A few things I’ve learned

I find myself sitting here drinking some coffee thinking about this year coming to an end and a new one beginning. I find myself reflecting on life this last year and what I hope to leave in 2017 and what I hope to take with me into 2018. I think about this time last year and how sick I was. I ended 2016 with a pretty bitter, angry and sad heart. Thankfully this year is ending differently for my heart. Here is some of what I have learned from 2017 and what I hope to take with me into 2018.

Even if not, God is still good…

I was very sick last year. Lots of money was spent on doctor visits, tests, imaging, blood work and prescription medications.  Nothing was helping. I pleaded with and begged God to take it all away. To let the medications work or to give the doctors an answer. I needed so desperately to feel like myself again. Being stuck in bed unable to do anything doesn’t work for a do-er like me, its torture. Still nothing helped. My husband and I were sent away to enjoy time together without any stress and enjoy the warm weather in hopes that my body might get a little break. Before we left my husband mentioned me going to see his mentors wife who is a holistic doctor. I declined as I was burnt out on doctors offices, tests, medications and honestly we didn’t have the funds to keep throwing at medical expenses. While we were in Phoenix I exchanged some words with God, most of which were not pleasant and I let him know just how angry I was with the lack of change and response to healing my body like I and many other people had been asking him to do. I wondered if God was there and if He heard me. Then that still small voice spoke and said, “I’m still here and I’m going to heal you but it looks different than you think. You see I am more concerned with your heart than your physical body so I am going to start there. As for the physical body go see the holistic Dr. (I will call her K).” So when we got home I decided it was time and my husband set up an appointment and within two weeks I was sitting in K’s office. She explained EVERYTHING that was going on with my body in a way that made sense and in a way all the other doctors never did. I walked out of her office hopeful for the first time in months. She gave me some supplements and suggested a few changes to my diet and honestly within 3 weeks I felt like a whole new woman.

I learned in that moment that even if God hadn’t healed my body that He was still God and He was still good. Sometimes the healing looks exactly like we thought it would but more often than not it looks different and it’s exactly what we needed it to look like.

Vulnerability is strength…

Vulnerability is not my strong suit. I am getting better, but I also have allowed myself some grace in knowing its going to take a minute to change an old habit. I have learned that the coping mechanisms that once kept me safe and helped me survive are not serving me the same purpose anymore and its time to change some things. During my season of sickness I had to learn to ask for help and be vulnerable enough to do that and to ask for help. That didn’t come easy for me. I have grown and have learned to ask for help when I need it but I am still not very good at sharing my heart. This fall some things happened in our marriage that forced me to be vulnerable with a few safe people. It reveled the importance not just for me, but for my husband to humble ourselves and find a few safe people to be raw and honest with. It’s actually the only way to make it through life without being eaten alive. Satan likes when we isolate, when we keep the darkness hidden, when we don’t humble ourselves and share our brokenness with others. Once things are exposed to the light, healing happens and Satan has no power. I still suck and fail often at the vulnerability piece but I am learning and practicing and 2018 will be a year I practice vulnerability!

Love in the most important thing…

Loving one another is really the most important thing. We are big on this in our house. We love one another with our words and with our actions. We own our mistakes and we ask for forgiveness when it’s needed. However that extends far beyond the four walls that make up our house. We practice loving and serving those who cross our path in whatever capacity that may look like. Sometimes it means we slow down in the grocery store to have a conversation with an elderly person. Sometimes it looks like lending an extra hand and help with grandparents. Sometimes it looks like handmaking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and feeding the homeless. Sometimes it’s cleaning out the toy box and giving them to kids in need. And sometimes it looks like encouraging and speaking truth to those who cross our path. Whatever it looks like in that moment is irrelevant what matters the most is that we are loving those that God has placed in our path with the love we have from Christ.  We have had love lavished on us greatly this year whether through Christ alone or through those He has placed in our lives and we couldn’t have made it to where we are today if it wasn’t for that love, because love really is the most important thing.

Those are a few of the many things I have learned this year and there will be many more to come. I have begun to learn the importance of self care and because for me writing is part of the self care process you’ll be seeing a lot more writing from me in 2018!

I would love to hear what you have learned this past year…

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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