Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Journey of 380 Days

I remember Day 1 like it was yesterday.  The day he left.  No fanfare.  No hugs and kisses goodbye from the girls.  A quiet, solemn departure in the middle of the night.  As he kissed me goodbye, slipped out the door, and rode with our neighbor to the airport, the journey began...for both of us.

 My first day would grow more interesting, by the minute, when I was with the two big girls in the back bathroom, doing their hair for the day, and I called for Allye.  When she didn't come, after repeatedly calling her, I began checking the doors, to ensure she hadn't left, and then my phone that tracks all coming and going through our security system.  Nothing had been opened.  After we searched and called for several minutes I ran to my neighbor's house just to make sure she had not pulled a Houdini on me.  She came running back with me, both of us calling and screaming.  This wasn't our first rodeo with a missing Allye.  After a few minutes we found her.  Curled up in a tight corner.  Behind a chair in her room.  That I had looked behind.  My neighbor pulled her out and hugged her as I started crying hysterically from fear and relief.  She turned to me, put her arms around me, and there we stood in the middle of the nursery, both wondering if I would survive this...because the journey had just begun...Day 1.  Rock bottom.

 I became increasingly thankful that each day was new, and that I got to bring the wisdom from the day before with me.  But I won't lie.  Those first few weeks were awful.  I had purposely held my parents back from coming, thinking we needed to settle into our new life before we brought in another set of people, whom these girls adore, just to rip them away a few days later.

 Let's just say I was re-thinking that plan.  I held strong though, and little by little our roots were taking hold.

I quickly realized that while I could control how things went at home, it would be the outside influences that rocked our world in a whole new and more extreme way.  We all had heavy feelings on board, and the slightest mishap or insensitivity of another created far more than a ripple effect.

It was quite a bit more pronounced in some.  I won't name names, but she turned ten this year.  This is where my "village" became really important.  On the brink one day, I went in to drop her at dance and told the sweet office manager to please relay to Mrs. Katharine (the teacher) that we NEEDED to have a really good night, and a little ego boost would not hurt either.  Whew!  A mother's work is never done.  Never.

 As time passed, we began to grow and know that we were doing great.  We spent a lot of time away from home creating memories together.  NOW.  More than one person has commented, quite positively, about me taking the girls all over the place.  Here's how it is.  It is always a good plan to take my girls out to experience new things and have fun.  However, there are three of them.  They have more moods than are humanly possible.  It is a given fact that one, or all, of them are not going to be happy at some point, or all of, that day.  They are going to fight in the car over which movie to watch, the radio station we play, that someone's leg is in their space, that they are thirsty/hungry, need to pee, just can't take it anymore, the list goes on and on.  Can I get an AMEN?

But...I can let this stop me or I can let this grow me.  I always choose to let it grow me.  I am not trying to give them a perfect childhood or a perfect me.  I am trying to give them a memorable childhood with me in it.  I am going to regretfully snap at them, forget snacks and drinks, hurry them along when they want one more minute, negotiate to get my way, compromise to give them their way, buy too much for them, buy too little for them, the list goes on and on.  I have done thousands of these outings and trips at this point, and I am not sorry for a single one.  I will only ever be sorry for the ones I didn't take.  That I know for sure.

For us, the key to time passing quickly was the holidays.  We typically made big plans, usually involving a trip to North Carolina, where my parents live.  A little timeout for me and some extra love that only grandparents know how to give.  When one holiday was over, we started looking toward the next one.  This way, we were always looking forward.  Never backward.  Forward.  That is all we knew.  Forward.  The only way to make it to the end.

 As I reflect back, the hardest times were when one of them was sick and their birthdays.  I think Nate would agree with me on this.  As parents, we all know that when a child is sick that child requires extra from you in the way of time, love, and attention.  We also know that there is that one special day, each year, that children look forward to more than any other...their birthday.  For Nate and me, this is always a special day that we reflect on my pregnancy with that child, what we felt and experienced, and how we can't believe that child is that age.  We all do that last one.  Right?  So I would say birthdays were quite hard for me this year too.  Plus, he is the calm in all of my birthday storm.  Let's not forget that there are 3 birthdays to plan, execute, and celebrate - in less than 30 days.

As Christmas came around I got this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to buy ALL.THE.THINGS.  I told Nate and my mom that I had no idea what had come over me, but I wanted to give them all that I could.  I wanted it to be big, and to lavish them with so many wonderful things.  This is a far cry from my normal personality that wants to be a gift minimalist to teach more about time, love, and togetherness over materialism.  I can only explain it like this.  I was proud.  I was so, so proud of them.  They had done it.  They were in the tunnel and the light was finally in view, and I was celebrating them!  And I did.  And I am not sorry for it.

#reallife  #blurrypictureisbetterthannopicture #bestoutoftwenty
 Our Christmas elf, Eli, made and brought us a countdown chain for the 30 days leading up to Nate's arrival.  Eli really doesn't understand how the military works.  Things happen.  Like our daddy got all the way to the day of departure to have his flight cancelled.  Thankfully we got word in plenty of time to not tear that last link.  Then it was decided.  It would be torn by all five of us at the airport.  And we did.

 Just as he left in the middle of the night, he would arrive way past bedtime.  Excitement had every girl up that morning before 6 a.m.  Yep.  That feeling and thought that just went through your head.  Me too.  BUT....memories not perfection.  We had waited 380 days for this single moment and time was not getting in our way.

 And when those doors opened...


 We had him back...safe and sound.

 Where he belongs.  

With his girls.
Girls insisted that we all wear camo colors.  Daddy's favorite.  ;)

  My Dear Girls,

What a year we had together!  I will forever cherish this time with you, watching you grow in ways that I never expected.  Each one of you is truly amazing!  You have experienced the sorrow of a missing parent, the hardship of having only one parent, and the love that can happen when sacrifice, obedience, and determination collide.  

I remember, when we were having a particularly hard moment, I said this..."One day each of you are going to experience hard moments.  Hard seasons.  Disappointments.  Moments when you don't think you can do it anymore.  That you can't go on.  I want to show you this year that while it is hard, I can do it.  I can't do it perfectly because I am not perfect.  But I can do it with the best of intentions and love.  When you are in the middle of those hard moments I want you to look back and remember this time and know that if I could do this, so can you.  We can do hard things.  Don't you ever tell me you can't because I have shown you that you can. And one day you will show me that you can.  And I will be cheering you on."  I believed it then and I believe it now.  Hard things happen.  Let it grow you.  In fact, go ahead and BLOOM.  


Sunday, January 17, 2016

He Just Doesn't Get It

After a year long hiatus from the blog I have given a lot of thought as to what I want to do with this space.  If I am being honest, there have been points in time where I wanted to put things here and thought to myself, "No one wants to read that."  Or, "Should I really share that?"  Or, "What if I offend someone that is my friend?"  So, I have decided that I am going to write this for our girls.  I am going to share my thoughts and captured moments for their benefit.  A place to come when they realize I really am wise beyond their years.  A place for them to look back at special trips and times during their lives.  A place to find comfort and "home" when they can't be with us.  You know, in the future, when they want to leave us and do things like live away at college.  Except Addison.  She is never leaving.  She has told me this for seven years. So, I hope anyone who chooses to peek into our lives through this blog can be uplifted, challenged in an area of thinking, or just entertained.  Because I can guarantee some crazy, that I know for sure.


He Just Doesn't Get It

Our church, for the past couple of years, has started each new year with a sermon series on marriage...for all of the obvious reasons.  Today the sermon was titled, "He Just Doesn't Get It."  No worries folks, our church plays fair, next week they will change the He to She and the tables shall be turned.  My husband was not here this week.  He will be there next week.  Timing is everything they say.

In a turn of events they decided to let the two women pastors, on staff, give this sermon.  I took away two things from this sermon.  

The first was this.  "It is not so important that she KNOWS she is number one; she wants to FEEL like she is number one."  Ya'll, my husband has heard this.  More than once.  I come from a long and dirty background of people who can say anything and say it well.  So, I was and am real clear with my husband that it is my firm belief, based on many years of experience, that ANYONE can SAY ANYTHING.  But for me, it is in their actions that I see who they really are.  It is so easy for him to tell me I am number one to him.  But to make me feel like I am number one takes time, persistence, patience, repetition, creativity, fortitude, passion, love, understanding, and effort.  In other words, it takes action.  Or so the saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words."  Transparency here....  Because my sweet man got some damaged goods, in this department, he has a much harder road to travel.  And when I love him most is when I see him walk that winding road, knee deep, trudging like he can't go on, like he is up against a wall, but determined to win.  Determined to show me.  Determined to make me feel loved.  He is not always successful, and I am not always easy.  But we do know where we are trying to end up and "getting there is half the battle."  As she was going on about this I came to this conclusion.  We all want this, not just women, men too.  We all need this.  We all deserve this.  So I hope that if you aren't feeling loved, you have the courage to sit and talk.  I hope for you that that person will hear you, respond, and love you more for having the courage to come to them and share your heart.  Above all, I hope that you will FEEL like you are number one, because you are. 


 The second point was this.  A marriage is like a bank account.  There are deposits and withdrawals.  She went on to explain that each spouse should be making deposits into one another.  They should do this either in what they say or do for their spouse.  For example, if your spouse's cup overflows with words of affirmation and you take the extra time and effort to consistently give that to your spouse, ("Hey Honey the lawn looks so good.  I really appreciate you keeping it so nice.") you are making deposits.  However, all of us are guilty of making withdrawals as well.  It would look like this with the same spouse as described above.  "Ugh!  We have the worst yard on the block. Why can't you make ours look like the Smith's?"  Yep.  Withdrawal.  Here's the thing.  We are all going to make deposits, and we are all going to make withdrawals.  But the worst part is this....  If your withdrawals begin to out number the deposits, do you know what happens?  You begin to slide "into the red."  Number people realize that, in banking, "into the red" is BAD.  In a marriage, the further into the red it slides there will ultimately be bankruptcy, just like in banking.  But in marriage bankruptcy = divorce, the answer that more than 50% of married couples come to.  She encouraged men to ask their wives several questions, here are two of them.  Ask your wife what is the best deposit you have made lately.  Also, what is a withdrawal she wished you wouldn't have made.  I would also challenge women to not ask this question unless you are prepared to ask the same of him.  After all, he is not the only one depositing and withdrawing.  It takes two to tango...

 I was given the book The Five Love Languages when I got married.  The moment I read that book for the first time, in my ninth month of my first pregnancy, I remember thinking that this book should have been mandatory before placing the first foot on the aisle.  I immediately had my husband read it and it led to great conversations about our relationship.  This book was a large focus of today's sermon, especially as we are making deposits and withdrawals in our marriage.  If you have never read this book, you MUST buy it now!  You will know your spouse in a whole new way, and be able to communicate your love for him or her so they FEEL loved!      

My Dear Girls,

One day you will come to me with your innermost thoughts and feelings in regards to your marriage.  I am sure you will have frustrations with your husbands.  We all do.  So I will tell you now that  I will sit patiently and listen to you.  But I want you to know that when it is my turn to talk I will have you reflect on yourself first.  I will want to know about the deposits and withdrawals you've been making before we look any further.


"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.'  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:25-31

**All Photographs taken by Nicole Koontz Photography

Friday, January 8, 2016

Word of the Year

I'm not one for a New Year's resolution, but last year I decided to pick a word for the year.  I'll share more about that word later.  Choosing to have one word to focus on transformed me.  I realized that having that word helped me focus my thoughts,  actions, decisions, & feelings instead of them being all over the place.  I felt centered, and at peace, more than ever.  And we all know that this past year has been far from normal.  When I began thinking about my word for this year I struggled.  I wanted to choose the word f.l.e.x.i.b.l.e. - given what I know is ahead of me.  I can't really describe what happened except that I began to feel very unsettled.  Like MY word wasn't right.  So I prayed....and HE gave me the word...smacked it right on my heart, etched it with permanent marker.....INTENTIONAL. 

via Pinterest

 Instantly I knew HIS word was perfect, exactly what I need. So, first things first...back to blogging...intentionally. 

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