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I know the pain is all too real.
The lies that tell you "death won't feel."
They beckon from another place, 
Subtle lies truth can replace.

You think death will be the answer.
The more it asks, it makes you question. 
Is the pain of now the place to stay?
Or would it be better to go away?

Absence is no answer to pain! 
Things won't stay, they grow and change!
The lies become whispers instead of shouts.
The living easier to love about! 

Loss is too great a burden to give.
You have a purpose you must live! 
The hope you find will be faith to share!
It'll turn on the light and banish gloom and despair! 

You can't see what tomorrow holds.
Or know the beauty that's still yet to show.
Hold on dear son as God makes a way
For you to live beauty in another day. 

I have battled the whisperer most of my life.
He has lied and teased and tried to take my life. 
But you, my dear children, my husband and friends...
I think of your lives after mine ends...

I want to show you it's possible to live,
With pain, heartache and brokenness to give.
A chance to show others it's possible to be,
Filled with hope, joy, love and not just misery.

The fight is worth it!
You're proof that's for sure. 
You wouldn't be you had I not been here
Imagine that son,
Imagine me gone,
Had I listened to the whisperer all along!

You have to recognize and give voice to the light,
Squelching the liar and tuning out the lies!
It's the hardest battle you'll ever fight;
But you'll know that it's worth it one sad night.

Because you'll see a soul that is battling like you,
And you'll know exactly what to do.
Because you've battled and fought and gotten strong,
You can show that sad soul a new way along.

There are so many beautiful moments I sit,
I pause and reflect and acknowledge I LIVE!

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I am seeing some seeds I planted sprout. Figuratively.

Now, what will happen with these spouts is too soon to say.

I am not sure if the birds will eat them up, they will whither from the sun or if thorns will push them out, or if they will grow bountifully. 

It's exciting to watch things grow.

I see so much hope in my son.  Grateful for growth.

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Reflecting on my life and some of the outrageous things God has called me to...and THROUGH, I don't know why other things...I think are TOO outrageous and ridiculous. 

I went to Shine 2015 this past weekend. It was a weekend of hard.  Also a weekend of confronting the callings and knowing I will be moving into the seasons where obedience to them is going to be required.

I take a nap daily, yesterday... I was awoken to a song and knew it was for me- I felt God impress on me...this is your song.

Second Chance-Rend Collective

Now, I am not in a place where I feel like I need another chance, like walked away from God or anything dramatic like that...but this song so poetically speaks my heart!

I feel like it gives meaning to my name Beautiful Mess even though it was written years after the name existed for me---

My future hangs on this
You make preciousness from dust
Please don't stop creating me

Your blood offers the chance
To rewind to innocence
Reborn, perfect as a child

Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it's where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven's heart

When sin and ugliness
Collide with redemption's kiss
Beauty awakens by romance

Always inside this mess
I have found forgiveness
Mercy as infinite as You


Countless second chances
We've been given at the cross
Countless second chances
We've been given at the cross

Fragments of brokenness
Salvaged by the art of grace
You craft life from our mistakes

Black skies of my regrets
Outshone by this kindness
New life dawns over my soul

So here I sit, not knowing how, or how long it's going to take to walk out the vision.  But I have acknowledged that I have been ignoring, speaking impossibility, setting aside the call.  Now, I still absolutely believe what I HAVE been walking out is absolutely 100% part of the bigger plan.  My journey toward health, wellness, yoga, acro yoga, foster care, grandparent care, self care, self love, mental wellness, alternative medicine, natural alternatives, juicing, and loving people right where they are ISSSSSSS exactly what this endeavor will all be about.  Acknowledging that God works in all things, through all things, in His timing is so critical.

So, I am just writing it here to make it plain on tablets (Habakkuk 2:2 of sorts)

Lord, I have been so guilty in the past of trying to perform for You...thinking of the faith walk, like a faith game... I do this and You will do that....THANK YOU that you have freed me from that mindset...let me not walk in old ways of trying to gain others or Your acceptance by performance.  Let me stay in this place of being ME--100% wholly Beautiful Mess that I am, ME! Lord I know what you are calling me to and please help me have the faith in myself to accomplish it in Your time. Give me balance in this insane season of life.  Give me shield to those that don't understand and let me not look for their approval.  Protect the seedling and help me prune, water, fertilize and grow this vision. 

I love you Lord. I look forward to all you have to accomplish through me.  May I look like love when people look into my eyes.

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Today I will attend the funeral of a woman I loved and respected.  She was a young 51. Her weight caused many health problems.  She was more than her weight; however her weight was ultimately her murderer. 

I am the only child of a morbidly obese woman who died at 48.  My children have not had their Momo in their lives, I have not had a mother for 18 years.  I am still grieved.  Honestly in this moment of loss, a little angry. 

As I bent over her bedside, praying scripture over her dying body, I wept.  Not for her, she was being healed...but for those still struggling.  Those who think it's too hard to lose weight, those who don't care, those who are in denial of the damage the fat is causing.

See the weight is causing loss...loved ones are now losing. I am heartbroken today. 

If your weight is a little problem do something before it's a big problem.  If your weight is a big problem, do something before your loved ones have a big problem.

Please remember the family today who is losing one too soon.  There is so much hurt in this family and I am asking for prayers for peace for the service.  That it would be honoring to the beloved Sandy Hammett. 
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He comes into the kitchen with lip sticking out and tears welling in the bottom of his eyes about to spill out into a flood.

I was caught off guard.

"Why are you crying?"

"I want my mooommyyyyyy" and the tears began to flow.

He sank his face into my thighs and I grabbed him.  Oh if the grip of love could stop the pain!

At first, if I am honest, I was sad for me.  Here I am day in and day out and she comes into town for the weekend and she gets all the glory. 

I stop myself.  This is sad. This is loss. This is grief. This is NOT about me.

We had a beautiful visit.  I am so proud of the strides his mother has made in her recovery. Thursday will be ONE YEAR drug and alcohol free! What she has gone through has not been easy.

What my foster grandson has gone through and will continue to go through won't be easy either.

We went to his room and he cried on and off for about 15-20 minutes.  We cuddled.  We talked.

I tried to explain in the simplest ways that his mommy loved him enough to make sure he was taken good care of while she was not stable.   

While I want to do everything in my power for him NOT to be sad, I know sadness is a part of life.  Grief is a part of life. 

Being raised by another person has got to be confusing for him.  This has been a situation that arises each time he leaves his mother. 

I encouraged him if he ever has questions to please ask.  He didn't really have questions, just sadness.  When I was small no one ever talked about anything, I don't want him to feel the way I felt.

This is balancing the fragile parts of life.  Being honest, while protecting his love for his parents.

I have always tried to honor them and give D high esteem for his parent's.  I never want him to look down on them for the tough sacrifices they have made. 

Each of them is in recovery.  Each of them is in a good place now.  Each of them has endless opportunities in the future but still a hard road ahead.

I don't know what the future holds. 

I do know that there will be grief, and sadness, and despair..this morning it was over the fact that his superheros weren't in the right place.
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So, what have I done with this special day?

  • I had coffee with a neighbor/best friend and tried to catch up in 30 minutes.
  • I Facetimed some of my grands.
  • I chatted with my mother-in-law and God bless her for listening to me regale her with how awful things are at the moment.
  • I read too many articles on Facebook.
  • I took a bath so I could shave my legs while wearing my glasses and see those pesky places I miss in the shower.
  • I brushed my teeth for over 1 minute.
  • I slathered moisturizer over every inch of my skin.
  • I took my time getting dressed with no urgency of where I needed to be. 

These may not sound like glamorous things, however in the life of a Caregiver, some of these things  have gone undone for weeks, months...Lord I have no idea.  Especially the teeth.

Tonight I have plans for dinner with my family.  I really wanted my grandpa there, but he is not in a good place right now.  I never knew it would be like this.

I am reflecting on my responsibilities and am slightly overwhelmed.  I am dissapointed in myself for how I am handling, resenting, and complaining this present season.

Truthfully, I just want some time for me.  I just need time to process everything that there is to process. I feel as if I hardly have time to even know what I need to do. I want to blog my emotions, I want to write to help others that are dealing with similar circumstances so they can avoid the pitfalls we've faced, I want to just blog about regular old life. 

I need to catch up on paperwork, laundry, cleaning and grocery shop. However, not on this day. This is my day.

Claiming it for me. I do little to nothing for me, I am being selfish! I am caring for me today.

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My boy wanted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Birthday Party. Now, if you know me, you know I am not a fan of big birthday parties :) I like to keep things simple. Partly because I am not crafty and second because I am cheap.

I started by perusing Pinterest for ideas. After about 10 minutes I thought "I need a ghetto Pinterest" like a Pinterest for moms who don't really want to go all out.  Moms who don't have time to make glitter lame costumes for 9, already too spoiled, kids.  LOL

But seriously, I thought that.

So here is my "low ball" of a party which was perfectly over the top for me.  It was a hit.  It was easy. I was able to plan it in less than 2 weeks all with a little help from my friends. 


Plates for the kids only, and covered a box of straws with wrapping paper

Most expensive decoration was a poster from Target.

I also had this pack of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Swirl decorations. Which IMO was a great purchase because they were cheap, and added punch! Did I mention they were cheap? I somehow didn't get a good pic but here you go
The hangy swirly things

Here is where I went all but really it was super easy for me.  You may have time to do this yourself...I didn't so I bought them from Etsy :) Don't tell. 
I bought the water resistant labels at Office Max (on sale 2 for $20) but you could totally print them on paper and cover with packing tape to protect them.  I went for easy and not cheap on this one.

I was impressed with the quality of the work.  However communications broke down at the end when I was trying to change the size to match the labels--but that is my fault for doing it last minute!!! I was doing it on the weekend and I am sure they weren't working. 

iVentureParty also did the cupcake decorations to match the water bottle labels.  (they can do just about any kind of party just fyi)  I just needed cardstock to print them on. Skewers and tape to affix them. Then stuck them in premade cupcakes from Sam's Club.  I didn't even special order-but these were perfect!

I kept the food simple

PIZZA party is a duh for a Ninja Turtle Party
stolen pic downloaded from the internet

Sewer Lids lol
Alternative and possible for my dairy free granddaughter to have a treat


Salad for Weight Watchers like me

Games and activities:

Tattoos-so easy and cheap

I wanted to create a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Training Activity where the children were transformed into ninja turtles! I got the idea here: Life is About Using the Whole Box of Crayons
However, I really did my own thing.

I had them roll through "mutagen ooze" (roll on green table cloth) and get sprayed with "mutagen slime" (silly string)
Then sling "sewer lids" (pie pans 3 for $1 at Dollar Tree) int the NYC man hole ($1 oil pan from The Dollar Tree)

Stolen pic from the internet glued to pie pan

Here is where the Pizza Man go there and I forgot to ask someone else to take pics and MISSED EVERYTHING

They had to Sword Fight (used my adult volunteers {technically they were voluntolds} to help train the ninjas)

Then battle with nun-chucks (managed a pic)

 Then they got their mask and shell
There were more kids than this invited but a few were freaked out
by the activities and one family was late 

The masks were my big splurge! I wouldn't normally spend a lot but I looked at this as my gift. 

The person that made then was AWESOME to me!  I am grateful for how quickly she got them to me!


Here is the link to the MASKS I purchased.

Some of you crafty folks with time and creativity could make something easily I am sure.

All my supplies
see the baby turtle shells :)
The shells:
to do 9 large shells and 5 baby shells it took
The pans (all from the Dollar Tree)
2 cans of green spray paint
Burlap ribbon (from Hobby Lobby) about 1.5 yard per big kid 1 yard per babe

Thank God I started on the shells early--I spray painted one day. It took several coats with dry time in between.  So give yourself a day on this alone.

Then I took an knife (exacto) and cut a slit (very easy to do) for the ribbon to slide through

I have been dealing with a lot making the party planning difficult.  So thank God for freinds and family that came to help. Cutting cupcake things, sticking labels, finishing the shells.  They were LIFESAVERS!

OVERALL it was a HUGE success!
Nonni & Declan
I bought Declan a TMNT shirt from Wal-Mart. I also bought me a plain green T-shirt from Target to go with the theme.

Happy 5th Birthday Declan! We love you! 
For years I had this verse on my microwave...only taken down because it was worn out, corners curling, finger prints with food from where I just had to touch it, soak it in, wrinkled from much love...
This could be me's not...but if you were to talk to me--this is what I'd say:

Interview with Sarah Bessey: In which these are the unforced rhythms of grace

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”   Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

On second thought: Though I'd probably say something silly or sarcastic at the end... she is and INFJ and I am an ENFJ...if you don't know what that really doesn't matter.
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Is this Jenni?

"This is grandpa. Patricia isn't doing well; she is in the hospital and I am not sure how much longer I am going to be here?"

This is one way to start your morning that I would NOT recommend. 

I am so conflicted. 

Now this isn't the first call like it's hard to know the true gravity of the situation.  He sounded bad though. 

He wants me to come get the things he wants left to me and my family. 

One positive is that his wife, my step-grandmother,  won't be there. I know, that's horrible to say.  However, I can be nothing but honest when I say "that is a difficult relationship."  I love her. I really do. I have learned a lot about grace and mercy and forgiveness in our relationship...but that doesn't mean I want to hang out with her.

How do you do that? How do you go and take things from the living knowing they are dying.

Are there things I want? Sure. More than any thing I want a RIGHT relationship with my grandfather. I want to hear stories again...I want to sit in the shade and listen to military stories...stories of my grandmother, and his youth, and his life, joys struggles, and pain. 

April 2013
His granddaughter with her granddaughter.
I truly feel like the worst granddaughter in the world.  How has it been over a year since he has seen his greatgrandaughter?

I am sad. Conflicted.
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"Do I have a mother like what's in that song what we singed at school?"

"What's a mother?"

They were questions out of nowhere, questions I wasn't exactly sure how to answer.  I bumbled out something like "mother is another name for your mommy, mother is also something people do that love Nonni (me) mother's you. Takes care, like how your mommy loves you too."

I had to know about this song...what in the world was in the song? So, I called his school.

"Tell me about the song about mothers, Declan has some questions and I don't know what he's talking about"

The director of the school sang the song for me and I began to was emotional to know that the questions were starting already. I knew it would happen, I just wasn't ready for this this soon.

Here are a few lines "What's the nicest thing about your mother?  She cooks and she sews and she washes all my clothes...She bakes cookies just for me and she helps me climb a tree..."

No wonder he was confused, I don't bake, sew or help him climb trees ;) LOL

Then the end said "what's the nicest thing, the very nicest thing... is that she's always there!"  (tears)

I wept with the director on the phone. I asked that she ask the teacher to help the class to know that some people have other people, like grandparents, or other family member that take care of them.  I don't want him to feel like his "family" is wrong.

Declan has a mother. He also has someone that mothers him. He also has grandmothers, neighbors, teachers, and friends who will mother him.      

I feel one of the greatest sacrifices a mother can make is to allow someone else to raise their child.  His mother loves him so much, sacrificially in fact.

Mother's Day has got to be tough for her.  Pray for her, please.

Mother's Day is tough on a lot of people.

Pray for all the moms that made the sacrifice of adoption...and those trying to earn their place back through the foster care system and those that have lost that right.

Pray for those mothering the ones without mothers, step moms, foster moms, aunts, grandmoms and single dads.

Teach your children that there are all sort of families, and there isn't anything "wrong" with someone who is being mothered by someone else.  Teach them to extend mercy not judgement in situations they don't understand.

Pray for those who have lost their mother. Death, illness, separation.

And lastly I think about those who desire to be mothers...and for whatever reason...aren't. Pray for them. That is a very painful situation that makes this holiday extra tough.

Declan and his mother Jan 2014
*picture chosen to protect privacy

Declan & me (Nonni) Feb 2014

This was a card my daughter gave me when she was about 18...I loved the sentiment! It sums up how I feel about Mothers!

I had all kinds of MOTHERS... the beauty of their lives, drives me to live my life beautifully! click the link to go to a blog about them.

I pray that as Declan grows, he will see the beauty in the lives of ALL the different women who love him; appreciate all the different ways he's been mothered and know he is a better man because of it!

***BONUS*** Here he is singing the song!

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Over the years I have written many blogs about the joys and difficulties raising my son.

I tell you we just went through a really tough week in our household.  It was one of the most painful things we have ever had to do. Necessary, but hard.  I truly don't know what the future holds...but right now I am relieved and hopeful. As a woman you think through the 99 possible worst case scenarios. Happy to say, none of them came true (yet).

I want to write this because I am feeling strongly convicted to share my struggle.  Mostly because I had bought a lie. I want to dispel the rumors and give hope.

See, I was not raised in a Christian home. I always felt I had a relationship with God, but as a teenager I accepted Him in a traditional churchy sense and walked an aisle and was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean. It was a church youth camp and when I went home from that camp literally nothing about my life changed. I went on the get pregnant as a teenager, enter bars with a fake ID and get pregnant out of wedlock again. I eventually married and our marriage was tumultuous at first. Now here's the thing: I still felt like I had a relationship with God through all those times. A literal, palpable relationship where I felt like He showed me things. Was I following His ways, no.  Did I love God, yes. I wanted God, but didn't know how to be a follower.

Fast forward...God RADICALLY changed my marriage. He changed me. It was crazy I tell you. 

So my son was very young when the change happened. He was too young to remember any of the bad; though he grew up hearing about it because we are very open with our kids about our life.  Our son was in preschool sunday school, children's church, Kids ROCK, youth ministry, started his own ministry, and then was in the worship band.  He is your basic church kid.

So why all the background? Well, to set the stage.

The lie I bought was believing that if you raised your kids in church they would grow up to be mature Christians.

Sometimes does that happen...yes.  I read mothers share about their devoted children and I sigh and think... what if.

Will it happen with my son? I believe so...just not yet.  Scripture promises Train them in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.  I think I believed old, old like not a kid, I think it's OLD. lol  Would I want my son to be a 100% devoted follower, of course, but THEN I would miss getting to walk out this true, authentic, beautiful, painful process with my son. It's as much a process for me as it is for him.

My son has basically bucked all the values we have raised him to have.  I am shocked at how well I have taken it.  I mean at first I thought I was going to die. Weeped and sobbed. Then I realized it was Godship for me to try and control my son. He was about 16 at the time. (side note-you can click the "Son" label on the side to see past posts)

He is now 19, soon-to-be 20...and he has done many things. He feels like he is the worst son, which breaks my heart. He says, I am not like your perfect daughter. (oh he doesn't know) What I do know, he will understand it more clearly when he's older. We do not see him the way he sees himself.

As I share, please know I am sharing to empower and give hope to other parents. I am NOT knocking what my son is going through. I absolutely believe it to be part of the process.

I haven't shared with many people what I have been going through because I believe they look at situations through the same distorted lenses I once viewed life through.  I do not want people to judge him for what he's going through. I don't want the pity. Ridiculous.

See the more I think about it...the great men of God, David, Paul, Peter, to name a few...were not model citizens. lol

I mean really think about it.

My son has a calling on his life. We all do.  Living the nice little Christian life we have lived has not driven my son to have a need for God. I believe that God has a plan.

As hard as it is to warn, teach, talk through, share experience and then watch you son do the VERY thing you told him not to do is...he will learn the lessons on his own. The hard way.

God needs all kinds of people for His kingdom. I am thankful for the hope that Christ has given me regarding my son.

I am thankful to have the past I have, it's easy to look where he is and understand.

We are trying to live grace for him. Show mercy. Be an example of patience and love. We are taking this opportunity to be the gospel to him.

I can't just say "he should know better" because I know better and still fail God on the regular.

This is SO much more about me, and my response to him...than about getting him to act in acceptable ways.  I can't change him. Can NOT!

He has holes, hurts, and heartache. He doesn't know how to move forward and feel stuck. He feels rejected and abandoned. He has so much anger it is ridiculous. 

I HIGHLY recommend reading the following article: 12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child


5. Welcome them home.

Because the deepest concern is not your child’s actions, but his heart, don’t create too many requirements for coming home. If he has any inkling to be with you, it is God giving you a chance to love him back to Jesus. Obviously there are some instances in which parents must give ultimatums: “Don’t come to this house if you are...” But these will be rare. Don’t lessen the likelihood of an opportunity to be with your child by too many rules.
If your daughter smells like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she’s pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her twenty-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you’ve been forgiven, don’t give him any more money, and let him come home. If he hasn’t been around for a week and a half because he’s been staying at his girlfriend’s—or boyfriend’s—apartment, plead with him not to go back, and let him come home.

This is in no way a deep theological blog. It's just thoughts (the ones I have time to write) from a struggling mom. 

Mostly I want my son to be able to look back and know we loved him through his struggle with life. We trusted God more than ourselves. We love every thing about our son because it shows us how to love ourselves. We really do love him. Every thing we do, is for love.

Pray for us.
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Sometimes when you say the least it is when you have the most going on.

I hate that I haven't blogged more. I would really like to look back and see how far I've come.  However, I can't.

There is a lot going on in my family. Quite frankly, it's private. However, I want to jot down a few thoughts before they escape me.

1. God is in control.
2. I am trusting God.
3. I trust life to make it abundantly clear the path that should be chosen.
4. I look into the future and imagine worst case scenarios, I need to stop.
5. One day at a time.
6. Grief sucks.
7. Worship is life.
8. Repentance is necessary .
9. Redemption is real.
10. Love covers a multitude of sins.

Something I am focusing on for myself:

If you are a Christian and you are dealing with enslaving habits, it's not enough to say, "Bad Christian, stop it." And it is not enough to beat yourself up or merely try harder and harder and harder.

The real reason that you're having a problem with an enslaving habit is because you are not tasting God. I'm not talking about believing God or even obeying God, I'm saying tastingtasting God.

The secret to freedom from enslaving patterns of sin is worship. You need worship. You need great worship. You need weeping worship. You need glorious worship. You need to sense God’s greatness and to be moved by it — moved to tears and moved to laughter — moved by who God is and what he has done for you. And this needs to be happening all the time.

This type of worship is the only thing that can replace the little if only fire burning in your heart. We need a new fire that says, “If only I saw the Lord. If only he was close to my heart. If only I could feel him to be as great as I know him to be. If only I could taste his grace as sweet as I know it to be.”

And when that if only fire is burning in your heart, then you are free.~~TIM KELLER

More can be found here:

Thinking about WORSHIP makes me think of my son, I love when he leads me in worship---someday again soon I pray.

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This year all I wanted was TIME!

Time with my entire family under the same roof.
One-on-one time with my son.
Time with individuals I love.
Time is flying and I am thankful for each and everyday!
Things you may fail to appreciate:
1. I got every member of my family in one or more photos at a family function.
2. I believe Chris was fake-picking his nose in the photobomb. My head ruins it.
3. Can you find Chris?
4. My grandkids (of which I count Declan as well) are the freaking cutest kids ever!
5. Even blurry photos are awesome when they are of people you love.
6. My life is good.
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I was asked to guest post for Sweet Tea, Sunshine and Serendipity's blog.  They are doing a series this month called Love in Words.  Head over there and check them out.  It is really neat to read all the different love stories.  They are doing a giveaway, so you definitely want to see what that's all about.

I was humbled and honored to participate. I spent yesterday, when "A Greater Love Story" premiered, blubbering as I got responses from women in all walks of life that identified and were grateful for our love story.

Oh! Who doesn't love a good love story?

When I think about my love story I can't help but compare it to some romantic comedy's out there and think: no way would anyone think it's worthy of their time.  lol

No one would watch a movie about an underage teen mother, in a bar, who falls in love with a bartender and they live unhappily, happily ever after. Makes me laugh.

The truth is, my story is worthy.  It's a story of redeeming love. A story of a couple of lost and wayward souls who find each other, create a family and fall in love with God and fall in love over and over and over again.  Our God gets bigger and closer with each tragedy faced. He triumphantly blesses us when we should be flat on our face!

It's difficult to know where to start and how much to share. I have been married almost 20 years. Together 22. Most people want to know the looooove part. The love parts, are different depending on perspective.  Yes, I could tell you about the first time Trent told me he loved me and I told him he was just drunk.  The next morning he assured me, he wasn't too drunk to know he loved me. I could tell you about the proposal.  While on a dinner date I announced I was pregnant and he said "Well, I guess we will get married." yeah, not so warm and fuzzy. We look back on those times and laugh now.

I absolutely can say that I didn't know what true love was when I got married. I thought I knew; I was 21 and knew everything. We married and played house and it was fun at first. Then it wasn't fun at all.  It was hard. We had kid issues, money issues, issue issues and divorce was likely and threatened regularly.   It was not pretty.  We tried church hoping it would fix us. It didn't. It actually made us feel worse.  So much happened in that few years that nearly ruined us.  The amazing thing was, looking back, I can see a Savior. I can see how events were orchestrated to SAVE us.  Save our marriage, and give hope, not only to us, but to the many who would hear our story.  You can read our VOWS here and see how God used His people and His church.  Church went from being where we'd go to being who we were. 

I got a text this week with a friend asking for prayer because she was getting ready to go on a date to work on their marriage because their love had grown distant. I immediately had to call her.  I had been there done that (many times).  It wasn't pretty and I wanted to warn her.  "Listen, when you go on this date-it may not be romantic-it may be hard-and you may fight more than you ever have-fight...-then DO IT AGAIN because your marriage is worth fighting for!"  You see, I know that marriage is hard work.  I wanted her to know that it is not unusual to fight, especially when you've both been silent for a long time. I wanted her to know she isn't alone. Often we think everyone's marriage's are fine and ours is the only screwed up one. This is not TRUE! They are all a little screwed up-at least the ones of people I love.

I was grateful for that text and that time of conversation and even more grateful for my love story.  You know the saying "It takes a village to raise a child"...well  it takes a village to survive in marriage.  You have to know and be known. You have to bring the hurt out into the light.  I tell you the truth I would not be married today were it not for the people who loved, and hurt, right along side of us.  Helping us weather the storm.  

I want to say don't judge a love story by how pretty it looks from the outside. When I look back on who I was 20 years ago I can't believe my-then-to-be-mother-in-law didn't run me off with a gun. She likely wanted to.  Though she's never been anything but gracious to me.  You don't know what the future holds. I will tell you this though, if you are not prepared to extend a TON OF GRACE and mercy to yourself and your spouse then you have a tough road ahead.

Our love story has infatuation. Laughter. Silliness.  Death, life and renewal. Our love story has tales of heartbreak, hard times, and heroics. There are times of family picnics in the square.  Times where we couldn't stand the sight of one another.  There are times of silence. Separateness.  A marriage of mission.  Sweet looks where I know he loves me. There are times that I would like to just go back and say to myself "it's going to be alright" and warn myself "it's about to get worse."  You know what though, I wouldn't trade a moment. Okay, maybe the moment where my husband puked on people and blamed it on me.  Nah! Even that moment!  I'll take it. It has made for a beautiful love story. 

This looks like a whole lot of love:

When I think about our love story, I could have NEVER imagined it would turn out like this.  Dancing in a bar, with shorts that showed my cheeks, wearing boots and a cowboy hat I wanted someone to sweep me off my feet.  I use to say "I am not that girl anymore" but the truth is I am.  I may have the sense now to cover myself, but I still want to be swept off my feet.  Now, I have learned that I must look for those things that my husband does that only he can do because he KNOWS me: THAT'S LOVE!  

You see my perspective on looooooove has changed. When you are skinny, get fat, get skinny, get fat again and all you ever hear is how beautiful you are-that's love. When you awake nearly every morning to a warm cup of coffee prepared just how you like it-that's love. You see, when your beloved sees you at your worst and you confess to him how you've wronged him and he takes that sin upon himself-that's love

My love story turned into GREATER LOVE story.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
John 15:13 in context

Photography by J. Halstead Photography
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I promise I am trying to make time to write! In the meantime--READ THIS
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Yesterday. While sitting and enjoying my morning coffee I had a precious little 4yo soaking up some early morning cuddles on my lap.  All of the sudden, the handle on my coffee mug broke and the coffee spilled ALL over.  The preschooler was covered, I was covered and so was my phone.   

I went and took a second shower, used a towel to swab up the mess, took my clothes, though I had half a mind to try and wring the coffee out of them, and threw it al in the wash.  

I went and posted this to facebook:

Hope this isn't an indication of the direction of my day. Coffee handle broke spilling an entire hot cup in my lap.

Now I am not a superstitious person.  I trust the Almighty God.  However, I must admit it creeped into my head.  

See last night I heard from the preschoolers mother.  If you are unaware, I foster a relative of mine and have for 2.5 years.  The mother has had all different levels of contact but for the last year it has been spotty at best.  She has been through a lot and I am sure she IS going through a lot.  

So, as I was trying to drift off.  I as thinking "what if" 
what if the coffee spilling on us was a sign
what if she is going to try to take him back

Now here is where I cry.  This is NO easy thing to explain. I probably won't do the explaining here anyway.  

You see there is a lot I don't know about the future of us and this little boy. People ask me all the time and I can't give them an answer.  See, I want restoration.  I want his mother and father to be healed, healthy, stable and ready to raise this precious little man.  I feel that will not be an easy thing.  

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I sit. Desiring to help. All I get in return is grief.

Great grief that is heaped on a woman's soul as she watches her son verbally flip her off.  It's worse than when he was 10 and actually flipped me off.  He thought my back was turned.  Oh he ran from me for his life fearing death was eminent. What came was the loss of everything he had in his room including blankets.  Every privileged, every perk of being a kid, GONE! I would have thought lessons over the years would train the disrespect out of him. It's almost as if as he grows, it's worse.

NOW, the verbal disrespect is gut-wrenchingly painful.Often there are curse words. I feel helpless.

I picture God. I do the same thing to him. So I am patient with my son. There are times though, like tonight, where I must weep.  He breaks my heart.  I know he was raised better. I know he knows better. I know he will be sorry.

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This made me cry: HERE

  • This is for my friends who are not on Facebook. 

  • 1.      Growing up I wanted to be an airline stewardess. My grandmother made me “practice my job”  walking straight lines; only in adulthood do I appreciate how hilarious this is.

    2.      She also told me I was likely going to be too short. Remember back in the day there were “restrictions and discrimination” based on body type? This was also the reason I couldn’t do my back up job: Rockette

    3.      I once peed my pants in the back of Jennifer Richardson’s, brother Beau’s car. Don’t worry, I didn’t get it on the seat. I was a full-fledge adult-mom of teenage girls. How awesome to have girls that make you laugh till you pee your pants in a friend’s car.

    4.      I am an only child of a single parent.

    5.      When questioned at Blockbuster about authorized people on my account-I told them my mother was deceased. The cashier asked “She’s at sea?” and it’s now a joke in our family.

    6.      I don’t want to be buried. I do not want people to “visit” me, put flowers on a grave, feel guilt about NOT visiting me…I am dead.  I guess they can put me to “sea.”

    7.      I may have some unresolved issues about death. Bwahahah (I am imagining the people I have offended by my humor. I apologize)

    8.      I never thought I would get married. I didn’t see the point.

    9.      I am glad that my perspective on #10 changed. Though at the time of marrying, I didn’t think it would last. It nearly didn’t; I am glad Christ intervened; we celebrate 20 years next June.

    10.   I use to be offended when people said grandkids were better than kids. Now I know they are right.

    11.   I was 15 when I gave birth to my daughter. This is one of the facts about my life that truly astonishes me. Especially in the presence of other 15 year olds.

    12.   I do not “know” my left from my right.  I mean, I KNOW it…I just have to have a second to think about it. I attribute it to anxiety. Anything I have to know on the spot-I am struck dumb. Don’t even start with multiplication tables.

    13.   Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men make me inexplicably happy.

    14.   I could eat a bag of Cheetos Puffs by myself.

    15.   I struggle with religion.

    16.   I am often redundantly redundant. (Just ask my son, he will confirm I say things too many times that didn’t need to be said in the first place)

    17.   I have traveled around the country, one summer, on a school bus, seeing historical and geological wonders. I was a teen so I didn’t know what a big deal it was. It was a HUGE deal. I have flown in a plane over the Grand Canyon! Seen Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful, and the Liberty Bell. Stood on the battlefield of Gettysburg. Fought giant ants in Texas. Also about a million more things. It’s truly astounding and I WISH I could have taken my kids on a trip like that.

    18.   I shop by touch. I care more about how things feel than how they look.

    19.   I wish I had known how good I had it when I was a younger so I would have been more appreciative instead being of an entitled little brat.

    20.   This was very therapeutic. Thank you random Facebook game creator.

    21.   The things I don’t like about myself are more upsetting when I see them come out of my children because I know the lifetime of issues they are going to have thanks to me.

    22.   Some of the things I’ve done “because of religion” are more upsetting to me than things I did when I did not live for God. I think God totally agrees with me.

    23.   Before staying home, I worked with children and adult with disabilities increasing their independence using assistive/adaptive technology. It was such a cool job! I miss it. However, I would never trade the opportunity to be home with my kids.

    24.    I have always wanted a tattoo.  Good thing I didn’t get it, because I have changed what I want and where. 
    25.   I am an open book. Have a question ask, but prepare for the REAL answer. Sometimes I fear I make people uncomfortable with how comfortable I am with sharing my life. It’s a life given to me by God, why wouldn't I want to tell HIS story.

    The last 5 things were ONLY posted on my blog. You guys are special!