Category Archives: marriage

Living a {different} dream…

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Soooo, anyone who knows me knows that I have seriously, seriously struggled with working full time and having small children. This has been especially true since Piper has been born and I’ve attempted to juggle wife-dom, motherhood, friendships, faith, and a super stressful management position. I spent many a night crying, whining, complaining, and being generally ungracious to people around me, but in the final months of my management career had really made an effort to behave more graciously. I was thankful to have a job, thankful to have FREE childcare from my mom (who better to take care of your children than someone who loves them as much as you do?!) But still, the ache in my heart was there; the longing to be a better mom to my kids, to not miss out on these precious moments I have with them while they are still so little.

So we began to really pursue this dream of mine. I make the majority of the money in our house, so me stepping back from work is a HUGE deal. We rented out 2 rooms in our house to help cover the mortgage, and began diligently saving so that we’d have a backup in case anything went wrong. Once our savings was at a comfortable level, we really got serious. I spoke to many people throughout this journey who said things like, “God will bless you for wanting to stay home, and he’ll provide” or, “Every month we think we won’t have enough money, and then He makes a way!” and, “Sometimes you just have to take a leap!” So, after one particularly horrible day at work which left me in tears, we lept. And we lept big–I told my boss I was going to step down from management and take a part time position–giving up my generous salary to work an hourly rate that is MUCH less. But we would be ok.

That same day, we began to pursue a job for my husband that looked VERY promising–and, da-da-da, made *exactly* the same amount of money we’d just given up. I was giddy, and began mentally writing the awesome blog post of how good God was to provide like this for our family. I mean, I gave up a salary and trusted his provision, and then he gave us back the exact.same.amount. The inspirational story practically writes itself. Awesome.

I had put in a month’s notice to my boss so she’d have time to figure out my replacement, etc. Over that month I grew more and more excited, and Geoff went on several interviews that went really well. All the pieces of our plan just fell into place perfectly. The Sunday night before my very last week of management, we were sitting downstairs watching TV, and one of our tenants came down. She told us she had found a new place to live, and would be moving out–ON FRIDAY. Yes, that was 5 days away. My heart sank, as I knew we needed this money to make ends meet. I wasn’t too terribly upset though, because Monday was the day we were getting the final answer about Geoff’s job interview. Feeling pretty confident he would get it, I tried to relax and not freak out.

Then Monday came. Waited, waited, waited for the call. It didn’t come. All day long I stressed and then finally, my phone rang and I saw Geoff’s number. I knew this was IT. I asnwered, and heard, “Well. It’s a no.” And that was that. It was a no. It was a “now you don’t have enough money to pay your mortgage and your bills.” It was a “better go look for new full time job again.” It was a “God didn’t do what I thought He should do.”

And I freaked. And I cried. And I was mad. Because, I mean, really, this was a PERFECT set-up for God to show off some of his goodness by answering my prayers exactly like I wanted him to. Bump, set…all I needed was that spike. Why wouldn’t he spike??

I remember feeling like this a few years ago. My friend David had a surgery and suffered horrible, unexpected complications. As he fought for his life over the next few weeks, we got a few “close call” notices that maybe he wasn’t going to make it. And I never, for a second, thought that he wouldn’t. I KNEW he was going to be fine, because that was going to be how God showed his goodness. He was going to show it through miraculous healing, because that’s the way it made sense. The doctors and nurses were going to be astonished; the praying people waiting for him to come home were going to see that God said yes. I just knew it. Until one day, I didn’t know it. I woke up and realized, he could really die. That was Thanksgiving day–and the next thing I knew, he was gone. And I was heartbroken, and confused. Because WHY wouldn’t God answer that prayer??

And I have felt that way so many times in my life. So many times I have known exactly how God should operate and exactly how he should provide for me. And you know what? A lot of times, he hasn’t. He hasn’t operated on my terms, he’s operated on his. And every.single.time, he’s been right. Sometimes, I don’t even know why–I have no idea why Dave wasn’t healed. I have no idea why I had a miscarriage. I have no idea why our life seems so crazy right now. But what I do know is this: He is still good. He is no less good than all the times he HAS answered my prayers exactly as I’ve hoped (which has also been often.) He’s not good because he does what I want or what I expect, he is good because he is God, and I am not. And this side of eternity, I may never understand death and disappointment, but I do understand redemption, and I know that these things will be redeemed.

This isn’t the post I expected to write about God’s provision. But it is about his provision nonetheless. A few months ago, I had it all–a house we owned; a high paying job with one of the most respected companies in the US; 2 beautiful children, free amazing childcare…the American dream. Today, I’m starting to pack up everything in my house so I can move all my belongings into my mom’s basement so we can afford to make ends meet.

But…I’m working part time. That was the dream to begin with. And I am thankful for every second I have with these kids–I am thankful that my attention is completely focused on my home, instead of being on my job. I am thankful for the stress I no longer have, for the energy I have now that I’m not gone so much. I am thankful that we have my mom who is so gracious and willing to share her home–and thankful that my kids will get the opportunity to spend so much time with their grandparents. I am thankful we get to downsize and figure out what’s really important and not be so caught up in STUFF.

And you know what? That sounds like a whole lot of goodness, and a whole lot of provision. And I think maybe everyone was right–if you trust and take a leap, God WILL provide. But he may not do it in a way you wanted, or expected. But he will do it in a way that sanctifies and teaches and he will do it in a way that leaves you thinking, “I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.” And that, to me, is the beauty of faith–that he is greater, and I am less. And regardless of where I am, there is beauty to be found–and I will strive to find it.

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Wedding Flashbacks

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Soooo since I’ve shared how we met, started dating, and got engaged, I figured I’d share a little bit of our wedding. Our engagement was the most stressful year of my life–and as a note to any unmarrieds that may be reading this, I HIGHLY recommend a short engagement. I’m not super organized, I’m not great at making decisions, and I was super uptight about cost. The combination of these things led to many emotional and long days…but they all came together into one of the most beautiful, special, wonderful days of my life. I’ll just share a few pictures and stories…

I love this picture! This was our rehersal, obviously the part where Geoff would kiss his bride. However, the month before our wedding Geoff and I had agreed not to kiss at all (yeah, we totally stole it from Monica and Chandler on Friends…except they were abstaining from a lil’ bit more!) Let me tell ya, long month…and we were determined not to break it even on the night before! So this was our little “fake” kiss.

Also from our rehersal dinner, this shot captures much of our relationship’s personality. We’re generally being silly, and I’m generally being fiesty. It’s how we roll.

These here are the studs that were Geoff’s groomsman. Two of them are friends from high school (his best man was the friend whose house we re-met at!!) and two are friends he had met later in life. These guys were so much fun to have around in all the wedding prep, and looked pretty good in the crazy colored ties I made them wear, haha! I am such a color fanatic–I found their ties online and each guy coordinated with one of the bridesmaids, as you’ll see later.

Β This is me and my bridal party. I had my 3 younger sisters, my 2 sister in laws, a friend I had met at work, and my maid of honor was my college roommate. Love, love, love these girls and they made my day so happy! And they wore crazy flip flops, did the crazy chicken dance, listened to me freak out, and especially my college roomie listened to many an emotional breakdown along the way! I love the way the colors turned out–each girl walked down the aisle with a guy in coordinating colors, and I love the way it all looked.

Here are two of my favorite wedding details–first, flip flops!! I LOVE flip flops, I love bows, and I love polka dots. I was thrilled that my bridesmaids agreed to indulge my color obsession. I also loved my flowers; each girl had a different color bouquet that also coordinated with their shoes (and the tie of the guy they walked with!) and it was all just so flippin’ fun!

Me & the Groom. Such a happy day πŸ™‚ More to come!

A Proposal Story

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Our dating time was a whirlwind–we fell hard, and we fell fast! It was maybe a few months before we started talking marriage, and even though we started dating in February, it only took until late spring for us to know that this was it. So during the summer, I knew that a proposal could happen, but I also wasn’t really pushing for it. I wanted to be engaged and get married, but I did NOT want to turn all crazy and thinking every single date that tonight was “the night.” I also knew saving for a ring was going to be tough and I didn’t want to put any more pressure on him.

But, at the end of the summer, Geoff asked me to take off a certain day from work. He wouldn’t tell me what was going to happen or where we were going–no details at all! I started thinking in the back of my mind….could this be it?? So the weeks passed and I bugged him for more information (I’m totally the most annoying person in the world if I know someone has a surprise for me) and tried unsuccessfully to be patient. Finally, finally, finally, it was the night before the unknown event. He called and told me to wear tennis shoes and shorts, be ready super early in the morning, and that was all. I am pretty sure I barely slept! I still wasn’t getting SUPER hopeful though, and wanted to be able to enjoy the day no matter what.

The next morning, we started on our way in the car. Geoff, fully aware of how irritating I would be otherwise, had decided early on in the drive to tell me where we were going: Bushkill Falls, PA. It is this GORGEOUS park with lots of huge waterfalls (they call it the Niagra Falls of Pennsylvania.) We ate a picnic lunch, hiked a few miles and marveled at the beauty, just had the most amazing day. We laughed and joked and talked about everything under the sun–except marriage. I still sort of wondered if it was coming, I mean, come on. Proposing under a waterfall?? It’s perfect! But, nope. After that he took me into the city for a yummy dinner before we drove the few miles back home. Once there, he dropped me off with a kiss and an “I love you” and that was it. I wasn’t crazy disappointed, but I did think, “Well, if it wasn’t today, I guess it’s going to be awhile. Otherwise he would have definitely done it there!” I mostly was just feeling thankful that I had such a great boyfriend that he planned that big great trip for no reason!

On our hike πŸ™‚

A few days later, I had been having a super frustrating day at work. I’d texted him on my break some of my complaints, and a few hours later when I went to leave, he was waiting for me with a huge bouquet of gerber daisies–my most favorite flower in the world. Again, I was thinking, “Man, my boyfriend is AWESOME!”

A few days after that, we were having a casual conversation and I had mentioned what a bummer it was that I had all these cute summer skirts and dresses I was fitting into again after some weight loss, but I never had anyplace to wear them. He said, “Oh, yeah, we should do a nice dinner or something sometime.” And then the next day he said, “Hey, tomorrow after work let’s do that dinner. You can wear something nice.” I was so excited–and this also happened to fall on my last day of working at my previous job, and I was SO excited to be leaving! It was going to be a great day.

When I got to work though, I was highly unmotivated. It was my last day, I was excited to see Geoff, and it was soooo. slow. So, when it came time for my lunch break, they told me I could just go home at 12 instead of 4. Hooray, I thought, now I can see Geoff sooner! I sent him a text to tell him I was on my way over, to which he responded “No. You can’t. I have errands.”

Um, errands? Seriously? In the time I’d known him, and in the time I’ve known him since, I’ve never heard him utter the phrase, “I have errands.” I called to get more information, but he was mildly testy. “I just have some stuff to do, ok? You just can’t come over until the time you said you were coming.” This was super weird coming from my laid back guy, but I just went with it and killed some time before I went over. I finally got there, and his car wasn’t even there. I went inside where his mom handed me a note. There was a poem that basically told me to go upstairs and get ready and then wait. And also had a ps. telling me not to bother asking his mom for details, haha! He knows me so well. When I got upstairs, there was another note I was instructed to open after I got ready. So I showered, put on my dress, and opened the second note, which left clues to my grandmother’s house.

My grandmother’s house is on the water and her pier is one of my most favorite places on the entire planet. My childhood memories and so many special times are at that house. Sooo any normal person would be thinking at this time, “Oh, it must be a proposal!” BUT, he’d already done so many great things recently, I thought this was just another one of them! So, got in my car, drove to meet him, and when I parked there was another note that told me to follow the trail….and I saw a pathway of gerber daisies down to the pier where he had lit candles and was waiting for me.

The pier

I STILL just thought it was another nice thing he was doing, and I rambled on a bit about how cute he was, how my day was, etc. He seemed a little weird and not talking much, soooo I just overcompensated and talked more. I finally stood up and was like, “Ok! Well, let’s go to dinner!” At that point he took my hands and told me to wait, and it finally clicked. He got down on his knee, said a bunch of stuff that for the life of me I can’t remember because I was so excited, and then pulled out the ring! It was so cute because when I said yes and we kissed, there were a bunch of neighbors outside waiting and they started clapping and cheering.

This was about 2 minutes after he proposed!

 

Over dinner, I explained why I didn’t think he was proposing because he’d done so many things in the prior weeks. He got a huge, proud grin on his face and said, “YES! MY DECOYS WORKED!!” Haha, he figured I’d suspect something, so he was doing everything he could to throw me off. Smart guy πŸ™‚

a tie dye cast and new beginnings

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So, in about 2 weeks, I get to celebrate 3 years of happy times with my sweet husband. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to try to get together a few posts about my hubby and the years we’ve shared together so far. Let’s start off with a little story…

this is our first post-re-meeting photo together πŸ™‚

The summer between 7th and 8th grade, I went to a camp called Victory Jam. I was super excited on my first day out at the beach with my friends. I was wading out a bit, and there were of course some waves, and I was just hanging out. Since it was a beach in New Jersey, not to mention I was with a billion other middle schoolers, the beach was crowded. So crowded in fact, that when a big ol’ wave came through, it knocked down the 6’3 guy in front of me…who in turn knocked me down…and as I landed on the bottom of the ocean floor, my wrist broke. Totally a whole bunch of little things that came together in one catastrophic and unfortunate second of total randomness…but that randomness nonetheless landed me in the hospital, getting a cast, and leaving a tearful message for my mom crying “THAT BIG MAN FELL ON ME AND BROKE ME!”

What does this story have to do with anything? Well, that day is my earliest memory of that “big man” that I now call my husband πŸ™‚

We went through middle school and high school together, and while we traveled in some similar circles, we didn’t ever spend a lot of time together or become close friends. What I mostly remember is him always being behind the counter of the Chick-Fil-A at our local mall; maybe a few lunches here and there; a few retreats and conferences where we spoke in passing. He wasn’t one of the people I kept in touch with when we went away to school, and was certainly not on my radar AT ALL of someone I could potentially marry.

Flash forward. I was out of college, had been through a series of faith-testing trials, and had basically decided that I was soooo “over” high school. I kept in touch with a few people, but was mostly convinced that I couldn’t possibly have anything in common with people I grew up with, you know, since I’d done so much growing up in all the many, many (3.5, to be exact) years since graduation. I had a friend who was studying in London though, so when he wanted to hang out, I figured maybe it would be safe enough to go listen to his stories from abroad and have a little fun. He called me that day though, and let me know he had decided to invite just a few other people from high school. I immediately went and called basically the only girl I had kept in touch with from high school and said, “Here’s what’s going on. You must come with me.” She agreed, picked me up, and the entireΒ way there I tried to get her to go somewhere else. “You know this won’t be fun. It’s dumb high school people.” 10 seconds later, “Are you hungry? Let’s go to the food court!” 10 seconds later, “Want to go see a movie? Chick flick? Action? Adventure? Your choice!” She kept driving and eventually we arrived. I am quite sure I greeted my now-husband with something wonderful and charming, like, “So, uh, you still work at Β Chick-Fil-A?” I am also sure that I wore my cutest clothes since I was SO excited about the night, and I definitely was looking hot. And not wearing old wrinkly clothes. And I definitely had washed my hair sometime in the last 3 days. Or maybe not.

Ended up being an awesomely fun night, and while I didn’t know it then, one of the most significant moments of my entire life. As we left that night and he asked for my number, I still didn’t know where this journey was going to lead me. All I knew at that point was that God was leading me back to a little bit of who I was, and beginning to break away some of the bitterness that had come to define me.

Who knew it would all start with a tye-tied cast??

Sacred

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the children are sleeping/but they’re running through my mind/the sun makes them happy/but the music makes them unwind/my cup runneth over/i worry about the stain/teach me to run to You/ like they run to me/ for every little thing/ could it be that everything is sacred?/ and all this time/ everything i’ve dreamed of/ has been right before my eyes

–caedmon’s call, sacred

I found the lines above from one of my favorite songs running through my mind all day today. I kept humming them while I was thinking about the nice weather outside and how happy my little guy must be to finally get to play outside for a long time (he LOVES going outside–we let him take things out to the trash can a few times a day just because he gets so excited that he squeals about running up the driveway!) And I loved coming home and getting to take both my kiddos outside for a walk. But I keep thinking about this song because it’s important to my life right now. Sometimes it’s really hard to balance work and motherhood. I find myself challenged to manage my time well, to be a good caretaker of my home as well as play with the kids, in addition to being a good wife and a good store manager. It’s a daily struggle for me to let go of how I want things to be and focus on how blessed I am. This song today has been a great reminder of the fact that my life, both the work part AND the mom part, are sacred. They’re both parts of my life that I need to be thankful for; both parts that require sacrifice and hard work; both parts that I have the chance to impact those around me. And just like I am supposed to be a light for my littles and teach them about Jesus, I am supposed to be a light at work. Sometimes I’m not as good at remembering that part of my life. But I feel like God is working on me a lot these days, and I am excited to be part of whatever it is he has planned for me.

In the meantime…how can anyone not be happy when they get to come home to THIS??

Finding the Beauty

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I’ve never really been an organized person. When I was younger, I played at some friend’s houses who had their Barbie accessories neatly divided into like articles of clothing, matching outfits for all occasions, and little lined up shoes that always had their matches. I, on the other hand, kept my Barbies in or under my bed, and they were lucky if they were wearing an outfit at all, let alone a matching outfit. This was all much to my nearly-OCD mother’s dismay, and so on the occasions that my messiness simply became too much for her to handle, I’d throw everything into a box and call it clean. Years later, I was thankful when my first college roomates also shared my messy tendencies, because though our room could have put a boy’s dorm room to shame, at least we didn’t have to argue about it! When I met and married my husband, I was again relieved to find that my messiness wouldn’t be a problem, as I’d married someone just like me! We lived through our first year blissfully creating messes in our first apartment; watching the dishes pile up, lifting our feet over piles of laundry, and basking in the freedom to let the mess abound. The upside to both of us being messy is that in our nearly 3 years of marriage, I can count on one hand the number of housework-related arguments we’ve had. The downside is that neither of us has really pushed for us creating an organized and functional home.

When it was just Geoff and me, this wasn’t a big deal. We had friends over often enough that we got cleaned up on a semi-regular basis and our little chaos didn’t bother us. We ended up getting pregnant when we had only been married about 7 months, and right before little Sammy was born, we moved into our first house. As we prepared for the move, I was feeling like I really wanted to create a home for us. But old habits die hard, and the addition of a new little life did NOT make me a cleaner person!

Now, though, that we are a family of 4, the time has really come to start creating a home for us. When Geoff and I got married, a part of my vows was “to create a peaceful home, a respite from a sometimes hectic world.” I really want to live up to those vows, and I want my children to grow up in a home that is beautiful. Some of the creating of beauty doesn’t seem very glamorous–scrubbing the counters every night isn’t exactly my favorite thing. But waking up in the morning and making a cup of coffee in a clean kitchen? That’s beautiful. So this year I am on a quest to find and create as much beauty as I can in the world around me, and especially in the little world of my home.

As part of this quest, I am challenging myself to not only find the beauty, but to capture it in words that I will be able to look back on. So, this blog is going to serve as an opportunity for me to record and share the ways that I’m finding beauty in my life. I am looking forward to sharing with everyone who wants to read. I am not promising eloquence, but I am promising honesty. Feel free to come along with me πŸ™‚

The One With All the Updates

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So. I was totally going to be a more regular blogger. I had a really great excuse, but I totally can’t remember now. When I think of it, I’ll make sure I let you know. Until then, here’s the updates in our lives:

Me: Feeling really good. I’m just about 20 weeks now–can’t believe we’re almost halfway to meeting this little one! The time is flying by and sometimes a little too fast…I don’t know I’m quite prepared for two kiddos. But I’m quite sure no one is ever ready πŸ™‚ Work is good, though challenging at times. Love, love, love my coworkers. Sometimes the management side of my job a little stressful, but I keep plugging through. I’m so blessed and thankful to have amazing hours that allow me maximum time with my Sammy even though I’m working 40 hrs a week. I’m almost never home past 3p, and we get to have lots of fun.

Geoff: He’s in the midst of a job search right now, and it’s been a bit of a challenge. He’s spent lots of time submitting resumes, phone interviews, in person interviews, etc. So far not a lot of doors have been opened, but we’re prayerfully considering our next steps. He also had a little trip to the ER last night after an accident at work with the deli meat slicer–turns out they slice meat AND fingers. 6 stitches, a few hours at the hospital, lots of blood, and a grossed-out wife made for an exciting evening. Luckily he’s totally fine and though his finger is definitely still sore, we’re glad it wasn’t worse!!

House: Our moms have been AMAZING and helping us get our house in order. Those who know either of us know that we’re not the most organized or neat people. We’re messy, we don’t really have “places” where things go, we never do our laundry all the way (ie, do a load, throw it on the bedroom floor….), we don’t have a dishwasher and let everything get piled up…well, our moms have decided to help. They have so far organized Sam’s room and all his outgrown clothes, helped us develop a laundry system and are helping us learn to care for our home better. We also got our homebuyer tax credit–FINALLY!!! Took about 4 months longer than our regular refund, but now we can pay off some bills πŸ™‚ We mostly don’t have anything to do in the house to get ready for the baby, because the kiddos are going to share a room, and obviously we still have all our baby things. Just scouting out double strollers, and once I pick one we are good to go!!

Sam: Little guy is doing wonderfully! He is 8 months old tomorrow and is just so sweet. He’s a gentle baby, sometimes a little high maintenance but mostly a happy little fellow. He’s finally discovered the joy in sitting up and playing with all his toys–my mom has filled our living room with toys that he LOVES!!! He started on food this evening, and he HATED it. We’ll keep trying and hopefully he’ll decide he loves it πŸ™‚

Baby #2: We found out last week we’re expecting a little baby GIRL! Her name is Piper Joy (we’ll also call her PJ.) It took me a few days, not gonna lie, but now I am super excited about having a girl. Still looking at a due date officially of December 28, but it could get pushed to the 30th which is great with me. The longer she grows, the better! She is totally healthy and we had a great time getting to know her on the ultrasound screen. She’s a much different baby than Sam–that boy literally moved 24-7. No joke. Piper does a lot more floating around in there, with quiet movements that let me know she’s in there often enough that I don’t worry, but not often enough to be predictable. We could watch Sam move my belly from week 17 on…with Piper, Geoff hasn’t even gotten to feel yet because her hard kicks are SO infrequent. I am thinking my dreams of a laid back baby might be coming true πŸ™‚

Other than that, not much to report. Life is good. Always a little uncertainty, but keeps life interesting, and keeps us looking up.