Happy Secret Anniversary, Babe

Eight years ago today, Reid and I got married at the Guilford County Courthouse. We invited my great-grandparents, our grandparents and parents as witnesses.

A wedding date was set for 3/11/11 in Riviera Maya, Mexico. (Anyone who knows my husband can deduce that choosing to be married on 3/11/11 was quite intentional. 311 is his favorite band and I figured he’d never forget our anniversary with a date like that. True story.)

We told very few people about our November 4th nuptials. I don’t even think my brother and sister knew this. We chose this date because it also happened to be Reid’s grandmothers birthday. Cecilia passed when he was a teenager and with his own birthday being the day before, we knew it would be a day we’d never forget.

We have pictures somewhere, but I couldn’t find them today when I briefly looked for them. Mind you, this was before the iPhone and someone actually took film to the store to be developed, which seems unfathomable nowadays. I’m sure my heart will swell when I find them one day.

I’m grateful for everyone who was there to witness our marriage that afternoon, but my heart is extra-grateful for the presence of my great-grandparents. Mama Dot and Papa Fred were precious to me. Mama Dot was “my person”. They showed up in their Sunday’s best and I could see the joy on their faces as they watched us marry one another. They really did love my husband.

Papa Fred gave us this as a wedding gift. I’m pretty sure he cut it out of the Readers Digest. And I’m also pretty sure it was the only gift he ever gave me all on his own. He loved Reid, and he was happy that I was happy. He was happy that I was starting a life with someone he knew would love and cherish me as he had for my whole life. He was proud to stand with us on that day eight years ago.

We knew they’d never be able to travel to Mexico. But what we didn’t know was that they’d both pass before our Mexico wedding ever took place. Papa died on December 15th and just 18 days later on January 2nd, Mama Dot followed behind.

I put their photos in a locket given to me by Mama Dot a year or so before she passed. My Dad had it in his pocket as he walked me down the aisle and handed it to Reid, who clasped it around my neck. They were there with me that day, and it couldn’t have been anymore special.

So, Happy Anniversary to you, babe. I’m sure Mama Dot is eating watermelon and watching “wrasslin'” today as she smiles down on us. And Papa is telling stories to someone and cracking jokes I’m sure.

What I wouldn’t give for one more meal around their supper table.

Counting blessings never seemed to come easy when you were only a phone call away. I sure do miss y’all. But I know that you know, Reid’s doing a fine job taking care of me. And you sure would love our girls.

Happy Mother’s Day

Life is profound. I’ve found myself using the word profound a lot lately. It perfectly describes too many situations for us these days.

Like the other night when Reid and I were fighting and everything around the room felt tense and impossible, my Amazon radio station that randomly shuffles over 200 songs, played 7 songs in a row that happen to be my favorite worship songs. They’re my favorites because for they’ve each spoken to my heart one or more times and I’m moved even still when I hear them. There are no coincidences in this life. God had my back (and my heart) in those moments.

Like the profound difference in my day I’ve noticed if I start it early. And in a place of praise and prayer. If I spend a few minutes outside inhaling Spring and watching the sun peek over the tops of the trees. If I read my Bible. If I journal. If I meditate. If I’m still. Those days — those days are different. Those days pay off for me and have a profound effect on what happens as the day goes on. On mornings when I rush through and get too wrapped up in my self, I lose my footing. I raise my voice. I cry.

When I started to see my prayers be answered, I had a profound sense of trust in God envelop me. When I hear the Holy Spirit tell me how to specifically pray for challenges I may be facing, I obey. I’ve seen a profound difference in my ratio of answered prayers to unanswered prayers from speaking my prayers out loud. Every morning in the shower, I talk to God. I thank him for giving me another morning. For the breath I just took and for the opportunity to be alive another day. I pray fervently for my husband. For my children. For the people in my life who I know are hurting. For healing. For comfort. For discernment. For wisdom. For strength. For JOY to fill my cup.

I’ve prayed for brokenhearted friends. I’ve prayed for strangers. I’ve prayed for broken marriages. I’ve prayed against generational curses and decades of sin and shame and unforgiveness that so many of us are suffering through. I’ve prayed for God to show me my spiritual gifts and how to use them. And I’ve prayed for those who need salvation to hear the gospel before this all ends.

I’ve prayed that I can see others as God sees them, and to just love no matter what. I’ve prayed that those around me could do the same.

God’s been doing profound work in our lives.

But yesterday, I had a moment with Everly that may take the cake. Reid and Sadler were out shopping for Mother’s Day gifts, and we were in Everly’s room putting away laundry. She was playing with her doll and spinning around and singing. And all of a sudden she stopped and asked me to open her PlayDo. And as I watched her from the rocking chair, it hit me. The profound realization that my baby was no longer a baby. But bigger than that, we were done having babies.

I’d rocked my last to sleep.

No more Onesies. Or diapers.

No more breastfeeding…

After 29 months, she finally weaned. We were finished nursing. The “boombas” have been given back to mommy.

The profound realization that I had seen the last of mothering a baby. I began to weep. I immediately grabbed her, picked her up and held her tight. I sat in the rocker as she fought me to get down. I asked her to please let me hold her, for just one minute as we rocked. She reached up and grabbed my face and said, “Mommy, are you OK?”

I lost it. My baby just asked me a question in a complete sentence. I sobbed and sobbed and kissed her and it seemed that every blinking moment with my babies that I have ever had passed through my lens. I saw all the good moments, all the challenging moments, all the times when I thought parenting couldn’t be any harder. All the times when I felt less engaged that I could have been, or the times I was frustrated and wished myself anywhere but in that given moment.

I didn’t want to put her down. What was only about 5 minutes seemed as long as two nap times. I imagined every afternoon I had in that rocking chair with her, burying my face in her neck as she drifted off to sleep. I remembered the evening standing in the laundry room, when I was about 6 months pregnant with her, that I told Reid we had made a mistake bringing another child into the world. That our marriage wasn’t strong enough and that it would be unfair for her to come into the world.

Little did I know that giving birth to her would be the start of a journey I’d been viewing from the sidelines. I didn’t get in the game with my spirituality until she was born. That in her two short years here, our marriage would crumble and then strengthen. God has had his hand on our marriage. Realizing and seeing and trusting that has been profound.

Motherhood started for me with a scapula and lots of tugging and pulling. That was how Sadler came along Earth side. With Everly, it was different. She blessed me with the ultimate gift of motherhood being born vaginally. She opened something spiritual within me and awakened my soul. And what a profound blessing from God she is.

These girls are amazing wonders to me. I look at them in deep, profound wonder on most days. But it will never be enough. Parenting is hard, and it’s easy to think you aren’t doing it good enough when there is a giant comparison trap in society. I’d rather they have good hearts than snobby attitudes. I’d rather they be giving than selfish, and I’d rather they be kind than cruel. I pray they always see the good in people and that they will find their passions and what calls them. I pray they will live. I pray they will love. I pray that Reid and I can speak life into them every day that they are breathing, and I pray that they will grow up to be the best of friends.

I’ve got a profound gratitude for all of the mothers out there. Mothers make new mothers, and even if it’s the hardest job we’ll ever love, motherhood should be cherished. When the days seem harder than they should, and nothing goes the way we’d planned, may we all just surrender and thank God he gave us the chance to be a mother in the first place.

Did I Really Just Cry Over Netflix?

If the television is on in our house, you can almost bet its never for anything I voted to watch. There are plenty of reasons I say this, but it’s true.

Since we cancelled cable, we rely on Netflix and Amazon Prime and have really gotten some good use out of our Apple TV and Fire Stick. Normally if the TV is on, it’s Moana or Pee Wee Herman as of late; soon it will be football (foreshadowing to a great post, I’m sure <insert eye roll emoji> ), and lots of times it’s golf or Wheel of Fortune (always gets my vote). And I can’t fail to mention that we are big Big Brother fans, so Reid and I do make an effort to watch that together when we can. Thanks to our nifty wireless antenna, we can pick up a couple dozen local channels and haven’t missed cable a bit.

I could say what most would say – “I don’t have time to watch TV…” but the reality is I choose not to watch TV. I’ve enjoyed getting lost in books and writing posts like this, planning out the finishing touches on projects I’ve been meaning to finish for weeks/months/years, spending time outside or working on my business.

The way I see it, we have little chunks of space in our day, and we get the privilege of choosing what we do inside those spaces. The choices we make will create our life, over time. We control our time, our time shouldn’t control us, and watching TV always seems to take the reins of control when I give in to it. Much like scrolling through social media, I’ve learned to appreciate and actually crave the disconnect from screen time. It’s too easy to get sucked into a vortex of comparison and judgement when we compare our lives to someone’s best when we are potentially at our worst. But, I digress…

It came as somewhat of a surprise last Monday night when Reid suggested that we start a new show on Netflix together. He delivered a beautifully pitched invitation for us to “spend some time together after the kids go to bed”, which I saw appealing and agreed to, truthfully without even knowing what show I had just committed myself to watch.

Ozarks. Jason Bateman. Fair enough, I thought. And about 10 minutes in, I was hooked to the story line, or I suppose I should say, what I assumed the story line would develop to be.

We snuggled up on our over-sized couch with a warm blanket and watched quietly as the first episode of this Netflix original series played in front of us. I was into it.

And then, when the episode ended and I got up to use the bathroom, I noticed Sadler sleeping on the steps. Again (roll eyes, again). So, I carried her back to her bed and proceeded with somewhat of a bedtime routine to get her back to sleep.

Meanwhile, downstairs…guess who starts to watch episode number 2? Without me????!

I walked into the bedroom, and when I noticed what was happening, I saw red. I was so mad. Here I had been, duped into a TV show I didn’t really even want to watch in the first place, and was sold on the fact that “we can do it together”. And he is watching it without me.

I shared my frustration aloud with him, which seemed stupid to him. And then I realized how stupid it really was…I’m crying, over Netflix???

I woke up the next morning to think about what had happened, and it hit me.  A blog post I had recently read said something like this:

Our Expectations, minus our Observations, equal FRUSTRATION.

Having expectations is a tricky one. We can and should have expectations in life, right? I have expectations of myself. Typically, too harsh ones. When I managed a team of people, I had expectations of them, too. And when they actually did or didn’t do a task that seemed to correlate with my expectation, that’s what I was left to observe. And then I was frustrated.

I have expectations of my children, and how they should behave and what they should eat and how often they should try to pee throughout the day.

Clearly, I expected the Netflix thing to turn out differently. Never did I think I’d come back downstairs and see him watching without me. But, it was even more clear that I was so bent out of shape about it.

Will it matter in ten years?…doubtful. But the fact that I expected the situation to turn out a certain way, and then it just didn’t go down that way, I was left feeling…frustrated. Which led to sadness, which led to saying things I regretted the next morning.

This incident compelled me to decide that it was time for Reid and I to declare a few expectations, ones that we could hold each other accountable for. We decided to declare the pillars of our family, and what would be important foundations to raise our girls upon. You may be thinking: shouldn’t you have done that BEFORE you had kids? Maybe. And maybe we thought about it. But this time, we’re doing it.

Letting go of my expectations in order to make room for a clear plan is exciting to me.  A plan that will hopefully craft a life of purpose, with healthy sprinklings of Netflix time here and there…except, next time there will only be tears shed if we are watching Beaches.