The Paths We’ve Traveled.

As the time is ticking down, I can’t help but feel this huge rush of different emotions.  The 40 week wait is almost over!

As I was sitting in our game room talking with Shane, there was one question that I asked him:  “How the heck did we get here?!”

For those of you who know us or that have followed or story on here, you know that 4 years ago, we were both on very different paths.  Paths paved by the broken pieces of who we once were, the plans we had made for ourselves, and any type of feelings and emotions that were anything other than the feeling of being numb.  Paths that eventually led to one another but not without some hiccups in the road.

I couldn’t help but look around at everything that has happened in the last 4 years and just be humbled.

As I looked down at my fully inflated belly, I got chills.  I’m 40 weeks pregnant with a child I was told that I would possibly never have.  I’m 40 weeks pregnant with the son that I had only thought that I would get to meet in my dreams.

Then I look over at Shane who is just taking it all in.  He’s looking around at the wife he felt for so long he didn’t deserve, at the house that he’s put blood, sweat, and tears in order to make it our own, and my growing belly at another son that is soon to make his debut.

Seriously.  How the heck did we get here!?

In a sense, the answer is so simple while in the same breath so complex.  With everything that has happened, all aspects of our lives had to have been in the perfect place at the right time.  There is only one answer as to how this happened – both when we were on separate paths and on the path that we are on now.  God’s plan was bigger and the story is told with our shoes.

God’s plan for us was bigger than any called off wedding plans.  Bigger than bone scans, blood work, and x-rays.  Bigger than any doctor diagnosis based off of nothing more than ‘science’.  Bigger than the legal “one bedroom” house that we were trying to raise a family in.  Bigger than anything that we could have ever  imagined and planned for ourselves.

It’s just such an odd mix of emotions to be sitting in this chair and feeling all of these feelings: excitement, anticipation, fear, joy, nervousness, happiness, anxiousness, calm, and the list goes on.

Truth of the matter is that within the next week or so, I will have a tiny babe laying next to me.  Well, he will probably be in his bassinet or rocker and I’ll be staring down at him just in awe that my “slim chances” is laying right in front of me.

The picture of our shoes tells the story of our family.  We have a daughter who is so shy and so quiet.  But she slips on those shoes and walks across a stage and transforms into numerous characters while telling a story for judges and peers.  We have a son that puts on his drill masters and marches across football fields and performs marching shows that he has put countless hours of practice into.  I click my way across the floor at the dealership to work with my salesmen and their customers to help provide a good life for the two children we have.  Shane puts on his boots daily and labors in extreme heat, extreme cold, and everything in between to be sure that all of us are well provided for and taken care of.  Elijah’s shoes have yet to be worn.  Those shoes will soon be the cause of the pitter-patter sounds running across the floor followed by the excited squeal of a toddler running away from his hard working father, his expressive sister, or his determined brother.  It just seems so surreal…

How?!  Just, how?

God is so good.  If you give Him the chance, He works such miracles.  His plan is bigger than yours.  He will bring you places that you never thought you would go.

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I just love this picture!  Our lives have been so serious in preparation for our little guy that we needed a good laugh tonight!  ❤

The Three Loves

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this evening, I ran across a post that really hit close to home.  It was someone who had recently ended her relationship with her fiance.  It wasn’t so much that she called her engagement off within months of their wedding; it was the link to a post that she put with her public apology.

The link was to a blog post titled “We Only Fall In Love With 3 People In Our Lifetime – Each One For A Specific Reason.”  Some of the things that were stated in there were absolutely true!  If you don’t follow the link above, please take the time to read the excerpt that I have placed below.  It’s seriously worth the time to read it!

“It’s been said that we really only fall in love with three people in our lifetime.  Yet, it’s also believed that we need each of these loves for a different reason.  
Often our first is when we are young, in high school even. It’s the idealistic love—the one that seems like the fairy tales we read as children.  This is the love that appeals to what we should be doing for society’s sake—and probably our families. We enter into it with the belief that this will be our only love and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel quite right, or if we find ourselves having to swallow down our personal truths to make it work because deep down we believe that this is what love is supposed to be.  It’s a love that looks right.
The second is supposed to be our hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts, whether through lies, pain or manipulation.
We think we are making different choices than our first, but in reality we are still making choices out of the need to learn lessons—but we hang on. Our second love can become a cycle, oftentimes one we keep repeating because we think that somehow the ending will be different than before. Yet, each time we try, it somehow ends worse than before.
Sometimes it’s unhealthy, unbalanced or narcissistic even. There may be emotional, mental or even physical abuse or manipulation—most likely there will be high levels of drama. This is exactly what keeps us addicted to this story-line, because it’s the emotional rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows and like a junkie trying to get a fix, we stick through the lows with the expectation of the high.
With this kind of love, trying to make it work becomes more important than whether it actually should.  It’s the love that we wished was right.
And the third is the love we never see coming. The one that usually looks all wrong for us and that destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be. This is the love that comes so easy it doesn’t seem possible. It’s the kind where the connection can’t be explained and knocks us off our feet because we never planned for it.
This is the love where we come together with someone and it just fits—there aren’t any ideal expectations about how each person should be acting, nor is there pressure to become someone other than we are.  We are just simply accepted for who we are already—and it shakes to our core.
It isn’t what we envisioned our love would look like, nor does it abide by the rules that we had hoped to play it safe by. But still it shatters our preconceived notions and shows us that love doesn’t have to be how we thought in order to be true.
This is the love that keeps knocking on our door regardless of how long it takes us to answer.  It’s the love that just feels right.
…There may be those people who fall in love once and find it passionately lasts until their last breath. Those faded and worn pictures of our grandparents who seemed just as in love as they walked hand-in-hand at age 80 as they did in their wedding picture—the kind that leaves us wondering if we really know how to love at all.  Someone once told me they are the lucky ones, and perhaps they are.  
But I kinda think that those who make it to their third love are really the lucky ones.  They are the ones who are tired of having to try and whose broken hearts lay beating in front of them wondering if there is just something inherently wrong with how they love.
Just because it has never worked out before doesn’t mean that it won’t work out now.”

I can safely say, I’ve experienced all three of these.  As I was reading, all of these little flashes from my past came back and made me realize that yes, there are lessons to be learned in all sorts of love…and the pain that comes with it.

The one that caught my attention was the second love.  Oh, second love.  This is where my heart goes out to this young lady who posted her public apology tonight, because at one point, I was in her shoes.

I can’t speak for her relationship, so I won’t.  But I will speak for what mine was.  It was unhealthy.  It was unbalanced.  It was narcissistic.  It was an emotional rollercoaster.  There was manipulation.

Even though it was all these things, I never once viewed myself as a “junkie” that was addicted to it.  But in a sense, I guess I was.  I had put myself in a position where I had spiraled so far down from where I was, I couldn’t find a way out.  My only glimpse of “me” were those extreme highs.  But the number of highs slowly started to be out numbered by the extreme lows.

Much like this particular young woman, I was engaged.  I was actually a month away from “the big day” when I decided that I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I was tired of the tears, I was tired of the fights, and I was tired of feeling like I was lost.  He is a good person for the right person, he just was not good for me.

But never throughout the process did I ever feel like I owed anyone other than him and my family an explanation.  Because in the end, it wasn’t anyone elses life to live… it was mine.  And no amount of “I’m sorry for…” was going to soothe the curiosity that pulsed through my social media accounts, job, and friends.

About the time my third love came around, I was sitting in an office chair in a gas station looking at all of the shattered pieces of my heart trying to decide where I was to go now.  I let the tears fall and the prayers rise up.  I wasn’t ready for a relationship and I knew I wasn’t ready for a relationship, but I asked God to just give me a sign that there was someone out there for me.  Someone who was going to love me for who I was; broken pieces and all.  Love literally knocked on that office door that day.

Even though we both felt it (literally) in that moment, I knew I wasn’t ready and I’m sure he wasn’t ready for me at that time either.  But, that was the defining moment that started to made my world spin again.  It took a knock on the door, one turned down date, a returned telephone number, and a leap of faith to get us to where we are now:  married for almost 2 years, a house, and a baby on the way.

Do I wish that my fairytale would have been much like those stories you hear about high-school sweethearts?  No.  Because it literally took an experience with each one of those types of love to get me to where I needed to be to begin my relationship with Shane.  I’m glad him and I have had the personal struggles we have had and  I’m glad that we’ve learned from past experiences.

All in all, it doesn’t matter how you get to your fairytale ending.  Let your story write itself.  But ladies: please, please, please do not ever feel like you owe anyone an apology for taking steps in a direction that may lead you to your third love.  You are stronger than that.  You are worth more than that.

You will love again, I promise.  That love will be the love that will make you forget all of the hurt, the pain, and the struggles that it took to get you there.  But you won’t be able to forget the lessons learned through all of the struggles, hurt, and pain.

Take that leap of faith.

Find that “fairytale” love.

If he left you beaten down and broken, just know there is someone out there who is able to pick you up and put you back together.

I can say that with confidence because:  been there, done that.

 

 

 

*Disclaimer:  I did get permission from the young lady to include a portion of her story.  I would never use someone else’s personal life without their consent.  ❤ *

The Art of ‘Perfection’

This morning, I saw something from my past that really brought the last couple of years of my life into a new perspective.

My TimeHop said that 4 years ago, I wrote a status that read:
“It’s not about having a ‘perfect’ relationship. It’s about finding someone who will be there through everything without giving up.”

No.  Joke.

It’s been almost 3 years since Shane and I began this crazy journey that we are on.  Sometimes, I just sit back and think about all that has happened and think “It’s only been 3 years?”  Other times, I sit back and think “That 3 years has gone by so quickly.”

I look back on all of the church events, school events, family trips, lazy evenings at home, and other events that have been such blessings in our lives.  We’ve gained friends, we’ve lost friends, we’ve changed jobs, we’ve had really positive experiences, and we’ve had some not so positive experiences.

But I keep going back to one thing; all of these experiences would have had a completely different impact if it was anyone other than Shane standing by my side.  (Side note:   None of these probably would have happened if Shane wasn’t by my side because my life would have been completely different.)

One of the most exciting things we’ve been through thus far is finding out that our family was growing by 2 little feet.  I found out back in May while Shane was in California that we were expecting a new bundle of joy!  He had his suspicions before he left but anything can happen in those early weeks!  Since he was at training, I was unable to call him so I wrote him a letter and sent him a picture of the “6 week”ultrasound to let him know that he was going to be a dad again!  We battled a lot of sickness and some health scares with this pregnancy but thankfully, through a lot of prayers, we found out at our 20 week appointment that our little BOY was strong, stubborn, and most of all; healthy.  After looking at the few ultrasounds that we have, I’ve decided that the little bugger has my nose and Shane’s mouth.  He is the cutest little thing but of course, my opinion is biased.

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We’ve also been through some not so fun stuff.  I won’t go into detail because while we were able to make our way through it, some of it is better off not shared.  But I will say this on it:

I am really glad that Shane and I have our faith to lean on when things begin to go sideways in our lives.  There has been numerous times throughout the last five months that we have been put in a position where all we could do is pray and lean on His word.  In short, the passage of
“…Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave your or forsake you.  Therefore, we may boldly say:  The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me? … Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” ~Hebrews 13:5-6, 8
is nothing short true.  Man can sit and try to throw things at us to tear us apart, but in the end, we have a mighty warrior on our side who will never abandon us because of all the “junk” in our lives.

But all that being said, my relationship with Shane has not faltered.  Have we had moments of weakness?  Sure.  But never once have I questioned my decision to be with him.  The only questions I ever held were for the outside sources who thought they pulled one over on us.  He has been my rock and my supporter from day one.  We may not have the ‘perfect’ relationship to those who may look at us, but for us, I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.

The same goes for my relationship with Christ.  I am human.  There have been times/are times where I go against what He has commanded me to do and how I should live.  But He doesn’t turn his cheek on me when the going gets tough.  Instead, He stretches out his arms and loves me unconditionally no matter the bumps and bruises that I’ve gathered along the way.

In reality, no one will ever have that ‘perfect’ relationship.  There will be trials.  There will be stress.  There will be outside opinions.  But if you can look at the other person at the end of the day, take a deep breath and say “I love you” and mean every word of it, that’s when you know that you are in the ‘perfect’ relationship.

Silver Linings

Last night I got to be a part of something powerful.  In short:  Everyone has their own story, their own battle, their own speed bumps that none of us know anything about.

Obviously, right?

But think about how often you come in contact with someone and the thought “Man, they are in a bad mood today!” has crossed your mind.  What we don’t know is that they may have been up all night spending last moments with loved ones, they may be working multiple jobs to provide for their family, they may have just gotten horrible news, and the list of things that could have happened is about endless.

Last night, we had our weekly youth gathering.  It was worship night which means the kids get to be a part of fellowship, song, and prayer with one another.  But what I wasn’t expecting was what came of the prayer time last night.

We were asked to ponder things in our lives; struggles that we may be having, things that we feel blessed with, and so on.  As the music started and I began to think about my struggles, I was almost overwhelmed with what I came up with:

Patience/Acceptance
Loneliness/Abandonment (preparing for training events)
Understanding
Selfishness
Feeling unfulfilled
Stress of life
Kids Activities
Financials

 

And that is just a broad/quick glimpse at a few struggles that came across in a roughly 5 minute meditation period.  The feeling was overwhelming and the only way to let some of the “pressure out” was to shed a tear or 10.  But while the tears fell, I felt put at ease a little bit.

“The Lord is the One who will go before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Even though we get so wrapped up into what is going on here on Earth, we need not to worry.  He has our plans already made out for us and all we have to do is trust Him to get us through these times of Earthly struggles.

But where there is struggle there is also joy.  During that time of meditation, even though I felt a little beat down, I also found blessings:

Family
Career
Health
Faith
Mercy/Forgiveness/Grace
Education
Freedom
Joy in simplicity
Community/Fellowship

The silver linings to the storm clouds that hover not too far away.

I’m constantly at battle with myself to remember to not dwell on the things that I cannot change.  My need to be in control of my life often gets in my way of letting Christ take over and leading me to where I need to be.

After those few struggles were written down on a piece of paper, we were able to run them through a paper shredder.  We got to “lay them down” at Jesus’ feet.  There was a weight that was just lifted off my shoulders.

Yes, I may still struggle with some of those.  I am human.  But knowing that I don’t have to face them ‘alone’ and that there are little silver linings scattered within my life makes it an easier weight to carry.

No matter what the storms of life throw our way, He always has a plan.

*Photo credit to Google Images.*

That Special Feeling.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I can’t help but notice the amount of stuffed animals, flowers, candy, and special plans that are listed out on my Facebook, Instagram, and other social media feeds.

I was going through and enjoying what I was seeing.  I am happy that people get flowers, candy, and other gifts for Valentine’s Day.  But as I was going through and seeing all this, I felt like I got hit by a bus:

If your man or woman only does special things for you or makes plans for you one day out of the year, they are failing the other 364 days.

…that means that you feel special 0.0027% of the year.

I was just having a conversation with Shane yesterday about how I felt like I wasn’t good enough for him.  That I was a failure.  That he deserved better.  It was one of those days that was looking like I was going to have a late/no lunch break.  I let him know and found out that he had planned something special for us.  Being the supportive man he is, he found a way to make it OK.  But that didn’t change the little seed of doubt that started.

I failed him.  I failed to be able to schedule the day where I was able to take a decent lunch break and allow him to carry out this plan he had…but the car business is unpredictable so we have to work around it.

But as soon as that little seed was planted, I realized not only had I failed to take a decent lunch break, I also didn’t get dishes put away from the night before, I forgot to switch over the laundry, I was distracted with getting the kids to school and the dogs outside that I didn’t get the bed made, I hadn’t swept the floor, vacuumed the rug, dusted the shelves, and I forgot to pull bread out of the freezer for supper.  As you can imagine, the list continued to grow throughout the day.

After a long night of letting my mind spin on these things, we sent the kids off to bed and sat in silence.  I apologized.  For what?

For not getting anything done while getting everything else done, for encouraging M in her speech practices while coming down on her for neglecting her responsibilities to practice before 24 hours before her first competition, for guiding M and giving him room to grow while getting upset that he’s ‘wasting time’ and ‘procrastinating’ when we need some speed in the routine, for loving Shane with everything that I have but still not being enough for him.

As I opened up to him, he just sat and listened.  No judgement, a few laughs, and a few shakes of the head.

But when he asked me if there were things that had been done that made me feel like I was good enough, it was almost overwhelming.

Yes; you planned a special dinner for us, you’ve planned an anniversary weekend event, you’ve demonstrated patience, you’ve been understanding, you built us a bed frame with your hands while I was in Texas, you’ve lost sleep to make sure I was OK, you’ve taken leaps of faith with me, you’ve supported me, you’ve blessed me with M&M, you’ve encouraged me when I’ve lost any type of luster to continue, you’ve built me up when I’ve been knocked down, you’ve allowed me to grow, you’ve loved me through every trial and tribulation, you’ve gone out of your way to make sure I’m comfortable and feeling loved, and the list can go on.

He makes me feel like this every day of the year.  I never go to bed wondering if I’m loved or cared about.  I never question if he is being honest and faithful.

So why, the day before Valentine’s, are all these women raving over feeling ‘special’?  Do you not feel loved every other day of the year?  Do you not receive the respect that you deserve from your someone special?

When it comes to love, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is the ‘go to’ verse.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I once read, to know if you have the love that you deserve, replace some of the words with the name:
Shane is patient and kind; Shane does not envy or boast; Shane is not arrogant or rude. Shane does not insist on his own way; Shane is not irritable or resentful; Shane does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

If you replace those words with the name and you cannot say that is 100% accurate in your life, maybe it’s time to reevaluate some things.  I’ve been in situations where every single statement was false.  I didn’t have patience or kindness, I was surrounded by envy, boastfulness, rudeness, arrogance, resistance to compromise, irritation, resentfulness, and someone who celebrated wrongs instead of doing what was right.

Women (and men too); listen to me:

You DO deserve patience and kindness and endurance.
You DO NOT deserve any type of envy or boastfulness.
You DO NOT deserve arrogance or rudeness.
You DO NOT deserve someone who is resistant to compromise.
You DO NOT deserve someone who is irritable or resentful.
You DO NOT deserve someone who rejoices in wrongs.

While I am truly elated that you have been able to receive flowers, candy, and other things, please keep in mind that you deserve more than 0.0027% happiness and love throughout the year.  You deserve to be 100% happy, 100% loved, and 100% special 100% of the year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Nothing But A Memory.

As I’ve gotten older, trying to find the perfect gift to buy my loved ones has become harder.  It’s also become harder for me to decide what I would like to receive as a gift.

Last night Shane and I began discussing things that we have put off for ourselves; things that would make Christmas gift ideas.  I got to thinking and my list was a pencil sharpener, a travel coffee mug, a stamped mothers ring, a hair cut, and a few other small things that just aren’t necessities.

Same with Shane.  He’s been wanting things such as a mider saw, a drill press, a chop saw, wood clamps, U-clamps, and other things that can help with woodworking crafts.

As a couple, things like a bathroom renovation, an over-the-stove microwave and a new mattress/frame for our bed that was damaged in the move became the topic of conversation.

However, since these things aren’t necessary, we put them off.  We save the money and later put it toward something for the kids, gas in the vehicles, or food on the table.

But as I’ve been sitting behind my desk at work, I can’t help but think of how greedy people have become.  We sit in our homes the last Thursday in November every year giving thanks for the things we have, the people in our lives, the experiences we had over the year, and so on.  But within 24 hours, people are standing in obnoxiously long lines chomping at the bit to get the best deals on big screen TV’s, video games, clothes, shoes, toys, home decor, and more.

Why?

Why do we feel the need to buy a large amount of gifts for those in our lives in order to celebrate a holiday that has nothing to do with material items?  So we can “buy” the love of those around us?  So we can “flaunt” the money in which we may (or may not) have had?  So that we can try to out-do one another?

As we crawled into bed, I heard Hugo walking around downstairs followed by the jingle of his tags laying down on the floor, I heard Marley curl up on his bed next to my bedside table, and I knew the kids were fast asleep.  I began thinking about the next couple of days.

One more day of work before a day off, a trip up to visit my sister and brother-in-law and parents over Thanksgiving day,  and another day of work rewarded by an annual tradition that evening.  I couldn’t help but smile a little bit.

Because through all of the hustle and bustle that has become our lives, we still strive to make memories, we still find joy in the little things going on in our lives, we strive to carry on traditions and throughout it all, actively practice our faith and give honor, praise and glory to Him for all that he has blessed us with.

We treasure the memories over the material items.  We would rather build a foundation on Him than functionality of expensive goods.

Just after having 12 hours to think it all over, straighten it all out in my cluttered little brain, I have finally finalized by Christmas wish list:

Nothing, but a memory.

That’s What It’s All About.

I’m not one who usually gives good advice.  This post is no different but I’m going to give it my best shot!

There was a young woman on here who was asking advice for a “going to be newly-wed couple”.  As I was looking through the comments and I saw things like never go to bed mad, always forgive, pray with one another, be respectful, make compromises, take advantage of the free time you have together, make memories when you can and so on.  You know, the generic advice that we see people giving newly married couples.  As good as some of this sounded, I felt like they were missing something of value.

So I prayed on it for a couple of days.

Having worked in the management position that I did, I dealt with a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people on a daily basis.  I would strive to make relationships with those people who regularly visited our store and made a conscious effort to genuinely care for how their day was going, how their boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/husband/wife was doing, how their weekend went, etc.

It wasn’t until I started noticing a pattern in couples that had dated for a while (past relationships of my own) and engagements that were ending that I found a common pattern.

To the public, everything seemed “fine” or “well”.  But was that the truth?  In my case, no.  But I felt that if I were to admit to anything different it would be a sign of weakness.  But, since I knew what wasn’t “fine” in my relationship, I could easily pick up on when other relationships weren’t “fine”… I knew the tricks to hide it all too well.

I heard over and over again “It was because HE didn’t want to (insert something he didn’t want to learn, listen to, be a part of, etc.)” or “It was because SHE didn’t take me seriously.”  Out of 6 years of working with the public, only once did I hear “It was because he didn’t love Christ as much as he loved me.”

I wish I would have had enough courage to call that out when it was happening in my own life.  Sure I had my ups and downs with my faith but at the time when I needed support and growth, I wasn’t getting it and it formed a wall.

All to often, relationships are one sided.  People are selfish and only care for what they want and if it doesn’t benefit them in some way, it doesn’t get done, said, or looked at.

So, after having prayed over this young woman’s question for a couple of days I came up with this for her advice:

It’s not about you, it’s not about him, it’s about Him.

Cryptic, right?  Well, I got artsy-fartsy the other night and made images to show:

To the public, this is how your relationship may be viewed.  You are seen as a couple that nothing can come between.  You seem happy; like you have it all!  You’ve got this all figured out… right?

Maybe to the outside.

On the inside, you see things such as disrespect, anger, evil thoughts, addictions, bad attitudes, video games, jealousy, anger, lust, temptation, use of pornography, money, greed, laziness, lies, media, little/no faith, and the list can go on and on.  Before you know it, these things that once seemed so “little” have formed a wall that is much bigger than you are, bigger than your significant other is.  It is so powerful, that it begins to tear you apart, compromise is all but in the past and there is “no saving it”.

For those who don’t have faith or haven’t found faith yet, this may seem true.  The driving forces in your relationship are so strong, the only way you feel you can fix it is by breaking it.  We’ve all been there at one point or another.

But what you don’t see (and probably can’t with the resolution of the picture) is that there is a cross right in the middle.  There are promises that were made to us by Christ’s suffering and death on the cross.  He died for our sins; so that we may be forgiven.  God has also given us the gift of eternal life through Christ.

If you put the cross at the center, all these seemingly “large” issues that were driving wedges now don’t seem so tough.

Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

All that we have to do to accept Him is to put our selfish and sinful desires away, focus on Him and how we can lead better lives for Him.

From there, things in our relationships will begin to fall in place.  You will bring out the best in one another, you will begin to compliment one another, you will begin to find happiness in things that only brought you pain before, you will begin to encourage one another without saying a word.

If you don’t allow yourself to see the good in things, all good things disappear.  You become so focused on the negatives over here when there are all sorts of positives happening over there and you miss out on the good of those things.  Slowly, all of the negative drags you down and it becomes a long, slow crawl up if you don’t have help from Him.

So,

Long story short:

My advice to ANY couple; married, dating, engaged, is to stop putting yourself first, your spouse second (or even your spouse first and yourself second) and begin to put Christ first.  The rest will fall into place.

It’s not about you, it’s not about him, it’s about Him.

The Perfect Ten.

Last night, I curled up on the couch and turned on Dancing with the Stars (DWTS).  For those of you who watched it, you know how emotional the episode was.  It was “Most Memorable Years” for the celebrities.

Turn by turn, each celebrity stated their year and told their story behind it.  The top two (in my opinion) were Tamar Braxton and Bindi Irwin.

Tamar chose the year 2012.  She was taking a vacation with her husband, Vince, when he started to complain about not feeling well.  They ended up in a New York emergency room where they found out that he had multiple blood clots in his lungs.  They put him in an induced a coma for 40 days and Tamar stayed with him the whole time.

One thought that Tamar expressed is that she wasn’t sure how she would be able to live without the love of her life should he not pull through.  She then stated “I will forever be grateful because I don’t even know what I did in my life to be blessed this much.”

She hit the nail on the head!

There are times where I will just sit and stare at Shane and begin to think of all the memories we have made and all of the memories we have yet to make.  There isn’t a day where I don’t thank God for giving me the gift of a husband and the kids.  I would be devastated if something were happen to any of them that would be life threatening.

Then, the last dance of the night was Bindi.  Thank goodness she was last because I don’t know if I’ve ever cried so much watching a segment of a show.

The year that Bindi chose was 2006; the year that her father, Steve Irwin, passed away.  She was only 8 when he passed away but she showed such strength and support for those around her.  She was able to use her fathers death as a way to prove how short and how precious life is.  This dance that was so filled with high emotions earned her the first 10 of the season!

So, being the “thinker” that I am, I turned to Shane and asked what his most memorable year was.  I was thinking something along the lines of the years that the kids were born, the year he was sworn into the military, or even the year that he defended our freedom.  To my surprise, he said “The one we are currently in.  Look how much has happened!”  Well, he’s right.  So far, from October 2014-October 2015 we have gotten engaged, got married, redid the kitchen in our rental home, celebrated gains, mourned losses, bought our first home, took a vacation, and celebrated our marriage with family and friends.

But then after he shared his, I got to thinking, I can’t even narrow down to my most memorable year because I have memorable years.

To begin, 2007.  Yes, you read that right.   I was 17 and a junior in high school.  I went through some trying times and learned quickly that the “All-Knowing” teenager really wasn’t all that knowing…about anything.  After some counseling and a decision to become a born again Christian, I began to turn my life around.

2012.  I entered my first engagement.  At the time, it was a very exciting time for me.  But, looking back, my heart wasn’t in the right place and we were in a relationship where we did not bring out the best in each other.  In fact, it was quite the opposite – I sacrificed a lot of my hobbies and my wants to satisfy his addictions and needs.  Which, at the time, didn’t seem like a big deal.  But paying $15 per month for a game where you have to spend a minimum of an hour to even start advancing started taking it’s toll on my pocket book as well as my health, my job, and my relationship with him.  There were also times where there were situations that were not handled with respect and care when they should have been.  “Be slow to speak” has never been more true.

2013.  I ended the engagement with less than 4 weeks to go until the wedding.  What drove me to that point?  Well, him taking a job 2 1/2 hours away from where I was working and moving away.  I had a lot of time to sit and think about who I was and what I enjoyed to do with my time.  Being with him wasn’t what I saw in my future.  I didn’t want to be in a big city (remember, farm raised.  I don’t do well with city traffic or congested housing), I didn’t see myself working at a high end retailer, bank, or high end anything for that matter.

I spent 3 months doing a lot of soul searching, a lot of praying, and a lot of recovering.  I had been praying to God to send me a sign that I was on the right path or to show me what I could have if I continued to follow Him.  In November 2013, He showed me who my husband was going to be.

2014.  I began to take a journey with Shane.  We only stepped foot onto a path pleasing to God knowing that we were both ready, that we both had the same end goal in mind, and that we would hold each other accountable to the other as well as to Christ.  We began supporting one another and walking alongside one another while still trying to uphold our morals and values that we held so close.

2015.  I got engaged to and married my soul mate, my best friend, I inherited 2 children who have been such blessings.  We were able to find a home that fit perfectly every need that we had.  We’ve enjoyed being a family and experiencing things that we both once only dreamed of.

Each of these years had a significant hand in molding me to who I have become today.  Each year being a stepping stone to prepare me for the next.

Like Tamar had stated, I’m not sure I will ever know what I did so right in my life (when I felt like all I was doing was wrong) that lead me to being so blessed.

In my opinion, the Judge ruled, and gave me the perfect 10.

But no matter what we go through or what we experience, I will give thanks to the One who made it all possible.  And much like the dancers on DWTS take the judges comments as things to improve on over the next week, I can take what He has shown us we need to improve on and strive to better please Him.  I will never be His perfect 10 because I am human and I have a sinful nature.  No one will be able to be His perfect 10; there is not one person without sin.

Life is truly precious and we need to embrace all that He has done for us and begin living for Him instead of living for ourselves.  He truly does wonderful things when He is put first in your life.

What year(s) do you feel were your most memorable?

Freeze, Frozen, or Forgiven?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading the book “God Never Blinks” by Regina Brett. I haven’t been reading it front to back like you would  a normal book.  I’ve been flipping through and finding a little passage that relates to my day.  Last night I found one that has summed up my life the past month or so.

The section was titled “When in Doubt, Just Take the Next Right Step.”

The analogy that was used was the game of freeze tag.  Once you are tagged, you stop (or freeze) in place.

I can relate to being tagged in my life and I just stop in place.  I don’t look around, I don’t move forward.  And I definitely don’t move backwards.  I’m just there – blindsided by a strong hand that has stopped me in place.

I stay in my own little world stuck in one spot wondering what my next step is going to be.  Stay where I’m at and think of endless possibilities of how to become unfrozen?  Try to break my icy mold by myself and continue on?  Try to retrace my steps and find a way around finding myself stuck in a place I don’t want to be in?

Being human, we get so wrapped up into what has gone wrong, we freeze.  We meditate on all the things that have happened, all the things we wish we could have done, or all of the things that were done.

Shane and I experienced this about a month ago.  We were so blindsided by the actions of others that we froze in place.  When you take a married couple and both of them freeze at different places on the field in different positions, it’s not good.  You can’t communicate, you can’t console, and you can’t encourage forward movement.  You stay in place, facing different directions trying to figure out what comes next.

Well, in our situation, the obvious “next step” for us was a prayer of forgiveness.  We needed to forgive so that we could move forward.  We wanted to forgive so we could move forward.

However:

Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation.

I struggled with this concept – and still kind of do.  I have been raised thinking that if you forgive someone, their wrong doings are “erased” and you make the effort to restore what you had before you became frozen.  That’s just how it was.  That’s how it’s always been.

But, Shane showed me a new option:  you can forgive without having reconciliation.  Somethings just can’t be, won’t be, or (even in some situations) shouldn’t be resolved.

Kind of like that saying “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”  You can love someone without approving of their every move, decisions, or choices.

We “practice what we preach”.  We try to see everyone through the eyes of Christ and love everyone as we love ourselves, but there are times where this just doesn’t seem possible.  But we are told in Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.  And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”

We cannot be imitators of God if we are walking around judging, ridiculing, wishing ill upon our neighbors, or not loving our neighbors.

When Shane sat me down and told me that there can be forgiveness and Christ-like love but not necessarily reconciliation, it caught me off guard.  But here is where it begins to make sense. (Authors note:  Feel free to correct me here if I am wrong.)

Forgiveness and Christ-like love can be one-sided.  You can forgive someone without them knowing or returning the favor.  Just the same, you can show love to someone without them wanting to receive it or returning it.

We, as Christians, can fulfill our duty as being imitators without the acknowledgement of the receiving end.

Up until the last few days, I was frozen in place.  I thought that I had broken my mold and began my journey forward.  I was wrong.  I was just as frozen last week as I was a month ago.  I hadn’t taken the next right step. I had prayed but I hadn’t put into action what I had prayed for – because I was stuck.

I want to move forward and ONLY forward.  I will not be looking back, dwelling on the past.

If you have wronged me, my husband, or my kids, know that you are forgiven and you are loved.

Just as I have been forgiven, I have forgiven.  I have forgiven, I have loved, but I cannot reconcile at this point in time.

But I am no longer frozen.  I will not stand stationary waiting for the world around me to change.  I need to be the change in the world.

I need to take that next right step.

I am in Love with Another Man and My Husband Knows It.

I am in love with another man and my husband knows it. Not only does he know it, it is the best thing for our relationship. It is the best thing for [our children]. It is the best thing for my soul.

I am in love with an outlaw. His name is hated, he is shut out, abandoned, left to himself. Governments set out to hide him, to lock him away, to keep his influence from taking over their people.

He is dangerous but he is to be trusted. He roams, but he is safety. Outlawed, but can not be hidden. Despised and rejected, but gives his all. He can not be understood, but he is the answer.

I am in love with another man, I can’t keep my mind off of him. When my heart aches, when all this world has to offer is not enough, he is my soul’s satisfaction.

If I did not have Jesus, my marriage would have fallen apart long ago. If I was not totally enthralled with my Lord, then I would have nothing of benefit to teach my [children]. If my God was not all consuming, then there is no need for me here in this Earth.

Oh Jesus, I am wholly, completely in love with you!

Originally blogged on:
Beautiful Life With Cancer