Jon and I met in the fall of 1995 at the young ages of 14 and 16 years old. Our church youth groups were going on a mission trip to Guatemala and had decided to prepare and train both youth teams at the same time. Very little happened during those months, we became better friends on our plane ride down to Guatemala and actually spent the last night on our mission trip talking to each other. I remember looking into his smiling eyes and thinking, "This is a great guy. He could definitely be someone special in my life." But as fickle as young minds and hearts are, I ended up dating someone else from his youth group and he started ‘going out’ with the youth pastor’s daughter.
Fast-forward two years and suddenly we found ourselves going to the same church and youth group. I was an adult 18 years old, in my senior year of high school, and he was in his junior year of high school; we reconnected and started dating. From my end, this wasn’t going to be anything serious, just something fun to pass the time until graduation. As far as Jon was concerned, I was hot (his words, not mine) and he was also looking for a fun way to pass the time. Needless to say, we fell in love, or what we considered love at that time, and it continued to grow from there. Our "fun" turned into discussions and hopes of the future and I even stayed in town to go to the community college.
Upon Jon’s graduation, we saw a few of our friends who married right out of high school end in divorce or extremely unhappy marriages. We both agreed to wait a few years and see where this relationship went. If we were still happy and felt that God was leading us to marriage, we would cross that bridge when we came to it. Obviously, we took that step. I’m often in awe as I look where God has led us to the present.
Our relationship has never been worry- or problem-free; we have had our moments and Lord knows, I’ve given Jon many opportunities to pause and "re-think" our relationship. There are things in my past that I would rather forget altogether, just because of the shame I brought on myself and the pain I caused Jon. But God is sovereign and has placed one of the most forgiving men in my life. Jon has continually shown me grace and unconditional love during times that a weaker man would have run. There are times that I wonder what I did to deserve such an incredible man but know that it was only by God’s divine plan that Jon is in my life.
So, handsome, here’s to you in celebration of four beautiful years, and the hope of sixty more!
Now, one of the stipulations before we could move into our parents house, was that we had to do something with our dogs, Jackson and Grady. Mom and Dad already have two dogs and the thought of having four dogs in a brand-new house was just too much for them. (I can't say I blame them, that would have been pure chaos indeed!) So, Jon and I were given the fun task of trying to find Jackson and Grady a home. Luckily, we have some incredible friends who live in the country on a farm and have graciously allowed us to keep the dogs there. They are going to have a blast with all of the room to run, play fetch, chase chickens, etc. In fact, they may have so much fun, they'll forget all about us and refuse to return to our house when the time comes. It was a bit sad as we drove away without them, but I know they're in good hands!
The best part of Jackson and Grady living on a farm for the next six months is that we'll get to visit. It turns out that Devyn was born for farm life and took to it immediately! She loves the goats, the chickens, and horses; she showed no fear upon meeting these animals and even had a ball chasing the chickens around the yard. The only time she had any trepidation was when she met the pigs; she is not a big fan of pigs. The best part was when Cindy, the wife, asked Devyn if she wanted to gather eggs. Devyn turned around and marched right into the hen house; she didn't have to hold any hands; she didn't need to be pointed in the right direction; she just marched right in like she owned the place, admist the hens, chickens, and roosters. She had a great time with Cindy, grabbing the eggs and putting them in the bucket. It makes one pause and wonder about the simplicity and beauty of living on a farm; it offers so much more stimulation for a child's brain than anything else and what an opportunity to be outside. As much as I loved visiting, I don't see myself rushing to buy the next available farm. (After all, can you imagine ME playing a farmer's wife?! It was bad enough to be moved to a town with 1 stoplight!) We'll just continue to play make-believe when we're at their farm. Despite dropping our dogs off, yesterday was a good, good day!
I just love this photo, it shows the trust and love between a father and daughter so eloquently.
There's nothing more simple and beautiful in life, than watching your daughter stop by the side of the road to pick dandelions!
"I recently wrote that actors and celebrities bore us with their political opinions all the time. But in one response, an e-mailer asked me what makes me or anyone with a job like mine any more qualified to broadcast an opinion?
In a way, that person is correct.
Of course I could say that people click on my column specifically for my Grrr! opinion, while we go to the movies to watch Tom Cruise beat up imaginary bad guys, or listen to the Dixie Chicks because we like the sound of their voices or the lyrics of their songs.
So when Cruise decides to lecture on the pros and cons of psychiatric medicine, or Maines blasts us with her political opinions, naturally it gives one pause.
If I were to suddenly appear in a movie and stink as an actor — as much as Cruise stinks as an expert on medicine — I'd expect the same kind of reaction.
Nonetheless, we all have the right to say exactly what we think, especially when it comes to our government — and that is one of the reasons America is the greatest country in the world.
On the flip side, we also have the right to boycott the Dixie Chicks and to not buy their CDs, and to skip "M:I 3." That doesn't cost the offended public anything, but it sure as heck costs the offending artist a pretty penny."
This is just a portion of the article that continues on to say that the author admires Natalie Maines' continued stance of her political beliefs. And while I don't admire anything Ms. Maines does, this portion of the article, my friends, is exactly why the Dixie Chicks, and any movies starring Tom Cruise, are no longer played in my home.
My sisters and I speak on an almost daily basis, sometimes to shoot the breeze, sometimes to tell a funny story, but most times to vent and/or receive encouragement from the other. A typical conversation will entail the story of a recent experience with a girlfriend, followed by the exclamation of, "She said what?! What was YOUR response?!" This is usually followed by female-bashing and reassurances that "No, of course that's not true. You are..." blank filled in to help boost our sister's self-esteem. The conversation usually ends with a general consensus that "girls are just mean!" We’ve noticed, over the course of these calls that each sister was calling about the same friend or relative, time and time again, and this is where our theory kicks in.
It appears to us, that we each have that ONE friend or relative, where competition and jealousy comes in. I’m not saying this is okay or right, God condemns both of these things in His commandments, but it seems to be true. For instance, Courtney has one friend that she constantly compares herself to; be it grades, looks, attitude, boyfriends, etc. In Courtney’s mind, she can never measure up to this friend and always feels inferior after hanging out with her. My sisters, Christine and Allie, also have that ONE woman that they just can’t stop comparing themselves to. Even my mother, has that one friend who has constantly copied, imitated, or competed against her throughout their entire lives together.
As for me, this person also exists. I don’t know what it is; I can be happy for every other friend or family member in my life. I will shout congratulations from the roof-tops, be sincere in my happiness for them, and wish them well on this life’s journey. With all of the women in my life, sans one, there is no comparing, no competition, and no jealousy of the blessings that God brings into their life. But that one woman is where I constantly measure myself; I have to work hard at being happy about her blessings; and my jealousy hits a level of which I am so ashamed. There are times that she will bring on the comparison game and there are times I bring it on myself. After hanging out with her, or a conversation on the phone, I find myself comparing my life to hers and mine always seeming to fall short. After a call to a sister has been placed, the above conversation comes into play.
I constantly have to remind myself, just as my sisters have to remind themselves, that God did not create His children to act this way. He would not want us to compare ourselves to anyone else; that He has placed His own personal, individual stamp on us and to Him, we are priceless. While my head is very aware of this concept, it’s always a matter of convincing my heart. I’m continually reminded that I only have control over my own attitude and actions; I cannot control the actions or attitudes of those around me. I will continue to search for contentment and peace within myself, my home, and my family and maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll be able to hang up after a conversation with that friend and be rid of any residual self-doubt. Until that day comes, I have my sisters to offer me the encouragement I need and we can always rely on the edict that "Girls are just mean!"
Codah Joseph – Born to Choya and Megan on May 11th, 8 lbs, 7 oz, and 19 inches long.
Nicholas Walker – Born to Andy and Laura on May 17th, 7 lbs, 4 oz, and 19 inches long.
On another note, our daughter, Devyn Paige, turned 18 months old last Friday. It is so hard to believe that she has been here with us for that long. It seems like just yesterday that we brought her home to our little house and the dogs sniffed at her curiously, wondering who this tiny bundle was and why she was so important. And now, she bullies these dogs into thinking that she’s the boss, even though they outweigh her by a good 40 lbs. Overnight, it seems her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds; suddenly, she’s repeating words left and right. Her newest words are: bye-bye, up, what’s that, keys, ice, there, and the most important one of all, mama. Yippee!
In other Devyn news, we bought her a toddler bed! She so enjoys sleeping in a big bed, namely our bed, and we thought this would help with the transition. Nope! Her first night in the toddler bed did not go over well and her toddler bed remained empty. *Sigh* Jon and I hope to instill more routine into Devyn’s life, including that the toddler bed is HER bed, once we move in with my parents. We’re afraid that the upcoming move is going to throw her for a loop and then we’d be back at square one anyway. So, here’s to hoping that Devyn will adjust to a new life, routine, and bed in the grandparents’ basement.
She is such a joy to our lives and we’re so blessed to have her here with us.
"How do you feel about friendships with the opposite sex? It is possible to be "just friends"? Do you think that once you are married, specific boundaries should be set around these relationships? If so, what are those boundaries?"
But I honestly have to say that I’m starting to feel sorry for her. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have cameras and paparazzi following my every move, catching every mistake I made on camera for the whole world to see. I’d be mortified to have some of my not-so-proud-mommy-moments caught on tape. For instance, the time I laid Devyn on the bed so I could throw something away in the kitchen; I turned around just as I watched Devyn fall 2 feet from the bed to the floor; I felt horrible! Imagine if that were caught on tape. I can’t forget the time I was running a bath and didn’t realize that the water was too hot until she started crying. Imagine the headline: "Mom Burns Baby Girl". Or the most recent mishap, where I pinched Devyn’s thigh between the car seat buckles causing her to wail and a very purple bruise to appear.
I’m not saying that Britney is a saint, because we all know she’s anything but a saint, but I do think that a little latitude and grace should be allowed where her mothering skills are concerned. After all, we’ve all made mistakes we’d rather forget and I, for one, feel very fortunate that my "bad" mommy moments weren’t caught on tape!
She had crawled between the 2nd and 3rd shelves on her changing table to read her books. I ran to grab the camera, called Jon to come take a look, and broke out in laughter, while she was oblivious to it all. This girl just cracks me up!
… to watch the breeze brush her face as she swings.
I can’t wait to sit in the grass and make a wreath for her hair.
… to lie on the ground and see pictures in the clouds.
I can’t wait to see flour marks on her cheeks as we bake cookies.
… for the first time that she says mama or takes her first steps.
I can’t wait for her sloppy kisses and sweet hugs.
… to sit on the floor and watch as she plays.
I can’t wait until she feels dew on her feet for the first time.
… for the first snowball fight with her daddy.
I can’t wait to have hot chocolate and marshmallows ready for when they come in.
… to kiss her cheeks and nose, red from the cold.
I can’t wait for tickle-time, as her belly shakes with laughter.
… to watch as she looks at objects with wonder, trying to figure them out.
I can’t wait to get her in the tub and get wet from her splashes.
… to breathe in her baby scent, fresh from the bath.
I can’t wait to sit on the porch during a summer storm,
… to watch the lightening as it dances across the sky.
I can’t wait to point out the rainbow after the rain,
… to watch her face as discovers the beautiful prism.
I can’t wait to stop what I’m doing for a quick hug.
… to feel her arms around my neck as she snuggles in.
I can’t wait for the incessant questions as she explores this world.
… to feel like I have all the answers and I am her hero.
But most of all, I can’t wait for her naps, when I lay her down to sleep.
I love watching the gentle rhythm of her chest as she breathes.
I love hearing the contented sighs or smiles that cross her lips.
I love leaning down and smelling her baby-breath.
I love stroking her soft cheek and knowing that she’s all mine.
Standing by her crib is my time to thank God for such a precious gift.
This is my time to reflect on how I’m doing as a mother.
This is my time to delight in my role in her life.
This is my time to ask God for the strength and wisdom I need to raise my baby girl.
Dishes can pile up, dust can collect in the corners, and laundry can sit by the washer;
My time belongs to my daughter and I’m going to savor every moment!
And to my beautiful daughter, Devyn Paige, thank you for all of the wonderful blessings you've brought to my life. You move me beyond words and I'm so thrilled and thankful to be called your mommy!
About a month ago, we had out-of-town family visiting and my parents wanted to take us all out to eat. "Great," I thought, "This will give me a wonderful opportunity to catch up with aunts, uncles, and grandmothers." I was really looking forward to it. I failed, however, to take into account that a table for 17 would prove to be impossible for most restaurants, and the Texas Roadhouse was no exception; combine that with a tired toddler, cranky and worn-out parents, a missing pacifier, a noisy restaurant, and we had a recipe for disaster.
Devyn didn’t want to sit in my lap but she didn’t want to be with anyone but Mommy. She didn’t want the water in the child-proof glass that included a lid; it had to come from Mommy’s glass. She didn’t want to eat her macaroni and cheese; she wanted Mommy’s steak. She cried non-stop for 20 minutes and her pacifier went MIA. And the list goes on.
I was exhausted, frazzled, and at my wits-end. For the first time, I wanted to throw in the towel. I actually said aloud, "That’s it; I give up." My brother-in-law, Caleb, looked at me and responded with, "And you want another one?!" I finally placed Devyn on the floor and suddenly all was right with the world. I didn’t care that she was crawling on the floor littered with peanut shells; I didn’t worry about what kind of germs she could find; I was just so thankful to have a happy child on my hands once again."
Another example happened on Monday night. Again, I was exhausted and Devyn was especially needy. Every time I tried to set her down to get something done, like cook dinner or put away the dishes, I was met with tear-filled eyes and arms reaching out for me. Of course, I picked her right back up and placed her on my hip, where she snuggled her little head in the crook of my shoulder.
As we sat down to eat dinner, Devyn wouldn’t sit anywhere unless it was on my lap so I let Jon finish eating before I could have my turn. He took Devyn from my lap and held her on his, desperately trying to distract her with anything. It was no good; she screeched, she hollered, she cried, and she screamed. She wanted me, the mommy, and what was I doing? Ignoring my upset daughter so I could finish my meal.
When the crying turned into a full-blown tantrum, I was beside myself, I had no idea what was wrong; I didn't know if she was teething, tired, or hungry; I had no answers, not a single one. I tried ignoring her, I tried giving her something to eat, I tried picking her up and rocking her but nothing worked, her tantrum continued at a loud volume. I could feel my composure slipping away and my frustration was building by the minute. At one point, in an agitated state, I cried, "What, Devyn? What do you need?" I wasn’t expecting an answer but it felt good to get it out. I picked her up, went into the bathroom, ran a bath, and put us both in it; the warm water went a long way in soothing my nerves and wouldn’t you know it, Devyn’s tantrum ended as she soon as she hit the water and could splash with her toys.
There are moments that I look at my baby girl and I can’t help but worry that I’m doing permanent damage to Devyn; I wonder how my actions are going to affect her adulthood; or I still wonder that the hospital let her come home with me because I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. There are mornings when I drop Devyn off at my parents’ house and she’s crying as she reaches for me, that I can’t help but feel like an absolute failure as a mom. Some moments just bring feelings of inadequacy and I wonder if I’m really cut out for this job. Only with prayer and guidance from God am I able to recharge my mommy batteries and get back on the proverbial horse. Somehow just picking up the Bible brings me the peace and calm that I need.
"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." Psalm 143:10
The first and most important is this; it has been a great way to stay in touch with family and friends. We have family and friends spreading from the east coast to the west coast, and some even live outside the United States! Jon and I recently did a count of our family and between the two of us; counting only immediate relatives (first cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents), we have 102 relatives. Yes, you read that number right 1-0-2. (And people were surprised that our wedding guest list topped 550, hah!) That's not including the number of friends we have in our lives either; you could easily double that number to include our friends. So, needless to say, we need a way, one place, that our family and friends can check in on us to see what's happening in our lives. It has also been a great way for out-of-state grandparents to check on Devyn and see how she's growing and changing.
The second reason I blog is purely for selfish reasons. I love having a place to record memories, thoughts, opinions, or photos. It has been extremely therapeutic for me to have a place to jot these things down. I’ve always been a very open person, too open at times, and I’m more than willing to share my life with those that are interested. Again, I realize that my life may not be exciting to some but its life to me, and I love sharing it with others. Blogging gives me the opportunity to write what I want, when I want it and it has been an incredible outlet for me.
So, now I’m curious, why do YOU blog? What’s in it for you? And if you don’t blog, why not? Does it seem too time-consuming? Are you wary of putting your life on display? Do you think I’m crazy? Please, jot me a note, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
For as long as I can remember, I absolutely hated getting up in front of people to talk, regardless of whether its a five minute presentation or hour presentation. I want to emphasize, I . . . hate . . . it! In the hours leading up to my presentation, I start sweating profusely, I feel my heart start racing, and I become short of breath. Not a pretty picture, I know. So, imagine my surprise, shock, and horror when I got nominated to help lead some 1500 employees in a training exercise for my company!
To help me prepare for these trainings, my department decided it would be a good idea to send me to a class for three days. I could have handled sitting in the classroom as I was taught the Dos and Don'ts of presenting but I then I discovered that I would actually be presenting to the class, not one, but TWO 15-minute presentations AND they would be video-taped for our watching pleasure! Someone could have thrown a bucket of ice-cold water on me and I would have been less surprised.
Well, I survived . . . barely . . . but I survived. My first presenation was relatively simple to prepare for, I already had the materials, the training supplies, and the PowerPoint presentation but I was a wreck. I faltered, I got flustered, but I made it through. The second presentation was about a favorite subject of mine, blogging, and I have to admit that it went fairly well. I knew my content, I had a good PowerPoint presentation prepared, and I was a bit more at ease.
I don't think I'll be volunteering for any presentation in the near future but I feel more confident in my abilities than before. I'll keep you posted as to how the presentations at work go but in the meantime, I'm pretty proud of myself for facing (I'm not sure about conquering) my fears!
The reason behind this madness?! Moving in with them will allow us to pay off ALL debt and save money for a down payment on a home. While it is both humbling and embarrassing to move back in with my parents, I am so excited because this will allow us to have a fresh start financially. Yippee!!!! I’m anxiously looking forward to the day that I write that last check declaring us debt-free; I cannot imagine what that’s going to feel like, knowing that we don’t owe a single person, or bank, anything! While we could buy a home now, even with our current debt, it’s just not the way Jon and I want to do this. We’d much rather buy a house, which is a huge commitment, debt-free and feel that this will work much better for us in the long run.
So, we ask for your prayers as we prepare to move back in with my parents. We ask for patience for us and my parents as we adjust to living under the same roof again. We ask that that God will continue to work in our lives as we face each debt and that we’ll continue to be convicted to make the right decisions where finances are concerned. And last, but not least, that God will both provide us with the right house that is within our price range come November.
A lot of adjustments are taking place in the near future and we’re both excited and nervous about the upcoming changes. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers; they are, and will be, much appreciated!
Devyn and I getting "jiggy" with it.
Jon and his old high school friends, Justin and Trevor. It was great to see them again!