Monday, February 08, 2016

A New Chapter

It seems like the last few blog entry’s I’ve written here all start off the same – I haven’t written in so long, etc., apologies, blah blah blah. 

It’s true, writing here is something I have lost both the time andin a way, the passion for.  There are many reasons I walked away from blogging for so long, but none that are upbuilding or important enough to share. And though writing in general is still something I love doing, there are so many other new things I love spending time on that this blog has fallen by the way side.  And for a few years I have been so okay with that.

But lately, our lives have taken a different course than we ever foresaw, and I find myself wanting to journal the journey once again.  That’s what blogging was all about for me anyways - a cathartic way to process what was going on in my life/mind at the time.  I really miss the process of putting thoughts to paper, researching scripture that pertained to the given issue, and organizing all my findings into a way that made sense for me, and hopefully others.  

So as we (and by “we” I mean my husband Craig, our dog Cooper - hey, he’s family too - and myself) embark on new adventures in faith, seek new opportunities for growth, both spiritually and as a family, and encounter new and unpredictable challenges, I know that blogging will probably be something I’ll take up again, if only to process my thoughts and keep some sanity.  That, and also because we are moving into some decisions that will require a lot of love and support.  And though lack of love and support was one of the reasons I stopped blogging in the first place, I am well aware that we cannot receive love and support from people without first asking for it, and even explaining why we need it. 

So, that all being said, if you are reading this and you know me, heck, even if you don’t know me, please keep our little family of three in prayer as we move into the next chapter in life – one that includes adopting a child or sibling group.  We have started the process of growing our family through adoption, with the hope that we can provide love, stability, support and a familial unit to a child/children who need it.  Our deepest desire is that God will use this decision as a way to further the gospel message to any and all we meet, and that includes showing a real and tangible love to a child/children who may never know it otherwise.  What love has been poured out on us, we wish to pour out on a young life/lives too.  How we’ve been adopted into the family of God, we want to adopt into our family with the same kind of love and acceptance as well.  

We are so excited, but personally I am so scared!  I’m so scared of all the things that open up my heart for rejection and hurt.  I’m scared of how long it will take, of not finding the right child or children, of being told we don’t qualify, or worse qualifying and finding out it’s beyond our financial means to follow through on.  I’m scared that if it does work, I’ll be a mom!!  Scared that I’ll be an awful mom, or follow in unhealthy patterns of motherhood I’ve known my whole life.  Scared that I will never know a good night’s sleep again.  

There is so much joy to be had through this process and itseventual outcome.  And I know that perfect love casts out all fear – and that is the kind of love we’ve received and that we wish to share.  But boy oh boy, this is the biggest step I’ve ever taken in my whole life, including marriage and salvation, and I am shaking in my boots with anticipation, fear, excitement, feelings of inadequacy, and impatience daily.  Oh Lord how I need Thee, every hour I need Thee!

Yet, I am well aware of the need to press on, and not give up so early in this journey.  My fear is weighted against the burden in my heart to save all the children, love all the children.  So often I go through the list of waiting children on the MN Adopt homepage, and I look at all those smiling young faces, and I am moved to tears.  I pray for them, and the words inside my praying heart, words which tears cause to not escape my mouth, cannot even break the surface of how moved I am by each one of their profiles.  I want to love them all, adopt them all, help them all.  I often ask myself how we’ll ever be able to adopt just once.  Questions arise in my mind about our ability to grow our family, not into the little pod of three or four plus dog that we envision, but into a great big bustling house of 8 or 9.  I know that seems unreasonable, and I have to remember I’m not alone in this – I’ve got Craig to think about too and fortunately he’s a lot more practical minded than I am.  But I can’t help myself.  Every time I think of the children out there that I want to love, I find myself running the numbers to see if I can gauge how many we can afford to bring home without losing the ability to care for them all.  I don’t know how God will grow our family, but I want to trust Him that He will.   And yet for as much hope and longing as I have, I am so scared that in the end we won’t even get one child much less the many that I envision.  

But the Lord’s plans for us are good.  I know that even if we are never approved or never get chosen, He has a beautiful, glory giving plan for our lives, which exceeds our understanding.  I trust in Him (oh for faith to trust in Him more!I must tell myself every day that I cannot be afraid of an unknown future because I serve a (very well know) God.  And that knowledge, of His faithfulness and goodness in answering so many other prayers will buoy me above the waterline of doubt and fear.  This is going to be an incredible journey!!

I hope in the weeks, months and even years to come, to share more through this medium on how the process is going, and how we got there to begin with.  There’s lots to share, too much for today! I know others have gone through the exact same thing – were their fears and hopes and dreams and doubts any different than my own? I long to know we’re not alone in this.  And yet, still reeling in the aftermath of a loss of community and friendships that came out of some past choices, I am at a loss for who to reach out to in my new life/community/faith family.  As with everything else in this new chapter, I know God will provide.  He has already shown us that the people in our lives now love us, care about this choice along with us, and share our excitement at all the Lord will do.  What a fun prospect to meet new people and touch new lives in ways unimagined.
I am so excited to see where this new chapter will take us. The journey is just beginning and I don’t know where it will go.  But this is my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Portrait of Silence.

I know I start out every post like this, but.... I don't post a lot these days.  I've kind of lost my mo-jo, and my verve when it comes to writing, and I hope it's just a phase.  It doesn't help that I'm genuinely happy, and don't have a lot to say.  Unless you like reading about recipes I've tried, movies I've watched, and books I've read, there's not else much to share that isn't boring newlywed drabble.  Even those kind of posts feel like work though, like a person being forced to talk about the weather, when they'd rather talk about anything else.

I used to find it so easy to write here.  It was cathartic for me - my own kind of journaling, except the whole world got to see it.  These days though the vulnerability and willingness to speak my heart that I may have felt in years past has been changed it seems, though not necessarily "for the good".  Whereas before I somehow always felt safe to write what was on my mind, it was because I knew I had a safety net of many friends there to catch, love and support me.  I choose not to share my heart now in the absence of some of that security.  There are a few good and loyal friends that I know will always have my back.  I think of them as a pyramid of love, a base of names and faces that have stood by me through thick and thin.  I smile when I picture their laughing faces, whether in my head in memories, or staring back at me from wedding photos on my desk.  I chuckle when I remember the hilarious good times we've had.  My heart warms when I remember the feeling of safety in their amazingly wonderful hugs, and couch conversations that last for hours.  Oh man, how I love you girls, you few sweet, dear friends.

But they stand alone, and overall I have seen other friendships slowly erode over the past few years.  One of the by-products of that erosion is a self-awareness that causes me to guard my tongue much more now than I ever did before.  I used to be a lot more transparent and open, like a tree blowing its branches in the wind.  Now I tend to be guarded, hidden and quiet, and you'll find it much harder to get anything out of me. I'm a bit of a new person, a new me and this one, much unlike the old me, keeps her mouth shut.  You could look at that like I'm wounded - I choose to see it as growth.

Now I must say this - please don't get me wrong! I don't cast blame for this disintegration of friendships.  I don't name names, I don't cast blame, and I am doing my damndest every day to not feel any personal shame about it either. I won't blame me, but I also work every day to not blame you.  Like the old REM song goes, everybody hurts, sometimes. I know I'm not alone in the world in this regard.  Living with grace means that every day I try to count my blessings instead of sheep, and that's where those beautiful faces come in.  It helps, and because of those disciplines, like I said, I'm genuinely happy.

But if I don't blog with much regularity, if I've lost my passion for it, if I don't have anything to say, it's because of this change in me.  Every day I'm learning to take a little of the old and blend it with the new, and today this is how I'm trying.  By writing again.  By not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and telling myself, I can blog with vulnerability despite the fear of being judged.  I can be honest about my life, and do it because writing is something I enjoy, and transparency is something I value.  Let the haters hate - they're going to anyways.  I just need to be me, for the sake of being me.

And today, what that looks like, is just saying this.  Nothing more than this.  Just saying what I've shared above is enough to get my panties all in a bunch, and so I think it's time to leave it at that.  There is a lot going on in my life that is good, there is a lot that is challenging, and there are ways God is growing me.  I might share about them later.  But for now, this is my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

True Confession Time - I Am A Person Of Wal-Mart: A Blog Post About Modesty.

I posed a question on Facebook recently, namely “What should I blog about?”.  The very first answer I received was from one of my guy friends, someone who I hold in the highest esteem, and who’s kindness, love and service to his wife and family, as well as to our country, cause me to respect him greatly.  He suggested I blog about “being awesome while remaining modest”.  At first I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.  I mean, yes, I know what it means to be modest, in the Christianese sense of the word (hemlines that touch the floor when you stand on your knees, right??)  But what about being awesome?  Am I really awesome?  And do people really think that??  Score!!  Thanks dude J

Now, I’m pretty sure I’m not the most modest person I can think of (again, in the Christianese sense of the word that we can all easily define).  I was rather flattered that someone I respect so much thought that of me, and had to ask myself, what have I done right in this area.  Whether intentionally or unintentionally I have definitely worn some outfits that were probably a little too revealing.  And that’s me sugar coating it for the sake of my ego.  I can think of a (beloved) maxi dress, that I wore to my new niece’s birthday last summer.  Some in-love-weight-gain meant that it was not fitting as well as it had when I first bought it.  But it was supposed to be in the 90’s and we were going to be outside the whole time, so I went with it anyways.  I think I was pulling that thing up to cover my chest the entire time we were there.  I only pray no one saw me, but I’m sure if they weren’t looking at me pulling it up to cover myself, they were looking at me wishing I would.  I’m embarrassed now, and can’t go back and change it, but I haven’t worn it since. 

Also, recently, I had a true People of Wal-Mart experience. Without meaning to, I was completely immodest, and exposed a LOT more of myself than I ever meant to, at the one place on earth where people are not afraid to let it all hang out, quite literally.  Again, let’s blame it on the weight gain (dang it!!).  I have only been able to fit into a few of my pairs of jeans lately, and this past winter I threw on a pair of boyfriend jeans I hadn’t worn in a very long time.  As the HH and I were leaving the house to go run a few errands, I slipped on the ice, and fell down, landing on my bottom in the driveway, so hard that I cried.  I hate, more than anything, falling on the ice.  I feel so clumsy and childish when I do.  But I digress.  After falling, I picked myself right back up, and got in the truck, and we ran up to Wal-Mart to do some banking and grocery shopping.  HH and I walked from the outskirts of the parking lot into the store, and once in the store, to the bank, where I walked up to the ATM machine while HH waited in line to see a teller.  All of a sudden, I felt him come up behind me, and wrap his coat around my shoulders, and tell me “Here honey, wear my coat.”  I pushed it off, I actually wasn’t cold – I had on a warm sweater, and scarf, and hat, and my cute boyfriend jeans, after all.  That’s when he told me “No, you need to wear my coat” and he leaned in and whispered “You have a hole in the butt of your jeans”.  That’s when I turned my head around and discovered that when I fell on the ice in the driveway, apparently my pants split right up the butt, from waist to well, past my waist.  My underwear were exposed for the whole world to see.  I truly was a Person Of Wal Mart, with the exposed behind to prove it.  Of course, I immediately took the HH’s jacket, put it on, and was positively mortified.  As soon as we got home, I threw those stupid jeans out!!  Modesty, no.  Clumsiness, definitely.

Now here’s the thing – in both of those cases, my intent was never to attract attention to myself, to show off my, ummm, assets (?), or to send a mixed message about the type of person that I am.  But that’s what modesty, or lack of it, does exactly.  It’s not so much a statement about what you’ve got (though, immodesty definitely advertises that well enough), as much as who you think you are, and how you want the world around you to see you.  I definitely did not want to be known to the people at my bank as “butt bearing jeans girl”, nor to my new family as a hoochie mama in my lowcut maxi dress (just because you can’t see my legs or ankles doesn’t make it modest).  And fortunately I don’t think anyone at the bank or Wal-Mart, except for my adoring HH, noticed.  The birthday party, well I’m hoping they love me just the same, nah, I know they do.  But the message I was communicating about myself in both of those outfits was not that of a person who cares what other people think of her in a respectful way.  It was the message of someone who just doesn’t care.

You see, modesty doesn’t have to just be about flaunting your body parts as an advertisement to “come and get it boys” (spoken in my best Moulin Rouge Nicole Kidman voice).  Being immodest can send all kinds of signals.  What it never spells out though is that the person being immodest cares enough about themself to care what other people think of her/himself.  If you’re immodest, unfortunately the first thing I think of you is “whoah, self esteem issues”.  Sorry, I know I judge, I do.  (Eh, this post is full of awful confessions, is it not?)

So, in thinking about modesty, how I judge it, my own perilous struggle with it, why we should even bother with it, et all, this is what I came up with. 

Modesty, by definition means “Freedom from vanity or boastfulness. Having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc. Having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc. Limited or moderate in amount.”  I think that pretty much sums it up well.  The bible never clearly defines what modesty means, though it admonishes us to be modest.  1 Timothy 2:9 warns against showy appearance, too much jewelry, etc., “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles, or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.”, wrote Paul (italics mine).  From what I found, that’s the closest the Bible comes to defining the term.  Yet, our Christian culture has regarded it, in relation to women, as covering up one’s body parts, and not showing too much skin. Or as my old pastor, Pastor Tom, used to say “not leading men into Death Valley” (his personal euphemism for cleavage). 

But, if the secular definition is correct, you can have a potato sack on, and have an immodest heart.  Modestly means acting and dressing with propriety, showing a humble estimate of one’s self.  Being moderate.  Not wearing neon to a funeral, or white to someone else’s wedding.  Scripture says that Jesus “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” (Philipians 2:6)  He was modest, in heart, and I’m sure always in appearance.  Men had it easier even back then, with their robes and caftans and such.

Modesty isn’t about what we wear, or fail to wear, it’s about a heart attitude of thinking less of one’s self than what is proper.  It’s a heart attitude, not a name brand.  It’s the way you view yourself, in relation to the world and the people in it, and how you act accordingly.  Immodesty wasn’t my torn jeans at the Wal-Mart – honestly, I was mortified.  Maybe it was my low cut sundress at a family gathering, and in hindsight, I ought to be mortified and ashamed.  You can be modest and stylish, you just have to respect yourself, no kidding. 

I mean, think about it.  If the Bible says that modesty means no elaborate hairstyles, gold or pearls or expensive clothes, then what are we to do with the fact that the Proverbs 31 woman wore fine linen and quality clothing, and made the same clothing for her family as well?  What about Esther and her near year of beauty treatments (ohmygawd am I jealous!)?  Does this mean I need to give up my quest to learn hair braiding, in an effort to braid my hair Swiss Miss style?  What about the fact that I love to score really expensive designer items at places like TJMaxx, or online?  What about those splurges I’ll make once a year or so, on an Anthropologie statement necklace or a costly new winter coat, knowing that I’ll wear it for more than a few years?  Is quality immodest?  Is spending more than the thrift-shop price on something immodest?  Is pampering oneself in an effort to just feel pretty again immodest?  I seriously hope, and think, not. 

If you think about it, back when Paul wrote to Timothy, the women who were prostitutes adorned themselves with lots of jewelry, and fancy clothes in eye-popping colors and styles to attract the attention of men.  What they wore sent a clear and deliberate signal about who they are and what they did/their profession.  Just like the uniform of the Hooters girls today sends a clear and deliberate message – “I.  Work.  For.  Hooters.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be wearing this hideous orange belly shirt and short shorts with pantyhose.”  A cop can be identified by his uniform, a fireman by his, and back in the day, a prostitute by hers.  Nowadays some of the high end prostitutes have enviable wardrobes that are very business professional, so as to attract a certain high end clientele.  And I am not talking about anyone who’s ever stood at that gas station on Penn and Dowling in fishnets and hooker platform boots, trust me.  In biblical times, pearls, gold, and purple or red were as obvious a uniform as the camoflauge army fatigues of a soldier are now. 

Recently, a friend of mine from high school, an earnest Mormon, posted a link to the website that his wife buys some of her clothing from.  Though I cannot remember the name of the store, I do remember that the word MODESTY was in its title.  Imagine, in this day and age, a store that advertises modesty!  I was intrigued!  After browsing their website, I realized I was in love with their style, and their products.  There were very cute outfits, that were in line with today’s fashion trends, but much more modest.  Think higher necklines, and longer hems, but cute ModCloth or Anthro styles to begin with.  Let me tell you, if anyone has this whole modesty thing down, it’s those darn LDS girls!  They are so cute!! Seriously, those gals from Utah, the cute stay at home moms, with their perfectly highlighted blond long bobs, and graphic designer/work from home careers really got it going on, and know how to do stylish modestly.  In their religion, and culture, modesty is a way of life.  It’s a heart attitude, and never a second thought, and they’ve learned to do it well. 

I guess when I look back at my own struggles with modesty, I would have to say, the real turning point came as I was considering what was best for my career.  Though I always tried to make sure I was dressing modestly, the actions were there but not always the heart attitude.  I did it because it was what was “right” in Christian culture, not because of how I respected myself or others.  But as I’ve grown older, and have looked to advance my career beyond an administrative level, I’ve realized that the old adage of “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have” is true.  So I’ve started thinking about what the women who were in leadership, that I admired and wanted to be like, wore.  Besides being stylish, professional and on trend without being a head to toe trend statement, the one unifying factor amongst them was that they all dressed modestly.  Even if they weren’t professing Christians, they understood the value of modesty in the business place.  Their message was “I’m current, I’m polished, I’m professional, and by golly, I sure as heck do respect myself, so you should respect me too.” 

I also realized that love has made me modest, or at least falling in love has.  I attribute this to the fact that for the first time in my life, I stopped trying to dress for a man, and started dressing for me, because that was who the man I loved wanted to be around.  Gone were the times I’d wear something to be noticed (even if it wasn’t skin bearing, and was technically modest, that heart attitude of “notice me” wasn’t modest at all).  I was thrilled with the fact that my HH loved me best in jeans and a tee shirt, or sweats and a tee shirt, clothing that he said made me look like I was comfortable.  He loved me at ease, and relaxed, content and not tugging and pulling and yanking at my clothing.  Not all gussied up and trying.  That, is the heart attitude of a man who wants you to be happy!  When I asked him, one time, about whether or not he preferred how I looked when I dressed up for work, or for date night, his reply surprised me.  “No”, he said, “I prefer it when you look like you’re ready to sit on the sofa, and read a book, because that’s what makes you happy”.  For my HH, modesty was equated with comfort.  But not just being comfortable in jeans and a tee shirt – being comfortable in one’s own skin.  Being in the frame of mind that wasn’t out to impress anyone, or draw attention to one’s self.  It was a frame of mind, a heart attitude, was happy and content with who they were, and had stopped trying to draw attention through appearance.  I’m not saying it was frumpy, or messy.  It was the quiet peace of mind of relaxing, and enjoying life’s simple comforts. 

I guess as I’ve grown older I’ve become a more modest person.  But that transition hasn’t grown out of a dedication to pleasing the surrounding Christian culture, but out of a spiritual and personal maturity.  With wanting to be professional, and be taken seriously, I’ve become more modest, or moderate, in my choices at work.  From experiencing love, and the desire of someone else to see me happy, content and at peace, I’ve stopped trying to impress a certain man through my dress.  Without turning towards frumpiness, because I believe it’s totally possible to be stylish and modest simultaneously, I’ve made some personal strides in this area.  Am I saying I’ve got it all figured out?  Well, as a certain winter’s day at Wal-Mart proved, far from it.  But if anything, I have changed my thinking about how I want people to view me, and what it takes to get the right kind of attention.  I have truly come to believe that in this world, you are perceived to be what you wear, and who I want to be at 27 is quite different than it was at 17 or even 27. 

So, what is anyone supposed to take out of this post?  That’s a great question, and as I’ve been writing it, one I’ve asked myself multiple times.  There was a request that I write about modesty.  And if I didn’t think it a worthwhile topic, I wouldn’t comply.  But, in this world where so many mixed signals are sent, and so many role models are offered for young women to emulate, ranging from the vampy to the faux-intellectual (read, hipsters), and everywhere in between, maybe it’s worth saying at least SOMETHING on the topic.  I can only share from personal experience, but if sharing my thoughts on this subject opens up the mind of one young women about how she views herself, and what image she presents to the outside world, then mission accomplished. 

And yet in writing this, I want to make one thing clear – let it be said that I always want to be modest about being modest.  Until my friend called me modest the other day, I would never have attributed that characteristic to myself.  If modesty is a freedom from vanity or boastfulness, then I will always try to be modest in the area of modesty.  That heart attitude is one I will always wish to cultivate, in the spirit of Paul, when writing to the Romans.  In the fourteenth chapter he shares some of my favorite thoughts about how to approach interpsonal relationships, including how (loosely interpreted) to think about the issue of modesty. 
Rom 14:7-19       For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.  If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord.  So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. ….  Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another.  Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. … For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

And that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ten Thoughts For Tuesday

I'm gonna be better about this blogging thing than I have been in the past year, I swear! And on that note, here are ten thoughts that are running through my head this Tuesday:

1.  I cannot stop thinking about this poem:

What Was Told, That

by Jalal al-Din Rumi 

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Cigil in 
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now.  I blush.  Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane, in love with the one to whom every that belongs!

2.  So excited for my handsome hubby, as he starts book club this week.  One of the reasons I fell in love with him is because he is a voracious reader.  Our children are gonna be wicked smart!  He and his book club guys are reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.  Anyone else read this?  Any thoughts on it?  Seriously, I need to get into a book club!  Grrr.

3. Spring is here (well, a very Seattle-esque kind of spring, if you will).  That means dresses, and skirts.  I love dressing up, and feel so much better about myself when I do.  Although in the last two years I have become much more accustomed to just being comfy in jeans and a tee shirt, and I like that too, but in an entirely different way, with different gratification.  Today I look very nice in a royal blue pencil skirt, a coral cowl neck, dotted shell, and a tan leather belt and pumps.  I have already received two compliments from coworkers, who are probably surprised after I came in on Friday in yoga pants, a tee shirt, and flip flops.  I hope the HH (handsome hubby) appreciates the look.  I remember so many times, in my single days, thinking I was wasting a pretty outfit on no one at all, and now that I have someone, he prefers me in sweatpants and a tee-shirt (true story!).  Even still, I know he loves me.  

4.  Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper's character on the now ended The Office) is my new fashion inspiration.  I think I'm going to Google as many of her outfits as I can. 

5.  Was anyone else seriously let down by the quality of the new Arrested Development episodes?  Bummer!!  I ended up playing Draw Something during a few of them (the George Sr. episodes mostly) because they were so not up to par. 

6.  "It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness."  - Charles Spurgeon.  As I contemplate my desire to have a baby, and the inexplicable pressure I feel (sometimes self generated, admittedly), to have one sooner rather than later, I need to remind myself to appreciate, enjoy, and be grateful for what I have, instead of focusing on what I want.  This is tough.  Now that the wedding is over, I am left with this "what now?" feeling.  The fact that we live in a culture that sets brides up for that particular failure, all too easily, only makes me sad and angry.  It is time to rejoice, in the fullness of love poured into our hearts by the Creator Himself, and out to the ones we love, and the world around us, instead of searching for the next big thing to fill my life.  Which in my case, is the (only natural) desire to have a baby.  Of course, the fact that I'm not getting any younger either, approaching my 38th birthday in a week and a half, only exacerbates things.  Amidst all these valid feelings, and desires, I have to honestly ask myself, "Would I be happy with my life, if I never had children?"  I have to evaluate the sincerity and motivations behind my answer, and deal with myself honestly too.  I keep telling myself, it is not how much I have, but how much I enjoy, that makes my happiness, and I have a lot in life to enjoy.  And yet, knowing this truth, I still find myself falling prey to the all consuming thought of pregnancy, on a daily basis.  I'm sure there will be more on this subject later, but for now, it is a daily discipline to rejoice in what I do have, and lay aside anything distracting me from that contentment.

7.  Speaking of birthdays (I did somewhere, right?), now that I'm a married woman, I get to share my birthday (or close to it, only two days apart) with one of my darling new nieces.  RJ :)  I have told my HH for sometime that not only am I super blessed to marry him, but into his family as well.  I now have an awesome brother and sister in law, two darling nieces and one adorably rascally nephew!  They all are so precious, and I couldn't love the five of them more!  They have welcomed me, and we get along in that way that people meant to be friends would, not just as those thrown together by new family ties.  The kiddos are precious, and each one unique in their own personalities, which makes me love them each for so many individual reasons.  RJ, who was born 2 days and many years after me, is spunky, sassy, sweet, cuddly, and, like me, kind of clumsy.  She signs (ASL), like a pro, loves pickles, rolls her eyes in a most exaggerated way, and does not take crap from her younger brother.  Her adorable toddler talk has stolen my heart, and I can't wait to celebrate her upcoming birthday with her, and sneak a few snuggles in there too.  Happy Almost Birthday to my new niece, RJ.  

8.  Now that the honeymoon is over - I want to go on a trip.  I want to go to Boston, and San Francisco, and Montana, and Italy, and Scotland, and just take a road trip.  Though at $4.19 a gallon, for gas, I doubt that is happening.  This year, I doubt that we'll be going anywhere, and that makes me a little sad.  I sometimes wonder how I can ignite the travel bug in my HH, as he's much more of a homebody than I am.  Hmmm, any suggestions folks? 

9.  To the person I follow on Pinterest, who keeps posting photos of winterscapes and snowflakes:  If you do not knock this $#!& off soon, I will find you, and I will end you.  Seriously, half my Pinterest this morning was photos of snowy white fields, tress covered in snow, and up close snowflakes.  I know you, you live in Minnesota, the same as I do.  Are you on freaking crack?  Quit that #$%@ OUT!!

10.  I want to learn to braid.  To French braid, and Fishtail braid specifically.  Am looking for people to practice on.  Please let me know if you want to come over and sit in front of me and be my guinea pig for a while. Serious.

Well, that's it for this Tuesday.  I got no sleep last night, so I'm a little crabby and finding it hard to focus.  Our crazy neighbor was banging on the wall last night because my HH was snoring too loudly. Seriously woman?!?!?!  He sleeps through your knocking, but I, halfway asleep due to said snoring, do not.  Do you think your knocking on our walls at midnight helps?  You have no idea what a truly loud, or inconsiderate, neighbor sounds like.  Trust me, I lived in that fourplex.  I know.  YOU, do not.  Thus, I think it might be time to go hit up the Nespresso machine in the breakroom and make myself a quad shot almond milk latte.  Serious.  

And that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Lessons & New Promises As A Newlywed.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

That verse is repeating itself over and over in my heart today.  I love it when that happens. 

It’s a good verse, for any day, in any situation.  It’s kind of an Awana’s verses, one of those fundamental truths you memorize right away in life.  Today I’m glad it’s on repeat in my mind and heart – today I need it.  My life is so good, and we’re so blessed.  But today, my sweet hubby found out he is facing some strong challenges at work.  And now, for the first time in our (brief) married life, I’m getting a taste of what it’s like to love someone so much that your heart breaks for them, and you grieve with their grief.  I am powerless, as I watch this man I love go through a challenging situation, and that in itself is hard, so therefore, the verse. 

I love my husband.  So, so, so much more than I ever imagined I would love any man.  I’m surprised by how much God has transformed my heart from a curmudgeony old crankster (think Carl in Up), to a soft, pliable and caring thing of beauty.  I credit Him, for giving me him, the one who I love enough to change and grow for.  I guess in this kind of love, I’m discovering so much about the true depths and nuances of God’s own love for us.  That is the kind of gift that really glorifies the Giver, and so happily all the credit goes to Him.  The complexities of a love so grand, well, I guess that’s part of its beauty really. 

Really though, I’m just glad, that as two people now married to each other, we really like one another as well.  We’re best friends - picture two little kids, holding hands, skipping down the middle of a suburban street, the girl in a little red gingham dress, and the boy in overalls.  That’s us. And we’re really just fond of one another, and enjoy the other person’s company, and get along tremendously.  I hear the horror stories, of fights over mundane things, of separate bedrooms, and sarcastic, cutting comments, and I cringe, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I think I know, somewhere deep inside, though, that that will never be us.  We’ve both endured the broken marriages of parent’s we love, and have learned so much from.  Waiting till later in life to get married has enabled us to know all the things we don’t want to do, and to be able to commit to fulfilling those promises.  There’s the chance that the shoe might drop, but I really don’t think it ever will, and I look forward to a life spent with someone I just really like, and love. 

So to see him hurting today, truly hurts me deeply too. I know God is good, and I trust in Him and His faithfulness.  I cling to this verse, from Isaiah, a promise He sweetly gave me to years ago, which I claim now for my marriage, a most sacred thing:

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD's renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever." Isaiah 55:-13

I know that through any challenges, we will be able to face it, in the light of God’s unfailing goodness and His sacred promises for our wellbeing. 

Yet, till now, I have lived a life believing in His promises, and trusting them only for myself.  Now there is someone other than myself, who I love more than myself now.  And trusting in God’s promises not just for me, but for that person too, is a harder lesson to learn.  I’ve always known I can go through any fire, and be strong; any trial, and come out a better woman, tough, fierce and emboldened.  But to believe, and cling to, God’s promises for someone I love as much as him, well that’s a tougher leap to take.  I cried when we got the news about this challenge he’s facing at work, and I can’t imagine how I’ll ever hold up as he faces other challenges in life.  I just want everything to be perfect for him, and to work out flawlessly to his advantage.  Yet, someone reminded me today that maybe this challenge will be a catalyst for growth in him, and THAT will be good.  I want my husband to grow, and to be raised up as a sterling man of God.  I guess that kind of growth comes through trial by fire, the refiners fire more like it.

So, thinking of the other challenges that face him now, and of the tough times he may face ahead, I’m mildly comforted (let’s be honest here, it’s still all sinking in), in thinking of God’s promises in view of another person.  My faith has now grown in a new way.  I claim to promises not just for me anymore, but for us, the new family unit. 

That thought alone – wow, we’re a family unit – makes me remember that His ways are not our ways, and who can know the Lord?  Bah!! He is GOOD!

And that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wedded Bliss

I know that probably many former readers of this blog have dropped off, discouraged by the fact that I never seem to write anymore.  I apologize.  I still, always, have a lot to say, and even as I start this post I can think of book reviews, and musings on social injustices, and random thoughts about something I saw on tv, or read in National Geographic, and contemplations on the nuances of relationships - all things I want to write about and have plenty to say about.

Please know that I don't neglect blogging because I've stopped caring, and have nothing more to say.  I just don't have the patience to get it all out, arrange and organize so many thoughts, and make it coherent and interesting, throw in some pictures and hit post.  I envy people who do have that time.  I hope someday again that will be me.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Till then - know that life is great.  I got married!!!  I met the "one", and we did it.  We tied the knot.  After two wonderful years together, and much more joy than I'll ever deserve.  We stood in front of family and friends and I wore a big old white dress, and he was in a suit, looking so handsome.  And now we call each other "hubby" and "wifey" and nothing feels different, and yet it all still seems so surreal.  Like I'm floating outside my body, watching someone else's much happier, much more conventional life.  I will never be a crazy cat lady again.

Anyways, because I want to put these photos somewhere, and share them somehow, but don't necessarily want to go the Facebook route, here they are.  A few snapped pics of our wedding day, and the man I am deeply and madly in love with, and who patiently tolerates and appreciates me daily.

I am incredibly happy, and hope the same happiness for everyone on earth.  If only we all were so happy, how would this world be different?

And that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tidings Of Comfort And Joy. And A Wedding. In September.

It's been a rough few days in the life of me.  Learning lessons days.  So when the She & Him version of "Blue Christmas" came on this morning, it’s no wonder I lost it, and started bawling my eyes out.  I had just pulled it all together, and was wiping away the winding rivers of mascara coal streaking down my cheeks when the next song hit and it was Dianna Krall singing "Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep".  Baaaaaaawwwww!!!!

Maybe if Christmas was here already I'd feel a little better.  I know Christmas is a very depressing time for a lot of people, but I could never imagine being sad during the best time of the year.  Goooo empathy!!!  Twinkling lights in the trees, snow glistening on the ground, the smell of pine and winter berries in the air, carols humming in the background everywhere you go.  All those lights.  I was made to live in Christmas.

Yet, even today, in this gorgeous fall weather, with regally colored trees turning all around me, I'm trying to tell myself to buck up buttercup and smile.  But you see, I'm having to be an adult, and a mature one at that.  And the pangs of finally growing up, at almost 40, are more than I want to deal with some days.  I'm a great big grown up womanly Peter Pan minus the elf ears and pointy shoes.

I guess you could say it started a few months ago when I made the most adult decision of my life and my fiancé and I moved in together.  It was an adult decision at that time because of the feedback I received from concerned friends, regarding the religious and moral consequences of that decision.  Coming to terms with what I believed and having the gumption to stand up for it was a pretty big move for me and for the first time in my life I felt like my faith was really put to the test, as were my beliefs.  And though we have our critics still, I've learned to deal with it.

With that decision came the responsibility of having to actually run a household too.  Within weeks I found out just what mom's and wives all around the world face on a daily basis - I was now keeping house for someone other than myself and it was a lot more work and sacrifice than I anticipated.  Gone were the days of clothes everywhere (kitchen table chairs make good staging areas for morning outfits).  Gone were the days of eating like a bachelorette (ice cream is a food group, and one meant specifically for breakfast and the occasional dinner).  Gone were the days of doing whatever I wanted, no matter what the consequences were, because I had to think of my darling fiancé, and what was also best for him.  I’ve grown up a lot in the last few months, learning to put my own bad habits aside and be the wifely woman I was meant to be.  It’s not easy – I love cooking, hate cleaning, have more shoes than C’s whole family combined and am okay with dropping clothes in the middle of a hallway.  He, on the other hand, is a master salad and omelet maker, but may not be the tidiest in the kitchen (see how nicely I said that?), takes three minutes tops to get ready in the mornings, and is never grumpy.  Life, as they say, goes on. 

As the months pass, we’re finding ways to work with each other, and to let love rule.  Above all else, let love rule.  I’ll say it again – LET.  LOVE.  RULE.  And so things have gotten a little easier, and as May draws closer we’ve been having a lot of fun planning our wedding.  We hit a few snags securing a venue, but last weekend we found the perfect place to get married, and signed the contract.  Really, all could not be going smoother with wedding plans, and we’re both really excited to have a super fun fantastical awesomeness wedding.

Then yesterday hit – and things changed significantly for me at work.  SIGNIFICANTLY.  I still have a job, and I still have a job I love.  I just have a job that I love that pays about 1/3 less than it did till now.  And with these significant changes, so came a huge change in our new household budget.  And with those changes, all of a sudden, gone are my dreams and plans for a beautiful, unique, bohemian, romantic, slightly steampunk wedding.  In the commitment we’ve made to incur no debt in getting married, we’ve decided to pay for the wedding out of our own pockets with whatever we can save between now and May.  Based on these recent work changes, that should come out to be about $29. 

And that, my friends, is the reason I’m bawling my eyes out at Christmas songs this morning.  Because I am really struggling with the feelings of materialistic want, and the subsequent feelings of guilt, that come from wanting a big, beautiful wedding.  Something big, and dreamy, and completely photogenic and off-the-charts.  But in the big scheme of things, something slightly unrealistic and unnecessary.  

Last night, as Craig and I were just lying there, vying for the same pillow, in the quiet fall night air, he asked me about the wedding.  I think we both knew the news was too new, too raw, to approach in the light of the living room, where we would be forced to talk about it and deal with it like big people do.  Just like you don’t say the word cancer in a country song, my fiancé has learned me well enough to know you don’t say the words “scale back” or “elope” unless you’re in the dark, about to fall asleep with a fort wall of pillows between you.

I put on my best optimistic voice, swallowing back any tears and told him it just meant that we’d have to make some pretty big changes to what we were planning.  I’d have to find another dress, and we'd have to look at another photographer, and another deejay, and other flowers, and we’d be eating Dickeys instead of a fancy caterer and what did he think of people having to stand during the ceremony instead of sitting?  And there in the quiet dark, he said the words that really just cut to my heart like a knife of truth.  He said it doesn’t matter to him what kind of wedding we have.  He just wants to be married to me. 

Sorry, I’m about to lose it again.

Here I spent the whole night lying awake, feeling sorry for myself, because I didn’t know how I, the keeper of the books, the cleaner of the kitchen, was going to make everything work out alright.  And all he’s been thinking is that he loves me and wants me to be his wife.  Now granted, there’s definitely a part of me that pops up and says “It’s easy to focus on love when you’re not looking at the bills piling up or trying to find a way to feed 152 guests”.  But you know what?  I hate that part of me.  I really like the love-focused part, and that’s the part that C brings out in me.  The part that remembers to let love rule.  He lets love rule.

So this morning, I woke up, and hurried to make our smoothies, and I rushed out the door, and the minute I sat down at work I started to feel sorry for myself again, and worry about how I’m going to pull off this miracle wedding.  Then I remembered his voice, repeating to me those words “I just want to be married to you.”

And the more I thought about it, and prayed about it, I realized, I just want to be married to him too.  That’s all I want in this life, to be Mrs. J, and to be really good to him day in and day out.  To bless him as much as he blesses me every day.  To honor the God who created us by letting love rule and to take the love we have and share it with a world without love.  And though I want a big, elaborate, beautiful wedding, I realized this morning I want it for all the wrong reasons.  When I stopped to pray about why I really want an impressive, beautiful wedding, the Lord reminded me it’s not for the memories we’ll carry with us throughout the years – those are made every day as we laugh, and love and live together.  It’s not for the joyous experience of that day’s celebration either – since I know that the feelings of joy I desire for us and our guests are not created by really nice centerpieces but by the feeling of love and joy in the air, love and joy that we create and radiate.  I realized, for the first time since he proposed, that I want a gorgeous, creative, unique wedding not for C & I, but for the people who I can picture gossiping about it afterwards, deconstructing it piece by piece. I can see their faces in my mind even as I type this and I sort of wish I could just punch them.  Stupid faces.

These are the people who, when they got engaged, went around flaunting their ring, hand extended for all to admire.  The people who, at their own weddings, showed no hospitality to me, as a “welcome guest”, but who’s tight lipped smiles made me realize I was only there as a matter of etiquette, not friendship.  The people who, let’s face it, I’m not really even friends with anyways.  I want a dream wedding to hush those critics, and to ensure that I don’t fall prey to their overly critical comments after the fact.  To be sure that they could never have one negative thing to say about how things were done at my wedding.  The true irony of the matter is this though – Those people aren’t even on the guest list anyways.  I’ve never imagined inviting them, preferring to give their spot to the people in my life I do care about.  And whether they were there, or just stalking our pictures on Facebook, I know deep down that they will have their trite little comments no matter what I do.  I’m sure my current living situation is just the “I told you so” they’ve been waiting for.  I told these people “so long” a long time ago, knowing that nothing I do will ever please them.  So why am I caught up in trying now? 

As I stopped to pray about it this morning, the thought reoccurred to me “Things don’t matter – people do.”  Let.  Love.  Rule.  Find a way to love these people, but realize that I don’t need to stress myself out trying to impress them.  Oh the pitfalls of the modern American woman.  Compare, compare, compare.  I need to know that the day is about love, shared between a man and a woman, and with everyone else in their life, as it is given to them by their Creator, not about table overlays and customized wedding favors and who's examining them or talking about them afterwards.  How freeing this realization was.  And just think, it was only a few hours ago I was repeating Philippians 4:6 & 7 to myself like a mantra, over and over again.  I think it was the Thanksgiving part (in combination with another friend’s Facebook post this morning about the transforming power of gratitude) that did it.  I feel like a weight has lifted, I feel so much lighter.  And relieved, and at peace. 

I know that we will get married.  In 2013.  And though I know I have my work cut out for me, with a lot of challenges ahead, like I said it’s lesson learning time, and I’m growing up.  It’s only sad that it’s taken 30-some years to happen.  When someone asked me recently, in light of our decision to live together, how my relationship with C makes me a better Christian, I said that I’m learning so much through it, growing so much through it, that it can’t not make me a better person and Christ follower.  There’s been a lot of lesson learning days lately.  There’s a lifetime full of them ahead - today was just one of them.  But I get to walk on this road with a man who’s only want right now is to marry me, and who teaches me, through his own example, daily, what it means to love.  He shows me God’s love every day.  He lets love rule.

I guess in light of that, I really have no reason to be sad.  I'm sure this will be a struggle that rears it's ugly head many a time before we walk down the aisle.  But I know I can always look back to this moment, and be thankful I found out earlier rather than later what is important on our wedding day.  For now, I should wipe up my mascara and go listen to some jolly Christmas music now.  Something sparkly and upbeat.  Maybe some Glee.  And count my blessings instead of sheep. And that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Domestic Bliss

I haven't blogged in a while, and I apologize to you few readers who are still faithfully following me.  I guess you could say I'm lazy, but in all honesty, I'm busy, and I haven't had much to say really, so there's that.  Mostly just that I haven't had anything to say.  Silence is becoming something I'm increasingly comfortable with.

But life is good.  I'm planning a wedding (my own), and it is a full time job I'm finding out.  I'm working more than full time, at a job that I love, with a small little office of characters.  My current boss (he's retiring next year) is the nicest person I've ever worked for, and I just enjoy our interactions every day.  This is a huge relief coming off the heels of hell at Onesta, and a boss-lady who would literally make me cry with her demeaning comments, off-the-clock demands, and split personalities.  They are each other's antithesis in every possible way.  I also work with two very young women, who make me feel older than I am, and than I've ever felt before.  They are both in their early twenties, and though I'm used to interacting with youth group girls that age, to see people so young in the work force is eye opening, and feels rather out of place.  The generational differences between us are also both amusing and slightly disconcerting.  When did I turn into this stuffy, proper, older woman?  I used to be cool, I swear!!

In any case, life is grand.  Life at home is grand as well, and I am more in love with my sweet fiance today than I was five months ago when he proposed.  Every day just a little bit more.  I am settled into domesticity like a fat old cat, content, quiet, napping the warm days away.   Last night I was sick with a cold, and he let me lay on the sofa and read as he made dinner and cleaned the kitchen.  Watching him in there with his handsome beard, cheerfully working away, the smells of spicy taco meat drifting my way, as I laid curled up with a blanket and some tea, literally filled my heart to overflowing.  This is what joy is - sweet, domestic joy.

As the days tick away, we are moving closer to our wedding date.  The fear of making sure everything is as perfect on that day as it is in my head keeps the timeline of a date fast approaching very surreal.  I wish I had a better grip on reality when it comes to gauging what seven months away is.  But by the time all is said and done we'll have been engaged for just over a year.  And though there are those have voiced their wish that we'd just get married already so we can stop "living in sin", I wouldn't wish a rushed engagement on anyone!  Planning takes so much time in the research of each factor involved.  Every day I'm working a little more at it, researching, making calls, comparing, putting everything into a speadsheet, into inspiration boards, into a budget.  Saving, saving, more saving.  Always saving.

I can't wait till we are married though, if for these two reasons only:  1.  We can finally get a dog.  I want a dog so bad!  Something that will be ours, together, and a shared joy, and that sweet unconditional, sloppy love of a dog.  Something to dote on, besides C, which I'm sure he'll appreciate.  2.  The other reason I really just want to get married already is so we can have a honeymoon.  As always, I have wanderlust.  Somethings might never change.  And though I get to travel for work this year and next, it's never the same.  I want to zipline through the jungles of Costa Rica.  I want to meander the vineyards of Napa.  I want to lounge in a mountain facing hot tub in Montana.  I want to go somewhere and just swoon at the scenery and eat somewhere I've never eaten before, and walk on a street that looks like it's out of an old Capra film.  I have romantic travelitis, and only seven months before a good excuse for it.  I get to go on a honeymoon.  I'm gonna be a married lady.

Sadie, Sadie.  Sigh.

In any case, this is not that exciting of a post. It's nothing special.  But yet, it's kind of everything special for me right now.  It's everything that is sweet and wonderful in my ordinary daily life, and I feel like this is the me I've always wanted to be.  Content, quiet, and full of undeserved joy.  Thanks to the One who gave it to me.  And that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

C, A Preacher, A Dress And A Little Bit Of Joy

A dear friend of mine got married this past weekend, and though her wedding wasn't extravagant, it was beautiful, joyous, heartwarming and God-honoring. I rememeber thinking, during the worship part of her ceremony, "I'm home. I'm home." In that moment, in that church, with those people, and pouring my heart out to God, the God that loves me as His bride, and the God that brought my friend the bride her beloved husband, I knew that my heart was home, where it belonged. And all this at a wedding!

I'll be planning my own wedding soon, and I hope, beyond hope, that at least one life is touched this way on the day my fiance and I get to share our love with the friends and family we cherish. I know we may disagree on how much worship is too much worship at a wedding, or how preachy should the preacher get. But at the end of the day, if one life can walk away filled with joy, at seeing love incarnate between two people, who have first known love incarnate through their Savior, then we'll have done our jobs. Well, I'll have done my job, because his is basically just Get Us To The Honeymoon!!

We struggle a little bit, he and I, in how to express our faith during this occasion. I come from the FBC tradition of outright evangelism, and strong public expression. C comes from a more reserved, private tradition, wherein your faith is something you share upon invitation, and with a good helping of respect for the diversity of other's beliefs. I worry about this polarization of our beliefs when it comes to the kind of service we will have. I desire a service in which two or three Protestant hymns are sung, and the unity sand is poured, and a blessing is given under a chuppah. Eclectic, yes, but faith inspired. I think C wouldn't mind the five minute "Do you? Yeah I do." version.   I know that all I really need is this man, a preacher and a dress, but I sincerely hope we'll find a way to meet in the middle on all the other little details.  No matter what we decide, however, when I think about marrying this man who balances me out so well the thought fills my heart with joy. Joy at the thought of watching him watch me walk down the aisle, giving him heart and life publicly and sealing it all with a kiss.

And joy is the one thing I want this day to be about. Yes, it's a celebration, and yes, it's about love, but joy is the manifestation of that love in our hearts, that makes them flutter, and leap and pop, for the emotional outpouring we feel of celebrating all that darned love. When I picture my wedding, I picture looking out from the dance floor, twirling and being spun around (by a quite reluctant dancing groom), and seeing every face in the house grinning. Not just smiling, but grinning. Smiling is what you do when you know the camera is near. Grinning is the look your face makes when your heart just can't hold it all in anymore, a second cousin to laughing if you will.

When I think about things that I have to figure out, like the venue, the decorations, colors (oh, so many colors to think about), the dinner, the dessert, the dancing, the wine, the favors, the kids, the parents, the EVERYTHING, the only thing I keep coming back to is this: what will bring our guests the most joy? What is going to inspire their hearts to recognize the love that this man and I have for each other, because God first loved us, and share in that love so directly that it makes their faces grin? What is going to bring all involved joy? Oh yes, I want to make C proud. And show off my personal style, and DIY abilities. And I want to make sure everyone has fun, we don't spend too much money and all six parents and multiple grandparents are satisfied. But mostly, I think of the faces of my dear friends, and I want to look around and know that they have felt the same way I felt the other day at my dear friends wedding. Joy - it's what a wedding should be about.

So, as I embark on trying to figure out how to take one quarter of the budget of the average American wedding and turn it into something special, I need to remind myself that joy is something we can all have for free. It's the feeling in your heart when you know you are home. It's the feeling in your heart when you see two people so madly in love that they can only grin at each other stupidly, and you know that you love them so much too that you can have nothing but joy for them. In the end, all I really need is this man, a preacher and a dress. But I really hope our wedding can be so much more than that both for us, and the people around us. I hope it can be an occasion of joy, to be remembered for years. Something that brings other's closer to God, more covered in the shadow of His love, and more filled with the joy that they too are loved by Him, and by us. 

In the end, that joy is all I really need.  And that's my story, and I'm stickin to it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm Engaged!!!

What more needs to be said other than - he asked, I said yes!!!

Yep, as of Monday I am now officially a fiance to the best man I know. We're getting married, and I couldn't be more excited to spend the rest of my life with this amazing man. His patience, kindness, humor and love are just a few of the qualities that make me want to be his wife and little woman.

So, ring pics to come - we still have to go shopping for one. Being the intelligent man that he is, he decided I should pick it out, versus him buying something I wasn't crazy about. What he doesn't know is that I would have loved whatever he chose, but I'll love the one we choose together even more. This Saturday is the big day, and I plan on dragging him around till we find the perfect one.

Speaking of rings, I think I'm learning just what a hippie non-traditionalist I am. I am in love with a certain style, and a certain stone, and a certain precious metal and none of it is the traditional white gold or platinum set diamond that is everywhere you look. What's more, I am highly skeptical that I will find this magical ring of mystery in any of the traditional places, like Wedding Day Diamonds or Kay or even higher end Shane Co. I have, however, found it on Etsy, a few times over, and so want us to order it from there, but am afraid that the minute I say "Hey honey, let's order the ring from this online craft bazaar" he's gonna run screaming the other way at my crunchy gal ways. Although, if he hasn't figured it out by now...

So, my question to you all is this: Yes, I understand that it's okay to be a non-traditionalist when it comes to your wedding, and I understand that it's up to the couple to decide what is "right" for them. But is buying your engagement ring on Etsy taking it a step too far? Well I guess we'll find out soon, right?

But for now, that's the good news... I'm engaged.  And in love.  And happy as a lark.  And that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The House That Built Me

I'm moving this week, from my little one bedroom apartment, into a new place with the love of my life, a full 40 miles, two bedrooms, three baths, a mudroom and a lifetime away.

I seriously hate moving, people, and when I moved into my current little one bedroom apartment I swore I wouldn't leave till either I was old and grey, or I found the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and we moved on together, if only because I hate moving and packing/unpacking that much. At that time, two years ago, that prospect seemed like decades away from happening, if ever, and I envisioned a long, quiet existence in this little place. Yet here I am, a month away from our one year anniversary of falling in love, and facing the inevitable task of packing up again, and moving on.

I cannot believe how much I've managed to accumulate in just two short years. As I opened up the living room closet yesterday, to start digging through bags of old clothing to give away or sell, I found things I haven't seen in so long that I forgot I even had them. So much moss has gathered while this stone has been unrolling.

Yet, the one thing I am finding hardest to part with isn't old clothing, an awesome old brown papasan (message me if you want it!), unread magazines and half used bottles of condiments - it is the identity that I've found intricately tangled up in this apartment, my own identity, and the person that I used to be here, and that being here has made me.

In a way I have Miranda Lambert to blame. Well at least, she helped me put it all together. I have been going through such a hard time leaving here, not because I have any doubts of where I'm going or that it's the right path for me, but for reasons my heart couldn't identify. Up till last night, I couldn't tell you why I was fighting leaving, crumbling at the thought of packing, or why, strangely, the truth that I was moving out and on didn't seem real or concrete.

Then last night I sat down to take a break from packing, and I hit shuffle on my Cloud Drive, and the song "The House That Built Me" came on, and I broke down into tears. I love that song, and it has always provoked an emotional response in me, but for much different reasons. The first time I heard it, I realized that growing up it was my grandma's house that shaped so much of my childhood, as my own mom and brother and I were so often transient, living in too many apartments and houses to even count over the years. We always rented, seeming to move on every few years or so, so no place left lasting memories on me as much as my grandma's house at 2028 Yosemite Drive in Eagle Rock. It was there I would spend weekends helping out at grandma's stupid yard sales, or taking naps in that little back bedroom, waiting for Fiorucci, the little black Lhasa Apso to jump with her short legs up on the bed and nap with me. It was there that my aunt would sit me out on the back porch and cut (or, gasp! perm) my hair, or that we would all gather in the breakfast nook for dinner, grandpa reciting the same old prayer, me hiding in the bathroom to get out of washing dishes. It was there that Ryan and I I would play in the backyard, collecting fallen avocados from the tree on the side of the house to eat with salt and pepper, or that eventually I would entertain Hannah and Tristan, my younger cousins. It was there that a Tommy's run was just up the street, those greasy chili burgers and fries imbedding their poison on my culinary memory so that even now I would give anything for one bite. For the better part of my childhood and life, my grandma's house was the house that built me, and the memory and emotional response that the song evoked.

But last night, as I heard it again, I realized that despite childhood memories being tied up in that song, it also reminded me that living in a certain place can build who we are as adults, and shape how we see ourselves. So much of who I've thought I am has been wrapped up in this apartment, and these four walls have cemented in me a sense of who I am, or who I have been. With the song playing in the background, drifting in on a warm spring breeze from the living room, I stood in the doorway to my bedroom and was overwhelmed with emotion. This, of all other rooms in the apartment, was one that I so thoughtfully and craftily built to evoke a sense of comfort, warmth, and in a way independence. I remember for the first time in my life, feeling like I had a bedroom that was completely my own, and represented 150% who I was, what I liked, and pleased only me. This was a room built for no one else - it was pretty, slightly country, feminine, yet cozy and quirky. A sensory memory came to me then, that it was in this room that, for the first time in my life, I came to terms with the fact that I might spend the rest of my life alone, and I was, for the first in my life, completely and wholly content and happy with the thought. It was in that bedroom, that for the first time, I could picture what my life would be like alone, and I liked it.

Two years later I am packing up that bedroom and the reality of what that means finally hit me last night. No small wonder I've been hesitant, procrastinating and choosing to lay in bed overwhelmed rather than get up and pack. In leaving this place, this apartment, that bedroom, I am coming to terms and admitting who I am now, a wholly different person than the woman that moved in here two years ago.

I am moving on. I am sharing my life now. And I am scared. I will never be alone again, and I cannot tell you if that fact thrills me or scares me. For so very, very long, even while in this sometimes surreal feeling relationship, I have always felt that I am on my own. Even on warm summer weekends that Craig would spend up here, it always felt like my place, and when he would leave, it felt like a dream that he was even here. On Monday's when I would come home to this apartment, after spending the weekend with him, it felt like everything was just a figment of my imagination, and being alone was the true reality. I always chalked up those feelings to a sense of not being able to believe I'd gotten so lucky in life. I've been pinching myself for the last year! Here I am in the most amazing relationship, with the best man I've ever known - of course it felt like a dream.

Now I wonder if it was something more. Maybe the emotional ties of my own singleness and aloneness, to this apartment, have run deeper than I could have ever imagined, and it's like while I'm here, that is part of who I am. Maybe this apartment really is the last link to the old me, the person who didn't need anyone else to go on and be happy. Maybe while I am here I will never be able to shake that overwhelming, quiet but pervading sense of being alone.

But that is not the person I am anymore.

Truly a dream has come true, and I have met the most wonderful man. I love him with all my heart, and I know that he loves me. I have never felt so loved or cared for in my life, and in every way he exemplifies to me what true love, selfless, caring, and patient, really is. It is time for me to embrace my new life with him, time to let him in, to my life, to my inner house and to all that builds me.

It is time to pack up boxes, to pack up my life, and to move on. This is no longer who I am anymore, and as hard and altering as it is to say goodbye to, it is not somewhere I want to stay. The future is bright, and sometimes that brightness frightens me a little, like it's more than I could ever hope to deserve, therefore too good to be true. But true it is, and as much as I tread lightly, I know that it is time to go down that road, say goodbye to my singleness, what I have perceived before to be my independence, and to my identity as a single woman.

I am a "we" now, and for the sake of loving him I should pack so he doesn't have to. I should pack because there is a new road, a new street, and four new walls that are awaiting me, where I will learn what it means to be part of a couple, and function together with the other's well being in mind. I have new lessons to learn, memories to make and associations to sink deep inside those new walls. He promises me that someday our "we" will become three (or even four), and then we will have even bigger walls to build and to fill, for our lives together, with our children and our family, and our friends (and maybe even a puppy).

As I listen to Miranda's song again I can only hope that in leaving behind the fallacy that I would be alone for the rest of my life, I can build a home for the man I love and maybe one day our children too, and give their memories a place to nest. That by moving on (and in) together I can build a home that will be the foundation for our own dreams and life together. The more I think about it, the more I can't wait to get going and give life to those dreams and to start making memories somewhere new! In that prospect there is such hope, and joy. I think it's about time for me to say my goodbyes to this old place, and start loading up some boxes.

And that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.