{shayne’s 40th and the night our marriage changed forever}

lying in bed the other night i asked shayne, “what makes you happy?”
“i’ll tell you what made me happy today, ” he says.
and i listen to him talk and smile into the dark..
his list isn’t typical what i think alot of men would say makes them happy.
and this is what i love most about him.

“the way reese smiles at me every time she sees me.”
“when kate and i were singing along to a song together on the radio in my truck.”
“wrestling with ben.”
“emma coming and sitting next to me on the couch and putting her head on my shoulder.”
“having people into our home…”

his list of happy is all about others.
and that sums up what he is all about as a person.

i feel this sudden need to explain he’s not feminine or weak, or even remotely metro-sexual.
that’s our society rubbing off on me and the fear of man creeping in..
not wanting to portray him soft, less a man.
but what is wrong with a man who is soft? when it’s softness towards good and right and godliness.
why do we buy into stereotypes and think ruggedness can’t combine with tenderness?
truth is when God has a hold of someone He’s molding them to be like no stereotype out there.
a new creature. fashioned in His image. mirroring His character~
we need more men not afraid to climb on the Potter’s wheel and let God make them into men that are different.

the world tells us the way to respect is through power and position.
God says, the servant is greatest.
the world says a man must take charge, show who’s boss.
God’s way is lead by example.

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i haven’t always been grateful or seen the value of the man God gave me in shayne.
especially in recent years when the “for poorer” part of our wedding vows have filled the majority of our days
and pressures of jobs and future and location have near snapped us in two by their tension.
i’m ashamed to say there have been times i wished for someone richer. someone more set in their plans.
and yet, these years living in canada..
of having nearly a whole year of wrestling with lies and what if’s and blame of my unhappiness -
of thinking divorce would solve it all and then God just bringing me to a place of complete brokenness.
were it not for these years i doubt i’d know the love i do now.

one night shayne and i had probably the worst fight of our entire married life.
it was late. the kids in bed.
we had been going round for more than an hour..
finally, as anger escalated and selfishness controlled i said, “i’m done!” and walked out. slamming the door hard behind me.
i went downstairs and started digging in the closet for my shoes and coat and tears were streaming so hard i couldn’t even see.
then i felt shayne’s hands on my back as he turned me and i fell into his arms weeping,
saying i was so wrong. please forgive me.
and he said, forgive me too.
and never underestimate, men, the power of going after your woman! we like that. need that!

and we stood in the laundry room just holding each other for a long time and then prayed and committed those words would never come out our mouths again – “i’m done!” because at the end of the day it’s not money that holds you together or fun times or great sex or a fantastic job or big house or secure future~ we chase the illusion of an “easy life” and there’s no such thing. as long as there are people there will be hurts because we’re flawed and needy and seeking something and often someone to fill our gaps.. so we look to relationships. to love. but love brings vulnerability and the potential for pain and when that happens the enemy tries to convince us the answer is to shut down, pull away, run away, build walls, think only of our own happiness – but we were made for one another. and there is no greater joy than to love and be loved.

 

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but this was the thing for me of finally realizing..
knowing, yet not really – that my source of love cannot come from myself.
if so i will end up hurt and disappointed every time.
my source of love, the kind that stays and keeps giving regardless of circumstances or what i get in return..
that kind of love must come from the Lord!
not some conjured up false, phony spirituality.
but an emptying of self and pride and wrong mindsets and expectations and being filled with Him.

i used to think it sounded so unromantic. loving my spouse with the love of the Lord.
i wanted hot, passionate, shades of grey kind of fire!
but i’m discovering more and more when God is at your center, the source of your love, holy moses!! you better believe there is passion and fire!!
when we love from a place of selflessness -
seeing through the eyes of the other person and not through eyes of pride and comparison and entitlement.
that kind of love is the purest and deepest and truest and most passionate of all!

who knew the scripture was actually right when it said in dying to ourselves is how we discover true life.
and in losing ourselves we truly find who we were meant to be..

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the next day after that turning point night in our marriage i realized in our room when i had slammed the door it had knocked the picture off the wall, hitting three vases that sat on the dresser underneath. the vases were from the dollar section at target i had picked up several years ago, short, white, with black lettering across the front. one said LOVE. one said LAUGH. and the other, LIVE.

picking up the picture i saw that two of the vases sat unmoved and untouched, which was odd because the other, that was sitting between them actually had been knocked to the ground and broken. as i got down on my knees and began picking up the pieces i suddenly realized which vase it was. the one which said, LIVE. and i thought there couldn’t be a more perfect visual than right there in my hands of what God had done in my heart. and that the only way to find the life i longed to LIVE was through brokenness.

i still have those pieces. tucked away in my dresser drawer.
someday i want to put them in a shadow box and hang as a reminder of what must happen in order to find real love!

and i was thinking last night as i wrote in shayne’s birthday card how hard these few years have been..
and yet, i find myself so, so grateful for them.
grateful for my husband in this kind of deep way that is so beyond just liking someone and being glad they’re with you.
no. when you’ve ENDURED together.
almost quit TOGETHER.
screamed. yelled. cried. fallen in a heap. prayed TOGETHER!!
this is the kind of comradery born only out of war!
and we all better believe we’re at war for our marriages.
to be aware. intentional. active. watchful.

and the battle always starts in the mind..
so even if you feel you’re doing good by not letting your emotions show or temper flare -
it’s the thoughts that shape our actions and why we need to continually, daily, be renewing our mind with the truth of His word!

this might seem like a weird post to write for my husband’s birthday. that’s okay. :)
i’m past feeling everyone has to understand or the need to explain myself.
and really, there’s nothing to explain or try to make lighter or hide..
this has been our life and it hasn’t always been easy,
but i’m glad i can stand in this place and declare loud and clear for all the world to hear -
i wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else other than this man who was born on this day!!!!

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i am blessed beyond what i deserve.
i am grateful.
i learn from his humility, from his kindness.
and i’m excited about what God has done and is doing in our hearts.

He is writing a story so much bigger than just us.
and i’m glad i get to be on this journey of learning with the one i have grown to call, the love of my life.

happy birthday to my husband that never quits
pursuing God.
pursuing me.
pursuing the hearts of our children.
pursuing truth.

love that man!

{the in between days}

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no matter how many times i’ve heard the story and know the outcome..
i find the pendulum of my heart always swinging from the soberness of good friday to the anticipation of sunday.

but this morning i woke thinking,
“what about Saturday? the day in between?”
aren’t these the toughest to get through?

when there has been a death – to dreams. to a business. a marriage. a family. a future…
the life you thought you’d have.
those days you feel you’ll never survive, make it through, but when you do, what then?
when reality sets in and hope runs faint.
when you know there is a sunday coming. of victory. of resurrection. but you wonder..

and i think of the disciples, how they must have felt after the Lord’s death.
they knew His promise.. heard it with their own ears, that He would rise again.
and yet i’m sure that day in between was the longest ever.
when everything they had been taught and believed hung in the balance.
when the sunday dawn seemed it would never come.

these are the days where most of us live – the days in between.
coming from one into the other.. turning as book pages in the wind.
and though past hurts and deaths grow faint it’s always the question of what we’ll do with now.

i’m sure the disciples wondered why Christ couldn’t have risen on the 2nd day.
why the 3rd?
why that day in between?

but, isn’t it those days that test what we believe most?
here where our faith lasso’s to both ends -
of death, of victory,
and is pulled to its tightest and strengthened.

when we question all we’ve known. what we’ve heard. grown up with.
and it seems not much has changed in human nature in 2000 years -
“is He really who He says He is? can i trust Him?”
as we sit in our rooms of doubt and fears, same as the disciples.

those in between days when we want so desperately to believe that there is resurrection ahead
but death cuts sharp, even shocking and we’re left with empty hands and face bent, “but, Lord?”
and the enemy’s seeming victory weighs heavy. the friday of deaths hard to bear.

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how many times have i found myself just like the disciples. hiding. fearful. faith so dim.
the in between days i never thought i’d get through.

but i love what sunday brings…

the promise fulfilled. the grave empty. death defeated. victory won.
and my favorite part – a Saviour coming after us!

the morning the women discovered the tomb was empty i’ve wondered,
“why didn’t Jesus just wait for them there?” He knew they were coming!
and it makes me smile because it is always this way..
a Saviour seeking us. pursuing us!
and who did He come to first.
a woman! mary magdalene.
someone who i’m sure knew a thing or two about death. about the days in between.
and then his disciples.
those waiting. those fearful. those tainted with pasts. and weak in faith.
these are the ones He went looking for.

and even thomas. oh, how i love that doubting thomas.
when even days later and still he did not believe what he had heard.. he had to see it for himself.
it is one of my favorite scenes in the Bible.
the Lord’s invitation to thomas to touch his scars.

to come closer.

not turned off by his doubt. his wondering. his lack of “godliness.” his humanness.
but welcomed him – just.as.he.was.

“reach your hand here, put it in my side…”

and isn’t that just like Him?

on those in between days though it seems all is lost. that his word isn’t true. that hope is gone.

it is never!

He is always coming after us.

in our rooms of doubt.
in our rooms of fear.
of sin.
of immorality.
of rebellion.
of bitterness.
of addiction.
of abuse.
of pain.
of death.
of dreams dashed.

He meets us where we are. and whispers, “come to my side.”

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and what religion in the world has a God like that?

not one worshipped from afar. but one we can draw near and know and call, “Abba, Father.”

none other but our God!

the God of Fridays – when all is dark.
the God of Sundays – when victory comes.
and the God of all the days in between.

forever.

there is hope.

because of Him.

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{your love story – post#8}

today concludes our love story series and i’ve enjoyed sharing these with you.
i’ve been reminded again of the diversity among us and how no matter what our journey
the main theme throughout is God At The Center is the best marriage of all!

thanks to each of you that shared.
we will definitely do this again.

our last story comes from audrey from over at, an extrovert expounds.

i first met audrey several years ago at a bloggers retreat..
instantly drawn to her candor and transparency, not to mention awesome rock star hair!!
she’s one of those people who seems to say what everyone else is thinking.
i love her heart and have been challenged so many times through her friendship and writing.

>>>><<<<

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If you’re looking for the typical “we met…we fell in love…magic happened… we lived happily
ever after…” kind of story, you’ve come to the wrong place. Sometimes I wonder if those
stories even exist in the real world.

People tend to only show us the happy parts of their stories and leave us wondering what is wrong
with ours, when, in fact, their story also has lots of broken parts and pieces, if they would only
allow us a peek inside.

Ours is a broken story and this is the peek inside.

I guess when some people think of their story, they think more of how they met and ended up
getting married. While that is obviously an important part of the story, when I think of our
“love story” I don’t even really think about how we met. That’s been 15 years ago and while
I remember a lot of the details, that was the easy part.

Falling in love is seldom hard.
Staying there…that can be the difficult part.

When Amber asked me to write something about our marriage for her February “Love Story” series,
I felt something like fear in the pit of my stomach. I wrote back to her and said “I’m sorry. I can’t.
My marriage has been a source of a lot of pain albeit also a source of growth, but don’t count on me
unless something changes.” My perception is that people don’t want to hear about pain where
there should be happiness and sunshine. People want to believe in love and all of the fairy tales
surrounding it. In fact, I am sure that was one of my crippling misconceptions going into my marriage.
This idea that it would be easy. That it wouldn’t require hard work, because, after all, that’s how
the love stories that I read as a teenager made it sound.

If it was hard work, then we were doing something wrong.
That’s the lie I believed.

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We met and married at a very young age. We were both 20 years old on that February day in 1999
when we said our vows in front of a church full of family and friends. Till death do us part…
to love and to cherish…keeping yourself only to him…in sickness and in health… The words rolled
off of our tongues easily enough. We just had no idea what all they would mean. I entered marriage
thinking it was going to fix me. That it would heal my brokenness and make me feel complete and whole.
Jeremy thought the same thing, only his version was that I was going to finally make him feel worthwhile
and loved just as he was. I was going to be his deliverer from the worthlessness and lack of self confidence
that he felt.

Two broken people looking to one another to save them from themselves and heal their pain…
let me tell you, that is never going to happen. As long as we believe the lie that there is someone
out there who is going to make us feel whole, we will continue to be disappointed and heart-broken.

The truth is that God within you is the only way to be made whole.

His Spirit is inside each of us and we already are whole because of Him. We are fully loved and
accepted by Him…just.as.we.are. We just need to ask Him to help us figure out what is blocking
that knowledge and our acceptance of it.

We both tried for years to get our worth from the other person. So, if Jeremy worked too much,
that defined me as being unimportant. If he didn’t understand me and know what I was trying to
communicate, that defined me as strange and weird and unable to be accepted and understood.
When I didn’t respect him and questioned his ideas, he just knew that he wasn’t really OK after all.
When I eventually withdrew emotionally from our marriage and looked else where for that connection,
it just cemented in his mind the fact that he would never have what it takes to be my man. I needed
Jeremy to be happy so that I was happy, so I would hide from him whatever I thought he didn’t like and
only tell him the things that I knew would feed his need for me to admire him.

So developed the pattern within both of us of avoiding and hiding from whatever seemed hard for us to deal with.

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But anyone who has tried that route knows that time is not on your side and that you can only run
from the truth for so long. But that same truth will also set you free, if you are willing to really
see it. “Good girls don’t get divorced.” That’s what I told my counselor when he asked what makes me
stay in my marriage. Pretty noble, huh? But I couldn’t risk the stigma or face the fears of what not
staying together would look like. I didn’t think I was strong enough. But I felt trapped and dead inside
and I didn’t know which way to turn.

Sometimes when all you see is pain in front of you and behind you and around you, there is nothing
left to do but walk through it.

So that’s what I did last June. I got honest, at least as much as my fears would allow me at the time.
I told Jeremy how I felt. I said that I don’t know if I can keep on doing marriage the way we’ve
been doing it.

My brother asked me lately, “How can you know if you are choosing the right person to be married to?
How can you be sure that you choose someone who won’t let you down when the going gets tough?”
I told him that I think you can watch for certain character traits in a person, but honestly,
you really don’t know.

The true character of a person is only revealed in the harsh light of difficult circumstances.

I had no idea that when the chips were down, Jeremy would be the kind of man who would show unfailing
loyalty and love in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. It makes me cry to even talk about it. Neither did
he know that when the chips were down, I would be a person who wanted to run instead of stay and fight.
The idea that we attract and marry the person who is best equipped to help us grow and heal in the areas
that we need it most was a new concept to me. I thought we marry the person who we are most compatible with.
The person who makes us feel good about ourselves and thinks we are perfect just as we are. While that is all
well and good, the true opportunities for growth happen where the rub occurs. The true growth happens
in those places where our insecurities come to light and our broken places rub against each other,
sometimes even cutting us to the bone.

I am learning that running will only make me tired and more restless and that wherever I go, I will
still be there. Staying and fighting (if your partner is willing) will develop character and produce
healing and teach you lessons about yourself that you may never have an opportunity to learn otherwise.

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I also want to acknowledge the pain of the situation where one person wants to stay and fight but the other
is unwilling or unable to participate and difficult choices need to be made. Believe me, I get that and I feel
for you. I’m just sharing my story as it is. I did a lot of blaming in our marriage. I played the victim well.
I thought that if he would only be better at communicating, if he would only understand me more, if he would
only be more “connected” to me emotionally, then all would be well. I gave away my power and sat around for
years waiting for something outside of me to change. And all the while, God was waiting for me to be brave enough
to look inside, face my fears,and begin to allow Him to heal me.

I am learning that love truly is not about what we can get, but about what we can give.

I am learning that we can’t give what we don’t have, and that as long as I don’t love and accept myself,
I will never be able to truly love Jeremy. There is a peace that passes understanding that comes with
the knowledge that I will be OK on my own. I am whole and complete. But I WANT to be in this marriage
relationship to show love to my partner, to represent God to the world and to learn what commitment means.

When asked what is the most important aspect of marriage, many people would say “communication”.
And sure, that is right up there. But I think it’s another “C” word that actually makes the top
of the list — Commitment. Without that solid ground beneath your feet, the storms of life will
rock you right out of the marriage boat. I saw this quote a few months ago and I think it describes
Jeremy and I.

“The couples that are meant to be are the ones who go through everything that is designed to tear
them apart and come out even stronger than they were before.”

Sometimes…I think those love stories are the most beautiful.

Because when we reach the end of ourselves, He is there waiting to pick up the pieces and make
something remarkable out of them.

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The story isn’t over.
We aren’t even exactly on the other side of the current crises.
But I have hope and a deep faith that it will be good.

So good.

>>>><<<<

{what i wore & the worst accessory ever}

what i wore-patterned dress

dress: t.j. maxx {5.99 clearance rack}
belt: fossil
boots: etienne aigner
jewlrey: kat in austen

spring makeup

spring make up: blues, pinks, and silvers.

>>>><<<<

i’ll never forget the time my dad bought a dark navy blue saab 900 turbo.
after years of mini vans and the wood panel station wagon it was the coolest car ever in my ten-year old mind!
and coolest of all – the cell phone antenna that stuck out the top of the rear view window.
never mind that there was no cell phone in the car, or that we even owned a cell phone..
with that car it looked like we did and that was all that mattered.

that was back when cell phones had just come out.
when they were like holding a hand mixer to your face-
and all the warnings that came with them of rare and strange diseases
that could possibly seep in through your temple and eat away at your brain!

and i’ll date myself but i’m going to say it anyway..
my how times have changed! 

when the smart phone was introduced several years ago i felt like my brand new flip phone
at the time was like holding that hand mixer sized one to my head again-
instantly out dated and so last week!
and when i purchased my first ever smart phone only about a year ago i saw what everyone was saying was right.
i really had been missing out!
missing out on not only keeping up with friends, family, acquaintances,
and people i’ve never even met once a day when i sat down at the computer -
now, i could do it whenever, however, as many times as i wanted all throughout the day!
such convenience at my fingertips!

suddenly i liked going to dance class and basketball practice.
i was glad for the car-pool lane and when my husband offered to run into the store while i waited.
bathroom breaks became longer and date nights turned into must have documentations.

i found a growing contradiction inside me, and still.
on one hand it’s all so fun.
i love people. i love pictures. i love conversation.
i like how my bowl of granola turns into a masterpiece with just the right filter.
and a picture of the shoes i’m wearing that day is just.. so necessary! ;)
on the other hand, i find it all so weird. even humorous. and self obsessed.

never has a society shared so much and yet remained so disconnected.

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it used to be blogs were the thing in social media.
now people seem less interested. they’re too long. too involved.
then it was facebook. the more condensed version of people’s lives.
then twitter. shorter still.
now instagram – just one picture.
and apparently you’re not a good instagrammer if you share too many words.
so clearly i’m an instagram-fail.
people want a glimpse. a snippet. not too much to engage.
and let’s please keep interaction to the click of a button – “LIKE.”

i would find myself standing back wagging my head at it all until..
until, suddenly i’m the one at dinner who’s pulling out her phone, “just to check something real quick.”
until, all those people i notice that never seem to look up anymore..
i find i can’t recall the faces that sat around me for more than an hour either.
when i want my phone right beside my bed and pick it up first thing in the morning,
but it’s only to check the time, right?
when moments can’t truly be enjoyed without the interruption of having to share with the rest of the world.
and your 3-year-old can navigate your phone better than you.

and only this past sunday..
when your husband is sitting across the couch from you, talking, and all of a sudden you realize he’s stopped.
and you look up to see him looking at you and you’re not sure how long he’s been looking.
you wrack your brain to try to grab a word from the conversation and was this the point where you were supposed to answer?
and you just kinda do what everyone does when you haven’t got a clue what someone just said – smile and nod.

he sighs slightly, “have you heard me at all?”
i want to say, yes, but he already knows, it’s no.
and i try to be all cute and flirty and tell him i was actually writing about him on instagram- saying such nice things!
and he says, “i could care less what you say on there. be with me now!”

and his words strike hard and sting deep.

i haven’t stopped thinking of them since.

be with me now!

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and i wonder how many others am i missing.
how many moments i’m not truly seeing.

within my own home.
standing in the grocery check out.
in the bleachers at the game.
in the car with friends.

how many would say that same thing, “be with me NOW!”

i don’t want my life confined to a 3×2 box with a silver apple on the back.
it’s so much more than that. so much more.

there is nothing so pressing. so alarming. so life altering that i’m going to miss by not picking it up as often.

i’m actually a tad nervous putting this out there.
it means accountability, and i’m not sure i like that.
but i feel the conviction and i want to change.

i want to live with my eyes up and my hands free..
more interested in being in the moment than sharing it.
to make sure those around me know i.am.with.them.NOW!

 

after months of my phone being a constant accessory i finally realize -
it doesn’t really match the look i truly want.

 

 

*linking up today with the pleated poppy.

{balcony people}

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“As I think about relationships with others, I have concluded that there are only
two basic types of people in the world:

the Evaluators and the Affirmers.

I am sure, if there were a way to view a movie and see instant replays of all the
strategic change points in our lives, that we’d instantly spot the people who either
broke our spirits by their critical, judgmental evaluations, or healed us by their
loving, perceptive affirmations.

To be honest, I seem to be able to remember the negative comments of evaluators faster
and more clearly than the positive remarks of affirmers.

And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this…

I suspect that not far from anyone’s conscious level of thinking lies the memory of
an evaluator who pulled on his or her spiked boots and stomped deliberately over
our bare soul and personhood.

As I grow older, however, I am learning (slowly) that I have a choice about evaluators – past and present.

I can choose to keep them and their judgmental opinions in the past,
even if the “past” means just yesterday.

We all have the choice to replay the harmful remarks from evaluators,
or we can choose to let them pass on.
You and I are absolutely no different.
We have all, at one time or another in our lifetime, been crushed by an evaluator or two.

Yet, particularly as believers, we are expected to appear victorious.
We are expected to be on a continuous spiritual high.
We are expected to fly – undaunted into the storms of life.
After all, aren’t we God’s children?

The dilemma forces us to put on our brightest smiles, and give forth our
most ebullient greetings when asked about our well-being. We hide the painful
truth from ourselves and other children of God as though a crushed spirit
represents a hideous flaw in our character.

We deny that someone, even a saint of God, has caught us in their wrenching
grip of words and has snuffed out our ability to shine.

But mostly we deny that an empty void even exists within us for fear yet another
evaluator will come along and condemn us, or worse, try to set us straight.

So we retreat behind masks.

We feel hypocritical and have nagging feelings of guilt for what we know we are
supposed to be, compared with the reality of what we are.

We feel safer behind our masks.

I am more convinced than ever, that if our inner brokenness is ever to be
made whole, and if we are to ever sing again (where once there was a song), we will
need to deal with our evaluators.

The only way to deal is forgive. plain and simple.

reese

Yet, I also firmly believe that the need for affirming one another is crucial
to our process of becoming real, not phony or hypocritical, people of God.

Affirming brings authenticity and credibility to our faith as it is lived day by day.

I must be affirmed, and I must be an affirmer to others.

Otherwise I miss one of the main concepts of the New Testament -
to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens.

Evaluators are those people who live in the dark murky waters of our unconscious mind – “Basement people”.

They are family or friends, living or dead, who continually reach up through
that black water, grab us, and pull us under.

But along with basement people, we have the extraordinary advantage of having – “Balcony People”.

Affirmers.

Think of it!! All around the sphere of clear air in our conscious minds runs a balcony filled
with people who are not merely sitting there, but practically hanging over the rail, cheering us on.

My imagination fairly explodes with that mental picture!

(Sometime take out a piece of paper and write down all the names of the Balcony People in your life)

After I listed who was in my balcony, I was a little surprised at how few people were present.

But then it seemed to me that it’s not the amount of people, but the high-caliber
and level of credibility that really counts. After all, it only takes one “basement person”
to drown us in the murky waters of criticism and discouragement. Why not then, the reverse?

It only takes one “balcony person” to lift us up and restore our sense of hope and purpose.

Listing the people who were in my balcony, I concluded, was only half of what should be written…

So I got out another sheet of paper and put down all the names of people to whom I’d be a “balcony person.”

Finally, I decided I’d given absolutely enough attention to the basement people (the evaluators) of my life.
It was time to concentrate on my balcony people and on being a balcony person to others.

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I wonder what changes would occur in the lives of in-laws, parents, siblings, cousins,
husbands, wives, friends, if we stopped trying to settle every score and discontinued
our efforts to straighten out everyone else’s life?

Honestly, I know there are some impossible people out there -

I’m related to a few myself. ( smile )

But hear me, this is a plea from my heart:

Criticism and judgmental pronouncements rarely change anyone.
It’s only God’s incredible love, through us as balcony people, that has been known to work miracles
!”

*excerpts from Balcony People by: Joyce Landorf Heatherley. (with a few thoughts of my own added) : )

>>>><<<<

this is one of the best books i’ve ever read!
such a super motivator!
small and short chaptered.. which is my favorite kind!
i LOVE short chapters! don’t you like to sit down and feel like you can finish a chapter in one sitting?
i think it’s only 69 pages total~ but what heavy truths packed into such a short volume.

the prayer of my heart is to live life as a Balcony Person.

and not just merely standing there… but leaning over
waving my jacket in my hand
hooping and hollering
cheering others on.
towards encouragement.
towards hope.
towards Jesus!

“she opens her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” proverbs 31

that’s who i want to be. someone like that!

and i’m reminded on this monday morning as another week starts..
and already the snappy words and strained relationships creeping in
that the very first place, and main place, and best place i can start practicing this -
living life as a balcony person
is right here.

in my very own home.

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{your love story – post#7}

we’re getting to the end of our series here and i’ve so enjoyed not only sharing
these stories with you – but introducing the women behind them as well.

it blesses my heart to see women committed to their husbands and to the ongoing
process of strengthening their marriages.

we’ve focused only on the beginning part of their journey, the fun part, the fairytale part..
but i know with all these ladies they would be the first to admit their lives are far from perfect.
only.. and i think it’s one of the coolest parts of walking with God – not perfect lives, but peace-filled!

even among the rough parts there is stability and calm
because of the one who holds our marriages together, Jesus Christ.
and it’s because of Him that we bond over these things as girlfriends..
just sharing a piece of our lives with each other in this way!
and remembering no matter what our journey has been, He writes the very best love stories of all.

i’m so thrilled to have my good friend, Liz, up next.
Liz is another one i first met over our blogs years ago now, and then in real life several times since.
she is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. funny. and loyal.
i’m continually inspired by her positive outlook. joy in living.
and sincere passion to be the best wife and mom she can be~

>>>><<<<

your love story-jeff & liz

Once upon a time, in 1994. there lived a boy named Jeff. Jeff grew up on 40 acres in
The Ozark Mountains of Arkansas in a log home his family built. He loved his southern
lifestyle. But one day, when the boy was a teenager, his family up and moved ten hours
northeast to a suburb right outside the chaotic, bustling city of Chicago. It was a big change
for the small town country boy. ;)

Once upon a time, in 1994, there lived a girl named Elizabeth (most people called her Liz).
Liz grew up in a suburb right outside Chicago. The same suburb that Jeff happened to move to. (smile)
Illinois is the only state she’s ever called home.

Onto the love story part….

It happened one chilly Tuesday afternoon in February. He saw her. Speeding past him,
faster than lightning, she was late for gym class. I have to meet her he thought.

Little did he know she was thinking the same thing about him.

Throughout his class he wondered what the best way to meet her would be.
Finally he decided to introduce himself by sending a note.Who doesn’t love a note, right?
So, using a No.2 pencil he quickly jotted down on a 2in x 2in piece of paper…..

Jeff Nye
Call Me
555-5555 (or some number like that ;)

….and handed it to one of his friends who was also a friend of the girl.
When the friend gave the girl the tiny scrap of paper, she kindly told him she didn’t
call boys, especially boys she didn’t know. She folded up the little piece of paper and stuck
it in her backpack.

(Rumor has it for 20 years now, the girl has kept that piece of paper in her keepsake box. ;)

The mutual friend told Jeff what the girl said.  Jeff asked the mutual friend if he could
ask the girl for her phone number and he would call her instead. The friend did ask, and the
girl who doesn’t call boys had no qualms about passing out her number to the cute boy she didn’t know.

Jeff called the girl named Liz. They talked for a long, long time on the telephone.
They learned a lot about each other and were happy to discover both their families were Christians.
Then Jeff asked Liz if she would accompany him for dinner and ice skating Friday evening.

Of course, she said yes!

LoveStory3

He picked her up in his mom’s car in the middle of a snowstorm.
The two of them ate ravioli and then went ice skating.
It was the first of a billion dates.

For the next three years the two were inseparable. They were young and in love.
All of their free time was spent together. They even ended up working at the same Italian restaurant.

Jeff was/is a huge Chicago Bull’s fan. One year for his birthday Liz surprised him and bought
a pair of tickets so they could go watch a game together. Jeff decided he was going
to propose to her at the stadium. He had an engagement ring made special for her by
a friend who was a jeweler.

When he gave her the ring, she nearly fell over!

They had been talking about getting married the following fall… September to be exact.
They wanted to be married young and start a family young. However, the two of them
weren’t really following God and seeking His wisdom at this point in time. Their relationship
had become very worldy… and rather than getting married in September, they were expecting their
first baby in September. So they moved their wedding plans up to April 5th, 1997.

And they have been happily married since then. : )

LoveStory2

…and that’s our story in a nutshell!

I have written and erased and rewritten over and over and it always turns into a novel.
There is just too much to tell. I summed it up as best as I could.

Tomorrow we will be celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. I still feel like we are newlyweds.
Jeff is easy to be married to. He makes life fun. I am thankful God chose me to be his wife. I am blessed.

We have 5 children… and baby number 6 is due early this fall.

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1. How did you know Jeff was the one for you?

He opened the car door for me on our first date.
He is and always has been a gentleman.

2. What was something you never expected in marriage?

How much fun it is! Tomorrow will be 17 years for us and I still feel like we’re newlyweds.

3. What do you think has been the most valuable thing in helping to strengthen your marriage?

God! I don’t know how people do marriage without Him. It’s His Word and His principles
that keep our marriage strong and healthy. Without Him we’d have no standard to base our
relationship upon and it would fail. When you have a Christ centered marriage…your relationship becomes so much richer, so much deeper and you have a greater love for each other than you can ever possibly imagine.

4. Marriage is _____________ {fill in the blank}

Commitment!  Always view marriage with no outs.

As long as there are no outs, you’ll find a way to work things out!

LoveStory5

>>>><<<<

check out more from liz’s blog here!

{time to work on our aim, girls}

Dear Women of North America,

Do you ever feel that your life isn’t making a difference?
That what you do doesn’t matter?
Or you’re not even sure what you can do that might help someone else out?
Bless them? Bring a smile? Make their day?

Well, I’ve got something you can do that just might give you that purpose you’re looking for.
That satisfaction of a job well done and a difference made in countless lives.

It’s something that doesn’t require a lot of effort.
You don’t need a college degree, an organized group, or even special t-shirts.
It doesn’t matter your age and it’s totally done on your own schedule and in complete privacy.

I wasn’t aware of what an issue this was until our recent travels..
But let me tell you, it’s HUGE. it’s REAL. and it’s EPIDEMIC.

I’m pretty sure I went into every.single.public restroom between Toronto and Orlando.
Having three daughters and myself included, well, you know how it is, girls..
We stop to pee even when we don’t have to.
It’s a social break and that’s why we always go in packs!
Not to mention some of us have bladders that were never the same again after babies.

And I don’t know how many stall doors I opened to go in, only to walk right back out again
because I do not, I repeat, DO NOT, want to clean up after some random stranger! {can i get an amen!}

If I had a dollar for every toilet seat I’ve had to wipe off I could have saved an
entire forest of trees by now.
Forget having to use those hand dryers that blast your brains out!

I promise I’m not snobby in that way, really I’m not.
I was the janitor at our church for years and have cleaned homes for a living.
I’m not afraid of a few germs..
When I’m wearing rubber gloves to my elbows, a face mask, and carrying a bottle of bleach!!!

If I ever run for office I know the very first matter at hand will be to make sure it’s LAW
that every single place of business have those nice little toilet seat covers that you just
pull out and put down. They’re perfection!

Up the price of fries a bit, McDonald’s, and BUY TOILET SEAT COVERS ALREADY!!!

But, like most places, if they don’t. And if your quads are weak and it’s hard to squat..
or you have little ones whose feet don’t reach the floor..
which, can we just pause here a second for a moment of silence for all the moms out there
who have ever had to brave a public restroom with your toddler!!

It’s truly in those times we are most enlightened about this issue, isn’t it?
And turned us into the masters of what I call, “the triangle method” -
Strip of toilet paper down each side with one across the front.

BUT. and here is the real reason for this letter..
If you are a SQUATTER!

This is it!

For years we’ve complained and ranted and gotten after the boys for their bad aim -
but girlfriends, we are no better.

Maybe even worse!

Believe me, I get there’s some restrooms that are just GA-ROSS!
They haven’t been cleaned in 100 years and there’s actually things growing in there!
In those cases it’s best to get back in your vehicle and keep driving. Or just find the closest bush.
But if you can’t, well..
shut your eyes
hold your breath.
hum holy holy holy over and over in your mind
go as fast as possible
and get out!!

{and if you have kids, remind them it’s good preparation for the mission field!}

But some of these places are making an effort! They’ve got their cleaning check list by the door.
They’re trying!
And if we all do our part…
Kind of like the one car that slows to look at the accident on the other side of the highway
and soon you’ve got an hour-long traffic jam.

Just keep moving, people!

And one more thing – when it comes to churches. Really? I mean, seriously!
If you can’t sit on the toilet seat in your own church then you’re not safe anywhere!!

So this is my plea to women across North America!
WORK ON YOUR AIM, GIRLS!!
And if you leave a mess, clean it up.

It’s not rocket science.

We can solve this crisis simply by strengthening our quads and perfecting our triangle tp seat cover methods. ;)

So unite the sisterhood.
We’ve got this!

 

signed,
frustrated public restroom goer

{for those times it’s hard to parent}

she looks at me from where she sits at the kitchen table and i see her eyes brimmed with tears.
her lip quivers and i know it hurts worse than she’s saying.
this whole flood of emotions dammed up inside her that seems to burst inside me instead -
because when you’re a mom and you see your child hurting it does that.
their feelings bursting your heart right open and they really have no idea how fiercely we love them.

i gulp hard. wanting to be strong for her. wanting to be wise.
but in these times when something makes no sense and you feel as equally confused,
it’s hard to say the right thing, do the right thing, when you’re struggling yourself to do it.

and when she whispers, “i’m done!” i get it. i feel done too.

and my wrestling heart wants to tell her to draw back. draw in. turtle. don’t trust.
not to make herself vulnerable again.
and yet i know.. know when we’re faced with hurt the solution is never to withdraw.
to give up believing and to think we don’t need others. that we’re fine on our own.

it’s when life hurts most that we have the most to give.
loving through our pain is the most real love there is.
the kind that breathes hope to others of a God that’s bigger~

because giving is never about what we get back -
we give because of what has been given to us.
unmerited, unconditional grace.
and when others don’t meet up to what we thought.
when people disappoint.
hurt.
even deceive us.
still, grace is what we give -
not because it’s what we feel like giving, but because it’s what’s been given to us.

but, wow. is it hard to parent in times like this.
when you have to leave the room to hide your anger.
when your own faith feels so shaky.
and when you tell her, “God has something better.”
but your battling doubts confirm what her eyes ask, “does He really?”
and you answer with what you know you have to say… but really, what is the only way to choose,
“we have to keep believing that together.”

and that’s really it. when we don’t have the answer as parents.
when we feel just as lost and questioning
we simply and only, and what we always must do no matter what~
grab the hand of that child and say just that. i don’t get it either but let’s go to The One who does.

to a Heavenly Parent who Fathers us both with such tender compassions and mercies that never fail.
who is faithful since the beginning and finishes what He’s begun.
and though now confused and not understanding, one thing we can hold to is only the wisest of love is forming us.
and hurts, no matter how painful, are too His ultimate love.
for He only gives what is best and what we truly need.

“so welcome the hurts.” i choke out to her.

the hurt keeps us dependent.
the hurt deepens us.
the hurt sets us apart.
and while others might seem to have it easier. get what they want.
let’s not look at the others, dear. let’s look to Jesus.
take my hand, i’m in this with you.

every day. walking towards the light.

tendernessofheart

 

 

{your love story – post#6}

well, after a few weeks off we’re back it..
sharing more love stories from real life every day women.
this next one up is from kellie from over at aretheyallyours.
i love that she named her blog after one of the most common questions she gets asked when out with her seven kids!!
{mother’s of large families just need to get t-shirts with ready-made answers already on them -
“yes, they’re all mine!”}

i first met kellie several years ago when our blogs first crossed on xanga.
soon our casual acquaintance turned to friendship~
and i’ve appreciated her presence and voice of encouragement in my life throughout the time i’ve known her.

funny how you can feel a friendship and love for someone you’ve never even met.
but that’s the beauty of social media and the ultimate beauty of being part of the family of God! amen.

so i’ve brewed myself a cup of vanilla chai. hurry and go grab your favorite warm drink too..
let’s take a little time together to sit back and enjoy as kellie shares her story with us.

may days 103scott&kellie

In the spring of 1992, I was a senior in college and attended a church outside of Atlanta that had a huge college group. One Friday evening, a friend of mine, Claire, and I were volunteering at a ministry that our church sponsored and afterwards, I went to her house with her to meet two friends of hers from college. She and I got to her house and walked downstairs where the two guys, Scott and Matt, were waiting to visit with her.

When I walked in, I saw them sitting on the sofa. I wasn’t greatly impressed with either of them. Scott, who was in the Army, honestly seemed a little arrogant and sarcastic. The four of us spent the evening talking and then I went home, not thinking much about the guys that I’d just met.

The following Sunday, Scott visited our church and seemed like a different person.

He greeted me with a huge smile which really helped change my opinion of him. We talked a little after the service that day and over the next couple of months, he would come to church on the weekends when he came home. We would sometimes go out to eat after Sunday evening services with a group of friends from our college group.

One Sunday, Claire came up to me with a big grin on her face and said, “I know someone who wants to ask you out.” I asked her who it was and she said “my buddy Scott.” I was not completely surprised since we had been hanging out together some, but I was very excited!

A few days later he called me and we talked for quite a while. The thing I was really drawn to was his sense of humor. Before the call ended, he asked if I’d like to have lunch with him that Friday. I said sure and was both nervous and excited!

That Friday he came to pick me up and we went to a local BBQ restaurant that is kind of a hang-out at lunch time. After lunch as we were talking, he mentioned that he would be leaving for South Korea for a year. I was so upset but I hid it well! When I got home, I wondered why it upset me so much when I really didn’t even know him that well!

During the short time I had been spending with Scott, I prayed earnestly that if God did not want me to have a relationship with him, that He would take away any attraction I had towards him.

To make a long story short, He didn’t! And the more time we spent together, the more we just seemed to “click”.

The days before Scott left for Korea, we spent a lot of time talking and just hanging out. The day before he left, he and I and Claire and her boyfriend spent the entire day at Stone Mountain. We had a fabulous day! Even that early in our relationship, Scott hinted around about the future. We talked a lot about our convictions, ideas about life and family, and about our faith. I remember thinking that I could actually see myself marrying him!

That evening when Scott took me home, he told me that he loved me.

scott&kellie

Looking back I know it was premature but it seemed to be the right thing at the time. I came home from work the next day to two dozen beautiful red roses with a sweet note telling me that he would be back.

We spent the next seven months talking on the phone and writing letters. The first two months he was gone, his phone bill was over $1000!!!! That was back in 1992, way before unlimited long distance, Skype, or even email! I promised him that I would write every day that he was gone and I did. We learned a lot about each other through those phone calls and letters.

In December he was able to take two weeks’ leave to come home. To say I was excited was an
understatement! We had talked about marriage some, so I secretly hoped for an engagement ring for Christmas!

On Christmas Eve we exchanged gifts at his parent’s house. I opened up a white bear and
saw a beautiful diamond ring tied around its neck! He got down on one knee and proposed and I said “yes”!

During the five months he finished up in Korea, I spent planning our wedding.

We were married on June 18, 1993.

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Looking back over our “courtship” and the short amount of time we had together in person, it is only by the grace of God that we are where we are today. I don’t think you can really know someone until you are married and living together day in and day out. I was immature and he was selfish. We have been through enormous trials together. I know that God has used every trial we have been through to refine us individually and to teach us about commitment in spite of difficulty. We went through a very difficult time about five years into our marriage that we almost did not survive. We have also had financial stress, job loss, many moves, the births of seven awesome children, and many other life events, both good and bad, that have made for a very exciting 20+ years!

I cannot imagine how any couple can stay married without the Lord being the glue holding them together. There have been times when both of us wanted out but God was always there to prevent the enemy from destroying us. Even today, our marriage is far from perfect. There are things about him that drive me crazy and I know I drive him crazy! But when you have gone through so much with someone, there is a bond that no one else knows.

I am so thankful that I have a husband who loves me and our kids so much that he would do anything for us. He works hard to provide well for us and he always wants the very best for us. I am thankful that I have a husband who prays for me and our kids. He sometimes sends me emails of prayers he is praying for me when I am struggling.

The commitment to marriage is the only thing that can make a bad marriage better.

We are living proof!

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1. How did you know Scott was the one for you?

I honestly don’t know how to explain it other than I felt God brought us together. We had so much fun together and we had many common beliefs/goals.

2. What was something you never expected in marriage?

For it to reveal my weaknesses and to see how God uses our marriage relationship to change things in me.

3. What do you think has been the most valuable thing in helping to strengthen your marriage?

Working together to get through difficult times. The struggles we have been through have been the cement that makes our marriage bond stronger.

4. Marriage is _____________ {fill in the blank}

Commitment, sacrifice, comfort, joy, and fun!

 

>>>><<<<

{what i wore wednesday – florida style}

linking up again with the pleated poppy for another wiww post. first one is here.

i must say i’m glad my two month shopping freeze is over-
but i’m still wanting to challenge myself to shop my closet and use what i already have.
which means it’s time to bust out the old running shoes and drop some of this winter weight.

i’m tired of feeling tired and gripey about my body and need to shut up and get moving!
it might have been a mistake asking my hubby to be my personal trainer.
in the middle of watching dancing with the stars the other night he made me get up and go for a run!!
and when i tried taking a picture for instagram while running, he made me put it away!!
i mean.. what kind of personal trainer takes away your rights to instagram!!!!
this is going to be an interesting arrangement.

one of my absolute favorite things about being in florida was the simplicity of dressing.
no jeans or bulky sweaters or coats or socks or boots or mitts or scarves or layers.
it was GLORIOUS!!!
just cotton and elastic waists and cool comfort and cute sandals.
the older i get the far less picky i am about my outfits~
i was laughing with a friend about how we used to iron everything when we were first married.
now, my kids are like, “an iron? what’s that?”
it’s nice to have that freedom and just release in settling into your style.
but i’m still a girl’s girl. and do like looking like one.

i think fashion is a form of art and it’s fun to play around with it and see what all we can create~

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top: walmart
skirt: target
earrings: american eagle
shoes: kohls

i honestly think this is the oldest shirt i own.
i bought it years ago.. to use as a pajama shirt when i was going away on a lady’s retreat.
i’m sure it was one of those things where i was in a rush one morning and looked in the mirror and thought,
“hmm.. this will do!” and so i just kept right on wearing my pajama shirt for daywear too! ;)
it has rainbows and mushrooms on it that you can’t see and the whole picture is washed out -
but that’s SUN, y’all. marvelous, warm sun!! if i close my eyes i can almost feel it again!!

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pants: forever21
sweater: forever21
cami: h&m
necklace: american eagle
watch: guess
ring: charlotte russe
shoes: t.j. maxx

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bought these pants at an outlet while we were in florida.
i’m in love with all things floral this spring -
it just appeals to me in all it’s femininity and softness.
i didn’t take the time to try these on in the store and wasn’t sure if i’d like them..
i didn’t want to feel like a couple of walking rolls of wrapping paper!
i think the long sweater helps to hide a bit of the busyness and they’re so comfortable and light.
they had ones that were open at the bottom as well, but i prefer the more tailored look of the elastic at the ankle.
there were tons of patterns and styles to choose from.

another thing i love are big chunky rings.
they just make any outfit more fun.

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sundress: second hand store
sweater: dillards
hat: target
shoes: kohls

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these sparkling sandals are some of my favorites.
i bought them two summers ago and wear them with about everything.
every girl needs a great pair of sequin shoes in her closet!!!~

and the hat. well, as i discovered the hard way..
if your skin hasn’t seen warm sun in awhile, go mild on the tanning and go to target and buy a great hat!!

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happy wednesday.
and happy shopping your closet!~

 

*i’d like to begin doing a link up here for wiww.
so start snapping pics of your outfits, girls. and get ready to share!!