Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why do we...

As I'm sitting at home alone for a little while (Pat took the kids to the library so I could have a little peace and quiet) I was cleaning up the kitchen and doing a quick load of laundry and vacuuming.  While I was physically doing things, my mind was somewhere else completely.  Why do we as women, or maybe it's just me, rely on what others think of us so much?  We put on a facade that we have the best family, the most amazing kids, we compare our bodies to other women, and we take to heart when someone tells us we're pretty (or the opposite).  It made me start thinking of my past…

In 6th grade I remember having my first boy/girl birthday party and I was so excited.  We played the game spin the bottle and it was akward and weird but fun.  I remember at that age, 11 or 12 years old thinking that I needed to be something that I thought guys wanted.  I came from a loving family, both of my parents are still married today so why did I feel it was necessary to do whatever means necesary to get guys' attention?  Move forward to 7th grade.  I had my first "boyfriend" and despite everyone telling me he was only looking for one thing, I ignored them and we had fun hanging out.  We went to a bonfire, because that's what you do when you have friends in the boonies ;).  I did some things that looking back, I regret.  He never forced anything on me, never pressured me to do anything, never was rude or mean to me.  After that night, I broke things off pretty quickly realizing my friends were right and they love me and were trying to protect me. Then along comes high school.  I'm at a friend's house and I see a cute guy and ask her who he was.  Come to find out he lived up the street from her and was friends with a mutal friend of ours.  He had a girlfriend at the time, so I didn't think much of it but we all started hanging out as friends.  During this time, I was still concerned with how others saw me or thought of me.  Eventually that guy and I dated for a while in high school and things were great.  He was fun and funny and everyone seemed to like him.  I remember one time specifically he'd come over after school and we were sitting on my front porch talking and I don't remember the whole conversation or the context but I remember his words still to this day, "well you're not the prettiest girl…".  That crushed me.  Why did I care so much about what he thought about my appearance?  Eventually him and I broke up and I decided I was going to work on me.  I eventually got saved and started exercising regularly, started wearing make up (yeah I didn't really wear any until my senior year of highschool), and I started reading my bible.  Then comes another guy.  He's a friend of a friend, and they introduced me to him knowing that I hadn't had a boyfriend in a while and we were just looking to hang out and have fun, nothing serious.  This guy, he told me how pretty I was and how he liked my eyes.  He would bring me flowers and despite my best efforts, I ended up falling for him and we dated all summer before my senior year.  Even though I got saved pretty much right before I met him, I went down a dark path while dating him and really started relying on his word and his thoughts of me.  He ended up cheating on me and leaving me at a school dance and I was devastated.  I think this set the tone of trust for any of my future relationships.  It makes it hard for me to now believe my husband when he tells me I'm beautiful and that he loves everything about me.  There's always that little voice in the back of my head that is saying "he doesn't really mean it, he's just saying that to get what he wants".  I hate that those thoughts creep in, that they play over in my mind because it's not my husband's fault that someone else hurt me.  I have no reason to doubt him when he tells me I'm beautiful.  I still have a hard time not comparing myself to other women and feeling like I don't measure up.

Anyway, so as all of these thoughts about my past are running through my mind, I start thinking about Alaina.  I want her to know who she is in Christ, that's she's beautiful and treasured.  I want her to know that we love her no matter what and that God has big plans for her future.  I don't want her to have to rely on what boys tell her or what her friends say.  I don't want her to compare herself to other girls because she's special and unique and God only made one of her.  I love how happy and sweet and silly and funny she is and I know that if I love all of that about her, how much more does God love all those things (and more) about her?!  I'm just rambling on but basically my goal, as a mom, is to just instill in her who she is in Christ so she never has to rely on the world's opinion of her.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thinking about the Past

Have you ever had those moments in life when you look back and you're just amazed of what you've been through and whom you have become?  Most of the time people reflect on things around special dates like a birthday or anniversary.  Today I had one of those moments and it was for nothing in particular.  Right after I was thinking about my past and our past as a couple, I received a text from Pat,

"I was just thinking about you and it made me happy.  If I had to, I would choose you all over again."

First of all, this totally made my day.  Just to know that he was thinking about me the same time I was thinking about him made me happy.  Second, it's interesting because he doesn't always send me texts like that, but he did today and right around the same time that I was reminiscing.  So today I was just randomly thinking about how God has weaved everything together in my life as well as our lives together.

When Pat and I started dating, we were only 18 years old.  I had only had 1 serious boyfriend and only "dated" two other guys prior to meeting him.  The guy that I dated before I met Pat had cheated on me and broke my heart and I went a year without dating anyone and promised myself that I would wait for the one that God wanted for me.  I had recently gotten saved and when I met Pat he wasn't at all.  Despite all of my adult influences, I disregarded their advice and dated him anyway.  Then, we got engaged at 19, married at 21, and had our first baby at 22.  My only life goals when I was younger were to get married, have kids, go to college, and I wanted to be a stay at home mom (SAHM).  Well when Declan was 6 months old, I quit my job to stay home with him and started babysitting.  Things were pretty great for a while, we were newly married couple, had an amazing, laid back baby, everything was great.  About 18 months after Declan was born I found out I was pregnant with Alaina.  We moved into a new apartment (on the 3rd floor) and we were excited to be expanding our family.  I was still staying home with Declan and babysitting and for the most part it was great.  Pat decided to go back to school in the fall of 2007 and I was due 12/29/07.

This is when difficulty started entering into our marriage.  I started becoming resentful and jealous that he never wanted to go to college and yet he got to go and I was "stuck at home" all the time.  Even though it's what I wanted, to stay at home, now I was feeling resentful and jealousy.  For about a year I wasn't sure we were going to stay married.  I wasn't sure that we could keep the covenent that we had made on 12/18/04.  When you get married, vows typically include "for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer".  I think a lot of times we as humans think that it's optional.  We went through some incredibly tough times, some hurtful times, and some very poor times.  I would be lying if I said all 11 years of our marriage have been blissful.

Thankfully I have a friend that I treasure so much.  She's someone I can trust and that I know will tell me what I need to hear and not just what I want to hear.  I know I can go to her about anything and she will speak truth and life into me.  I'm so thankful for our friendship and even though she lives so far away, I know that I can always count on her.  She was a mentor for me when Pat and I were dating, she was the matron of honor in our wedding and she was the one I turned to (other than God) during the most difficult time in my marriage and my life.

Looking back now, I can see that God used EVERY SINGLE circumstance to make me into the person I am today.  I pray that my kids don't have the kind of heartache that we went through, that we can teach them and raise them to learn from our mistakes so they don't have to experience that.  However, I know that through everything I've learned so much not only about Pat, but about myself.  My ability to love, give generously when I feel like I have nothing left, forgive, extend grace and mercy.  I've also had to learn some very tough lessons.  I am forever grateful for the change in both of our lives, our church, and our family.  I'm thankful that we were able to stick together through thick and thin, to turn to God to get us through the darkest and most difficult times, and to keep moving forward.

Here we are today:
Been married for 11 years
Both college graduates
Have amazing and loving kids
Have great jobs that we enjoy
Have an amazing church
Have a house that we purchased

We couldn't have made it this far if it weren't the support of God, our family, friends, church, mentors, and leaders.  I am extremely thankful and grateful for each experience in my life that has molded me and made me into the person I am today.  And to Pat, I love you more now than I ever thought I could. You're my best friend, and the person I love spending time with the most.  Thank you for loving me, providing for me, being an amazing father and a fantastic husband.