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!  ❤

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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.  ❤ *

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!

I Offer You My Painted Rock.

Sometimes I wish that I had the mindset of a child.  The mindset that is so innocent, that puts others before themselves, the unconditional love for others and that tells things how they are.  However, I am not a child, I’m an adult.  Even though I try my hardest to put others before my self or to have unconditional love for others, I always end up with the thought of “How is this going to benefit me?” or “How when I feel when this is over?”

Watching a child has to be one of the most entertaining things that life has to offer.  Their selflessness is at a level that we will never reach.  A perfect example is the kinds of gifts that they give.  In fact, Shane has quite a few gifts from Miah that he has kept.  These gifts are simple painted rocks.  But not just any painted rocks, rocks that she gave to him.  She picked them off of the ground, dusted them off, decorated them to the best of her abilities, and gifted them to her father.  She saw something ordinary and had the thought to give it to someone special.  She gave him all she had.  It was something so simple, but something that means so much.

I wish that I could go as far to say that we selfless in my relationship with Christ.  I mean, to a point we can be, but it only goes so far.  It’s easy to see that in our relationships with God, He is the selfless one.  He is the one that gave up His life for us.  He is the one who is constantly waiting for us to take time out of our “busy days” to take a moment a thank him for everything He has done for us or that he has given us.  He is the one who forgives all of our sins.

All these gifts from Him can be looked at liked those painted rocks.  He offered us all that He had.  He chose us!  How cool is that?!

But, we are the selfish ones who often times reject these gifts from Him.  We feel that things have to be done our way, on our time.  We fail to remember that God has everything already planned out.  Our lives get too busy.  I know in my life, it seems like never ending housework, homework, actual work, errands, sporting events, concerts, and so many other things.  From sun up until sun down, I feel like we are always on the go.  Before we know it, it’s time to drag ourselves to bed and maybe (on a good night) drop our heads in a quick prayer.

If we aren’t busy, we feel as if we have nothing to pray for.  I feel someday’s that He has watched my every move, He knows what went right and what went wrong.  But to put a twist on this – how would you feel if you spent every waking moment of your day tending for someone, catering to them hand and foot, only to never receive a thank you or even a small nod of appreciation?  How do you think God feels when we just hurry on past without acknowledging Him for having a hand in our lives?

I’m one of the most guilty people by letting my “busy day” get in the way.  Instead of hurry up and do this, do that, go here, run there; I need to step back and say “Thank you for my supportive husband.  Thank you for two beautiful step-children.  Thank you for giving me a way to help pay the bills and provide for my family.  Thank you for giving your own life so I could live mine.”

Not only can selfishness affect our relationship with God, it can affect our relationship with our children, our family, our spouses, our employers; the list is just about endless.  But, because God was selfless, we can rest easy knowing that we can repent of our sins and be forgiven.

We often see pictures of Him standing in front of us with his arms wide open.  It’s a wonderful illustration to show that no matter where we stand, to his left or right, off to His side, if we turn our backs, or if we run up to Him with our arms wide open, He will always be there to embrace us and remind us how much He loves us.

He tells us in Isaiah 41:13 ‘For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”‘

He is there for us.  We just have to stop being selfish and accept His painted rocks.  Are you ready to accept the painted rocks?

We sang this song in church yesterday and it reminds me that He is there for us.  Even when we try to find temporary happiness, He tries to show us that he is more than enough.  We need to stop looking in material possessions and look at what He has given us.  Because to some, His painted rocks may not seem like enough, but to me and to other believers, His painted rocks were all that He had to give, and He chose to give it to us.

Does This Need Fixing Or Listening?

My Pastor showed us this video at one of our couples group meetings.

We all got a good chuckle out of it but then realized that this short clip takes a serious issue and puts humor to it.  The issue is that men (and in some cases, women) have this strange desire to constantly fix things; things around the house, things in your relationship, things in your personal life, things in his personal life, things at work, things with the kids, and on and on and on.

However, the constant need to fix things isn’t the biggest issue within this little segment; or even in our daily lives.  The bigger issue is listening.  I’m not talking just sitting down and mindlessly nodding during a conversation; listening.  I’m getting at the active listening; rephrasing and repeating what we are saying, not offering immediate advice on how to fix things.  Because quite frankly, not everything needs to be fixed.

A couple friend of ours struggles with this as well.  When we were talking about how they handle situations where one feels the need to be listened to, the wife said it’s more of her going to him with things that she feels are issues or situations that need addressing.  It used to be where they would talk and he would almost shut down; no emotion, no feedback, nothing.  Then, it went the opposite way, he wanted to offer an immediate fix to majority of the things they talked about.  She said it took some work, but now he is at the point where when she comes to him and voices concerns, he sits and listens, goes through a phase where he meditates/contemplates on what needs to be done, and then offers feedback and suggestions.  This also came up as a topic at our last couples group through church.  One question that got brought up within the group could really benefit not only these friends of ours, but everyone else; “Do you want me to fix this or should I just listen?”

I know in my relationship with Shane, I get easily frustrated when it comes to how to handle certain situations with M&M, or complain about how one upset customer/employee at work (even though it’s not directly at me) can just make my entire day feel off, or how the dogs won’t quit playing and I just can’t get them to listen.  It’s all dumb little stuff, but sometimes I just need to vent for 10 minutes and get it off my chest.

We just had one of these situations last night.  I was voicing my concern about how we need to continue to mold M&M into these functional human beings, and neither one of us can do that if we keep catering to their bad habits. (By bad habits I mean acting spoiled, constant whining, the constant need for approval or praise, so on and so forth — we are both guilty of doing so.)  Yes, they are children, but they are not YOUNG children anymore.  They need to be treated like the young adults that they are.  They are at the age where their trying to form their own identity and break out into the world around them and they can’t do that if we are constantly holding their hand or trying to pave the way for them.

As I was voicing my thoughts, opinions, and frustrations with some of the things that had gone on, I could tell I was getting more and more frustrated.  My emotions were now feeding into my thoughts and I couldn’t stop it.  I could tell Shane was at the point where he wanted to be done talking about it but neither one of us knew how to shut it off.  Now, it didn’t turn into a fight, but it sparked a need to fix something… for ME to fix something.

We discussed it a little bit more off and on throughout the night and finally we had reached an agreement on how to handle these issues should they come up again; and they will.  But being a woman and being emotionally charged, I could not let it go.  I wasn’t feeling frustrated, I wasn’t upset with Shane, but I had reached a point where now I wanted to go get the kids and begin working on these changes… NOW.

Know that an immediate fix wasn’t possible, I laid in bed trying to think of ways to prepare ourselves for when they come back on Friday.  Honestly, I don’t even know if I came up with any ways or if I did, what they were.  Next thing I know, I wake up, look at the clock and its 2:30 AM.

After a full nights sleep, I woke up this morning not really feeling a change in how I felt.  Actually, I think I almost felt worse.  In fact, felt guilty… selfish almost.  I had let my emotions run my thoughts and even though I was talking with Shane and I was listening to him, I wasn’t hearing all of what he was trying to say.  All of my frustrations could have been avoided if I would have just actively listened to him.

It takes a lot of effort to go from passive listening to active listening, but I’ve set it as a goal for myself, and for the kids as well when they get back.  We (as a family) need to work on actively listening to one another better, engaging in conversation and asking  each other “Do you want me to fix this or do you just want me to listen?”

Discipline is Painful, Not Pleasant.

I wish I could say that being a “step-mom” has been a walk in the park, but it hasn’t.  I wish I could say that things will get easier, but they won’t for a while.  I wish I could say that I was good at leading a “Godly” example for M&M, but despite my efforts, I am not perfect.

Jumping in to a parent role has not been the easiest adjustment.  I went from being single and caring only about myself and my dog, to dating this wonderful man and his children.  While I cared for them and worried for them while we were dating, it changed when I became one of M&M’s four legal guardians.  The nagging “Are you setting a good example?”  “A Godly one?”  “Are you dressed the way you would want M to dress?”  “Are you conducting yourself the way you would want M to conduct herself?” is consistent.  Everything I do revolves around these two human beings that look at me as a role model for how they are allowed to act.

Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  It’s a wonderful thing.  It keeps me motivated, it keeps me honest and it keeps me humble.  However, I’m now caught in a situation where I’m stuck between “Where did I go wrong?” and “Why can’t they listen to what we are trying to tell them?”

Part of the answer revolves heavily around social media website.  Yes, parents, you heard correctly.  Websites like Instagram, Snap Chat, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, so on and so forth.  It is today’s culture that is embedding itself into our children’s mind that is making them feel like they have to go to drastic measures for attention.  By drastic measures I mean talking to men/women they don’t personally know, posting revealing pictures of themselves, putting their personal information online, saying or doing just about anything to give them the attention that they crave.

It says in Matthew 6:1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them.  for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
This is telling us that it is not OK to act selfishly, righteously, or higher than any other person.  However, that is all that we see on these social media accounts.  It’s not just selfish comments like “Rate me.”  “I’m beautiful.” or things of that nature anymore.  It is also starting to be comments made out of lust for another.

Galatians 5:16 states “But I say, walk with the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  However, we are still seeing comments as “Shout out to this most perfect girl.”  “I’m taken by the most beautiful girl in the world.”  and things of that nature.  The scary thing is that this is not just happening in people over the age of 18.  In the past 24 hours, I have seen these comments made on Instagram by an Elementary school student.  ELEMENTARY aged student.

Parents of this child; WHERE ARE YOU?  What in your right mind made you think that it was OK to let your ELEMENTARY aged child create a social media account where he has access to endless pages of pornography, predators, hackers and other things that could completely ruin his future?

I would like to think that Terri, Marc, Shane and I are all on the same page when it comes to disciplining M&M – better yet, I KNOW we are on the same page.  I’ve heard comments come from people that I’ve talked to that amount to “You just need to let them make those mistakes.  You don’t need to guide their every move.”  While, no we don’t need to oversee everything they do, they have to earn that trust.  However, we are struggling with the trust issue due to issues with….. social media!  Go figure!  However, this isn’t the only issue.  It’s the staying up late to be on this website talking to boys/men that she doesn’t know, it’s the poor performance she has been exhibiting in school because she’s tired, it’s the selfish attitude that shows through when she doesn’t get her way, it’s the disrespect that she shows her father (and probably her mother), and it’s the spider web of lies and deceit that she has now weaved but caught herself in.

So, yes.  We are hard on both of the kids.  But it is showing them how to become responsible and functional adults when it comes their time to contribute to society.  The workforce won’t hire someone with a poor attitude.  They won’t hire someone who’s constantly posting inappropriate or questionable things on their social media.  They will not be able to function in society if they do not have firm hands guiding them the way they are supposed to go.

We try to bring the kids up in faith and try to find Biblical backing in all that we do.  And my motivation for this upcoming week is going to be Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

This next week is going to be painful.  Not only for us as parents but also for us as guidance counselors.  We will be starting to take steps to ensure that the kids’ know the danger of the social media world.  By dangers, I’m not just talking about the occasional bullying or the rude comments back and forth; I’m talking about the child abductions, the sex trafficking, the rapes and the murders.

Parents, please please please make your children (especially your young ladies) aware of the dangers of putting their information, their picture, etc online.  If you need advice or have advice (as I’m going to be going through this over the course of the next few weeks with my little lady) please leave it in the comments to help other parents.

#MotivationMonday

The Answer To My Selfish Prayers.

Have you ever sat back and thought about all the people you come in contact with during the course of a day?  I got to thinking about that this morning while I was painting our kitchen and I realized just how many people I have the chance to get to interact with.

In the mornings, I see Shane as well as the kids.  Then I spend the morning in between running errands, doing house work, working on homework, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, and so on and so forth.  I see the mailman, the cable guy who stops across the street, the employees of the neighboring business at shift change.  I then get ready for work and receive calls from anyone from the insurance company, my college, my bank or telemarketers.  Then, I head to work.  I cross paths with a minimum of 20 vehicles on my route there.  When I get to work, I sit behind a desk answering the phone, interacting with customers and visiting with co-workers.  Then, after work – depending on the evening – I return home immediately, or end up in a Church small group with other couples.  On a good day, I would say I have the opportunity to interact with roughly 200-300 people.  Out of those 300 people, I would say that maybe a handful are ‘friends’, one is an ‘intimate’ relationship (my husband), one or two are a ‘confidant’ relationship, and the rest are scattered between acquaintances or just simply being aware that they are there.

But while thinking about all of the people that I have the physical opportunity to interact with, I left out one ‘intimate’ relationship that I need to have; the one with God.  Yesterday during church, we finished up Pastor’s “Awaken Love” sermon series by visiting “Deepening Intimacy” between husband and wife as well as my/our relationship with God.

When I saw the title of the sermon, I figured that it was going to be a sermon about saving yourself for marriage; how sex was a gift from God.  In my mind intimacy = sex, sexual relations, etc.  That is what society has begun to plant into our brains and that is what we have become so accustomed to: Intimacy = Sex. WRONG.  

In starting out the sermon, Pastor pointed out Song of Solomon 4:10 – 5:1. (or Song of Songs depending on the version of your Bible)  During these verses, we see that God’s plan for intimacy in marriage is.  We see Solomon commenting on his bride’s smells, her lips, her clothes, her virginity (her garden), and the list goes on and on.  We can look at this list and safely assume that while Solomon may have loved his wife, he also LUSTED after her in certain areas.

It is the same in today’s society.  We LUST after perfect skin, straight and white teeth, long, thick, flowing hair, the perfect body, the scent of someone.  Those attributes are not something that we should be basing our “life partner” choices off of.  I will be the first to admit that I am a very shallow human being.  I had to be physically attracted to someone before I considered dating them.  When I first saw Shane standing on the opposite side of the office door, I found him very attractive.  His stance, his smile, his eyes.  But it was what I was looking for on the inside that made me fall head over heels in love with him.

Our relationship with God is much like that of our relationship with people here on Earth.  There are different levels:

On the bottom, we see the awareness area.  We are aware that he is there, but we don’t acknowledge him in prayer, in conversation, or even in church.  The next step up is that He would be an acquaintance, we know who he is but we rarely interact.  Chances are, we only interact when we need something or when we are struggling.  In the middle, we are now at the friend level.  We rely on Him to listen to us and we sometimes listen to him.  We do a little bit more talking but it’s only during the bad or good times; never both.  Once again, on our terms.  One more step up, we hit the confidant level.  We turn to him more, pray to him more, and try to listen for a response.  While there is more communication, we are still bordering the selfish side of things.  Finally, we are at the top; the intimate level.  We are completely involved in active prayer, active listening, active worshiping, and we are totally committed to Him.

When Shane and I met, I would have said my relationship was at the friend level at best.  I had lost “faith” in what He had in store for me.  I was mad that he wasn’t answering my prayers when I wanted him to.  I was close to giving up because it didn’t make sense “Why me.”  As I was sitting at work one day, I threw up one last prayer of desperation.  To this day, I couldn’t tell you exactly what I said but it was something along the lines of: “Alright God, why you chose me to lead down into this pit, I won’t understand.  But if you have ANYTHING even close to an answer to my prayers, just let me know.  I’m giving up.  I’m tired of fighting.”  Within seconds, literally seconds, I heard Shane knocking on the door.  It was then that I was looking at my husband and didn’t even realize it.

After then, I realized I needed to repair my relationship with God.  I had reached that selfish part where I felt it was all about me and what I wanted – what I felt I needed.  I started praying more, started attending church as often as I could.  It was only then that I started to see myself coming out of this pit I was in.  I became happier with myself, I became slightly happier with my life.  As soon as Shane and I started dating and attending church together, my relationship with God took off.

Now, I would consider my relationship to be in the confidant if not slightly into the intimate level.  I’ve been able to pray heartfelt prayers (to the point of tears because I’m praying so hard), I’ve been able to feel Him working in my life, I’ve been able to hear Him talking back to me, I’ve been able to receive blessings from him (celebrating in communion, being joined to my husband, finding a church family who has accepted us), and I’ve been able to use our church sermons to guide me in my every day life.

Besides these levels of intimacy with God, I was able to bring home a little bit more from the service yesterday:  Intimacy between husband and wife is NOT a selfishness vs selflessness situation.  In order to have any form of intimacy in your marriage, it MUST be selfless.  We have to be attuned to one another so that we are able to find out what makes the other “tick” and offer our services to them; words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving/receiving, acts of service or by physical touch.  Same with our relationship with God, it needs to be selfless.

I feel that I know Shane pretty much inside and out, but I still need to become attuned to him so that I can serve him better as his wife, that I can make him happy on more than one or two levels, that I can cater to his needs and show him how much I really do love him and care for him.  It’s not something that is going to come overnight, but practice makes perfect, right?

Down On A Bended Knee.

Right after the proposal :)
Right after the proposal 🙂

So, after looking over my blog site last evening, I noticed that I never shared the actual engagement story!  SO! Today, is the day that I will share that moment with you.

Shane is a part of the National Guard here in town and once a year, they hold a formal event.  This even is called St. Barbra’s.  It is the one evening a year that gathers all of the members of the guards into one area, all the wives/fiances/girlfriends/significant others get dressed up in formal gowns and we partake in a wonderful meal, long winded speeches, and adult beverages.

Shane invited me to St. Barbra’s not long after we began dating.  I had heard about it but never went.  I loved the idea of standing next to my soldier in a floor length gown learning more about the history of the National Guard while connecting with other military spouses.  I sat and planned my outfit down to every last bobby pin in my head.  It seemed as if time slowed down once the decisions were made.

In September, Shane had asked my dad for permission to marry me.  I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when.  We had talked about on my birthday, but the Guards messed that plan up by scheduling drill up in Camp Ripley for that weekend.  There were other time-frames that were possibilities but were pushing it close to our fall wedding that we were hoping for.  Shane we planning something but I wasn’t sure what.

In November, we purchased our rings since we found AMAZING deals on them.  However, it was pure torture knowing that we had the rings but we weren’t allowed to wear them.  We would have “teaser” moments where we would look at them or put them on for a brief moment.  He would smile at me and say “Soon you will be wearing this.”

Time passed and now we are in January.  The day of the ball.  I got my hair done, I slipped into my fitted gown and put on my shoes.  I was getting nervous because I had a feeling that the proposal was coming that day.  I told Shane I was getting nervous and all he would say is “Why?” and flash that sly grin.  We started heading towards Redwood Falls – where the ball was being held.  We had casual conversation on the way up and as we got closer, we started reminiscing about our first date.  That particular date was in Ramsey Park in Redwood.  We went to the petting zoo and enjoyed our homemade sandwiches, hiked the waterfall and stuck our feet in the water.  He parked in a parking lot area and we got out (in a snow bank…in 4 inch heals HAHA!) and walked across the bridge leading to where we had our meal.  He was pointing out the bench we sat on, the amazing fishing spot we should try, and other places that had significance to us.  He leaned in for a hug and the poor guy was shaking like a leaf.  I made mention of it and he said “Yup.  I am.”  He then slowly got down on one knee right there on the bridge with our first date scene in the back and said “Elizabeth Ann.  This is the day that you’ve been dreaming of.   Will you marry me?”  Of course the tears started and all I could do right then was wipe tears and nod with a slight “uh huh”.   He slid the ring on my finger and wrapped me in the biggest hug ever.

I then let the words “I hate you so much right now!” Fall out of my mouth…. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  That’s the first thing I say after the love of my life just got down on one knee?!  I don’t really hate him, I just hated that I was so girly to start crying.  Everything that I have ever dreamed of in a proposal was done in that very moment:  a place that was significant to us, I (we) were dressed nicely, he used my FULL name, he got down on one knee and he spoke from his heart.  There was one thing missing, my family.  I wanted my family to be around the area since Shane has been welcomed into the family already.  I wanted them to be a part of that moment and be there to celebrate with us.  It was like Shane knew what I was thinking because he broke the hug, turned around and said “You know how you wanted your family here?….” *points off in the general direction of them*  I see them!  My mom hid behind a log to get pictures, my sister was in-between the dumpsters and my brother-in-law and my dad stayed in the vehicle because proposals just aren’t their thing; and that was ok.  He NAILED it.  He hit every point!

I now get to pledge my life to him in front of God and our families this weekend.  AHHH!!!  Time has gone by so fast but we are ready to begin a new journey with each other, the kids, our families and our faith!

Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds.

The man who has helped heal me.
The man who has helped heal me.

One thing that I have come to realize this past week or two is that I am not very good at being selfless – I am, without a doubt, one of the most selfish people I know.  (Well, maybe second… but it’s a close one.)

I’ve never viewed myself as co-dependent.  I’ve always felt I am independent because I like my space and I like to do things myself.  However, once again, I’ve proven otherwise to myself.

This last week, I’ve personally dealt with more emotions than I ever have.  I had moments where I was super happy and in the best mood ever and in a matter of a few minutes I was down and out and couldn’t snap myself out of it.  See, it all starts with my brain seeing or thinking something that may or may not be there and all of a sudden, things are blown way out of hand.

This past week, I experienced a borderline break down which I never want to experience again.  I was at work just doing my daily work grind, when something just didn’t feel right.  I had gotten a SnapChat from Shane and that’s about all it took to fuel the fire.  Now, before you jump to conclusions – there was nothing wrong with the SnapChat – not one thing.  My brain saw something that wasn’t there.  In a matter of 15 minutes, I had completed a task that should have taken at least an hour and a half.  I quickly gathered my things and told my co-worker I was heading out to the house next door to do inventory count – which I was, but I also had other intentions.

See, the place I work is a family owned and operated so they are on high security; cameras everywhere, microphones everywhere… there is no privacy.  The only place where we can go to get away from all of the security devices is the house which they own next door.  The house is used to store all of our pop overflow, cup overflow, water overflow, etc.

As soon as I walked into the door, I couldn’t hold it back anymore.  My mind had gotten too far from me and I broke down into tears and collapsed onto the closest “chair” I could find – 3 BiBs stacked on top of one another.  My face hit the palm of my hands and I was down for the count.  I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried.  It got so out of hand that I worried myself physically sick – I’ve never been so upset or worried in my life. I felt like something was being hid in our relationship.  Something was off and I didn’t like it.  Shane has NEVER given me reason to doubt him or lose trust in him.  He’s been wonderful.  But whatever got into me within that 15 minutes, wasn’t letting go and all I could think about is that I didn’t want to lose the best thing to ever happen to me.  Slowly, it moved on from what my brain ‘saw’ to being so pissed at myself that I was being selfish.  Shane is a grown man and owes me no explanation or a step by step guide to his entire day; I know that he can make responsible decisions.  All I’ve wanted in this relationship was to leave the past in the past.  I wanted to be that amazing girlfriend who didn’t have situations like that come up, I wanted to be the girlfriend who has never ending trust in her boyfriend and the girlfriend who is understanding about everything and anything with no judgement.  I had let myself down.  I had let Shane down.  I set my expectations of myself too high, therefore, I failed to reach them.  I felt that what I wanted was still so far out of my reach that all I could do is grasp and grasp and still come up empty handed.  I felt so worthless, so low, and so lost.

I’ve been in too many relationships and have had too many “interests” where I’ve been lied to about petty stuff – friends that were girls, where people were, what they were doing, etc.,  when in the end, it turned out to be not so petty.  It ended up ruining my trust for some and for others, it made me feel like I wasn’t worth anything or that I was never going to be worth anything.  Those feelings were all rushing back and I didn’t know how to handle them.  The best I could do was remove myself from the public eye and cope with it how I could…alone – or so I thought.

Shane knew something wasn’t right and immediately asked me about it.  I told him exactly how I felt that that moment in time: I felt like a terrible girlfriend.  Because my brain thought too far into something, my walls that him and I spent so much time trying to take down immediately went back up.  Being the understanding (THANK GOD) person he is, he talked me through the worst of it, he made me feel like, once again, I was worth something to someone.  He sent me pictures of us that he had stored on his phone that brought back every positive feeling and emotion that I had ever felt.  I went from fears and tears to smiles and feelings worthwhile.

I made the trip to Pipestone that night because there was no way that I was going to go through all of those feelings and not show up to try and personally make things right.  We needed to address the issue face to face.  Every time I make the trip from Brookings, I get butterflies in my stomach and my palms get sweaty; that night was no different, it was actually worse.  I stopped at a gas station in Flandreu because I thought I was going to be sick, again.  I pulled into the garage and was gathering my things to go inside when I opened the door and there he stood.  He gave me a weak smile and gave me one of his bear hugs – the kind that makes you just feel so secure and safe.  We stood in silence for a moment and then he said the words that put a knife right through my heart: “You scared me… I thought I was losing you…”

I couldn’t stop the sting in my eyes.  The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him or make him feel like he was losing me.  If anything, I felt like I should have lost him – he didn’t have to deal with that.  Hurting him wasn’t my intention.  Honestly, I’m not even sure what my intentions were.  To show myself that I suck as a girlfriend?  To snap me back to reality and show me that you need to love selflessly not selfishly?

Luckily, just being there helped both of us.  We were able to sit down at the kitchen table and lay everything out.  I can’t thank God enough for how understanding he was about it all.  He made me feel like I didn’t do anything wrong even though I know I did.

So over the last few days, I’ve done some research to try and re-route my brain. I found this other blog that more or less showed me how to love selflessly:

  • Love is a firm decision – Feelings are too fickle they come and go on a whim.  Selfless love is a decision.  It is a firm commitment.  One that you follow-through on even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Love is sacrificial – You must give of yourself sacrificially well beyond what is comfortable if you want love to endure.  Love should not be entered into lightly.  If you aren’t prepared to make sacrifices in what you want for love’s sake, then don’t get into a serious relationship in the first place.
  • Love endures much – Life is not always easy.  It has its unexpected complications.  That’s why marriage vows include, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health…”  Selfess love is long-suffering.  It endures the hard times and presses on to enjoy brighter days beyond.
  • Love is demanding –  Real love requires a lot from you.  It is going to ask that you put some of your desires aside.  It is going to ask you to become a better person.  It is going to ask you to give and compromise at times when you don’t want to.
  • Love reigns – Love demands that it comes first in your life.  It won’t always be easy or uncomplicated.  There will definitely be times that you won’t feel like loving.  Just remember, “The life and love we create is the life and love we live.”

(See more at: http://mysuperchargedlife.com/blog/how-to-love-selflessly/#sthash.CExA5J5x.dpuf)

We often get so wrapped up in what WE want and what WE feel that we don’t realize that “WE” are taking the other persons feelings and desires for granted and making them feel like they are worth less in the relationship than WE are.  My challenge for you this week is try to go this whole week loving SELFLESSLY instead of SELFISHLY.  Ready.  Set.  Go.