KNOWN

Some days I walk through my life and wonder “how did I get here?”, ” what happened to my life”.  I have a tendency to look backwards at times (thank you Timehop) and wonder – where did it all go, how did I get here – all those questions most of us that have experienced divorce ask ourselves and especially the big question.. WHY?.  Why did I experience that pain, why did my kids have to be affected…. and the list of why questions can go on and on.  I try not to stay in that place for very long, as one can get stuck there/ languishing, but I do go there on occasion for brief moments.

Those brief moments of reflections now are courtesy of my new life, my new love which provides a tool for comparison.  Comparing the dysfunctional to the functional.  Standing in awe of a man now who adores me compared to one that I am not sure even liked me.  Enjoying good times with friends old and new, laughing and celebrating compared to being isolated and lonely.  Enjoying a relationship that is easy, fun and full of laughter compared to one that was hard, adverse and sullen. Being respected in every aspect of life compared to being disrespected in every conceivable way.  My new life is a STARK comparison of the one I left behind.

And what is so striking to me when I do reminisce back to that life that seems like soooo long ago, is that GOD listened and took notes.  Things I wrote in my journals of my needs and wants in a relationship.  GOD was even paying attention to hurtful words said to me, harsh interactions, those things that were never written or articulated to anyone – HE saw, He knew.  He knew my life needed to be remixed – it needed pruning. (He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  John 15:2 )  And if you think about pruning, cutting and tearing away and leaving behind – it’s painful.  Painful but necessary for growth, for new life.

GOD took notes, pruned but even better HE delivered.  He delivered someone that made all those wrongs right. Someone who tore down walls of protection and provides safety in my vulnerability.  Someone who GOD knew would heal my hurts and my heart and bring value to my life and the lives of my children.  That right there is being KNOWN…….. Known by an all-knowing and loving GOD.

So I do look back… it still makes me sad of all that has transpired but I know that GOD had a plan and a purpose and I am finally seeing it come to fruition.  As I have said many times… Beauty from Ashes!

dean known

 

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Thankful

On this eve of Thanksgiving I woke up reflecting on all that I had to be thankful for.  Here are my thoughts in no particular order.  I am thankful for:

– An amazing bunch of children that I get to be Mom to and 1 extra that is mine but not mine that I love just as much. #PricelessTreasures

–  A Dad that I have such a special connection with and of course another basketball season with him

– Safe Travels for my daughter, although she won’t be with me for Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the opportunity she has to travel and see places some have only seen in pictures.

– My older children’s significant others, Emily and Collin and the happiness they bring into our lives. I love them as much as I love my children.

– The struggles in my life, because without the struggle there is no progress.

– My besties, that are more like family than friends and the times that we have enjoyed over the past year and there’s more to come….

– For my Blog and that GOD gave me an outlet and a gift of writing.  I am also thankful for the people it touches and hopefully brightens and encourages them in their walk of life.

– For my family, my mom, sister, uncle, aunt and dad who are ever present in my life, are always my biggest cheerleaders and are always there to celebrate the special times in this life with me.

– For a new family I get to spend this Thanksgiving with.  I pray this is the first of many family gatherings together.

– Last but certainly not least… For Dean, who makes the sunshine brighter and the music sound better in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.  May your day be filled with people who love you, good food and lots of laughter.  And I pray that this season of Thankfulness spills over and continues throughout the year.

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My List

There was a point in 2015 when this journey was just beginning that my life coach had tasked me with writing down what I thought a healthy marriage looked like; what I wanted in a relationship/marriage.  I gave this assignment careful thought and attention.  Once I came up with the list we reviewed it in session and the next step was to communicate that to my husband, at the time.  We were just a few months into our separation and we were both vacillating back and forth.  I was hopeful that this would start the conversation for us to determine what direction we were going.  I carefully wrote a loving email, one which wasn’t accusatory but factual and included my list of what I wanted in a marriage.

He responded, then I responded and then we sent a couple more emails back and forth.  Reading those today I still feel the same as I did when I received them – like I was in the twilight zone.  Was he even reading the same email that I sent?????  His answers weren’t even relevant to the email that he was responding to – it was bizarre.

Now almost 4 years into my singleness I still have MY LIST.  The list has always been a guideline for me, a beacon so to speak, to keep me focused on what it is I really wanted in a relationship.  And I have had moments in my life where I started to lose sight of these things I so painstakingly thought through and wrote down and so desperately wanted.

Before we go any further in this post, let me share the list.

Healthy marriage/relationship looks like having:

Someone that is committed to being faithful through the good times and bad times. Someone that I can trust no matter what.

Someone that makes me feel good about myself. Who’s Eye does not wander and look at other girls in my presence and flirt with them.

That I am allowed to have friendships and do girl things with my friends.

To be with someone that believes marriage is a partnership and that will help with the kids and our obligations with the kids

To be with someone who enjoys supporting me or even joining me in activities I’m passionate about, like athletic activities such as running, triathlons, biking, adoption mission trips, whatever the case may be I want someone there to cheer me on.

To have someone to enjoy my life with. Which includes adult activities, ( having adult things to look forward to) going out with friends, trips etc.  as well as having someone that will be present and enjoy attending my children’s events and activities.

To have someone that wants to come home and enjoy the simple things in life. Watching a TV show doing homework cooking supper.

To be with someone who can enjoy drinking socially.

Being with someone who is open to meeting new friends and nurturing friendships existing.

Being with someone who is respectful of me and does not call me names

Being with someone who cares about being with us and he puts us in front of other people. Makes me and my family priority

Living without being under constant suspicion that I’m doing something wrong.

Someone that is genuinely interested in me and how my day went and can discuss the things that are important to me

Being with someone who takes care of themselves and their body. Proactively seeks to remedy conditions that ails them

Being with someone that has compassion for me. Allowing me to be sick, etc

Being with someone who supports my faith, is by my side at church and who has a personal relationship with God

Being with someone who can say they are sorry for doing wrong and truly mean it

I have had some heart to heart conversations with GOD about this list and if there was a man that checked all these boxes out there for me.  And if there was could he just hurry and reveal him.  But again you learn at times like these that “It’s in the waiting”.  God tells us in John 13:7 “You may not understand NOW what I am doing but SOMEDAY you will.

john137

My SOMEDAY has arrived….. and so has the man that checks all of those boxes on MY LIST and so many more.

A list penned years before….. my heart’s desire spelled out and known by an all-knowing GOD, a lesson in patience, obedience, forgiveness, humility and trust.  A journey of tears, laughter, friendship, and healing that ends (really begins) with happiness.

 

 

 

One last trip for 2018

My travel is complete for 2018.  What a year!  I have had so many fun adventures and got to see places and things some will only see in pictures.  I am certainly a blessed girl.  My travel adventures were rounded out with a Cruise up the East Coast with one of my best girlfriends of 20+ years.  What I thought would just be an OK trip turned out to be a fabulous one!  I joked when we arrived that I was definitely on the wrong cruise ship – as they made announcements to ensure that all medication were kept with you as you board and where you could find the wheelchairs.  I was definitely the youngest by 20 years or so – lol.

In the moment of experiencing new things, I always like to think deeply and take it all in and hopefully take away something from the experience.  Here is what I came away with:

– I applaud all of those older folks that took that cruise.  They did not let anything stop them from traveling and seeing some amazing things – illness, physical limitations, etc.  They rocked on…. with wheelchair, scooters, oxygen tanks, canes, etc.

– I was patient with all those sweet old people (which is not my strong suit) because one day that will be me and my tribe – in a wheelchair or stretcher for that matter – traveling and seeing the sights – letting nothing STOP us!

– I saw and met some beautiful couples that had MANY years together and saw that LOVE still exists after that many years.  It adapts and looks different than it did when they were younger (I am sure) but its there and it prevails.

This trip was at the top of my list of amazing trips!  The ports of call were beautiful and my running buddy made the adventure easy, fun and full of laughs!  GOD’s creation is beautiful……  FUN TIMES!

 

More than a concert…

Recently my 10 year old daughter shared with me her struggles with friends as a 5th grade girl.  We all know girls can be very mean and we have all walked that walked through 5th grade and middle school girl issues.  Its tough – it was then and it is even more so now with technology and social media. Fast forward a few days after that conversation to this past Friday night.  Our conversation was heavy on my heart.  My oldest daughter and I had tickets to go see Taylor Swift (it was a Christmas present from the year before) and it hit me – Maddie needs to come and hang with Me and her sister – have a little “big girl” time.  Maybe that would do her some good.  So I jumped through hoops getting her a ticket and we were off to Houston.

My whole intention was just for Maddie to come to the concert, hang out with us and hopefully let loose a little.  (Maddie is quite a serious soul and is very self conscience in some respects – so acting silly and letting loose isn’t the norm for her).  What I didn’t know was that this outing was more than just getting to see a concert.

This was Maddie’s first concert experience ever – and what better artist to see than Taylor Swift who is so humble and real.  Mid way through the concert Taylor takes a few moments to talk about why she wrote the album/song Reputation.  In her speech she talks about the mean girls trying to discredit and ruin your reputation and how staying true to yourself is the path to happiness – not that the road would be easy but so worth it when we focus on being a good person and connecting with people in an authentic way.  Then she played “Shake it off”.  I saw the look in Maddie’s face when Taylor was talking – like she got it – and then pure childlike joy when we all danced and sang along to the song.  I knew in that moment that this experience was bigger than me – that GOD was working all things to the good.  Her older sister being there and being an example that its ok to have fun and let loose certainly helped Maddie feel comfortable in doing so. The relationship with the bigs are so important to my littles, beyond just being siblings – they are true role models.

The drive home was just as meaningful when we got to chat the entire car ride home about everything from school, to soccer … family to her birthday party.  Taking the opportunity to impart a little momma wisdom upon her.  I find that I am sharing the same momma wisdom I did and still do with my bigs.  Guiding principles, morals and values are timeless.

SO my friends here’s a bit of my wisdom for this post…… its the small moments that sometimes we miss that we must pay attention to and capitalize on…. the moments where people are moved and impacted the most by a conversation, by someone listening to them or just treating them like they matter.  The moments that seem like its one thing (like just a concert) when in actuality its something bigger that’s happening – its moments that touch your soul. @taylorswift

Summer Travels

School is back in session and summer has ended as have my summer travels.  Ahhh summer…..  it was sweet this year.  I cannot think of a summer in my entire life where I had as much fun and covered as much ground as I did.  From May until August I have had maybe 2 weekends that I actually spent in my home – otherwise I was on the GO.  And it felt good to go.  It felt good to have the freedom to make my own decisions about where to go, when to go and how long to go for.  My travels were purposeful trips meant to see my dearest friends, my children, trips for work, family vacation, birthday celebration trips and mixed in all that travel was MANY weekend trips to my camp with lots of river fun.

I saw the most amazing Cirque de Solei show in Vegas, at the Wynn, hiked Mary Jane Falls and spent some face to face time with one of my besties.  Boated on the Ouchita Lake in Arkansas, road horses,  mined for Diamonds and had the funnest time playing Family Feud with my Bigs and Littles.  I explored historic Savannah and Tybee Island and reconnected with one of my favorite places – The Riverwalk in San Antonio. I laughed til I almost cried at an Improv club in St. Louis as well as spent some much needed one on one time with my son and even got to meet his Girlfriends beautiful family.   Jetted over to Nashville for the Kenny Chesney Concert and a little downtown Nashville weekend fun and rounded out my travels with an amazing adventure to Santorini Greece with my oldest daughter.  We hiked, boated, beached it and enjoyed beautiful scenery and amazing food.  What a whirlwind of a summer.  Mixed into all my actual travels were weekday dinners in Houston with my Daughter, who was interning there for the summer, and loads of river time on the boat with my many wonderful friends.

After all that travel the most profound thing I have to say is…. I am tired.  Yes tired.  I am glad I did it and have wonderful memories but I was ready for a little slower pace for the fall.  I have one more trip in October to round out the year – a cruise up the east coast.

Travel has always been a passion of mine.  The adventure of new sights, trying new things has forever called my name and will continue to do so.  I am grateful that I have children who have the same adventurous spirit and friends that do too.  2019’s travel line up will take me to some amazing places with a pretty amazing travel companion too! #excitedaboutthefuture

 

Chosen for Greatness

So as if I haven’t already bared my soul enough, here is a little more insight of what I struggle with.  My heart has been so heavy since my marriage ended when I think about my 2 youngest daughters – adopted from China.  Those precious babies that I am so blessed to have in my life but yet I have felt that I did them such a disservice adopting them and bringing them into our family.  With the chaos of the divorce my mind has told me that inevitably there was another beautiful family standing in line behind us that would have gladly adopted them and provided them a beautiful life with an INTACT family.  Its guilt talking as I feel terrible that they are now thrust into the complicated land of divorced children, dealing with issues I wanted to save them from.  Its something I never wanted for them.

BUT!  there is always a but in my stories…..

I recently read a book about adoption called Chosen for Greatness.  It highlighted prominent people from history that were adopted such as Steve Jobs, Nancy Reagan, Nelson Mandela, Scott Hamilton, Dave Thomas and the list continues.  All of these people accomplished great things in their lives.  The book highlights their accomplishments and the stories of their adoptions.  One thing they all have in common though is that they didn’t have this shiny story of being a baby adopted at birth and going home to the “Beaver Cleaver” Household where everything was rainbows and unicorns until the time that they accomplished great things.  That was not the resounding theme of their life stories.  It was quite the opposite.  It was through the beautiful trauma of adoption that they found strength and the tenacity to succeed.  The people that GOD so eloquently positioned in their lives at different times – and not just their adoptive parents.  Friends, other families members, mentors, teachers, coaches, etc that shaped who they were and opened the doors of possibilities of who they each would become.

What does this have to do with my story – my girls?  Well, it changed my thinking.  I always knew that GOD did not place my girls in my life by chance.  The sadness I felt because what I wanted to give them was destroyed by Divorce washed away when I realized that – its not because these notable adoptees had a charmed life – it was the struggle – it was the people that came into their lives because of their circumstances that made the difference – that propelled them to greatness.  And I look around at the village of people that are in my girls lives that impact them every day .  The BIGS, my network of friends, my parents and extended family, teachers, coaches, etc.  And I think of all the people we haven’t yet met but will, in the course of their lifetime.  People that will also impact them and propel them to their GREATNESS!  Again another picture of Beauty from Ashes….

girls in arkansas