Friday, February 28, 2014

When Our Fairytale Met Real Life

Before reading this post, I suggest to ... (then this will become clearer)
CLICK HERE to read the beginning of our fairytale story together

So now ...
the middle --
not a fairytale ...
but the real-life ...

On May 16, 1984 we pledged before God 
to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, 
for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love honor and obey,
as long as we both shall live

Little did we know at the time that "our" lifespan was less than four years.  Before our 4th anniversary, we were separated
 ... and then the divorce papers ... then 2 court hearings ... we were actually just two signatures & the payment to the lawyers away from ending "what God had joined together".

All alone in a great big house
Nothing left but an empty vow
And two hearts that had all but given up
Bag packed and he said goodbye
But he’s sitting in the car outside
Looking at a ring and a reason not to run

For several months, we were on our way to destroying not only ourselves but our daughter and everyone around us.  This time period has become a blur to both of us, but we know that we were on a downhill slide picking up momentum and speed to destruction.  Then something happened inside each of us ... 

(Then) Love walked in
Through the door
And face to face with brokenness
Said it’s still worth fighting for
Crushed the doubt
With a kiss
Walls fell down

When love walked in

Over the course of the next several years, we had no idea how to "fix" us.  As hard as we tried -- and neither of us was willing to let go of "what God has joined together".  We would be doing great for several months ... 
and then (in the words of our middle-school aged daughter) KABOOM!!! 
Every hurt ... every tear ... every memory -- brought back up.

During this time, we were active in our daughter's activities at church & school ...
we were active in our church roles & faithful in our tithes ...
yet we couldn't "fix" the kabooms.

There were two distinct events that turned us around ... both of us remember these events very clearly.  When our family (the 3 of us) was going through a major crisis, dear friends of ours gave us a video of an evangelist speaking at a pastor's conference.  Our family traveled through the Valley of Baca during this time.  And then Dan & I both were hit with reality ... satan would use any force he could to tear our family completely apart.  
We both needed to be ONE UNITED FORCE.

The other event was a revival that our next church ministry experienced.  We learned of a (new to us) concept ...

the husband-wife relationship

It may sound so simple to those reading this, but it sure wasn't to us.  We had gone along in our married life (at this point for many years) ... we had come so close to destroying our marriage ... and yet -- this was a new concept to both of us.  
It was at this point that we experienced what we had been missing all along.

We had "reconciled" ... we were trying to "restore" ... 
and then we experienced

God's redemption

redemption is beautiful

And it’s the greatest story ever told
Than when it looked like there was no more hope

Love walked in
Through the door
And face to face with brokenness
Said it’s still worth dying for
Met the world
With a kiss
Walls fell down
When love walked in

So the picture that I mentioned in a previous post 
( CLICK HERE to read The ABCs of Our 30 )
as one of my favorites ... 

Christmas 1988 ... 
we were reconciling and restoring ... 
we simply refused to give up ...
we "choosed" each other ...
{Disclaimer -- only diet coke in the iced mug}

  ~~ 25 years later ~~

Christmas 2013 ...

yes ...
redemption is beautiful

In my previous post The ABCs of Our 30 ... each letter of the alphabet represents our 30 years of marriage.  Some people may question why I've written these posts ... and quite frankly I really have no idea of "why now".  I can only say that over the past few weeks I've felt a little nudge from God.  And if one person can relate to these posts, then it's worth it all to my husband and me. You see, we believe that God does NOT bring us through crises just for us ... but rather He enables us to reach out and help and comfort others.  One of my most favorite passages of scripture is II Corinthians 1:3-7 ...

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer.
Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

Dan & I own "our story" ... it may not have the fairytale "middle" that we had imagined during our early days of marriage ... 
but it's our God-story.  Sure we may wish that we hadn't have caused each other so much pain and tears ... but it's all brought us to where we are today ...

Much more solid and grounded in God's truths that have brought us to what will be our

30th anniversary 
May 16, 2014

and once again ...

God's redemption is beautiful 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Once Upon a Time ... The Beginning of Our Story

Once upon a time there was a young girl who was a freshman in high school.  She noticed "the new guy" at school who was a junior and had just moved to a part of the girl's home-county.  Oh how she thought he was the cutest boy she had ever laid her eyes on!

Time passed and one afternoon during her sophomore year (and his senior year) the girl and her friends from band were going to the practice field for competition practice.  She saw the boy talking to several of his friends while passing through the hallway ... 
and their eyes met ... and then ----

Nothing for the next couple of years.  They passed each other at school and at ball games
... but never spoke a word to each other 
until ----

The spring semester of her freshman year at the hometown university and his junior year at the same university.  She was waiting on her Mother to pick her up for a doctor's appointment and he was walking into the student center ... 
and they spoke & smiled ... 
"Hi" ...

Once again time passed ... but only a couple of months until they began chatting at the student center.  That summer she saw his family's band at the local amusement park... and then a little more time passed ... 
the fall semester of her sophomore year and his senior year of college ... 

And he asked her out ... 
So, as amazing as going on that date was with him, the second date was even more amazing ---- 
and they dated for the next 8 months ... 

 And then they eloped.

Still living their fairytale adventure, their only child was born before their second anniversary.  And their family was complete.  
And so, for the next 28 years they lived in wedded bliss and now are coming upon their 30th anniversary ...

Hold on, storyteller ... 
while everything in this story is true, it's the last sentence that --- that ... well, let's just say that maybe their story has more in the middle than this fairytale suggests.  The first verse of the Mark Schultz song Love Walked In seems to provide a more accurate depiction ...

All alone in a great big house
Nothing left but an empty vow
And two hearts that had all but given up
Bag packed and he said goodbye
But he’s sitting in the car outside
Looking at a ring and a reason not to run

the brokenness
the reconciliation
the grace
the restoration
the mercy
the redemption

the story of us

In my next post I will share "the middle"

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The ABCs of 30

I've been thinking about what kind of post I will make when Dan & I celebrate our 30th anniversary (in May).  A few questions came to my mind as I've been into this process ...

Do I make the post light-hearted or serious?  Do I include the not-so-good as well as the awesome?  How much do I want to divulge to our future generations? {and to everyone in the world wide web} ... So, from time to time I may be writing some of my thoughts, experiences and values on my marriage. Over the years we've reached the mountain peaks as well as sank into the deep valleys. And since my blog is basically to share some of my values with my future generations, it's very important to me that they have a source that they can turn to -- either see what we've done right over the years, or simply learn from our mistakes.  

For this post, however, I had the idea of coming up with one word for each letter of the alphabet and its significance in our 30 years.  
So, here's my "ABCs of 30" ...

A .... Over the years I have gained more & more appreciation for all my husband does for me & our family.  He's a hard worker whether in his career or at home. He carries a lot of weight to make sure we are taken care of -- and for that I am so grateful.
B .... I always have and I always will believe in my husband.
C .... Even in marriages change happens.  We choose to go through these changes together.
D .... No matter how many years God gives us together, there will always be something new to discover about each other and to discover them side by side.

E .... Plain and simple truth -- I have no regrets of not having a public wedding nor wedding pictures to capture our big day ... I would elope with him all over again.
F .... Family relationships are a vital aspect in our marriage. When our daughter was younger, we traveled several times a year to visit our families and solidify our relationships with everyone.  Relationships take time, effort and lots of sacrifice -- but they are so worth everything we invest.
G .... In every relationship -- in everything we do, say & think -- God has to be the Center. Without Him as our focus, every relationship becomes selfish ... even marriages. So, Dan & I choose God to be our Center.

H .... After 30 years, he still holds my hand.  
I .... Every day is a new day to say I do.
J .... There has never been any room for jealousy in our marriage. We are in our marriage together -- Dan has always said that whatever comes our way, he & I have done it together. 

K .... Kindness matters in our husband-wife relationship.  We have become best friends from our earlier days together -- I want to give him my best of everything I have and everything I am.
L .... Most newlyweds believe that love is just a feeling. But over time, most married couples realize that love is the action we take in everything that surrounds our married life.
M .... The 2 kids that we were at the beginning had no clue as to what marriage was all about -- and 30 years later we're still learning.  We don't know everything and we don't even pretend that we do. But we are having fun throughout our learning process.

N .... Never ever give up on God's plan for you... read aloud Jeremiah 29:11 until you truly believe this promise.

O .... Truth of the matter is -- there is no other person who I want to grow old with.
P .... When I get down about something, he is always looking for something positive for me to see.  No matter the circumstance, he always tries to find something to shift my focus away from the negative. That's just one of the reasons I adore him.

Q .... Even in our most quiet times, I know that he is mine and I am his.  And that gives us both strength to face whatever comes our way.
R .... When I said to him that he has matured so much from the boy I married 30 years ago, his face lit up & he said "Sweetheart, it's only because you are the reason I do what I do" -- I will always be my husband's #1 cheerleader.

S .... I remember the first time he called me Sweetheart after we were married. We were at a weekend bluegrass festival where he was setting up the sound equipment. He, his parents & brother not only performed but they also provided all the sound. He was on the scaffolding & needed something, so he yelled "Hey Sweetheart!"  I remember he got a bit of teasing for that -- but he has never stopped calling me Sweetheart for 30 years.


T .... Throughout various seasons of our life, we have shed many tears -- of joy, sadness, triumph and despair.  And those tears have only drawn us closer to each other and (more importantly) closer to God.  Some people may say that tears show weakness -- but it's only through our weakness that God can show His strength.
U .... One of the most crucial aspects in a marriage is for the couple to move in unity. Yes we may have different thoughts & viewpoints, but in order to keep a healthy marriage we need to be supportive of each other.  There's times when either of us will say "well, here's why I think the way I do on this situation" and the other will be able to see our point of view. But we believe that God blesses the couple who stands unified and not divided.

V .... Jesus said "I am the vine and you are my branches" And He is the vine in our marriage that holds the branches as we go through whatever comes our way.
W .... Wealth is not measured in a marriage by how much money we have in our bank account or how many "things" we own.  I believe that I am the wealthiest person on this Earth with my husband by my side and my family alongside of us. I do not need anything else.
X .... What word can I use for this letter? I've thought & thought -- cliche' words always come to mind.  Then I thought --- I didn't need to find the X marking the spot of my treasure. My husband & family have already marked their positions in my life.


Y .... Although we both were very young when we married, we knew that we were made for each other. We've had our ups & downs just like every other married couple. But now coming upon our 30th anniversary -- yes, I certainly would elope with him all over again. 

Z .... The word zeal means to have an intensity or passion for something or someone. It's through our zeal for each other that we want and encourage each other to do and be all that we want.  I desire for my husband to live his dreams just as he desires the same for me. It's through this passion that we want the very best for each other -- our life partner. 

{{ A word about this collage ... one evening several years ago we were chatting & looking through some old pictures.  One of these pictures captured my attention & tears came to my eyes.  He wondered why.  I told him that picture reminded me of a time in our life --- and then he said "I'm thankful everyday that I choosed you".  
Yes, he said "choosed" and he said that he keeps choosing me everyday.  
In another post I will tell the significance of that picture -- 
as well as which picture tells that period of time in our life.}}

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Take on Valentine's Day

Over the past few days I've seen many posts and status updates on Valentine's Day.  
From the "Oh how romantic my Valentine is" ... 
to "Will this Hallmark-driven day ever end?"

And now, I am putting in my two cents worth 
(and it might not even be worth THAT much) ...

My husband and I normally don't make a big deal of Valentine's Day.  Our daughter's birthday is February 13, so we have always put more emphasis on her day than the day after.  That's not to say that we haven't gotten each other something ... but it's never been too much for this day.  In the past I've gotten flowers, chocolates, dinner, cards ...

But the best gift that I ever received from my husband has been simply to spend some time with him.  This is his busy season at work, so it means so much to me just to spend a few extra minutes with him on February 14.  

 Earlier this week I started listening to one of my older CDs -- Nicole C. Mullen.  And one of her songs reminded me of the One who is our Creator and who is the Author of all love letters.  When my heart is aligned with His, love is a beautiful thing.  It pours out in everything I do ... everything I say ... everything I think.
And sometimes I just need a little tuning ... and He is right there for me.

So, no matter if our opinions on Valentine's Day differ on its significance and importance, 
there's One 
who is the Author of all love
who proved His love for each of us upon the cross
who is always the Music of my heart.


Dear Lord,  May I always remember You as my First Love.  And when I do this simple act, may my heart be aligned with Yours and may You show Your love for others through me.  Sometimes I need a little fine-tuning, but thank You for always being there and never giving up on me.  May You always be the Music of my heart.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Our First Blink ... Our Daughter's Birthday

Doesn't seem possible that 28 years ago ... Thursday,  February 13, 1986 
our little miracle came into the world.  She was a miracle in that the doctors said we would never have children -- 
but God said otherwise.

I know that I don't say enough about my daughter ... but the truth is -- 
she's an extraordinary young woman.  She seeks God's desire for her life and 
the life of her family.  She's a wonderful wife to her 'Joe as well as an awesome Mommy to her children.  
Her Daddy & I have watched our little bundle of joy become the young devoted woman she is today. 

Parents always remember the birth of their children -- and Dan & I remember that particular Thursday very well... 
snow & ice all over the city where our hospital was -- 
my Granny & I on the phone all day as she was in the hospital across town (Dan was driving my Mother to check on Granny & 
there were wrecks all over town) --
my husband standing by my hospital bed when our daughter entered our world. 
The only thing we seem to have a "difference of opinion" on is how much snow was on the ground ... suffice it to say, there was ALOT -- more than likely over a foot of it.  But, the snow amount aside, we do agree that these past 28 years have gone by quickly.

So, here's some pictures & collages of
the first time we blinked ... 



We are so thankful that God chose us to be the parents of this young woman. 
We love her and her family ~~~ 
and look forward to seeing how God will use their family & bless each of them 
in the days & years ahead.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. GI Joe ~~~
With all our love, 
Daddy & Mother

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fingerprints on Our Littlest Warrior Baby

It's close to impossible to remember the day of Thomas Alexander's birth without recounting the events surrounding.  There's always certain things that happen in our lives that make them monumental to each of us ... and so it is with our grandson's birth.

I first backup to my post for an Easter prayer request from April 2011  
We had just found out that Lucy was going to be a big sister ... and then the miscarriage ... all within a week ... God gained His littlest angel from our family (absolutely no reason or confirmation, but we all believe our angel is Lucy's baby sister).  My husband & I tried to make Easter as "normal" for Lucy as we could -- while her Mommy was sick & later 'Joe took her to the ER as they confirmed the miscarriage process.  Here's some of our precious pictures from Easter 2011 CLICK HERE

And then ... another pregnancy came soon afterwards.  A little Valentine was expected to make an appearance -- approximate due date around Feb 20th or so (which just happens to be "Daddy's" birthday too).  

So during the pregnancy we needed to make sure Mrs. 'Joe stayed healthy and did not over-do herself ... 'Joe deployed to Afghanistan ... and then -- 
around 2am the morning of February 9th 
I got a text message from Mrs. 'Joe (who was just upstairs in our house 
in their bedroom with a sleeping 3 year old princess) ... 

By 3:30am she was settled in her hospital room with her Daddy ("Grandad") by her side ... so, I sent a text message to him around 6am since I had not heard any news ... and then I sent another text message 10 minutes later ... and then a phone call ...  

"I couldn't text you back since she has one hand and I'm holding Tag in my other hand."  ---- After 2 1/2 hours of hard natural labor ... Thomas Alexander made his appearance into our world!!!

I don't think Lucy was expecting to see a "real" baby!

Tag stole his Granny's heart ...

Lucy absolutely LOVES her baby brother --- and is sooooooo glad he finally made his appearance!

It seems only fair that my husband be present during the birth of our grandson ... because I was present at the birth of our granddaughter.  
'Joe missed Lucy's birth by about 30 minutes -- and Tag's from around the world.


After a lot of "red tape", 'Joe was able to call his family from Afghanistan -- they actually held up the phone call because Mrs. 'Joe did not know Tag's length -- all other information was given ... except for his length.  Oh well ... this phone call was worth it!

So then ... Grandad actually stopped by the "baby place" {across town} the following evening after work (his very busy time at work too) -- but he just couldn't stay away from his namesake ("Thomas" is my husband's middle name and it was his grandfather's name as well -- his dad's dad).

And then ... we adjust to life in our house with a newborn and a 3 1/2 year old for the next week.  


We celebrated Mrs. 'Joe's birthday on February 13th (in which she & Grandad took Tag for his first doctor's appointment) ... 

... and then on February 20th ('Joe's birthday) --- "the" phone call from Afghanistan ...

 'Joe's base had come under enemy attack and he had been wounded ... to the point that he would be flown to Germany then make his way back to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.  I wrote several posts during this time period for prayer requests & updates ... Mrs. 'Joe and Tag basically moved to the Fisher House with 'Joe and Lucy & I traveled back and forth almost weekly ... the "few weeks" rehabilitation period turned into a 5 month stay for them. 
 And then the long road of recovery from home.


He made hearts smile at Walter Reed ... and he always makes our hearts smile!

And so ... after much remembering and thankfulness ... and just completely standing in awe ... there has been One set of fingerprints on the whole surroundings of Thomas Alexander's existence and young life.  And his Granny and Grandad look forward to watching how God molds and shapes the life of this little boy -- as well as his big sister. 

Happy 2nd Birthday 
Thomas Alexander "Tag" 

We love you more than words can say and more than you will ever know