Love and Marriage, Week 4

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 6 Comments A+ a-

This week is our last week and  we’re going to discuss whatever is on our hearts.

LoveMarriage4I have two things that I wanted to address here this week.  One will seem frivolous, especially compared to the other.  But I think its important to address, especially in this platform. 

Blogging and Husbands.

I don’t know about you, I can only speak for myself, but I love blogging.  I mean, LOVE, blogging.  I’ve been blogging since 2005 and this place has become such an important piece of my life.  Its where I’ve documented important memories, feelings, experiences, emotions.  Its where I’ve given voice to the number of issues that are important to me.  Its my journal.

And because its important to me, I need Jon on board with this piece of me.  Especially as it relates to him, our marriage, and the public platform I write from.  I can honestly tell you that Jon loves my blog, he loves reading my blog.  Rarely does a morning go by that I don’t see him logging in from work to read any new posts.  He offers feedback on posts, he’ll dialogue with me about comments, he offers support.  In fact, its gotten to the point that he’ll even give me ideas for posts.

Whatever the case may be with your spouse, I HIGHLY suggest discussing blogging with him.  Find out what he’s comfortable sharing with the world, whether he wants a place in it at all.  And respect those feelings.  Some bloggers live out their marriages on the world wide web (with the exception of finances, we’re one of them), some bloggers won’t mention their marriages at all, and some live in the in-between.  None are wrong, none are right.  But hopefully everyone is respecting the boundaries that each couple has set forth.

The second thing is more serious, and I believe incredibly fundamental for my marriage to succeed.  It might seem “preachy” to you, and if it does, I apologize.  That is certainly not my intent!  This is just something that is key to keeping my marriage working.

It’s the realization that my spouse IS going to fail me, and to accept that truth with grace.  There are no ands, ifs, or buts about it.  Jon has failed to meet my needs countless times in our relationship, just as I have failed him.  We are human, and we will continue to fail each other.

However, there is One who has never failed me.  Never.  Its my Lord, Jesus Christ. 

I became a Christian at the young age of five years old, but didn’t really proclaim my parents faith as my own until I was in my early twenties.  I went through some rebellion and some of my stories would probably shock you.  But in the midst of it, even in the darkest hours, I felt God’s hand of protection over me.  There were numerous circumstances when I could have easily become a statistic, but I always felt His hand.  I turned back to the truth and have clung to Him ever since.

My identity in Christ is THE most important thing to me.  Its not my role as a wife or mother, its not my role as sister, daughter, or friend.  I am a daughter of the Most High King.  And because I can go to Him with every need, every doubt, every worry, every fear, and have HIM meet those needs, I’ve freed Jon up to be human and to love me with human failings.  There’s something to be said about having the pressure and expectations taken off that allows our marriage to breathe and grow.  There is not a doubt in my mind that if I didn’t have Christ as my center, every other relationship I have would crumble into dust.  And that includes my marriage.

Thank you for joining us on this Love and Marriage blog series.  It has been a delight to get to know you all better, and some for the first time.  I know that I’ve added a few new blogs that I’ve added to my reading list.  I hope this series has blessed you half as much as its blessed me. 

Please check out the other ladies participating in this series and read their words of wisdom today.  Mandy, Jenna, Shay, Lindsey, and Megan.  You can also link up below!

I need a Moment

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

My dearest Hudson,

Sometimes I just need a moment.  A moment to compose myself, a moment to reflect, a moment to take in the changes I see happening in you.  Quite frankly, my love, there have been quite a few moments lately, and each one takes my breath away.

Hudson, you have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few months.  One moment, I saw a struggling, young boy, who barely knew 13 of the 26 letters in the alphabet.  And with the tick of each week, I saw you learning new letters and sounds.  I saw you working so hard and your determination has served you well.  I’ve never been so proud as you added letter after letter, until you knew each one and the accompanying sounds. 

But today… oh, my sweet boy… today you blew me away.  As you sat coloring with Reagan this morning, you wrote: “I luv flrs” which you deciphered to me as “I love flowers”.  And my mouth fell open and I exchanged looks with your daddy.  You are spelling words!  All by yourself!  I don’t care that they’re not spelled correctly, phonetically, its dead on.  And I am proud of you for TRYING! 

Speaking of flowers…  You have suddenly taken on Daddy’s love of gardening and have selected some soil for yourself.  You’ve been cultivating the land, getting it ready for seeds.  And when you heard I was running to the store yesterday, you came running out to the car.  You opened my door and asked if I’d buy you some seeds for your garden.  I told you I would and went to shut the door, but you stopped it and asked, “Pinky promise?”  And there in the driveway, you and I linked pinkies and I promised I would come home with seeds.

Today was a big day for you, my son.

HudsonCollage3A couple of weeks ago, your teacher sent me an email letting us know you were getting a certificate for character.  These awards always mean so much more to me than any athletic or academic award, my love.  Because I want to cultivate in you character.  Above all.  This will be something that no one will ever be able to take away from you, no matter what!  You either have character, or you don’t.  And these awards give me a peek into what’s being shaped into your soul.

HudsonCollage2It is obvious that your love of order, justice, and love of military and policemen have followed you into the classroom.  This is what your teacher wrote on your award:

Hup, two, three, four.  GI Hudson is on a self-control tour.  He might not be in the army, but he has the self-control to be a great soldier.  He has typical kindergarten boy energy, but can harness it when needed.  When the teacher asks him to show he is ready to leave, he is one of the first to get his body ready.  In the hallways, Hudson stays in line with his duck tail and bubble.  He has fun at recess, making up exciting games for the class to play, but is always safe and in control.  Hudson, I am thankful to have you in my class.

Buddy, you did good.

HudsonCollage1Then after school, Daddy and I had the fun of surprising you with a visit to the local police station.  I have a friend who was gracious to show us around the dispatch center, as well as have a police officer show you everywhere else, including the holding cells and interrogation rooms.

I don’t think you stopped smiling the entire time we were there!  Your eyes would widen with each new observation and morsel of information.  This was your heaven, and I’m so thankful that we were able to share that moment with you.

Hudson Jonathan, as I’m catching glimpses of who you are and who God has called you to be, I’m humbled to the core.  You, my son, have such a strong sense of right and wrong.  You are, without a doubt, a born leader.  You have a take-charge attitude, and while it can drive your daddy and I nuts at times, I know this is going to be an incredible asset in your future. 

HudsonCollage4Yet, as strong and bossy as you are, you have such a tender heart too.  Its never more evident than in your interactions with your youngest sister.  I’ve never seen a sibling relationship like what you and Ashlynn have, both adoring each other, almost to a fault.  You are constantly taking care of her, making sure she’s ok, and as rough as I know you can be (because you are ROUGH with Reagan), you always take it down about 10 notches with Ashlynn.  It warms my heart!

Hudson, its an incredible honor to be your mother.  I know I don’t do this parenting thing perfectly; there have been many, many, MANY times I’ve had to ask for your forgiveness for one thing or another.  But I’m honored that I get the opportunity to be a part of your life and I pray (continually) for the wisdom in shaping you, your strengths, and your weaknesses.

I love you, my little man!  And I’m excited to see where this life takes you!
Mama

Monthly Recap, March 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013 1 Comments A+ a-

This is only about 21 days late, but whatever.  Right?  I wish I had a better excuse than being busy, but it is what it is.  I’ve been busy living life these days.  But I definitely wanted to get this up here, so without further ado, March recap.

MarchCollage

  1. Our leprechaun showed up again this year, and continued to make quite a mess.  Green crepe paper thrown everywhere, green “pee” in the toilet, green and  gold confetti.  I’m still cleaning up after our visitor.  But the kids love it so much and the extra work is totally worth it.  The only downside is that Devyn figured out that its actually Mama behind the magic, but that’s another post for another day.
  2. We spent the morning riding bikes with Hudson’s best friend.  These two are inseparable, which is going to be hard when Holden and his family move to Texas this coming weekend.
  3. A night with friends.  An amazing dinner, drinks, and poker.  Need I say more?
  4. We took Devyn and Hudson skiing, compliments of “Uncle” Drew.  The kids had a blast, I fell in love with a brand-new resort, and I already am looking forward to next year’s ski trips.
  5. We started a milk delivery with Royal Crest and I LOVE it.  Every week, they fill our weekly order and like magic, it shows up.  Just as we’re running out.  I honestly don’t know why we haven’t done this before.  And the best part is, I don’t have to wonder what hormones or feed the cows are eating.  Good stuff.
  6. We found out the my sister and her husband are expecting a girl in July.  We’re so excited to meet little, miss Kayley Louise!  Its coming soon!
  7. Hudson has turned into a huge helper lately!  He’s buckling his sisters in their car seats, he held my hand during a blood draw (routine blood work), and even made me a cup of coffee this day.  You can tell he’s really starting to take his role as big brother and protector seriously.
  8. We had a wildfire in March.  Yep, you read that right.  In March.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about what this summer will be like…  But we’ve also had some big snowstorms the past couple of weeks, and while I’m ready for spring, the moisture is badly needed!
  9. We’re going to become an aunt and uncle for a third time this year!  Jon’s younger brother and his wife announced they’re expecting in the fall.  Their due date is the exact same due date we had for Devyn.  Such a weird coincidence!
  10. I stepped foot in the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time at 33 years of age.  Jon and I flew down to Florida to spend some time with his mom and stepdad.  It was an amazing trip!
  11. While we were there, we spent a whole day exploring Key West and fell in love with the place!  Quite simply, we’re ready to go back again!
  12. Mommy and Daddy had a relaxing and rejuvenating 6 days away.  We came home rested and ready to do the parenting thing again.
  13. We arrived at this gorgeous home for a long weekend with my family.  Yep.  My whole family.  My parents, four sisters, four husbands, six grandchildren, and two babies in-utero.  All in all, it was a really fun weekend and I’m so glad we did it.

Love and Marriage, Week 3

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 6 Comments A+ a-

This week we’re discussing things we do to make our marriages work.

LoveMarriage4I’m feeling a bit uninspired this week.  We’ve had the worst snowstorm all winter the past few days, in spite of the fact that it’s the middle of April.  So this means 12 hour shifts for the husband, and it means my winter “widowhood” has peaked and I’m BURNT out.  Poor Littles… they aren’t getting the best side of me this week…  Sigh.

Moving on.

Now, I feel like many of the cornerstones of a good marriage are pretty basic.  Good communication, putting the other before yourself, date nights, intimacy.  All great in theory, a lot harder to practice day-in and day-out.  Especially once little ones are added to the mix.

All those things are great, and truly, we try to check in with each other on each topic several times throughout the year.  But Jon and I have two things that have really worked for us...

The first we borrowed from a friend, and once we instilled this in our own marriage, it was a night and day difference.  The rule goes something like this… “Whatever is said between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am cannot be held against the other person.  What’s said during that time frame is said in the heat of the moment, and doesn’t count.”

Once babies are added to the mix and sleep has become a once-upon-a-time fantasy, tempers flare and emotions run high.  Folks, some of the things Jon and I have said to each other during the midnight hour would make your toes curl.  Then someone’s feelings get hurt, a grudge is held, and it goes downhill from there.   In fact, half of the time, Jon doesn’t even know/remember what he said to me.  And when I not so nicely remind him of it the next day, he feels horrible!

So when a friend let us in on this secret of hers, I jumped on it.  It made a huge difference!  I’m not saying that its an excuse to have a free for all, but its great reminder to offer some grace when you know something wouldn’t have been said had the spouse had a full night of sleep.

The second is very important to us.  In fact, we both said this is the most important thing to us and its what makes our marriage work.

We give each other time off.

Several times throughout the year, we give our spouse time off.  Whether its for a whole day, or a whole weekend, we allow each other to have time alone.  We don’t need to be Employee, Spouse, or Parent during that time.  It is wonderful!

Jon takes a couple of weekend fishing trips a year, with his brothers or friends.  It allows him to relax, to enjoy doing what he loves, he recharges, and comes back a much happier, rested man.  The same is true for me… Coffee dates, lunch dates, movie dates, weekend conferences.  All allow me to breathe a little, focus on myself for a bit, and its usually enough time to make me miss my people like crazy.

And the best part of it?  Its guilt-free time.  In fact, I think that part of it is key.  In order for Jon to truly enjoy his time away, I leave him alone.  He never (or rarely) has to worry about what I’m upset over, or what we’ll fight about when he gets home, or if I’ll throw this back in his face.  I think its this attitude that has Jon excited to get home to us.  I can’t tell you how many trips he’s cut short because he missed us and was ready to come home.

So there you have it.  Some of the little secrets that make our marriage work.  Just remember what I said during the first week, it might not work for all marriages.  Know yourself and your spouse well enough to know if these will work for you two.

Please head over and visit the other ladies participating in this marriage series with me. Mandy, Jenna, Shay, Lindsey, and Megan.  I’m especially excited to read about your little secrets too.  I’m always looking for new ways to make this relationship work a little smoother.

Love and Marriage, Week 2

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 23 Comments A+ a-

This week we’re talking about trials we’ve dealt with in/during our marriages.

LoveMarriage4Jon and I have dealt with many trials throughout our marriage.  Some short-term, those that had a beginning and an end.  Some of those included: dealing with Jon’s parents divorce during our first years of marriage, living with roommates, the death of my grandmother, extended family fights, our own fights that couldn't be resolved in a day, etc. 

We’ve dealt with ongoing trials, such as our finances.  I’ve mentioned before that we’re both spenders, and it can lead to some lean times.  I won’t even bore you with some of the more hair-raising financial decisions from our earlier years, but one thing you won’t find here, financial advice.  My sister jokes that we’re the poster children for what NOT to do with finances, and she’d be right.  We’ve gotten better, but still have a long way to go.

But there is something I need to talk about this week.  Its not pretty, its seldom discussed, and I knew the minute this came to mind that I needed to write about this… post partum depression. 

(Side note.  I’d intended to write about post-partum depression all along.  But with the recent, tragic death of Rick Warren’s son, and beautiful posts by Beth Moore and Ann Voskamp, this seems most timely.)

Before I jump in with my story, I’d like to preface with a few bullet points:

  • Post partum depression is not baby blues.  As your hormones start to even out after giving birth, some will experience the highs and lows called baby blues.  It can last up to a month, but this is not post partum depression.
  • Post partum depression does not look the same for everyone, or look the same after every child.
  • Post partum depression does not make you less of a mother, a woman, or a Christian.
  • Post partum depression does not make you weak.
  • Post partum depression doesn’t make you ungrateful.  I was still very aware of the blessings of my beautiful babes in the midst of the depression.

When Devyn was six months old, I started sleeping all the time.  ALL the time.  I chalked it up to having a baby and being awakened several times a night for feedings.  I honestly didn’t see anything wrong with my behavior, I was genuinely tired.  But Jon felt there was something wrong and he approached me with concern in his eyes.

“Jenn, something’s not right.  I think you need to go to the doctor.”

I was startled but agreed to go see my doctor.  Jon went with me.  As the doctor asked me question after question, my eyes started glazing over and Jon stepped in to answer the questions for me.  Her diagnosis?  Post-partum depression.  I was given a low dose of antidepressants and Jon was charged with watching me closely over the next few weeks.  Within a matter of about 10 days, I started feeling like my old self again.  I had energy and I was ready to tackle my to-do lists.  I was ME.  My doctor weaned me off the meds soon after Devyn turned a year old and I was doing well! 

About six months later, I got pregnant with Hudson and my doctor and I came up with a plan of action for my post-partum depression.  I started on the same low dose in the hospital after he was born.  And for six months, the meds did their job.

Then I got cocky.   Since I was feeling so good “I must not need them any longer,” I thought to myself.  And I took myself off the meds.

BAD IDEA.  I highly, highly suggest never doing this.  It quickly became apparent that it had been a bad decision and I started taking them again.

However, the damage had been done.  And this is where things went from bad to worse.

I’ve never been in such a dark place as I was during this time.  Every single task took so much energy, I felt overwhelmed, anxious, under qualified, and that I was a complete failure.  Life took too much work and I didn’t have the motivation or desire to do it.  I would sit and stare off into space, simply incapable of putting one foot in front of the other.  Little hands would be pulling at my legs and arms, desperate for attention or help, but there were hours/days when I was only capable of taking care of basic needs.  It was dark.  And painful.

Jon noticed and did his best to help, but my biggest mistake was keeping the darkest part of it from him.  I don’t know if I didn’t want to burden him with it, or if I was unwilling to admit just how bad it was, but regardless, he had no idea just how bad it had gotten.

Then one morning, I laid in bed during the early morning hours and contemplated killing myself.  I had Devyn on one side of me, Hudson on the other, and Jon had left for work.  I had to get up, get myself ready for work and the Littles ready to go to my parents.  And suddenly, I didn’t want to do it anymore.  I’d thought about killing myself numerous times (side note, I never once thought of hurting my babes, just myself) and for the first time, I was seconds away of following through with my plan.  I just wanted the pain to stop.  I knew if I didn’t show up with the kids, my mom would come looking for us and the kids wouldn’t be alone for long.  Instead of following through with my plan, I called my mom and in-between sobs explained she needed to get to my house.  Now.

It was the single most terrifying moment of my life.

What followed was an intense debate of being admitted to a local mental health hospital, or an increase/changing of meds and counseling.  We chose the latter.

Jon shed many tears, the vulnerability of his need for me, his fear, his inability to take it away for me, his love, left an indefinite mark on my soul.  He was an unshakeable foundation for me during this time.  Never did I feel judgment or ridicule, just unwavering support.  He held me up when I couldn’t stand, and for that I will be forever thankful.

I’d like to say my story ends here, but it doesn’t. 

About four months after the new meds/increase in meds, Jon started noticing that I was “off” again.  I distinctly remember Christmas shopping with Jon and as he held a toy in each hand, asking which one Devyn would like better, I couldn’t formulate a single thought or opinion.  I simply stared at him.  At which point, Jon came over and shook my shoulders lightly, bringing me back to reality.  The next day we were in the doctor’s office getting my meds changed again.  It turns out that I’d been overmedicated and on the new meds, I was soon myself again.

Since both Reagan and Ashlynn were surprises, I was still taking anti-depressants when I found I was pregnant with them.  Both times, I was weaned off the meds for the majority of the pregnancies, then put back on during the last weeks of the pregnancies.

Post partum followed me after the births of Reagan, then Ashlynn.  But it never got as bad as it did with Hudson.  It just looked different…  I got spacey, easily distracted, unable to concentrate, easily overwhelmed, anxious, unable to deal with the day to day, etc.  My go-to coping mechanism is to bury my head in the sand.  However NOT dealing with things, catches up with you eventually.  Ha!

A few things to note about post-partum depression:

  • I am NOT advocating medication as the only answer to post-partum depression.  I AM advocating talking to your doctor and figuring out the best solution for YOU.  Sometimes a change in exercise and diet is all a woman needs.  But please, PLEASE don’t think that taking meds is a weakness.  I liken it to being a diabetic… you wouldn’t deny your body insulin if it needed it.  The same is true of anti-depressants.
  • Find a support system.  I have an amazing network in my husband, family, and friends.  But I know not all women are so lucky.  In fact, I’ve had a number of women reach out to me whose husbands would not support them taking meds.  I don’t have answers for these situations… But I beg you to find a girlfriend, a confidant, a therapist, someone who can support you through this difficult time.
  • You are NOT less of a Christian if you’re struggling with depression.  During this time in my life, I actually had people in my church, of the church, tell me that if I truly believed Jesus was my savior, then I wouldn’t be struggling like this.  This is simply NOT true.  God is close to the broken-hearted!  Psalm 34:18
  • I know people shake their heads and utter, “Suicide is so selfish!”  And it is incredibly selfish.  But after my experience, I won’t dare speak those works out loud again.  Simply because I was there… and at some point, the pain is so bad, so unbearable, that you just want it to stop.  And you’ll do whatever it takes to make it stop hurting.  Instead of passing judgment, perhaps we can start looking at those around us and seeing how we can reach out to someone who might be hurting.

Now that I’ve written a book…  I’ve said before, and I’ll say it until my dying day…  I believe that it’s the hard times, the dark times, the valleys that make a marriage stronger.  There’s something reassuring about reaching out your hand in the night and feeling his hand clasp yours.  It says “I’m here.  I don’t know how to fix it, but I’m here.” 

Jon David, I don’t know if I’ve ever said the words publicly but I need to do so here.  Thank you!  Thank you for your unwavering support in my pain.  Thank you for standing by my side, thank you for being willing to be whatever I needed in each moment.  Thank you for loving me, for believing that I could conquer something as big and deep as this.  Thank you for helping me realize that depression didn’t define me, that my old self was still inside.  I couldn’t have made it these past eight years without you.  You were Jesus with skin to me, and I am better for having you as my partner.

Please head over and visit the other ladies participating in this marriage series with me. Mandy, Jenna, Shay, Lindsey, and Megan.  Please feel free to link your stories too!


A Bunch of Random

Monday, April 08, 2013 7 Comments A+ a-

Last Tuesday, I had a date with our local courts.  In February I was pulled over, and it was bad news.  I’d just lost my purse a couple of weekends earlier, hence no driver’s license.  I also didn’t have proof of insurance in the car.  We HAD insurance, just no proof of it to hand to the nice officer.  I knew I was in trouble…

So ticket in one hand, and the hands of the youngest three in the other, we waited our turn to see the district attorney. 

Hudson took the whole scene in with wide eyes. He was enthralled with the others in the waiting room, the police officers standing guard, and the men in suits (lawyers) bustling from room to room.  And as I explained the civil process to him, he turned to me and asked which law I broke.

“Well, buddy,” I stalled.  “What law do you think I broke?”

He thought about it for a minute, then asked in all seriousness, “Did you say a bad word while you were driving?”  I laughed so hard that a few heads turned in our direction. 

Finally, it was our turn.  I trooped into the small room with all three children in tow and handed over the ticket and proof of insurance.  The DA looked at me, at the Littles, and said, “Welcome Ms. Glover.  And company.”  He then dismissed all charges!

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We had a gorgeous weekend!  Beautiful!  And Jon spent most of it outside, clearing out the garden and getting ready for planting.  Which meant that Gracie, our dog, was out of the kennel with him.

On Saturday, I came around the corner and saw Gracie out front.  When I called her, she came running at full speed and took my legs out from under me.  I fell on the concrete sidewalk with such force and knew instantly, I’d done something to my left arm.

I called to Jon to come help me up, but before he could get there, the Littles (who’d seen everything) came running out of the house in tears and hysterics.  Jon was able to get me to my feet, in spite of “help” from the Littles and an exuberant Gracie.

It HURT.  Honestly, I haven’t experienced pain like that before.  I couldn’t lift my arm higher than my shoulder, and even holding it still produced shooting pain from shoulder to wrist.  I took some ibuprofen and a hot shower, which seemed to help.  At least I was finally able to lift my arm above my head without screaming.

Its hurting less and less with each passing day, so I’m assuming it’s a pulled muscle and nothing more.  But every so often, I forget its hurt and any sudden movement has me wanting to cry or curse, or both.

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This morning Ashlynn put on one of the twenty tiaras floating around this house.  She grabbed one of my wooden spoons and using it as a scepter, announced to anyone that would listen, “I’m a princess!”

Reagan did not take to this too kindly.  She stood in front of Ashlynn, with hands on her hips and a chin set in fury, and said, “No you’re not, Ashlynn! I’m the only the princess!”

When I proceeded to tell Reagan that Ashlynn could be a princess too, she fell into my arms, weeping from the injustice of it all. 

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We’re in the midst of making summer plans.  Some of which include:

  • Sending Devyn to a week-long summer camp with my friend, Sarah’s, little girl.  I’m a bit nauseous at the thought of our oldest being that far from us for six days.  Hold me.
  • A long weekend in Steamboat Springs with some friends, and the seven Littles between the two families.  I’m fairly certain we might be a touch crazy, but it should be a memorable trip.
  • Tons of camping!  The camping that we didn’t get to do last summer because… well… last summer sucked.

Then as we’re making these plans, and having a gorgeous Spring weekend, we find out that Colorado is expecting over a foot of snow tomorrow.  Oy vey.image

Love and Marriage, Week 1

Wednesday, April 03, 2013 14 Comments A+ a-

This week we’re talking about the beginnings of our love stories, from meeting to engagement to wedding. 

LoveMarriage4I’ve often talked about the how, where, and why of our relationship and how it started.  You can read some of my favorite memories of our relationship here, and our engagement story here.  But I’m more than happy to recap again.

We first met at the young ages of 15 and 16 years old when our church youth groups teamed up to go to Guatemala on a mission trip.  Our first interaction happened on the first leg of our trip, when he discovered it was my first plane ride.  He proceeded to tease me the entire flight from Denver to Dallas.  He made the trip… memorable.  But it was our last night in Guatemala, when Jon, I, and a couple of other teens sat around playing cards, talking, and joking.  As I looked at his gorgeous blue eyes and his contagious smile, I just knew he was going to be someone special in my life.  I had no idea how special…

Fast forward 12 months, and a boyfriend (for me) and a girlfriend (for him) later, my family decided to attend Jon’s church and we were soon flirting again.  It was my senior year in high school and I thought a fun fling would be a perfect way to end my high school career.  After all, I had plans that included an out-of-state university in the fall and a high school boyfriend certainly didn’t fit those plans, but something light and fun was perfectly ok.  However, within a couple of months, we had fallen in love and I was already looking at colleges closer to home.

DatingCollage1The summer after Jon graduated from high school, we broke up for about six weeks.  It was a heartbreaking six weeks, for both of us, in different ways.  But we were certain of one thing at the end of it, we wanted to marry each other.  Of course, at 18 and 19 years old, we also knew that we needed to wait awhile.  Some of our friends who’d married right out of high school were already divorced, and we had some maturing to do.  We each lived on our own, we’d attended college, we got jobs, but spent more time together than apart. 

EngagementCollageOn Jon’s 20th birthday, he proposed.  (I highly recommend reading the engagement story.)

Both my parents and Jon’s parents helped us with the wedding as much as they could, but Jon and I both worked two jobs during our 14-month engagement to pay for our wedding.  Ultimately we both wanted a day where we got to celebrate with all of our loved ones, and so our invite list grew to 500.  And while I’d love to say that we were incredibly popular (ha!), we both came from huge families and that’s who made up the majority of our guest list. 

It was a long engagement, too long in my opinion.  But it allowed for some intense marriage counseling during that time, and it was counseling that we needed.  Jon’s parents separated about three months after we got engaged and it rocked our world.  Mostly because we’d so admired their marriage during our dating years and we wanted to model our own marriage after theirs.  But between the Family Life Conference, marital counseling through our church, with my uncle and his wife, Jon’s cousin and his wife, and even outside counseling with a licensed therapist, we received the BEST marital advice ever…

You can’t model your marriage after anyone else’s marriage.  Each marital relationship is so unique to the couple, that it can’t be replicated.  What works for one couple, won’t work for another. 

And I can attest to the truth of this advice over and over again.  I love my sisters deeply, I love my brothers-in-law too.  They’re all happily married, but… shhhhh, come closer… I could not be married to their husbands.  And trust me, they would never want to be married to me.  (Ha!)  What works for my sisters in their marriages, would never work in my marriage to Jon.  And vice versa.  The four of us have settled into our marriages, we’re thriving and we’re happy.  And it only works for the couple in it.

May 31, 2002 dawned bright and early.  Several of my nine (yes, 9!) bridesmaids arrived at my parents house for mimosas and brunch, then we all trekked to the beauty salon to get all nine bridesmaids, the mother-of-the-bride, the grandmother-of-the-bride, and the bride ready for her big day.

WeddingCollageHonestly, looking back, much of the day is a blur.  So I’ll just highlight some of the more memorable moments of the day…

  • Dad never saw my dress before that day.  He was adamant that he wanted to be surprised too.  He came to the bridal room at the church, and was speechless when I walked out.
  • Jon and I decided to do a sneak peek before the ceremony and so we could get pictures out of the way.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous to walk around a corner, but the moment he turned and I saw the smile I’d fallen in love with back on that Guatemala night almost 6 years earlier, everything just made sense.
  • Right as the ceremony began, Jon’s older brother, Josh, came over to me and brought me to tears with the private conversation we had as he told me how happy he was for us and how excited he was to have me as a little sister.
  • I remember hands shaking after our vows were said and we were lighting the unity candle and having communion together as husband and wife.  It was done, we were married.
  • At the reception, watching all of our loved ones eating and laughing and enjoying themselves, Jon and I looked at each other and marveled that we’d done that.  We had worked hard to bring it all together and there was such a satisfying feeling knowing that we’d paid for most of it.
  • Josh’s toast will forever stand out to me.  Prior to the toast, he’d handed out keys to several women in the crowds, young, old, family, friends, etc.  And when he’d mentioned that since Jon was officially off the market and he would need those apartment keys back, woman after woman came up and handed the keys to Jon.  I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life.
  • Our first dance as husband and wife.  Jon and I have had a song from the very beginning of our relationship, its Mark Wills “I Do (Cherish You)”.  We’d even had the words “I Do” engraved on our wedding bands, not for the vows, but for our song.  It sounds cliché but its so true, the rest of the world simply faded away.  I don’t remember a single person or sound except for being in Jon’s arms and singing those words to each other.

Its hard to believe that Jon and I have known each other for over half of our lives.  Time has flown by, yet seems like its just always been this way.  He and I. 

Please head over and visit the other ladies participating in this marriage series with me.  Mandy, Jenna, Shay, Lindsey, and Megan.  I’m looking forwarding to reading yours too!

Our Trip to The Keys

Monday, April 01, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

We just got home tonight from a long weekend in Breckenridge with my family.  This trip came just two days after we returned from our trip to the Florida Keys.  I’m half-tempted to skip over this post, but it was such a memorable trip that I need to commemorate it.

Our flight left bright and early on Wednesday, and after we’d checked in, gone through security, and were settled into our seats at the gate, Jon and I realized that it was our first flight out of that airport ALONE since our honeymoon.  Seriously.  This trip was badly needed!

We had a short layover in Charlotte, then boarded a smaller jet for the two hour flight to Key West.  Now here’s the part where I admit that I didn’t pay attention in school.  For some reason, I thought The Keys were part of Florida’s main land.  So imagine my surprise when our flight went in for landing and all I saw was water.  I may have panicked slightly.

image(FYI.  The Keys are actually thousands of islands, with the bigger ones connected by one highway. The Gulf of Mexico on one side, the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  There’s your geography lesson for the day.)

Jon’s mom met us at the one and only arrival gate in the Key West airport and then drove us a half-hour north to their home on the Big Pine Key island.

While I could go into minute details of this trip, I won’t.  So instead I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

Day1Our first full day there, Mom took us to the Bahia Honda Beach.  This is where I put my toes in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, and it only took me 33 years to do this.  Ha!  We also ate lunch a seaside, seafood restaurant.  Its were I got my first taste of the low key, laidback lifestyle.  I fell instantly in love.

RoostersI could not get enough of the wild roosters.  Wherever we went, there were wild roosters everywhere!  From grocery store parking lots, street intersections, and part of the landscape.

KeyWestOn Saturday, Mom and Glen sent us on our way to Key West.  And once again, I fell madly in love with this place.  It will forever go down as one of my favorite days with Jon… ever!  We wandered Duval Street, hopping in and out of shops.  We ate dinner at one of the sidewalk restaurants.  We got a picture at the most southern point of the US, only 90 miles away from Cuba.  We ran into a group of drag queens that tried to convince us to come in and watch their show.  (That was hysterical!) And watched the sun set from Mallory Square.  It was a magical day!

AnimalsOh the animals, so much fun!  Iguanas, geckos, hermit crabs.  Oh my!

FamilyI will be forever thankful for the time we got to spend with Glen.  He and I actually got to sit and talk for about four hours straight one morning.  It was an emotional morning.  This bracelet perfectly sums up my thoughts and feelings about cancer.  Our goodbyes were hard, one of the hardest I’ve had to say.

FishingThey insisted that we spend one morning doing what Jon loves… fishing.  On our way out to the fishing spot, it was pouring rain.  I was soaked.  And if that doesn’t prove my love for Jon, nothing will.  But the further we moved from shore, the nicer it got.  We were both pretty queasy, but only Jon lost his breakfast.  Poor guy!  We went deep sea fishing on our honeymoon, but I was the one that got sick that time.  He caught the ugliest fish, a squirrel fish, of which he was quickly told NOT to touch.  Apparently, they’ll cut you up pretty bad.  The only interesting thing I caught was an eel, and it feel off the hook before I could get a picture of it.

FavoritesJust a few of my favorites pictures from our six days there.  They don’t do the beauty of the place justice.  It was just amazing!

CoupleCollageSix days away.  We went with the intention of helping his mom and Glen in whatever way we could, but it became so much more.  It was such an amazing trip, I don’t remember being that relaxed and carefree in a long time.  They were so good to us, and I can’t help but think that they did more for us, than we did for them.  Memories that won’t soon be forgotten!