will celebrate their 8th year!!!!!  Go read about Lung Leavin’ Day 2014 HERE.

The purpose of Lung Leavin’ Day is to encourage others to face their fears.  I was touched to hear that each year on Lung Leavin’ Day, they gather around a fire in their backyard with their family and friend.  Each of them write their biggest fears on a plate and then they SMASH THE PLATES INTO THE FIRE!

They celebrate for those who are no longer with us, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and more importantly, THEY CELEBRATE LIFE!!!

Heather’s husband reached out to me to spread the word through my blog about Lung Leavin’ Day 2014.  I knew as soon as I read their story, that it could have been MY STORY.  And I would like to think that if it were my story, that I would make it play out like they have — by celebrating the gift I have been given while educating others.

Please go to Cameron Von St. James’ website and learn more about mesothelioma.

May their family continue to be blessed as they continue to be a blessing to others!!!

Why I Married My Husband…

This post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

Sitting down to write a blog about why I married my husband is an extremely overwhelming task.  It’s like trying to count the pieces of sand on the ocean shore.   Or attempting to catch the wind with a net.  The reasons are absolutely immeasurable and impossible to compile.   I have stared at the screen, made notes, looked back through old photos and honestly, just stared at this man who I call my husband.  How, and more importantly, WHY did we get here?

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Our wedding day – May 11, 2013

Joe dated one of my friends in high school.  I vividly remember him beeping his horn every day during 6th period as he was going home.  My friend would smile lovingly every time, but I remember feeling very jealous.  It never failed that he would beep every single day.  I wanted a boy who would show me that dedication.

Twenty years later, I ran across Joe’s name on Facebook and sent him a friend request.  Innocently enough we began chatting through Facebook.  He had been separated for about eight months and I had been divorced for about eight years.  I had dated many men over the years (sorry if any of you are reading this), but not one of them had ever shown me that dedication that I remember Joe showed my friend.  Some of them even failed to really understand what  “being in a relationship” involved.  Square peg, round hole.  None of them ever became anything of substance.

Joe and I decided to meet for lunch for a “non-date” and I have pretty much seen him every day since.  Even on that first lunch date I saw in him characteristics that I could love.  Now, almost two years later, we are married and have blended our two families into one party of six full of love, respect, kindness and dedication.  Here is a list of some of the many things I love about this man:

1) WE SPEAK THE SAME LOVE LANGUAGE – This is huge.  If you have not read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, then go download it NOW.  If you are dating or married to someone who shows you love in a way that does not fill your love tank, then you need to understand why.  When Joe and I first started dating, he did EVERYTHING for me.  I joke about how he full-court pressed me because he brought me flowers, lunch, books from the library, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and more.  He was always giving me gifts.  I finally had to say to him, “While I love the gifts and attention, please know that my love language is 50% Physical Touch and 50% Words of Affirmation.  Gifts and Acts of Service do nothing for me.”  Although he still takes care of me nonstop, I think it was comforting to him to know that we speak the same love language, so all of that extra stuff is nice at times but not necessary.  Now we just hug each other non-stop (ask the kids, because they claim it’s annoying) and tell each other how much we love each other.  Our rule is to never walk in or walk out of the house without giving each other a kiss and telling each other we love each other.

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This is a text Joe sent me a few days ago. Sweet fella ALL THE DAYS…

2) HE ADORES ME – Joe has adored me from the beginning.  Most importantly, he has SHOWN ME how much he has adored me from the beginning.  He was never scared to show it.    It was the best feeling for the first time in my life to be with someone who I adored, but who undoubtedly adored me back.  And went out of his way to show me that.  From the beginning, he was there for me.  He was genuinely interested in what had happened in my life over the twenty years between when we had last seen each other.  And he listened.  And remembered.  He’s happiest when we are together as a family with our kids and everyone is laughing.  There is nowhere in the world he would rather be.

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Our first Christmas as a family… in my Christmas Jammies!

3) HE LOVES HIS CHILDREN MORE THAN LIFE – I could tell in our first lunch together that his children were his life.  It was obvious to me without even knowing the whole story that his divorce had destroyed his life because he was forced to only be with his kids 50% of the time.   Over time, our conversations got much more involved and I learned the extent of the pain the divorce had caused him.  He was still very wounded and struggling when we reconnected and I was hesitant to begin a relationship with him, but it was clear that he WANTED to move on and he wanted to move on WITH ME.  We waited for six months to introduce his kids to me since it was all so new for them.  Although I struggled with not seeing him 50% of the time, I knew how important that time was for him and for his kids as they began their new normal.  The wait definitely paid off.

4) HIS SENSE OF HUMOR – From day one I knew that Joe was the man with whom I wanted to grow old.  He made me laugh a lot in messages before we even had our first lunch.  I have always been proud of my quick wit and I realized early on that I may have met my match.  We would text quip after quip back and forth and I would laugh every time I got a text.  It’s so nice to have a man who I can spend an entire weekend without seeing another soul and we laugh, dance and have so much fun together.  No matter what we are doing.

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Joe is an 5X tee shirt with a Santa beard on… being silly at Christmas!

5) HE MAKES ME A PRIORITY – He is quick to defend me when someone criticizes me and would stand up for me to anyone if necessary.  He turns off the security system in the morning and goes all the way down to the cold kitchen to make me coffee.  I can’t tell you how many mornings I wake up to him handing me a cup of perfectly made coffee in bed.  What a wonderful way to wake!  He does chores that he may not want to do to give me time to write because he knows how important my writing is to me.  Recently he even took me away for a weekend to a cabin with no wi-fi, television or cell service, so I could work all weekend on my book.  It was perfect.  It may not have been his first choice of things to do, but he did it for me because seeing me happy makes HIM happy.

6) HE EMBODIES THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – I knew immediately that there was something DIFFERENT about Joe.  There was something about him that I wanted to be around.  I now realize that it is the man who he is inside his heart.  He’s one of the strongest Christian men I know.  Anyone who knows him can attest to the fact that he shows love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control every day of his life.  He’s certainly not perfect, so there have been times when he may not have shown the self-control that he would have liked, but I don’t expect perfection from him.  I’m not perfect either.  We are, however, perfect for each other.  I am proud that our children will grow up seeing a man who is truly the spiritual leader of our home.  I pray our girls will look for a man who has the same attributes.

7) HE DOESN’T FOLLOW SOCIAL RULES – Trust me when I say that my husband is all man.  He loves sports and exercising and loves having beers with his friends.  However, he is not restricted by gender roles.  He loves to cook and he loves to bake.  When we first started dating and spent time rehashing his marriage and ultimate divorce, he told me what his “splurge” item was following his separation… a fancy sports car? a trip to Costa Rica? a new grill?  No. No. No.  He bought a stand mixer.  Yes, a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.  At the time, I was flabbergasted.  I think my next sentence was something like, “If you ever want to be romantic with me again, then you may not want to talk about that ever again.”  Since that time though I have realized that one quality I love more than anything about that man is that he is sensitive and loving and kind hearted, but still has just enough of an edge to always keep me intrigued.  EDGE.  I have always loved that about him.

I could go on and on and on, but I think I have hit the highlights of why I married this man.  I had a list of the characteristics I wanted in a man, but had failed miserably in finding anyone who had even a few of the characteristics on the list.  Then, out of the ashes of many failed relationships and eight years as a single mom, a man who had EVERY SINGLE QUALITY on my list appeared from my past when I least expected it.  And I cannot wait to enjoy every single day of the rest of my life with him.

Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer. They say the book is like “Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy HERE.

Jen Hatmaker – Relational Repair for “The Difficult”

I realize that I just published a blog within the past ten minutes or so, but this blog cannot be ignored.  Not now. Not never.

There are times in my life when something speaks to me and I clearly know WHO IT IS that is trying to get something through my thick skull.  And boy was He talking to me through this blog.

Jen Hatmaker – Relational Repair for “The Difficult”.

We all have people in our lives who are just, well, DIFFICULT.  And no matter what we do, they are exhausting with their never-ending drama and unwillingness to act the way that we want them to act.  They crave attention, whether it be good or bad attention.

My favorite line in the entire blog is: “PEOPLE ARE DIFFICULT. I mean, we’re not. Other people, I’m saying. These difficult people are making us act bad against our will.”

HASHTAG TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!  I refuse to flounder in frustration for another minute.  Thank you so much to Jen Hatmaker for this well-written blog.  I too need something to mitigate the shame of Being Icky to Someone.  My goal will be patience, grace, and love.

Amen.

 

Christmas Food Is Trying To Kill Me…

I hate to say it, but I am ready for the commercialism of Christmas to be over.  While I would love the Spirit of Christmas to remain all year long, I am tired of the rest of the celebration.  And yes, that includes the food.  Especially the food.  Yeah, primarily the food.

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Quail platter from one of our office parties…

I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas food is trying to kill me.

At my office, we have what we call “The 12 Days of Christmas.”  For the 12 business days leading up to Christmas, a different group of employees plans and brings a full meal for the office.  So what that means is for the past almost three weeks of work, I have eaten a full buffet meal in my office. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  And not only has it been a full buffet, but it’s an all day free-for-all with the leftovers sitting out all afternoon.  So every trip to the copy machine has become a reason to get another cookie or another piece of peppermint bark.

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Cookies, cookies, and more cookies.

My clothes have shrunk a little bit and I have noticed that some sneaky elf must have moved my space heater further under my desk, because it’s a little more difficult than it used to be to lean down to turn it on and off. Weird.

And this noshing on anything and everything has carried over to be a 24/7 thing.  I was watching TV the other night in my living room at like 11pm and I thought, “I feel so full… what can I eat?”  IN THE SAME BREATH.  For weeks now I have even been waking up in the morning still full from the day before.  Then my next thought it, “I wonder what someone is bringing in to eat today?”

This lifestyle has GOT TO GIVE.  It’s either the food or me, but it’s going to be the end for one of us.  When I got home last night, I took one whiff of Joe’s chicken parm and had to go get in bed.  I have been so nauseated for the past two days and the only thing I can blame it on is the inordinate amount of food I have eaten over the past few weeks.  No one should live like this.

Every morning I have started my day with breakfast casseroles, biscuits, bagels, pastries, fancy coffee creamers and dozens of doughnuts.  You know that people always bring in too many Krispy Kreme doughnuts, so I end up eating doughnuts as snacks throughout the day.  Lunch has been an Italian feast, soups, Latin cooking, barbecue chicken, country cookin’, wings, sub sandwiches, and pretty much anything else that my co-workers feel like bringing from home.  By the time I got home everyday, I was absolutely uncomfortably full and would immediately start cooking dinner for my family.

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Our Italian Feast

Now here I am three weeks later, having “taken to the bed” with a fever and terrible nausea.  While I am not a medical doctor in any way, shape or form, I am fairly certain that I have overdosed on food.  Yes, a self-diagnosed overdose on food.  As a result, I have eaten only a few saltine crackers in the past 30 hours.  Even the smell of food can cause a violent physical reaction.  I think I could probably starve myself for the next three weeks and my body could still live off the reserves of everything I have stored away already.

Sure, maybe it’s a stomach bug, but I am convinced it’s an OD of the good stuff.  The yumminess of Christmas is trying to do me in.  Christmas cookies are out to get me.  I’m stalked by pimento cheese and crackers.

Until I recover, I will enjoy the Christmas decorations and the gorgeous cards from our friends in the kitchen rather than the food.  But, I am already looking forward to when I feel well enough to let all the Christmas goodies abuse my system some more!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS!!!