Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Fake or Just Truly Grateful?

Yesterday, a friend posted this article:

And I have to say that the more times I re-read it, the more I'm convinced that the person who wrote this article quite possibly has never shared the kind of love and happiness that they want to 'brag' about.

Last year I had a good friend send me this message:  I love how much what you have is like what we have. It makes me feel a sense of reality and community. For a long time I had a lot of people almost making me ashamed of our happiness....but seeing someone else who so openly rejoices in the blessings GOD has bestowed....Well, you and me are friends in a way so few are. I can't wait to keep reading the rest of your story and I love that I know for a fact you are reading mine!

Let me tell you, the friend who wrote this...she REJOICES in the love she has been blessed with because she knows what it's like to be in a toxic, unhealthy relationship and now having a partner who accepts and loves her unconditionally is one of the most treasured gifts in her life.  Truthfully, she could post 50 times a day about her love for her husband and it would bring a smile to my face to read each one because I know them, and I know they are, in fact, that happy and in love with each other.

Now, that's not to say that I haven't seen the flip side of this...the couple who talks about how in love they are, have friends who are envious but behind closed doors their relationship is anything but happiness.

 I know plenty of couples in middle.  Ones that occasionally post about their significant other (a significant song, happening or poem) and I think that those people are really feeling that way at that particular time.

And I know PLENTY of people that don't hold anything back when it comes to bashing someone else or bitching about everything that's wrong in their life...and I don't for one second believe that their lives or the people that are in them are usually THAT bad.  Speaking from experience, when you live with someone who isn't kind to you, you DON'T talk about it because 1.  you are embarrassed and/or 2.  you refuse to paint yourself as a victim.

Regardless of circumstance, we live in a technology focused world and parts of our lives are always going to be 'out there' and people are always going to scrutinize and make assumptions and judgments, and most of them will actually have nothing to do with the person they are judging.  More often than not, they are judging a reflection of an aspect of themselves that they aren't proud of or something that they are envious of.

If I've learned anything about relationships...

if Bill and I have both learned anything....

it's that love is an intentional act.

And depending on your partners love language, some of that intent may be affirmation.

Does that mean that the words a person says aren't always 'real life' or they are being boastful?  Absolutely NOT.

Let's face it.... marriage/long term relationships, on some level, are hard.  You are with this person that you are going to have differences with and you can choose to confront them together with grace or you can let them turn you bitter and destroy what you have.

I wrote a few days ago about how Bill and I had only spent about a total of 30 days together, in person, before we got married, and we didn't live together beforehand.

After each of us having two failed, long-term relationships (his far surpassed mine because by time his divorce finalized in July 2011, he had been married for nearly 15 years.  I was only married a mere 4 and a half years by the time mine finalized) we both knew what we were looking for in a life partner.  We knew compatibility and happiness far outweighed most anything else.  I knew I needed to be in a relationship where security meant there was no judgment except to help each other be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.  It's important to be able to trust that your spouse isn't going to hold your shortcomings against you.  It's important to have someone who is not only not going to tear you down but builds you up.  You can't live with constant negativity and continue to stay happy.  It was important to both of us to find a partner that felt the same.  And it was very important to both of us that we could one day say to the girls, 'The best part of the beginning of marriage is the excitement and newness of finally living together.  It's worth the wait.  Even if that means you have a VERY short dating period."

Our marriage is our top priority and it continues to thrive because we are both intentional in our actions and words to each other.  We know what makes the other one feel loved and what doesn't and sometimes we 'intentionally' go against our own personal feelings that day to make sure the other one is reminded of their importance.  

I am so incredibly thankful for that for that gift.  

I am so incredibly thankful for him.

For the man he is today.

For  the blessing of our marriage.

And for our life together.  

Because it's made me a better person.

And when I write about it on any form of social media, it really isn't for anyone else but him.

I want him to always know that I don't take this blessing - our life and love for each other - for granted.  And if words of affirmation make his heart filled with even more love then I'm for dang sure going to say them to him.

Because when love becomes intentional it's real and it will continue to grow. 

And I truly, truly believe that that could ultimately be the 'real' why behind why other's share their happiness sometimes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

7!!! Where Has the Time Gone?

Baby Girl, it seems like just yesterday that Mama Evan and I went down to the NICU to see you for the first time.

And that we sat and sobbed and sobbed as Mommy got to hold you for the very first time.

Stabilizing your breathing tube was a big deal so I was only allowed to hold you for short periods of time, twice a day.  E was the second person to ever hold you.

Not long after we got to Riley's you got your first haircut for your PICC line and Sam tied it up in a little bow and made me a scrapbook page.  It's one of my most cherished keepsakes.

You were so, so tiny but so strong.  Even before surgery, you started over-breathing your ventilator so they were able to extubate you for a couple days.

As long as I live I will never forget the beauty of this picture.  It was so hard for so many people to look at because you had been through so much in your first two weeks of life, but it was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen because you fought, baby girl, and you survived.

All the nurses were coming in to see you because you were just a mere 2.04 kg the day of surgery and they were amazed at the miracle they were witnessing.

The day Papaw, Aunt Dawnetta and I brought you home, 3 shorts weeks after the picture above, you were 4 lbs and 15 oz.

You literally looked like a baby doll in your car seat. 

By the time you were six months old, your therapists and home health care nurses released you from their care because you surpassed the odds and were doing everything that a normal 6 month old does. 

By your first birthday, you were up to 11 pounds.

You were walking and wearing 3-6 month clothes because you were still so tiny.

We've had a couple set backs along the way though.

At 17 months, we found out that you had sleep apnea as a result of some of the medicine you were on before your first surgery, so you had your second surgery.

And a couple months later, you got RSV and had to spend a few days in the hospital.

Two was a fun year...

We went to Alabama to visit Aunt Becky and Uncle Billy.

And we spent a lot of time at the lake.

We had a family only birthday for birthday #3 because I had just got home from the hospital, but you still had fun.

We made up for it with birthday # 4.  

Everything was Minnie Mouse that year.

And really anything to do with 'aminals'.

You started preschool.

And then decided to cut a HUGE chunk out of the side of your hair so you rocked a pixie cut for awhile.

Five was a big year for you.  We moved.  You meet Poppy. You graduated pre-school.  We got married.  And moved again.

We spent your 6th birthday at the beach with Lele, Papaw Jim and Grandma Lola.

You spent a lot of your Saturdays going to car shows with Poppy and even won an award of your own. 

You got to meet the Lady Cats.

Decided you want to be a Veterinarian when you grow up.

Had lots of snuggle time with your babies.

Play-dates with your bestie.

You brought the country to the city.

Visited your cousins.

Filled our hearts with so much joy.

And kept us in fits of laughter.

Today, you turned 7.

And I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face looking through all these old pictures and wondering where the time has gone.

We love you so very much, Bre!

And we are so proud of the beautiful spitfire (or as you told us last night, the 'crazy girl') that you are.


I'm looking forward to all the adventures this year holds for you. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gratefulness & Love Letters to my Family

I *LOVE* this quote!

It took me a LONG time to find this someone but I did.  I say this often but it's so very true...I didn't know it was possible for life to be this easy or happy.

I love all things Fall.

It means the leaves are turning.

The weather is cooling.

And I can finally bust out my Frye boots.

And these new Jamberry wraps.  How cute are they?!

Mums and Lanterns.

Really all things Fall decor because it's just so beautiful.

New chairs for the porch.

And ones that the dogs won't tear up.

Now to get rid of the old, ugly chairs.

Morning snuggles with my baby.

And seeing her excitement over her birthday gifts.

And last but actually my number 1...time spent with my husband and kids.

This just makes me smile because it's typical of a night at our house.  

She was pretending she didn't like the cartoon that was on, but was watching it with one eye open and being her dramatic self.  Ha.

Lunch dates on the lake.

This man.

We are closing in on two years together and I simply can't imagine my life without him.  He made a comment last night about us now being married twice as long as we 'dated'.  We always joke that we aren't really sure when we started dating because we never really defined our relationship.  It just kind of was and we just knew we had a really special bond and didn't want to do life without each other.  Bill says, we didn't really 'date' because we lived 10 hours apart up until the weekend we got married so we never really went on many dates....and we literally only spent a total of about 30 days together (in person) before we got married.   His grandma told me once that 'when you know, you just know' and I really believe that is true. 

Dear Bill - Two years ago, you were a pillar of strength for me as I walked through one of the hardest times in my life and no matter how many days we are blessed to share together, there will never be enough to adequately convey the gratitude  I felt for having your unconditional, non-judgmental support.  You were one of the few people who knew my truth and never for a moment did it sway your decision to just 'love me through it'.   I know we had several bumps in the beginning but I would walk that road all over again if I needed to to get to this life and love that we share.  It's been two years and sometimes I still feel like this is all just an amazing dream that I am going to wake up from.  I am so proud to be in a marriage where we are showing the girls day in and day out what it means to love your spouse as a verb.  It still moves me to tears when I think back to Bre asking you why you were helping me, and you telling her it was because you love me and that's what you do when you love do things to make their life easier.  Almost two years later, it's still the same.  From helping clean to helping with homework, going to doctor appointments, parent teacher conferences, making lunches, running errands, and bedtime routines...there is not a day that goes by that you don't do something to make my life a little easier.  The girls and I are so blessed to call you ours.  I know I might sound like a broken record sometimes, but I am just so grateful for this life we share.  I love you!

Dear Kinsey - I am so proud of the young lady you are becoming.  You've had so many life changes these past couple months and you are handling them with so much grace.   I really enjoyed reading your last book together because it gave us time to just ourselves.  It made my heart smile when you asked me earlier today if we could have a 'Mommy/Kinsey' date soon.  I love that even though you are almost 12, you still want to spend one-on-one time with me.  And I love that you've found your passion for music.  Listening to you play your flute is music to my ears.

Dear Ava - My sweet spirited girl.  You've been cracking me up all week with the stories you've been telling in your animated voice.  I *love* that you invite your best friend to church every week so that the two of you can share Jesus together.  I look at you and V together and your love for one another reminds me so much of Mama Evan and me, and that makes my heart so happy to know you have a best friend like that.  I'm so extremely proud of the note your teacher sent home this week telling us how much of a joy you are.  Not that I need affirmation of that because we get to witness it every day, but nevertheless it makes me proud that I get to call you my daughter.

Dear Bre - Baby Bre.  I can't believe that in two short days you will be seven.  SEVEN.  It seems like just yesterday Mama Evan and I were sitting in the NICU sobbing while I got to hold you for the very first time.  This week I watched your excitement as your wrote out over 100 words you know (you know way more than this) on an assignment that you only needed to write 10 on.  As I write this, you are sitting beside me writing a funny story and giggling at yourself.  You blow Poppy and me away every time you read books to us and tell us all about the things you are learning.  You are just so smart.  And we are so very proud of you.