Awhile ago, I wrote you a list of things I've learned along the way. Over the past couple months, I've been adding to that list.
101. When you don't know what to do, and everything is moving too fast, do nothing. Be still.
102. Momma Evan and Kate love you as much as I do. If you ever feel like you can't come to me, Poppy, or your dad, you can always, ALWAYS go to them.
103. Learn the basics of every sport so you can intelligently follow what's going on.
104. Dance with your husband. In the kitchen, living room, bedroom...wherever you get the chance. I promise it will bless your marriage.
105. There is no unacceptable amount of love that one can have for bacon.
106. Set goals and work hard to achieve them.
107. God has the final word on your life and His word is always grace.
108. Money can make life easier, but it does not buy happiness or love.
109. Eat chocolate.
110. ALL emotions are beautiful and essential in life.
111. Open your mind, heart, and soul to new things.
112. Ask a random person what their passion in life is, and genuinely listen.
113. Some opportunities come only once...don't let them pass you by!
114. Having an open mind is the best solution to most all situations.
115. Learn to grill.
116. And make Poppy's BBQ sauce.
117. If something is really important to you, you will find a way.
118. Go out on a limb.
119. Drink a lot of water.
120. You can have roots and wings.
121. One small, positive thought in the morning can change your entire day.
122. Learn to love without condition.
123. Don't bend it, don't water it down, don't try to make it logical, don't edit your own soul according to what everyone else is doing.
124. The most important things in life are not things.
125. Know that most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply. Strive to understand.
126. Never lose hope.
127. The first step towards success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.
128. Being a mother is one of the biggest blessings in life.
129. Science is organized knowledge.
130. You are stronger than you think.
131. Be a reflection of what you'd like to see in others.
132. The moment you're ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. Don't give up!!!
133. You can't fix yourself by trying to break someone else.
134. Your inner light has a chance to shine when you're at peace with yourself.
135. Chick-fil-a is a staple in life.
136. In order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did and why you no longer need to feel it.
137. Love simply.
138. Dream. BIG!
139. Never pass up the opportunity to tell someone how you feel.
140. And know that love is friendship set on fire. When you find it...never let it go. And remember these next few things I've learned about marriage throughout these past 11 years.
It's hard. Probably the hardest but most rewarding thing you will ever do in your life. At times I've felt ashamed about divorce. Because I thought I was letting you down. Over time, I've come to realize that I wasn't effectively parenting you by allowing you to see an unhealthy marriage, and sometimes, two sets of healthy marriages (and having step-parents) is absolutely better.
However, when you reach that point in your lives, understand that my mistakes have helped show me how to be a better wife to Poppy, and for that, I am thankful.
Respect your husband. You chose him - to walk beside you in this life and to be the head of your household. For that alone, he deserves your respect. Get out of the mindset that your attitude towards someone should reflect how they treat you (unless you are being abused). You absolutely deserve the utmost respect from your spouse, but you are marrying an imperfect person, and sometimes he will have a bad day. He will get grouchy and sometimes you will want to lash out at them. Chose respect. Trust me, when respect is given, it will make the other person reciprocate and want to earn it.
Protect your heart. Do not believe the lie that you have to keep up with the Jones's to have a happy, fulfilling life. Be thankful for the life and things that you've been blessed with. This world will try to convince you that your life is not good enough, but understand that you will never be satisfied with more until you are happy with what you have.
We are called to follow order: God, your husband, your kids. This is one I didn't understand for a LONG time. Because of struggles I faced, and because I felt like life had dealt you a tough hand (Bre for having health issues, K and A for having a sick sister, and all of you for having a mom with cancer and divorced parents) you became the absolute center of my world. I'm not saying you aren't of utmost importance in my life, or that your future children should go without or be neglected. But I'm saying this...unless your heart is in the right place, if God doesn't come first, you will struggle. Back to what I was saying earlier, you can not effectively parent your children if your marriage is falling apart. I know...I tried. At some point in time, your children are going to grow and leave your home, if you haven't spent time cultivating your marriage, you might end up with an empty heart.
Date your spouse. This one is so important. Even if you can't afford to get a sitter, make a point to carve out one-on-one time with your husband. It may be taking your lunch breaks at the same time, sitting on the porch for 10 minutes when he gets home, taking a bath together, etc. Don't talk about bills, the kids, schedules, etc. Daydream together. Talk about your future. Plan a vacation. You'll be surprised by how much you continue to learn about one another.
Forgive!!! You are marrying an imperfect person. And you are imperfect, too.
Communicate. And communicate some more. I am so bad about shutting down when I get upset. Mostly because crying is not something I deal with very well. But the thing is, it's unfair to expect your spouse to understand why your upset if you don't tell them. Men and women are wired different. They just are. And sometimes, they really don't understand that women can take a sentence or non-gesture as being insensitive.
Learn his love language. Different things make different people feel loved. Early in mine and Poppy's courtship, we took the love language test. I desire to do things that make him feel appreciated and loved so it was important to me to know how to do that, and him me. Learn this about your spouse....AND USE IT!
Never say or threaten the 'D' word. If you say it, you better mean it! It's not a fair way to fight, and it often causes a loss of trust in the marriage.
Never, EVER talk negatively about your spouse. If you reach a difficult spot in your marriage, talk to a counselor. Don't blast your partner on social media, to any friend who will listen, and certainly not to family. The things they are hearing, even if you feel they are just and true, are one-sided. And often times they cause those people to feel negatively about your significant other. You may get over it, forgive, and move on, but they may not.
Choose love. Let's face it, you aren't always going to wake up beaming with love. Make a choice to show it anyways. Your spouse is going to make you furious sometimes. Choose love. Reflect on the love you felt when you took your vows. Both he and your marriage are worth it.