Against All Odds

In lieu of our wedding anniversary being the 18th of June, I wanted to share a little love story. I wanted to share our story. Our story is not like the fairy tales you see in the movies, it’s raw, it’s real, it’s full of love, grace, forgiveness and redemption. It’s the story that has beaten all the odds. Many doubted we’d ever make this work. We even doubted in the beginning that we could make it work. It wasn’t suppose to work. But it did and it does all by the grace of God. 

I was not ready for love. I was broken and lost. I had been damaged by men in my past and thought I was worthless and undeserving of love. I didn’t believe in love or marriage. I was content to live my life single and independent.

He was a girl crazed boy who wasn’t looking for anything serious. He’d been hurt before and wasn’t sure he wanted to travel down that path again. He was stuck in life and had no drive to move forward.

We found each other attractive and enjoyed talking with each other. He always had a girl and I was against dating anyone I worked with. I also refused to ever be the “other” girl having unknowingly been put into that position once before. I kept my distance and let our conversations be that of work related things. During the Christmas season while at church I pointed him out to my best friend and shared that I had a crush on him, but that nothing was to come of that because he was in a relationship. We came back to work after the New Year and worked an opening shift together. I learned that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend.

Our conversations shifted a little bit from that of work. We started to learn more about each other. He was a gentle, sweet and thoughtful man. He would bring me coffee to work at 5am and understood the importance of not talking to me until I had, had my morning coffee– because he was/is much the same way. Then one night he had a dream about me. No, not that kind of dream, get your heads out of the gutter ;). He had a dream that I sawed his leg off with a dull knife. If that doesn’t scream true love I don’t know what does. Anyways he decided to share this dream with me, we exchanged phone numbers and witty banter for the day and by the end of the day I had agreed to go on a date with him.

It was the best first, last date. It was simple and yet everything I liked. He picked me up for our date ( and might I add he was on time!) He opened all my doors. He took me to a local tavern and paid for my dinner, beer and a few games of pool. He let me win the first game! He was kind to me and treated me with respect. He asked me questions about my life, my family, my future. It was perfect, he was perfect.

We continued to talk everyday. He would text me “good morning” and “good night” everyday (and still texts me “good morning”  and “good night” everyday he’s at work!) We hung out often and enjoyed each others company. However I was still the same girl I was when we met and I was not about to let my guard come down for him. He was still the same boy not looking for anything serious. It worked for us– for a while anyways. 

He was coming over to my house one day to hang out and was intending on asking me to be his “girlfriend” when I dropped our first big challenge on him. I was pregnant. Statistically odds were against us starting in that very moment. We sat in silence, we talked about our options. We took another test just to be sure. He was supportive. After a while we both decided we were keeping the baby. We were old enough, we had stable jobs, we could provide for our child, etc. However having a baby when we had only been seeing each other for a few months and not really being in a relationship posed a challenge.

Another challenge came when deciding what we wanted to do as far as “us” went. We both came from parents who only got married because they were pregnant with us and both sets of parents ended up divorced because of that. We didn’t want that. Plus being a guarded, closed off, damaged girl didn’t help. We eventually decided to give it a go. We figured we owed it to ourselves to try and to our unborn child to try. So we went forward in our relationship. Things were going well once we moved past the fear of having a baby and decided to pursue our relationship.

Then another girl decided to throw herself at him and tempted him. This posed yet another challenge in our new relationship. This girl pushed and pushed herself on him. She showed up when he was working just to spend time with him. She would text him. She knew me, she knew all about me and my role in his life as his girlfriend and the mother of his unborn child. She didn’t care. This eventually became a source of conflict for us. He reminded me of how special I was to him and that I along with his unborn child were his priority. We were able to push forward and I was able to start letting my guard down. It was in that very moment of his telling me just how important I was to him that I started to see the possibility of falling in love with him. I moved in with him and we started preparing for our sweet little baby.

Finally the moment arrived. It was time to meet our little love. He was a trooper through the long and exhausting labor and waited on me hand and foot. He never left my side. He held my hand in the operating room and reminded me I was going to make it through and that there was nothing to fear. Then when our beautiful little girl entered our world he cried and thanked me for having given him a beautiful baby girl.

He was perfect during the hospital stay. He helped me tremendously when we got home from the hospital and I was moving slow and still recovering. Then in an instant all changed and we were face to face with yet another challenge.

The girl was back in the picture and this time he had given into her temptations. He did the unthinkable. He cheated on me. I had always said that was the final straw to any relationship. I could not maintain a relationship with anyone after they had cheated. I took our daughter and went to my moms house for a few days to have some space. It was the hardest few days of my life. My mom looked at me and told me she supported me in whatever decision I was going to make when it came to him, but I needed to start making some decisions. I needed to decide if I was going back to the house, if I wanted to try to work things out with him, etc. So him and I sat down and had a conversation. We laid it all out there. I even told him I loved him for the first time in that moment! I decided that if he was truly remorseful and wanted to try to fix it, I would give him one last chance. He cut off all ties to the girl and any other girl for that matter. He worked hard to prove his trustworthiness. He respected my desire to sleep in separate rooms and begin dating again. 

We moved out of his mother’s house. We were working on us and raising our daughter. Things were going well. But there were still moments when I was hurt and angry with him and was struggling to move forward. We had countless conversations about the whole thing and none of them ever made me feel better. Then came another challenge— the darkest and hardest moment of my life. The night that I just wanted to escape all the pain and hurt. The night I decided to take revenge on him and swallow an entire bottle of pills in front of him in the middle of an argument. Luckily one of my best friends was already on her way to our house to come and get me so she sat at the house while our little girl slept and he took me to the hospital. We agreed that it was best if I entered a season of therapy (which I was completely against, until that moment.)

Counseling was the best thing I ever did for myself and for my family. I dealt with things I had kept bottled up for years. We moved forward. I was able to truly forgive him for hurting me and to move past it. We continued to grow in our relationship with each other. I finally started to let my whole guard down and learn to love and be loved in return. We fell madly in love with each other. We knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other, and not just because we had, had a baby. So a year later he proposed in our living room with our daughter and a year later we were married.

We are now going on four years of marriage and it has been the best four years of my life. I wouldn’t change any of it for anything and all those challenges  in the beginning were worth it to get to this place. We fall more in love with each other everyday. We are parenting two beautiful children right alongside each other and we are the best of friends. He knows the deepest parts of my soul and I know his. I share everything with him and he does the same with me. We are a team. We choose each other every day. We face challenges” because that’s the consequence of living in a fallen world, but even in those moments we know we will make it out on top! Against All Odds we will make it, we already have.

“Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.”

     

Photo credit: CorrieBphotography

A letter to my little boy 

My dear sweet boy,

Today you reached up and grabbed my hand when we were walking and every time my hand would shift or slip from your little grip you would grab hold a little tighter. For a moment I stopped to take it all in, to memorize how little your hand was, to breathe in the fresh spring air. I took in the sound of the birds chirping and the children laughing on the playground. I felt the heat of the sun across my face. I captured a picture so I would remember your hand in mine. 

That moment was a breath of fresh air. It was a moment my soul needed. You see people often say, “you’ll miss these years when they grow up.” I have wrestled with that saying in parenting, because I long for the toddler years to come to an end. I have felt guilt and shame for not appreciating the trying moments, to be longing to be out of the toddler years and for not finding joy in this season of motherhood.  The reality is I will miss moments like today, moments when your sweet little hand reaches to grab mine, or when your arms reach up high because your little legs are too tired to keep walking. I will miss the days when you sweetly climb into bed with me in the mornings, cuddle up and fall back asleep. I will miss watching you learn new things. I will miss your sweet little voice and your contagious laughter. I won’t however miss the tantrums, the utter defiance and the blatant disobedience. I won’t miss the moments of training and discipline. Those moments are quite exhausting and I long for the day they are over. 

You have challenged me in ways I never thought possible, you have tried and depleated all my patience and you manage to do it before 9am on a regualar basis. You test every boundary and push every limit. You have been the reason behind my tears on numerous accounts. You are a strong-willed, determined little man. You are full of gumption. You are jocular. You are adventurous and brave. You are vivacious and energetic. You are inquisitive. You are meticulous. You are sensitive and thoughtful. You are captivating and the truth is I am lucky to be your mommy. I am lucky to be challenged to grow in my own personhood through you. God knew I needed a sweet little boy like you to remind me often of my need for Him and to humbly remind me I will never surivive these toddler years on my own strength. 

I love you deeply.

Love always, 

Your exhausted, but grateful Mommy

I see you

We don’t know each other well. We talk occasionally at the crosswalk before school or at a school function but I don’t know you on a deep personal level. However here is what I do know about you- you are inspiring, you are passionate, you love deeply, you exude joy and you see people! 

You see my daughter and you are ready to greet her with a hug knowing that makes her heart feel loved. You choose to give up your lunch break to have lunch with her just because she asked. You engage in conversation with her and you seek to know her. You’ve changed her world, her life and you aren’t even her teacher. Thank you. Thank you for loving my sweet, sensitive, brilliant little girl. You’re loving her has changed my world and impacted my heart. Nothing makes a parent more estatic than someone loving their child well. 

Your passion for education is life giving. It encourages those in your presence to embrace the same passion. I am inspired just from watching on the outside. You change lives everyday. You impact lives and you set the course for students as they venture through life and their education and you are the teacher they look back on years down the road and remember vividly and can recount the ways you encouraged and supported them. It does not go unnoticed, it does not go unappreciated

 I watch you greet each student and parent at the cross walk with the same excitement and love. You listen intently to their stories. You notice their bad days and you seek to find out what’s at the root of those bad days. You ask the questions. You ask because you care. You create a safe place for people. Thank you for being a safe place. Thank you for being a safe place for my daughter to go when I can’t be present. 

I remember the first conversation we ever had. You commented on how much you loved my little girl. It sparked a conversation about her education and where she would be attending school since we were moving 20 miles away. You listened as I shared my fears and frustrations with a gifted child in a public school setting. Later that day you chased me down as we were walking out of school to give me information. You encouraged me. 

 Then a little longer down the road you were appointed to help her as she struggled through a tough situation at school. You sought me out and asked questions so you could help her navigate through the turmoil and the emotions. You never stopped asking questions and you helped her navigate a hard situation with ease and confidence. That’s what teaching is truly about. Sure the numbers and letters and reading and writing are important but you gave her something valuable, something she can and will use for the rest of her life. 

You helped ease our fears and God used you to answer our prayers. You play a huge role in our little girls life and you are the reason we drive 20 miles each direction to school everyday and why we will do the same thing next year. Thank you for being a safe place and for loving our daughter well when we can’t be there. It does wonders to this mommas heart. 

I see you and your beautiful soul!

May this summer be full of blessings, joy, peace and of course the much needed rest after a long and busy school year. 

A world without hate

My daughter was working on a project for the anti-defamation league for school. She had to create a work of art that for her represented  a world without hate. 

She wanted to start with something we say often, “the most important thing is that we love each other.” We talked about what that looks like. She talked about treating people the right way. She talked about being kind to one another. We gave her free range to create a representation of what a world full of love would look like to her. 

She created this:


We asked her to tell us about the pictures drawn on each heart. 

The pink one: Shane and I on the beach. 

The red one: was jus a picture of Shane and I. 

The silver one: was Shane and I in the desert.

The blue one: was Shane and I having a dinner date. 

My husband looked and me with a smile on his gorgeous face and said, “I love that her interpretation of what it looks like to love one another is us.”

I agreed and to be honest I love that too. I love it for several reasons. A few of those reasons being: 

It tells me that we are doing a good job of loving one another well. 

We are setting an example of what it looks like to love well and our kids will follow that lead. 

Our children will have a healthy view of love and marriage. 

Our children feel safe and loved because of the way we love not only each other but them. 

Anyone who knows mine and Shane’s story knows it is one of grace, redemption, forgiveness, hope and love. We had all odds against us in the beginning but we fought hard to get to wher we are today and to know our hard work is evident speaks volumes. 

Her assignment was to imagine a world without hate and create something to represent that. 

I am not an artist in the sense that I don’t draw so I won’t create a picture but I will use my words to share what I imagine a world without hate to look like. 

I imagaine a world where the most important thing is that we love one another. 

I imagine a world where we learn to put the needs of others before our own needs.

I imagine a world where we speak truth in love.

I imagine a world where we can disagree with one another and still remain kind. 

I imagine a world where we learn to value life over death. 

I imagine a world where we show and do the work. 

I imagine a world where we truly see one another and we can all take of the masks and be vulnerable.

I imagine a world where we value humans rather than devaluing them for our own desires. 

I imagine a world where we are free from slavery. 

I imagaine a world where we are free from racism. 

I imagine a world where we are free from hate and full of love.

We may never see this kind of world this side of Heaven a we live in a fallen and broken world. I cannot change or control people or this world, but I can control the way I love and I can continue to demonstrate that kind of love and live out my life without hate. 

What to you envision a world without hate to look like? How do you demonstrate love in a world full of hate? Join in and share what your world without hate looks like. I’d love to see pictures,  videos, written words etc from you. 

To my beautifully perfectly imperfect little girl,

To my beautifully perfectly imperfect little girl,
Today you turn six years old. 
I watched you playing on the playground recently and was in awe of the little woman you are becoming. There was a sweet little girl crying, you got down on your knees, put your arm around her and began to make her laugh. 
You have always been such a gentle spirit, such an empathetic soul. When you were just an itty bitty thing if you heard a baby crying in the store you’d instantly stop what you were doing and you’d become concerned with their tears. It’s a quality I resonate so deeply with. My heart swells when I watch you comfort those around you. 
Your love for people is intoxicating. I am not sure that you’ve ever met a stranger. Sometimes this quality scares the hell out of me, but I pray for protection and then embrace that you were created wonderfully and fearfully and God designed you to befriend all. You’re a prime example of what it means to love well. So *never* stop loving people. 
Just the other day you came home from school and said, “Mom, Dad, when I grow up I’d like to be a scientist.” When we asked what made you want to become a scientist you said, “because I’d like to invent potions that help heal those that are sick.” I sat in awe. It’s such a testament to who you are. I sit back and watch you and dream of what your future might look like. I often think, your little brain probably has the cure for cancer just waiting to be unleashed. 
You my dear are wise beyond your years. You are inquisitive and imaginative. You seek to find answers and you never stop filling your brain with knowledge. As your mom it poses challenges as we navigate the roads to your education and I try to gain my own understanding of how your brain is wired, but I’m also thankful for the challenge because in turn it keeps me challenged. 
You are a natural born leader and you are learning how to become a great leader. 
You’re stubborn as all get out and boy does that challenge every last ounce of patience I have in my body. Mostly because I myself am a stubborn woman. I pray that stubbornness subsides some and that you are able to be humble and ask for help when you need it. 
You my dear are so many other things and more. You are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t change thing about you! 
Six years ago you made me a mommy and I am forever grateful for that. I had no idea what I was doing and I was scared shitless but I was up for the challenge the second they placed you in my arms. You test my very patience and in the same moment touch the depths of my heart. You can make me both laugh and cry in the same moment. The last six years have brought with them some of the hardest moments of my life and some of the most joyous moments. I am proud to be your mommy and I cannot wait to see what year 6 has in store for you. 
I love you to the moon and back again…I win. 

Happy birthday beautiful.

Love,

Mommy

Winter

Winter. The coldest season. The darkest season. The sun shines less. It’s a lifeless season. The trees are bare, the grass is brown, the flowers withered and the birds no longer sing.
Lately I have found myself in a winter season. It’s been frigid and dark. It’s been lifeless and lonely. It’s been a season of questioning. A season of mourning. A season void of life.

The other day my friend Lyndsey shared these words:

“Today is the winter solstice! What does this mean? Today has the shortest period of daylight AND it will be the longest night of the ENTIRE year. Why is this good news? Well, I’ll tell ya. This is the darkest night all year. BUT! It’s the darkest it’s gonna get. Every single day moving forward will include a bit more daylight and will be a little bit longer. The darkness never gets to last forever.”

These words came after I had just called to say ‘I love you’ to my grandma for the very last time. She was dying. It was a bitter cold day, as a snow storm was moving in. I listened to the sound of her moaning and the sound of the machine breathing for her and I wept.

I also lost my great grandma in the midst of winter. Her death was followed by the birth of my first-born. Within 5 days I had seen both death and new life.

The news of my grandma becoming suddenly ill and of her being in her final moments of life sent me to the depths of winter. It was frigid and dark. It was my winter solstice.

See it wasn’t even just her death that sent me there. It was my season of life. I have been in a winter season and I have loathed every moment of it. I am not one who has ever embraced the winter. I actually despise it. I am a sun shining, flip-flop wearing, outside playing kind of girl and well truthfully winter cramps that style.

The morning after my grandmother had passed. I awoke to a quiet house and looked out the window to see our first real snow storm of the winter season. My kids were away with family being loved on and my husband was at work. I laid there for a moment and breathed in the silence as I looked out the window to see the snow-covered world outside. It was a bitter cold day and for a moment I felt peace in the midst of winter. I felt hope. I saw a glimmer of light in the dark.

I am longing for spring and the new life the comes with spring, but until spring comes I am learning what it looks like to live in the winter season. I am being stretched, I am completely out of my comfort zone and I am have not enjoyed it thus far. However I am taking comfort in the words my friend Lyndsey shared and clinging to the truth that “the darkness never gets to last forever.”

 

 

 

an open letter to Fibromyligia

Dear Fibromyligia,

We met about a year ago, but we’ve only just recently been formally introduced. Meeting you has been far from pleasant. You aren’t exactly a joy to be around and truthfully I was hoping our relationship was going to be short lived. Apparently you had different intentions and you plan on sticking around.

Well since you refuse to leave there’s a few things I’d like to say to you:

You are a pain. Literally. You are a thief. There’s been days you’ve robbed me of joy, rest and life. You’ve taken hugs from those I love. You’ve at times taken my children’s mother and my husbands wife from them. You’ve wreaked havoc and left chaos in your path. You breed feelings of hopelessness, confusion and frustration. You are toxic and you are no friend of mine.

 I am here to let you know you’ve messed with the wrong woman. You see I’m a fighter. I’ve dealt with bigger bullies than you and come out victorious. You can keep me from sleeping, you can attack my nerves all you’d like and you can even cause debilitating pain. You can whisper lies of hopelessness, confusion and frustration- and there may even be days when all your attempts to keep me bound to you are successful, but those moments will be fleeting.

You see you messed with a mighty warrior. I have been trained and equipped to fight. There will come a day even if it’s not on this side of heaven where you will cease to exist. I will cling to that in the midst of battle; and when I am feeling beaten and worn down by you I will call in the army I have standing behind me and they will fight for me. 

I will be undefeated by you.