10 years in…

Ten years ago at this time, Chris and I were in our honeymoon suite. (Don’t worry, this post is PG.)

We had just settled back in after running out to a local Italian place to pick up some food. Room service at the hotel was two hours behind and Chris was already aware that his new wife wasn’t going to make it that long.

I was starving. He ate at our reception, I had a roll and two cups of coffee. I was HUNGRY. So hungry that even the complimentary chocolate covered strawberries didn’t look appetizing.

Chris lay on his side on the bed with the small individual pizza box open in front of him. I was cross legged on the bed next to him leaning over the Styrofoam food box so that the grease running down my elbows didn’t get on the beautiful sheets. Chris looked at me and smiled.

I finished chewing the bite of the Club Panini (stuffed with many meats and veggies), wiped my mouth with the napkin that was already disintegrating, and smiled back before I spoke.

“Glad you married me?” We both laughed.

When I think of that night, I remember American Pickers was playing on the tv. I remember how my suitcase with all my real clothes somehow didn’t make it to the hotel so I was in Chris’ sweatpants, t-shirt, and the gold ballet slippers I had worn at the wedding. I remember when I got done eating my food that the complimentary chocolates started to look really good. (I ate them…I don’t want you to be left wondering.)

I remember feeling so beautiful and loved. Marriage can do that to a girl.

Today, Chris and I are ten years in…

As I write this, in my own paint stained sweatpants and a shirt that doesn’t match, my husband is next to me in his recliner. When I look over at him and he looks back, he is smiling. I remember how I felt that night in the honeymoon suite because the same contentment, the same easiness of Chris is the same now as it was then. He’s safe and kind and fun to smile at. I think his smile always makes mine a little bigger.

We had planned to do something special this year for our ten year anniversary. But, I am sick. I have been sick all week. Thankfully, it is not Covid.

When I thought about my ten year anniversary celebration, snot and coughing were not part of the dream. But, the more life I live, the more I realize that how we picture our dreams is often not what reality gives us and this doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

When I was single and dreaming of being married, I had this vision of myself in marriage. In these visions I was prettier, more put together, more organized, living the cozy and perfect moments you see portrayed in the world.

But when I got out of bed this morning at 3am because I could not lay flat in bed without coughing, it gave me time to think about the last ten years with “my mister”.

The memories that came were not the ones that would be considered picture perfect, where I was prettier than normal, or totally put together. The memories that came are the ones like the very first night we were together. Where love looked at me even with grease dripping off my elbows. Where love handed me the chocolates and let me wear his clothes when I had nothing to put on.

See the moments that really make a marriage are not the ones you see in pictures. They are the ones that only you two will remember. The moments where you aren’t pretty, you aren’t put together, you are raw and real and awkward and someone looks at you like you’re beautiful and as pretty as you were on your wedding day.

Relational intimacy (I’m not referring only to sex here, it’s so much more than that) isn’t built in the moments we see on Facebook. It’s built in the moments where two people who don’t know what they’re doing say to each other, “you are the one where I am going to place all the love I have, in all the moments we are given, in every circumstance we face, no matter what.”

So as we sit here together…him in his chair…me having coughing fits on the couch with the dog snoring beside me…we smile.

Today didn’t have to be special, because being married to Chris is something special every day.

Single ladies, pray for this….God gives more than we can even ever pray for.

Married ladies, look at the man you have and figure out how to put your love there, no matter what.

Pray for the love that is deeper than Facebook or what you think people’s lives are like. Because what you really want deep in your heart will not be built of the picture perfect moments everyone sees, but of a beautiful life built second after second over years when you can smile at each other and know all the moments that only you two remember that have held you together.

Ten years in….and God willing many more to come.

I love you Chris, my mister, my best friend. Happy Anniversary.

Love,

Your Dear

Our Gracie Girl

Gracie Haywood

We adopted this little eight year old sweetie one week ago.

We found her at a local rescue shelter laying quietly in a back corner. She was silent and shy as all the other dogs around us barked loudly for our attention.

My husband walked slowly to where she was and as she made eye contact with him she got up and sat obediently.

He reached her caged area and bent down towards her and she stretched up to meet him. As his hand tenderly came up from underneath her chin to touch her face, she hesitated. But then she looked him in the eye and her sweet face leaned into his hand.

Love happened then.

My husband’s voice was quieter than normal, “Oh, she’s so cute…” As he spoke, I could see his heart melting right in front of me. I knew in that moment that she was ours.

In the week since we brought her home, my heart has melted too.

I’ve watched her, interacted with her, loved her, and comforted her. And it may sound funny, but as I have loved her, God has been loving me.

I am reminded that this love He offers to us is no small thing.

Gracie was very timid at first. You could see in her eyes that she was not sure of us. She wanted to be by our sides constantly, and yet she also wanted to run. She had nowhere else to go, and yet she didn’t know how to be at peace where she was.

Sound like anyone else you might know? It sounds more like me than I want to admit.

What kind of love was this? Who is this that is telling me to come and to follow?

Every time Gracie looks up at us with uncertainty and fear, we just want to pour out our love on her more. We don’t want her to be afraid.

God whispered to my heart, “I don’t want you to be afraid either. As you so desperately want Gracie to know how much you love her and that she is safe now, I too, my child, want that for you. I am leaning towards you just as you lean towards her. I am with you.”

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

In very simple terms, the word redeemed means paying for something to gain possession of it. We paid to take Gracie from the rescue into our home. Jesus paid for us with his death so he could bring us home with him.

Just like we saw the conditions Gracie was living in and couldn’t leave her there because we already loved her, so too a loving God has offered us a different life because He loves us.

And even though many who are reading this would say, yes, I believe that truth that God loves me, we often don’t admit that we are still trying to figure out on a daily basis what that means.

Once we have received God’s love for us, there are so many promises that ours to cling to and yet, we like Gracie often run from the love that is there for us.

He will never leave us or forsake us. He has adopted us and nothing can take us out of his hands. We are called children of God and have been placed in a family that has no end. A family that has no end.

Think about that. Death will have no more say and nothing can separate us from his great love. We will be with him forever. Safe at home in a place he has prepared for us.

It is not easy to believe this. Such a great love is hard to comprehend in a broken and distorted world like the one we endure every day.

Yet, we have a patient God whose love for us is beyond what we can understand. And He won’t give up demonstrating this love to us.

As we continue to walk with Gracie, I am sure I will have more to say about how much I love her, but also more importantly about what God is showing me about His love.

Every time I look into those big brown eyes and feel my heart swell up I feel God giving me a little squeeze.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

If you are reading this and you don’t know this kind of love that I’m talking about, I pray now that wherever you are you’d ask God to reveal himself to you. The love of God can seem unbelievable but it’s because it is no small love. He knows you by name dear one. There is nothing in your past that can change the way He is looking at you now. He deeply loves you and wants you to lean into his hand just as Gracie leaned into ours.

Lord Jesus, if there is a precious heart reading this now that wants to understand will you show them who you are? Open the eyes of their heart Lord. Love them O God. Make them your own so they won’t ever be alone or without a family again. Give words to their heart longings God and hear them. In Jesus name, Amen.

A bit of my writing….

Our writing prompt in my writer’s group was:

If someone from the future picked up your journal and read about today, what would they read?

This is what I wrote. My writer’s group said I should post it as it might encourage someone right now. I hope it does. ❤️

I went for a walk today.

Dew still clung to the tips of the trees. The mountains still stood just as tall as they were yesterday.

But the quiet of the pathway that I walk, the quiet…it has grown since all the people began hiding away.

I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. The thing is though, no one has. Those who lived through the Depression, or the wars, they’ve all but gone and so the living are left wondering with very few to ask their questions.

I’ve never seen the whole world respond together like this. A rise and fall of fears and faith moving like the ocean across the globe. Like a boat coming to rock along each and every shore. Untethered and unknown. Only to move on to another shore yet we know not where its next destination might be.

Fear has been hovering waiting to drop its talons into each heart that listens too much to its voice. But God also has been speaking and His voice is the one that comforts and silences all the questions for me.

There is so much chatter about what this is, why it’s happening, and yet there is a silence that allows humanity to speak and show itself for what it is. There is evil. There is good. And they show up, side by side, fighting for each of our attentions. One destroying and terrifying, the other truthfully drawing people to something that will stay in their hearts long after this virus has gone with gentle whispers but a strength unmatched.

I was afraid, and it still pokes at the edges of my mind, but I also am brave and have seen the streets empty and carried groceries for those who live near me and have lead those in my care, even though right now it seems there is nowhere we are going.

But we are going somewhere in every little thing we do and say. And everyone is choosing right this very moment where they will end up. Not life or death, that is out of our hands no matter what we do, although we should do whatever it is we can, for ourselves and others. That is loving each other.

God help us. Help each of us to continue to be someone who takes people somewhere, somewhere beautiful.

Beauty can grow in the most difficult of places and the Lord tends to do His most intimate work there. Let us be there too.

I took a deep breath today and reached for a drop of dew on the trees and touched the world to remind me of how much is yet to be known.

Love is still here, speaking in the quiet.

Day 15: Kitchen Appliances have arrived

I took it slow this morning. Yesterday I over did it after being so sick for a week. Not smart. But this morning I woke up, had coffee, laid around for awhile and then took a nap at 10am. We headed over to the house around 11 and this is what we did.

My sweet Daddy had to make those cabinets just perfect for me. No edges, all smooth and ready for paint!
We decided to try out that green paint I bought without knowing what I was going to do with it. Purpose discovered. We really like it.
Green door, why not? Ha!
Here come our appliances!!! Yay!
Dad excited about how perfectly the dishwasher fits into the base cabinets he installed! Great job Daddyo!
I feel so blessed by this oven! I found an as-is model for over 50% off just because it had a dent on the side. Today, when they brought it the dent was gone and I was like, “Hey guys, did you fix the dent?” They said this was a brand new oven and that’s what was loaded into the truck so enjoy! Can you believe it?! I’m so thankful!!!! 🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏
Sick girl taking a break.
My love…I’m so proud of how hard he’s been working and studying, but it was so great to have him at the house today for hours and hours! Happy me!
Almost there!
Video snippets of this weekend

Day 14: Someday The Floors will be Finished, but today was not that day…

Well I was sick all week, in bed couldn’t do anything kind of sick, but we were back at it today.

More to come tomorrow…

The lighting in this place is crazy cool. The different colors are so obvious at this time of day. Later on they almost look the same.
Painting the kitchen ceiling.
Cleared the dining room to get ready for the laminate floors.

Day 13: Flooring on the way

Well, the day is over and I can barely move.

My Dad finished setting all the kitchen cabinets.

I’m so excited as (you can’t see it in this picture) but I have a small little open shelf area for my cookbooks. Thanks Dad!
Brown marble fireplace bye bye. Isn’t my Mom cute!
Ok, let’s try this again.
Here is a sneak peek….we got about half way.

Oh and guess who might be sick now…I thought I had sawdust in my nose this afternoon, but it might be the cold Chris has had. Pray for me!

Day 12: Discouraging

Well yesterday was discouraging.

My Mom got some more painting done, my Dad got a few more of the base cabinets set, Chris went to work sick and came home and helped for a couple hours despite how he felt.

And me? What did I do?

I swept and vacuumed and swept and vacuumed and swept some more to prepare the floors. Now for those of you who know me, my joy that comes from looking at something with a sense of accomplishment was non-existent yesterday.

When we did finally try to lay some flooring it didn’t work well. I think I know what I did wrong, but the frustration level was high. My Mom reminded me that I’ve never done this before and this is how I learn. So, here’s to learning!

Today is a new day.

My body hurts, my husband is back in bed trying to heal.

And I’m sitting outside Home Depot drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee and eating munchkins for motivation. I only ate 3, ok maybe 4. (That’s equal to 1 donut right?)

I can do this!

It’s a beautiful sunrise and God is still on the throne.

Here is to yesterday and to what is to come today!

We are going to make something with these beautiful legs.

Day 11 and 1/2

I should have posted these pictures last weekend! Here are where things are as of this morning before we get started.

Side note: Pray for my sweet mister as he’s been sick all week and not able to come join in the fun.

Mom getting it done in the laundry room
I made my own saw horses out of the 5 gallon paint buckets to cut some pieces of plywood to raise the subfloor just a tad to the level of the old linoleum.
I started to do some peel and stick tile in the kitchen
I’m liking how it’s turning out. Inexpensive way to just bring a different color scheme to the kitchen quickly. And it sticks good, it will peel your skin off and everything. Just sayin’.
Lazy Susan being rolled into place last weekend
We ended up having a slow drip that wouldn’t stop in the kitchen so had to call a plumber.
Good as new
Went over after a rough day at work and used my evening to slap some second coats on certain walls. It was dark, so I hope I did a good job. We will find out today.
Here’s hoping that this weekend all those blue boxes in the bottom right of this picture turn into a beautiful laminate floor.
I woke up to this at my parent’s house this morning. It’s going to be a beautiful day people!!!

Day 10: Old Appliances and Cabinets be gone!

Today was awesome. Old friends got rid of all our old things…Andy, Erin, Trevor, and Ella, thank you!

I still can’t stop laughing about Andy’s instructions to us when we were lifting the appliances. All I’ll say is CLENCH those cheeks!
A Beautiful sunset to end a beautiful day.

Day 9: Technically a week’s worth of quick short bursts of work

Well, it’s been a busy week but not at the house.

So, this post is a summary of some quick short bursts of work at the house in the evenings or parts of a day this past 5 or 6 days.

Tonight we are officially getting to work on the cabinets so stay tuned for some major changes this weekend.

Andrea and I, my first friend to sit with me in my living room at my new kitchen table. 😀