Thursday, December 31, 2020

RESET 2021

Well. It has been quite a hot minute since I last blogged. As a matter of fact, the last entry was Grace's birth story from May 2019 and that chunky little bundle of blessing is now almost 20 months old and fiercely in the middle of toddlerhood. 

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year for anyone. For some, it has been more than that. 

In March, Gabe and I both had to learn how to do virtual school without warning. I had to learn to teach and he had to learn. It was an interesting time for sure. 

In April, my mother in law had what was supposed to be a fairly routine surgery which came with some complications and landed her in ICU for a bit. When she came home, my husband went over there daily for most of the day to help care for her while I tried to be virtual teacher and stay at home mom making sure my 9 year old had what he needed for his virtual school and my just under one year old daughter didn't hurt herself. It was an interesting and exhausting week for both of us. 

In May, Grace turned one. We had a "Zoom party" and she did NOT smash her cake. It was weird. I'm thinking we need a redo when she turns 2. Knowing her, she will not disappoint. 

On May 17th, my husband's sister passed away from colon cancer. This was an exceptionally difficult time for him and his brothers. There was some reconciliation that occured between a brother and father though right before she passed as if that's what she was holding onto. Once her family seemed complete, she finally let go. We celebrated her life via Zoom with close family members here at the house and several family and friends joining from different states. While it was hard not to be able to gather all together, we are grateful for modern technology that allowed us to do at least that. 

In June we visited my grandmother in Alabama and enjoyed some family adventures while we were there. It was nice to get away for a bit and just enjoy the outdoors and God's amazing creation. 

In July, I unexpectedly accepted a teaching job much closer to home and at the school of my dreams. My partner is someone I worked with previously and we make a great 8th grade ELA team. We are a one to one iPad school which has made teaching brick and mortar and virtual learners simultaneously 10 times easier. Not EASY by any means...just easiER.

In August, cue the car trouble. My husband's Pilot decided it wanted an overhaul and he spent weeks replacing different parts and then finally completing a whole motor replacement himself. Around the same time his car quit, his father went into the hospital. He never came home. He is now at a nursing facility and suffice it to say that dealing with all that has taken its toll on my sweet other half mentally and emotionally. Once he got his car up and running, my car decided to go. It has been sitting in the driveway for over a month now. I'd be content with a horse and buggy at this point. 

While Covid has been on the rise throughout the country over the last several months, it has really hit close to home now. Several friends I know have had it and while most recovered or are recovering with no issue, one sweet man we knew and loved did not. He went home to the Lord on December 13th. Listen, I'm going to be real for a minute: the low death rate does not matter when you lose someone you love to this awful virus. Yes, most people recover. But some do not and if there was even a 10% chance that wearing a mask might help prevent that, why would you not? Okay, I'm done. 

This year has definitely had its share of blessings but also its grand share of heartache and I, along with probably most people, am not sad to see it go. One of the things we do as a couple/family is to have a word of the year. Sometimes we just do one word and sometimes we do a family word and I do my own personal word. 

One of the words that kept coming to mind for both of us was REST. As I thought and prayed about it, another word came to my mind as well...RESET. This is a word with a multi-faceted meaning for me. I think the human race could use a RESET in 2021 but for me personally, this is what it means:

Rest in Who God is and who He says I am
Explore my passions 
Set my mind on the here and now
Experience new things
Take time for what is most important

I'm not going to sit here and share my list of goals for 2021. I've done that before and failed miserably. I want to be realistic with myself. I want a RESET spiritually, physically, and emotionally, whatever that may look like. I could make a list of all my plans of how I'm going to make this year my year like I've done before...but truth be told, with a year like 2020 has been, plans don't really matter. I simply want to work on being the best version of myself that I can be...for myself, for my family, for my students. 

So, sort of like shutting down a computer when it's being wonky or hard resetting an iPad when it's not working right, that's what I plan to do with myself. As I close out the "windows" and "browsers" of 2020 and restart with 2021, I pray that I can RESET my heart and mind and focus on the God of my Salvation and His steadfast love. 

Here's to 2021 - let's focus on the good!

Image from Zazzle

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Our Amazing Grace

I know not everyone is interested in the nitty gritty of birth stories but I happen to find them fascinating and I've had requests to share mine. So, if birth stories aren't your thing, please close out the page now. You've been warned...

If you know me or have read my blog at all, you know that our family walked through the darkest of storms last April when we lost our Zivah Noelle at 19 weeks gestation. It was a devastating loss and I struggled with trusting God to fulfill His promise. I knew He had promised me a daughter and here I was almost halfway through my pregnancy saying goodbye before I ever got to meet her. I was heartbroken...

But His infinite faithfulness had not forgotten His promise. Sometimes the storm is necessary so we can truly appreciate the sunshine. In August we became pregnant again, with our rainbow.

I wrote a blog about that and about how she received her name so I won't rehash that. I'll just get right to it.

The last month of pregnancy for me was excruciatingly hard. I was very uncomfortable. I struggled to walk or to do much physical activity at all. Sometimes the pain brought tears to my eyes and many times I wondered if I could handle this birth we had planned. You see, my son was induced full term and I had the epidural before I felt the first real contraction. I was tethered to the bed the whole time and I was robbed of that first crucial hour of his life not to mention the first week because he ended up in NICU due to a "possible" infection. I'm still not convinced there was anything really wrong. But I digress. I knew I wanted a completely different experience this time around.

I had already chosen Celebrate Birth as my care providers when I was pregnant with Zivah and knew without a doubt I had made the right choice. So, with Grace, it was a no brainer. Everything was perfect the entire pregnancy. I didn't have nausea and I honestly felt pretty good until about the 32nd week. At my 32 week ultrasound they were concerned about her size. She was measuring 4 weeks ahead. At 36 weeks I went back to make sure her size wasn't beyond what they were comfortable with. Talk of having to deliver in the hospital was tossed around as a possibility depending on her estimated size and I knew I did not want that. After much prayer, she was found to be big but a normal size big for me and the high risk OB at Lakeland Regional didn't see any reason for me to not continue with our birth plan. Whew!

Fast forward 4 more weeks. Grace's "due date" was May 2nd. I was at work all that week. May 3rd was my final day and I fully intended to have a baby that weekend. Hahaha! Joke's on me. Saturday..I got a massage from our massage therapist at Celebrate Birth but...nothing. Sunday...I woke up with minor contractions that were coming actually closer together than I thought they should be. I could still talk through them. We were convinced we were having a Cinco de Mayo baby. But around 10am, they just stopped. I went for a walk, I did some squats, but they didn't come back except for one here or there periodically. Monday rolled around and I was just hurting. My back was killing me and it hurt sometimes to put one foot in front of the other baby.

But then...Tuesday. I woke up at 3:30am on Tuesday with a contraction. I went to the bathroom and had lost my mucus plus which I knew in my heart of hearts meant I was having a baby that day. I woke hubby up at 4:00am to let him know. The contractions continued to come and by 5:30 I think I messaged the midwife to let her know. They were intensifying and coming at a pretty good clip, every 5 or 6 minutes. I sat on the birthing ball for at least an hour breathing through each one, so grateful that the time had finally come. I took a shower for a bit that seemed to space them out some for a while but not for long.

Hubby made me some toast that I tried to eat but couldn't. The contractions were intensifying to the point that I could no longer talk through them. He stayed by my side for the most part coaxing me to eat, poor guy. Around 6:30 or so I made a bee line for the bathroom as a massive wave of nausea hit out of nowhere. I had to reassure my husband that vomiting during labor is totally normal! Some time after 7 I called the midwife (or texted, I'm not real sure) to say I was ready to come in. They were getting bad and coming every 4 minutes and I wanted to get to the birth center before moving around became too difficult. We left for the center around 7:45. I had a contraction on the way to the car and then 5 more on the 10-15 minute drive to the center.

When she checked me, I was only 5 cm dilated. She knew once my water broke that things would progress rapidly so that's what I was praying for...for HOURS. I labored on the birthing ball, in the bed, on a stool, on the toilet (that'll get things moving). All the while my husband is trying to get me to eat because he knows I need my energy. I just couldn't stomach any thing. Another wave of nausea hit again hard and fast. Ever vomit during a contraction? That's fun!

I'm not sure what time it was when I was fighting my body's urge to push so I got into the water to help me relax. It helped for a while. I actually think I got in for a bit before things got too bad. My second time in the water was spent trying not to push. My water hadn't broken yet and I was only about 6 cm. I was in the water for a while when the midwife basically said, "Listen, we're coming up on 12 hours for you here and I know you're tired. We can break your water for you or you can get up and move around." May not have said it quite like that but that was the basic gist. I didn't want them to break my water for me so I painstakingly got out of the water. I've never struggled to get to a standing position like that in all my life. My husband held me up as I struggled down the hallway still fighting the urge to push. The midwife fed me some honey for energy but I had reached that point. I couldn't do this anymore. I decided then I wanted them to break my water. I needed this labor to end, I was exhausted. On our way back to the room, I had another contraction and my water broke on its own. I was relieved but also knew things would only get harder from there.

The midwife checked me again on the bed and then I immediately got back in the water...well, as immediately as one in full on transition can get into the water. For the next hour I fought my body's urge to push as I wasn't fully dilated. My midwife kept telling me small pushes and deep breaths through them but holy contractions batman! It was dang near impossible and my body was honestly just tired of fighting. Hubby kept cool compresses on my head and stayed by my side. Around 4:30,  she checked and baby was right there so she gave me the green light to push as I wanted. Praise Jesus! I pushed hard and loud the first few pushes before remembering about breathing baby out. From then on I focused my breaths and in less than 15 minutes, Grace was out of the water and in my arms.

She was perfection. All 10 pounds 3 ounces of her. Every little roll. I was in love. Natural childbirth is other worldly. You think you're insane for even attempting such a feat when you're in the middle of contractions during transition wondering why in the world you chose this for yourself. But I wouldn't change a thing...about her birth or her. It still feels surreal to say that we have a daughter but I am praising the One who keeps His promises. Born on May 7th which is perfect...7 is a number of completion and she has completed our little family. We are all smitten, big brother included.

She is our rainbow after the storm. She is our amazing Grace.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

One Year & A Manifesto

One Year.

A year of wishing things had turned out different.

A year of navigating the emotions of grief.

A year of milestones that were never met.

A year of wishing our baby girl was with us.

It's been a year.

Zivah Noelle came into this world sleeping on April 14, 2018 and while we never got to make the memories with her that we had hoped for, she left a mark on us that will never be forgotten.

It's been a year. And here we are a year later expecting her little sister, Grace Reign, our rainbow babe, in the next couple of weeks. It's been a whirlwind of emotions this year - excitement, then heartache and grief, followed by cautious excitement and anticipation. Now we are full of joy as we await sweet Grace.

Today is Zivah's "birthday" even though her due date wasn't until September. But it is the day she left my womb. We planned to do something small to commemorate this day but it's hard to choose what to do when you're 9 months pregnant and everything hurts.

We went to church and for some reason, Gabe has been choosing to sit with us in church rather than go to Kids Fuel. He says it's because we have more music. And today, the music really moved him. That sweet boy cried through two songs. I walked out with him after the last song so I could figure out what was wrong with him, thinking maybe he was emotional about his sister's birthday. His response? "The songs were just really good." I asked him how they made him feel - happy or sad - and he said they made him feel happy. I believe our child was moved by the insane love of God through song. That sweet moment was enough to do this mama in. It was a divine miracle that a box of tissues was available on our row. Between myself and my sweet boy, we went through about 1/4 of the box.

Shortly after church we went to lunch to eat and to visit our favorite waitress. Hubby and I had been discussing writing out our family "manifesto" of sorts, so we could have in writing a reminder of what we want our family to stand for. As we prepare to welcome another human into this crazy world and our firstborn inches ever so closer to pre-teen status, we have felt the need to do this. So as we waited on our food, we took some notes. It was Gabe's idea to use our last name as the letters for each value we stand for. And he even came up with the words for E and O. I love that he had a part in the creation of this but I also love that it's something we did on Zivah's birthday...the perfect way to honor her is by really figuring out what we want our family to be.

After we came home, I took to the computer to create our manifesto on paper and write a blurb about each value and why it's important. We plan to find a frame and hang it up in the near future but until then, I have posted it below. We do none of this perfectly but we wrote each item as if we do these things now. We might not right now... but we will. Every family is a work in progress and we are absolutely no exception. Only now, we have a written code of sorts to go by and to remind ourselves what's most important.

So...happy birthday, our angel Zivah. We hope the four of us will make you proud.

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

What's in a Name?

I've had this post on my mind for quite some time but always felt like I never had time to write. Funny how you have a ton of time when your eyes aren't glued to a screen (i.e. phone, TV, etc.). I started a 21 day social media (mostly Facebook) fast. Our church challenged all of us to fast something for 21 days and fill that time we normally spend doing said thing with leaning in closer to the Lord. I am going to do just that and more. My screen time minutes came up today as they do every Sunday and for the first time I looked at the average amount spent on my phone scrolling through Facebook or Insta, playing games (deleted those too), adding items to my baby registry (that's allowed though right?), etc. and the average time was staggering. I don't feel the need to divulge that information here as it is quite embarrassing actually. But I looked at those numbers and thought, "Wow! I can do so much with that time each day...doing things that are vastly more important!" So I deleted the Facebook app (for now) and deleted the games I was playing and am really looking forward to leaning into the Lord in the next 3 weeks and seeing what He has in store.

All that said, that's not the point of this blog. I just went on a tangent to say that I now have time to blog since my time isn't taken up with other things.

You know by now if you read this blog or follow me on social media that we are pregnant with our rainbow baby. Naming children has always been a big deal to us. We looked carefully at the meaning of our son's name before attaching it to him. Gabriel means "God is my strength" and Kayden means "fighter." We wanted him to always draw his strength from the Lord and fight for what's right. Our prayer is that we can continue to raise him up in that way. We've always been fond of Hebrew names so when we became pregnant with our second and knew we were having a girl, we knew Zivah would be her first name. It means "radiant" or "light of God." It was tougher to choose a middle name we both liked this time but we chose Noelle which means "Christmas." She was conceived during the Christmas season and was our great gift last year when we found out we were pregnant only 4 days after Christmas. Her light, however, was too bright for this world and God called her home before we got a chance to make memories with her.

We knew when we got pregnant again that this child's name had to have a super special meaning since he/she was our rainbow baby. Many of you know we are having a girl and her name is Grace Reign. What most of you don't know is the origin behind her name. Grace was never on my radar as a first name. I liked it for a middle name but I just never thought I would name her Grace. That is until my husband had a very special dream 2 days after we found out I was pregnant. In his dream someone (we are assuming the Lord's voice) told him to go get Kayla and Grace. He agreed but asked, "Who is Grace?" The voice replied, "It's what Zivah is calling her." We knew then that if we were having a girl, that would be her name. And let me tell you, the word Grace has shown up often in our lives in various places since then.

The middle name was trickier and we immediately started brainstorming a middle name that would go with Grace (before we even knew it was a girl). We announced our pregnancy six weeks in and the day after our announcement is when her middle name was also revealed to us. A sweet friend approached us at church the following day and told us that the Lord kept giving her the name Rain. Immediately my defenses went up. "I am not naming my child after a form of precipitation." No offense to anyone with the name just wasn't for me. But then she continued. Rain is part of RAINbow and you need rain for things to grow but there's the other type of rain...Reign. As in He REIGNS. And I fell in love. When I said the name out loud, Grace Reign, we both knew instantly that it would be her name...before we were even certain it was a girl. We stopped searching for middle names after that. And in November, we found out we were having another girl, Zivah's little sister, whom she named. I can't wait to tell our girl the story of her name and how special it is to special she is. She is our rainbow after the storm. 

We all are waiting anxiously for May to get here so we can meet our Baby Grace, as Gabe calls her. She is already so incredibly loved. Thank you to those that walked through our grief with us in 2018. We can't wait to walk through the triumph in 2019 with you as well. 


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Saturday, January 5, 2019

A New Year - a New Word

Today has been productive. It's only the 5th of January and our word for the year is in full swing. 

Hubby and I started a few years ago choosing a word for our family. Sometimes my personal word is the same. Sometimes it is different. Last year, our family word was ADVENTURE. And we definitely had a 2018 of adventure...not the adventure we were anticipating but it was certainly uncharted territory for the both of us. Grief is like that. Navigating the rough waters of that grief was an adventure to say the least. 

This year, together, we have chosen the word SIMPLIFY. This holiday season we looked around at all the stuff and decided it was time to let it go (cue Frozen music here). We have been slowly doing just that over the last week and a half. Three loads have been taken to Salvation Army, several bags of garbage have been thrown out, and there is even a lovely pile by the street as a I write. 

Today we put away the last of our Christmas stuff (sans outside lights), our beloved village. As we reorganized and revamped the storage in the garage, we also went through a few things and threw them out. I've chosen a few things here and there to go through each day and it makes it much more attainable. We've rearranged certain spaces to simplify the look and make it more usable. It feels so wonderful to get rid of the excess. We aren't just choosing this word in our house, but we want to choose it in our lives as well. Simplicity is so attractive to me right now. I don't want the complications of busy schedules or huge to do lists or laundry lists of wants. I just want to live simply and happily. We didn't make lists of goals to accomplish this year. Our word is our goal, whatever that may look like throughout the year. 

I do realize that we must be mindful not to confuse simplicity with complacency or comfort because that is certainly not what the Lord has called us to. He has called us to live boldly and with abandon for Him. I believe when we simplify our lives in the ways we have discussed, it will free us up to live in the way the Lord calls us. 

Initially, I wasn't sure I wanted my own word this year. But I actually took a little quiz on about "Your Word of the Year." At first I was just doing it for fun but then it gave me my word and I loved it. I felt a sweet desire to do just that. My word this year for myself is DELIGHT. I want to delight in the Lord and all He is and has to offer our family this year. I want to delight in my family and our time together. I want to delight in my children. Adding a new addition in May is going to be delightful for sure and I cannot wait to hold my sweet Grace Reign and breathe her in and love the stuffing out of her. I want to delight in the simple things of life and not get so wrapped up in things I cannot change. I'm done wasting precious energy letting simple frustrations rob my joy. I want to delight in life itself and delight in the simple peace that comes from knowing my Savior. 

Today has been a no screen day for our munchkin and a limited screen day for me. We put away the Christmas village, I caught up on laundry, did the dishes, finished all the reading and assessments for my online class, read a few chapters in my new book, spent time in bible study, started pot roast in the instant pot, and am now writing - something I need to do regularly and haven't been. The hubby has been next door helping build a shed while the little man has been over there playing outside with his cousins. I can hear the laughter and delighted squeals over the fence and it makes my momma heart happy. We want him to enjoy the idea of simplicity too. We've come up with a system for our family responsibilities each week that now will coincide with his earned screen time minutes. I am so looking forward to using this starting tomorrow. Perhaps I'll share more about that in another blog after we've had a few weeks under our belts. 

Thanks for reading. I'd love to know what your word is and why you chose it so leave a comment and let me know. 

Blessings to you for a delightfully simple 2019! :)

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Promise of a Rainbow

It's been a little over 6 months since I wrote the hardest blog I've ever had to pen.

Six months of wondering. Six months of wishing. Six months of triggers I never imagined I'd deal with. 

How many pregnancies have you had? And then the follow-up question...How many children do you have? I have two if you must know...two whole children. Only, one isn't in my arms like she should be. One is waiting on her mama and daddy to join her. 

I should be able to buy the cute Thanksgiving outfit I found. But I can't. 

The triggers occur without warning. Sometimes I can breathe through them and get by with just a tear or two escaping like I did Saturday as I gazed longingly at the "Mommy's Little Turkey" outfit I should be able to put on my little girl at Thanksgiving. Sometimes they come fast and hard and almost choke the life out of me like the questionnaire a few weeks ago that asked me those dreaded how many pregnancies and how many living children questions. Those hurt. And I sat in my empty classroom sobbing as I answered them. 

Even through the pain and the emotional roller coast that grief has been, I always knew that God had given us a promise and that promise would come in His timing. 

On August 19th, my 31st birthday, just over 4 months after we said goodbye to our sweet Zivah, two faint lines appeared on another pregnancy test. Joy should have consumed me, right? Wrong. I was terrified. I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted this. So why was I so consumed with worry and fear? Granted some of that fear was caused by some physical issues that corrected themselves after the first week but I took about five home pregnancy tests and two blood tests to check my hCg levels. After about a week, I calmed down and the Lord gave me a sweet peace but it wasn't until I saw our little rainbow's heart beating on the sonogram screen at 8 weeks that I truly felt myself breathe again. 

This pregnancy is so different. I am cherishing every moment because, know. 
I've been utterly exhausted this go around and am silently hoping that isn't a sign of things to come (insert smiley emoji here). Actually, the truth is, I will take every late night feeding, every inconsolable cry, every dirty diaper with the upmost gratitude because I know what it's like to not have it when you're supposed to. I should be rocking our almost 2 month old right now but instead I'm writing about her and her little sister or brother. 

I know God has an incredible plan for this child and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. I'm so grateful for His grace and His peace. It is that peace that has gotten us through. 

Thank you all for being there for us...for praying for us and continuing to pray for us. This journey has not been easy but I can honestly say now that I am grateful for it because I would not be who I am now if it had not been for the tragedy that occurred in our lives on April 11th. 

I can't wait to introduce our sweet rainbow to the world in May. In our lives, April showers are bringing May flowers...and rainbows. :)

 Mom bought a cake to celebrate our rainbow. 

One of our announcement pics. We announced publicly on Zivah's original due date.
One of my sweet friends made our shirts.

Rainbow's first picture

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Friday, July 13, 2018


The more I talk to and observe married couples and families, the more convinced I am that the enemy is running rampant, doing whatever he can to destroy those relationships through financial disagreements, medical diagnoses, lack of community, or insert issue here. And I am having none of it. It makes me downright angry. My husband, J, and I have had so many conversations about marriage over the last 10 years. We don't consider ourselves marriage experts by any stretch of the imagination but we have been happily married for 10.5 years and have been through the valley this year and come out closer than ever, so we feel that it gives us a tiny bit of experience and a small right to talk about it. 

We've been told by many people in our lives that we are not the norm - our relationship is different than a good majority of the population. In the last 10 years, I remember one fight. In our first year of marriage. That's not to say that there haven't been disagreements but I couldn't tell you what any of those were about because they blow over quickly and are forgotten. 

In our first year of marriage, we got into it about something. What, I don't even remember. It was the first time we had a real taste of how we both handled conflict. I'm fight. He's flight. He would rather remove himself from the situation so he doesn't spew things out of his mouth in anger that he can't take back and I would rather hash it out right then and there and get it over with. So during this particular event, he left. He got in his truck and he left. And I was left fuming. I sat, fidgeting. I paced the floor. I don't remember if I tried calling him or texting him while he was gone but that's beside the point. I made the decision (without thinking of the repercussions) to not be home when he came back. If he could leave, I could too. That will teach him, I thought. Oh, sweet, innocent, stupid 20 year old me.  I called a friend who still lived on campus (because I was a baby when I got married and was still in college) and picked her up for some coffee. We headed to Starbucks and hung out for a while. Something kept telling me that leaving was probably not the best solution (that Holy Spirit can really question your decisions) and I finally decided we needed to go. 

That's when God's holy sense of humor comes into play. I can look back and laugh now but at the moment, I remember wanting to punch something. We got in my car and...nothing. It wouldn't turn over. My battery was dead. Right there in the Starbucks parking lot. We didn't have emojis back then but I would definitely use the one with hand over the face to describe that moment. Naturally, I had to call my husband to come rescue us. I don't remember if my friend got another ride back or if she rode with us. My husband got there, put his battery in my car I think to get it started and then took it out and put it back in his. We drove to the nearest auto shop to get a new battery. I can't even recall how things were solved but I know apologies were most likely made and a discussion was surely had about how we handle those situations differently and what we needed from each other during those times. He needs to be left alone (good, just don't ever leave again) and I need the opportunity to talk about it. So the compromise is we talk about it after he's had some time to cool off and can hold a conversation calmly. The good news is we haven't had to employ those except for a handful of times in the last 10 years. 

He asked me last night if I could give only one piece of advice for having a healthy marriage/relationship, what would it be? 
JUST ONE? Dear people, if you know me at all, you know that I am a lover of words and I will use many of them to explain just about anything so no, my sweets, I cannot give just one piece of advice. I can maybe narrow it down to my top 5. These are not heavily researched or surveyed. These are my own, our own - what's worked for us. This is what helps us be able to wake up and smile in the morning ten years later because we get to do this life together. This is what helps us disagree whole-heartedly with others who have been married longer who say marriage ruined their life. This is what helps us say with absolutely certainty "until death do us part." 

1. Jesus - I know that's so cliche. But I would be remiss not to give Him credit for this marriage and this life. As we have grown closer to the Lord, we have grown closer to each other. You can't have one growing closer and one stepping away because inevitably, you as a couple will grow apart. As scripture says that "the two shall become one," we operate together as a team in that oneness. We very specifically asked for the verses in Ephesians to be read aloud at our wedding. The bible has some very specific things to say about how wives and husbands are to love each other. Now there are certainly men who take the submission scripture to hold over their wives' heads demanding respect and obedience. That is not what this scripture tells us. It tell us that husbands are to love their wives JUST AS Christ loved the church. That means you need to be a spiritual leader, husbands. You lead your wife as Christ leads you. You do not go rogue and try to lead on your own. That will spell disaster and no, you will not earn the respect you need from your wife. Wives, it can be difficult to submit, especially if you have an issue with control. All humans, no matter who you are, want their own way. It's just how we are. We are naturally selfish beings. But when you can put aside what you want and follow your husband knowing that he will have to give an account for where he leads your family, things will work out. If he makes a decision without consulting you, I understand that can be upsetting. But if his decision doesn't cause financial suffering or isn't going to make much difference in the grand scheme of things in the next few months, kindly get over it. In any case - Christ first, always. 

2. Expectations - We have seen this so many times. Unmet expectations are the number one cause for disappointment and discontentment in my opinion. I'm pretty sure I made it somewhat clear to J that I was not going to be his mother. If I didn't want to cook and he wanted to eat, he could cook it himself. He has two hands and can do his own laundry. I'm not the best housewife so if it's dirty to you, clean it. That sounds harsh just typing it but it's the basic truth. The thing is, my husband has the mindset that if he doesn't feel like doing it, he's not going to expect me to do it either. Praise the Jesus for that. Let me say that louder for the men in the back -  IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO IT, DON'T EXPECT YOUR WIFE TO DO IT! Now the same holds true for women. If you don't want to do it, don't expect your man to either. Case in point: he doesn't like doing laundry and if he doesn't feel like doing his own laundry, he is not going to expect me to do his laundry either. And yes, the man does his own laundry. Praise the detergent gods! I've done it on occasion just to show I love him but he's steadily done his own for 10.5 years. All the praise hands!

The other area I see this issue is in the area of physical expectations. News flash: the man or woman you married will most likely not look the same in ten or twenty years and if they do, they might need to share their secret with the rest of the world. Guys, when your wife has children, things migrate and shift and move. It is not fair but it is life. Her body will not look the same as it did on your wedding night. Get over it. She grew humans inside of her! What have you done? Burped the alphabet? I'm sure there are many of you that have since stuffed some of your six-pack into a cooler so calm yourselves. The only expectations I tried to go into marriage with was that he would love me fiercely and would fight for us if need be. Those expectations have been met every day for 10.5 years. 

3. Humility - Selfishness has no room in a marriage (or any relationship for that matter). It will eat away at that relationship from the inside out and leave devastation in its wake. I've heard it said that marriage should be 50/50 or a give and take. Um, no. I rebuke that philosophy. Marriage is 100/ each giving your all. And it's a give/give. My husband and I are constantly thinking of what will make the other one happy and how we can show love. I'll be honest...he's so much better at that than I am. With this humility comes a removing of the thought process that your way is the way it should be. This humility means that you discuss major decisions together taking each other's thoughts and feelings into consideration and reaching a decision together. Sometimes compromise is needed, friends. 

For a good portion of our marriage, he has been the stay at home parent while I worked. I never ONCE put myself above him just because I made the money. He was keeping our offspring alive so, hello. We both mutually understood the importance of what the other one did and neither job was worth more than the other. I never made him feel less than because he wasn't working outside the home (at least not that I'm aware of). 

Also...people...APOLOGIZE. Listen, you will not spontaneously combust if the words, "I'm sorry. I was wrong," come out of your blessed mouth. I promise. Sometimes my hubby teases me because I apologize for everything and then he says something about my multitudinous apologies and I apologize for apologizing, so there's that. But if you are wrong, admit it. And sometimes, we have to apologize first. It won't kill you. 

4. Communication - This is so key to a happy marriage. You have to talk. And I don't mean, "Hey how was your day?" I mean real talk. Not yelling. Not talking AT each other. But truly talking (and listening - shut your mouth and open your ears, friends). J and I regularly discuss our desires, hopes for the future, shortcomings, dreams, etc. We know we aren't perfect and we discuss ways to be better. Sometimes those conversations are hard. You have to share hard truths but they are worth it. Guys, your wife is not "one of the guys" and you can't talk to her like one. We don't operate like a guy nor do we think like one. What takes a guy 5 minutes to get over might take us 5 days (or weeks). Be patient with us. Ladies, guys operate out of a brain full of compartments and nothing is connected to the other. For us, the burned dinner is attached to the car problems which is attached to the fact we were late to work and the dog threw up. To our husbands, we are crying over burnt dinner and are certifiably crazy. Just order a pizza! Geez! 

Understand that we think and operate differently. Care about each other's opinions. Find ways to foster and cultivate each other's passions and dreams. Be an encourager and your spouse's biggest cheerleader. Learn how to communicate. You cannot attack each other verbally. And for the love, please do not argue/fight in front of your kids. That is more damaging than you might believe. Men, are you treating your wife and speaking to her the way you want your son to treat his wife or the way you want your daughter's future husband to treat her? Women, same question goes for you. Are you uplifting your husband the way you want your son's wife to? I have to ask myself if my son married someone like me, would I be okay with that. Some days that answer is YES! And other days that answer looks more like hiding in a closet crying convinced you're screwing up your child(ren) for life. It happens. But you are the first example of what a godly marriage should be and you set up what your children should expect out of marriage - and it shouldn't be bickering, name calling, constant irritation, or silence. 

5. Unity - This is a huge one. J and I are a team. We are not bad cop, good cop. Many times we are both bad cop. Or sarcastic cop. That one's fun. We display a unified front in front of the man child. He is none the wiser if one of us disagrees with how the other handled a situation. We talk about it behind closed doors so that our sweet cherub of a child has no idea that his father did not appreciate my hulk smash moment over making said child put his blessed clothes away. And most of the time all it takes to signal to the other one that we are not in agreement is a calm, "Honey." That's it. There's a certain, "Calm down you crazy lunatic" attached to the word "honey" when uttered a certain way in the midst of  a parental Armageddon moment.  We are not going to agree on every single solitary thing. That is okay. You have permission to disagree. You do not have permission to turn that disagreement into a shouting match in front of your kids (see above section on communication). 

Defend each other. Nothing is more detrimental to a woman's inner security than a man who will not defend her in front of others - namely, other family members. And ladies, defend your man (this obviously does not apply to abusive/unfaithful situations - there is no defense there). I have been in so many situations with other women where I've listened to them complain and grumble about their husbands. I've never fallen into that. I've also made sure to maintain his dignity even in his absence. This is so important. 

A few other thoughts: thank each other for what you contribute to the marriage and home. Thank whoever brings home the dough and pays the bills for working hard to keep you financially secure. Thank whoever keeps tiny humans alive during the day for doing the hard work of raising children all day every day without end. Thank each other when things are done around the house. Thanks for cleaning the house, honey. Thanks for taking out the garbage, dear. Thanks for cooking a delicious meal or taking us out for one. Gratitude and appreciation go a long way too. Learn each other's love language and then speak it. I'm still working on this one. Husbands, hold your wives when they cry and simply tell them you love them and everything will be okay. We don't always need you to fix everything and sometimes things can't be fixed. Wives, acknowledge your husband. They want to know that they have what it takes. Show them that they do (that tidbit brought you by my other half). Laugh. Don't take yourself so seriously. I think half of the issues we have could dissolve with a good dose of laughter. It is the antidote for so many things. Be silly together. Bring on the laughter.


I make no guarantee that following these tips will mean you have a kick-butt marriage and are happy happy joy joy 100% of the time. Duh. We're human. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage because we are all flawed human beings. Can I get an AMEN? But, these are five categories that we make work for us. If both individuals in a marriage can work on being humble, Jesus-loving people who communicate effectively, let go of expectations, and maintain a unified front, then that marriage (I believe) can thrive. Now, if only one individual in the marriage is willing to put in the work, then all you can do is pray and keep the hope that eventually the Lord will open his/her heart and redeem all those broken pieces. 

I could write so much more and I know all relationships are different and you may have a whole arsenal of things that have worked for you, many that you may have learned the hard way. Anyhow, thanks for reading my two-cents. I hope ten years from now, you can still kiss in front of the kids and make them say, "Ewww." That is #relationshipgoals.

Much love.

Almost two years later and he still makes the same face!

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