Soaking in These Moments

This morning I stood at my office window and watched the first glimpses of sunlight.  I watched as the sun peeked up over the trees and kissed the sky.  I can't remember the last time I did that, yet it is a daily ritual for the sun.

As I stood there savoring the first glimmers of sunlight, I asked myself: what have I been stopping to savor in place of moments like these?

And the was clear and came quickly: the wrong things.

Like the cat vomit I stepped in before I had even wiped the sleep from my eyes or how easy it feels for people to walk out of my life.

Savoring. Soaking in. Replaying those moments. Not because they are good, but because they caused me pain and I rather enjoy feeling sorry for myself.

If there is one thing I'm good at, it's holding a grudge. Actually, I might even be considered a professional grudge holder.  If I don't have time to think over the bad right then, I'll tuck it in my pocket to pull out later.  

Good things happen every day along with the bad. And with a simple refocus, it's up to me what I choose to soak in. Enjoying the good moments make the bad a little more bearable.

These tiny treasures of moments aren’t loud. They aren't obnoxious. Maybe that’s why it's so easy to miss them. They speak softly and get crowded out in the mad jumble of a hurried life.

Today. Today I'm taking the time to savor and soak in these priceless moments. Holding them softly in my hands like precious gifts.

  • The sweet phone call from my 19-year-old, excited to tell me he bought me a canning pot at a great price.
  • The excitement on my 17-year-olds face, covered with special effects makeup, asking me to take a photo of it.
  • Walking out my door and being greeted by 42 happy, hoping-for-a-yummy-treat chickens.
  • My daughter throwing her hands around my waist for a Mama hug in the kitchen.
  • Holding my husbands hand as we walk down from the chicken coops after feeding.
  • The morning phone chat with my Mama. And our across-the-yard chats in the summer.
  • Cooking my husbands favorite childhood meal, and sitting around the table as a family to enjoy it.
  • The always-happy-to-see-me greeting from my two sweet dogs.
  • Tickle wars in the living room.
  • My husbands gracious spirit and always, always being willing to run to the store for me.
  • Hearing my Dads backhoe or truck running from across the yard.

I'm not naive enough to think these moments will last forever.  And today, I'm soaking every one of those moments in.

These are the things I need to fill my mind with. These moments are tiny treasures that serve as a reminder that this too shall pass and that, yes, it really is all worth it.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise… Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Relationship Goals

My husband and I have heard, time and time again, that we are other peoples "relationship goals".  And while flattering, it has sparked many conversations between us on not only why but how we got to where we are...and how we could help others as well.  I've made a list of ten things God has taught us throughout the ridiculously blessed, hard years we've been married.

Keep God at the center of your marriage.  This is a lesson we learned the hard way. Marriage is difficult. Actually, difficult is an understatement.  Let's be real here, there are going to be days you hope he chokes on his cereal.  The hardness of marriage is obvious when you see how many couples end in divorce. It's two imperfect people living together, failing daily. The only way to make your marriage truly work is to center it on Christ. You have to rely on God for wisdom, power, love and strength for your marriage.  And forgiveness, for that one time you hoped he would choke.

Allow him to lead without stepping in the way.  This was a hard lesson for this stubborn, independent girl to learn.   Um, hello...I took the words honor and obey out of my marriage vows. I know, not my most stellar moment.  I would tell him I wanted him to lead but then tell him he wasn't doing it right.  Sure as the sun rises and sets, I'd step in and take over.  I wish I could say it was easy to stop, but I'm stubborn.  And it took lots (read this as an abnormal amount) of life lessons from God and probably the hardest heart work He's ever done. 

Never stop trying to improve your marriage.  We've been married for 21 gloriously hard years, and we are still looking for ways to improve.  Keep reading, keep learning, keep improving and don't ever get comfortable and let your guard down.  If one thing doesn't work, try something else.  The best advice I've heard is to run your marriage like a business.  Successful businesses are successful because of the amazing foundation they're built on.  

Don't put your kids first. Hear me out on this one. Don't allow your mothering to take precedence over your marriage. Is being a Mama important? Well, absolutely! Pour your heart into those littles, but don't neglect your man. Oh how many marriages I've saw fail because the kids were made top priority. The kids grow up, move out of the house and the parents look at each other like strangers. You have to nourish your marriage!  As for us, both our kids will be moving out in six months.  We're already planning the things we'll do together!

Let others know he is yours.  I don't mean buy him one of those "I love my wife" shirts and making him wear it every other day.  Although once upon a time I may have bought my husband that exact shirt.  I mean post on his Facebook once in a while, shout out a Tweet to him, take a snap of the two of you watching a movie and just let it be known, he is yours. 

Sex is important. No, it's not everything...but it's one notch below.  God designed sex and marriage to go hand in hand. God intended sex to create a oneness within our marriage. We don't want to feel deprived and neither do our spouses.  I read a book a few years ago that was a sex game changer and I highly recommend it to all married couples.  It was Intimacy Ignited by Dr. Joseph and Linda Dillow and Dr. Peter and Lorraine Pintus.  Also, The Passion Principles by Shannon Ethridge.  

Most fights are over stupid things. Honestly, stupid things that don't really even matter.  I once spent an entire day furious at my husband for buying me the wrong value meal from McDonald's.  I mean, after this long he should know what I like...right?  I could fill this blog post and four others with the absolutely ridiculous, stupid things I've gotten mad over.  When I was younger {okay, and even sometimes now} I always wanted to prove my point and have the last word. Not one of my most endearing qualities. I've learned it's more important to prove your love than your point. And what's the best way to do that?  Not arguing over dumb things.  And eating that burger, even though it has onions on it, and you hate onions, and he should know that. 

Never stop pursuing him. Write him love notes and tuck them in his lunchbox. Send him a racy text (I highly suggest knowing the location of his phone before this one. Remember...on smart phones, said text will pop up on the screen.) Tell him how much you appreciate him. Buy the stinkin' lingerie that he likes on you, even if you feel it's a waste of money. Kiss him and hold his hand, even if you're in a horribly long checkout line at WalMart.  Pursue that mans heart daily.

Don't be disrespectful. Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. {Ephesians 5:33} I've read this verse over and over again trying to find a loophole.  There isn't one.  It doesn't say respect your husband only when you feel he deserves it, it doesn't say he has to GIVE respect to GET respect and it's certainly not up to us to deem when he is worthy of it. God was pretty clear with this verse, the wife MUST respect her husband.

Have fun together! One thing I can say about my husband and I is we know how to have fun {and laugh ridiculous amounts} doing anything!  Some of it may be at inappropriate times and places but at least we're laughing.  You need to make sure you have fun together too! Fun is a key ingredient to a successful friendship. No one wants to spend time with a Debbie Downer (or someone that gets super mad over onions on their burger). Laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more.

Praying With Him

First, a confession.

I struggled with praying.

For some reason, I grew up thinking praying for everyone else was what God wanted but praying for myself was selfish.  For years, I took the petitions of others to God but never my own.  I would gladly pray for everyone else but when it came to me, I just couldn't do it.  I wish I knew where this thought process came from or what moment in time formed it.  And more than anything I wish I had changed it sooner.

I struggled with this on and off, until I read a comment that changed my prayer life forever.
If we want to pray for others in powerful and effective ways…if we want God to work in and through us for His glory…we must first pray for ourselves. 
Thankfully, with Gods grace, my prayer life has changed.

Then He decided to stretch me again.

Another confession.

I cannot pray out loud with other people without crying.

Remember me, the ultimate crier?  Praying out loud is just one more thing to add to my makes me cry list.

Years ago, a special prayer meeting was held at our church specifically for our Pastor.  We prayed all together then eventually broke off into groups to pray.  As soon as others started praying, I could feel the tears welling.  And then it was my turn.  With a lump in my throat I tried to talk.  The words just wouldn't come out.  At this point I was close to sobbing.  Bless their hearts, they were patient with me.  I was a complete mess.  A sobbing, snotty mess.

And then God started nudging my heart to pray with my husband.

One thing I had always loved was slipping my hand into my husbands when the Pastor prays before the sermon.  It just felt special, intimate and right.  I knew I had to obey, I knew I would feel all those things and more, but I also had no desire to be a mess every time.

And let's be real here.  Praying as a couple can be challenging. Many of us aren’t comfortable praying out loud, and so we’re not sure how to bring prayer into our marriage.

Just as being intimate reminds you of your oneness, so does praying together. When you pray as a couple, you are communicating with God and each other. You can learn so much about one another by sharing prayer requests and listening to each other pray.

All marriages, mine included, have problems.  We are two imperfect people that daily fail each other.  My husband, bless his heart, he's married to a strong-willed quick-tempered girl with a big mouth.  But thankfully when we add the presence of a perfect God, we have unlimited possibilities for drawing closer to what God intended for marriage. The more you pray together, the more you will see God do great things!

Praying together helps remind us that there are three of you in this marriage (you, your husband, and God), and God wants to be a part of it with you.

Here are a few tips to get started.  And believe me, I'll be reading this list over and over to help us.  

Be honest.  Talk about it beforehand and be honest about your feelings about praying together.  I think being nervous and intimidated is normal, at least I think it is.  My goal was to pray with my husband without being a sobbing, snotty mess.

Pick a time and commit.  You'll never get started praying together on a regular basis if you don't make this definite commitment to a specific, agreed-upon time.

Decide who will do what. Know ahead of time who is praying first, where you are praying at and how long you will pray for. 

Be comfortable.  If neither of you are comfortable praying out loud, start by just holding hands and praying to yourself.  And set a time limit for how long you will pray.

Prayer doesn't have to be out loud to be real and heard by God.  You can pray together silently, you can write your prayer down and read it when you're together or pray while you talk.  

Praying doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out thing. Sometimes “sentence prayers” are more effective.  When people feel awkward or nervous, understanding that it doesn’t have to be a big prayer can take the pressure off. So you could just use a few sentences to start, and go back and forth. Even if it’s just a minute or two together, it's a start!

I’d love to hear from you about your prayer life as a couple. What works and what doesn’t?

The Lord's Prayer {Book Review}

The Lord's Prayer
Words of Hope and Happiness
By Rick Warren

About the book:
This iconic prayer is paired with flowing illustrations by award-winning artist Richard Jesse Watson and thoughtful insights by bestselling author Rick Warren, resulting in a book that rejuvenates the familiar prayer for a younger audience. Using poetic scripture from the King James Version, The Lord’s Prayer: Words of Hope and Happiness helps familiarize children with real biblical text while also presenting contemporary illustrations and insightful words that make this beautiful prayer come alive.
I'm always so, so excited to take new books into my Sunday School class.  The little ones get so excited when I pull a new book out of my bag!

I absolutely loved this book, and so did they!  On one page, there is a verse from the Lord’s Prayer featured. On the next page, a child friendly description of what that verse means.  It was a great way to break down The Lord's Prayer and explain it to them in a way they would understand.

The illustrations are fabulous.  Richard Jesse Watson illustrated the book and let me tell you, they are beautiful. They made more relatable to kids.  The little guys loved looking at the pictures and pointing out something new they saw in each one.

This book is definitely one I would recommend.  It would be a great asset in teaching little ones to pray!  And would be a fabulous addition to any classroom.

This book was provided to me free of charge by Book Look in return for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday

Daily Love

I am no stranger to storybook romance. Marrying at twenty to the sweetest man, I am blessed to be familiar with this form of love - love as a falling and a pursuit and a passion. We were introduced for the first time on a cold February evening, bundled up as we stood outside while snow gently fell around us. We stood there with our cherry-red noses, enamored with each other.

One month later we were engaged. We were married three months after that, with vows breathed in the little country church I was born into.

We both entered marriage in love with being in love. I adored the romance, comfort and support a spouse offered. I loved waking up beside him each morning and laying down beside him each night. I loved that he was my best friend and knew me better than anyone. We had our own unwritten language and could share a look or a word that no one else would understand but WE knew what it meant. I loved how he could make me laugh more than anyone else. 

Throughout the years, I've collected every card and love letter my husband has written me. I have them all safely tucked away but on occasion will pull an old one out and pour over the words. It's in that moment, between the lines, I can see this love of ours has, without a doubt, changed over time.

It isn’t because it's any less. It isn't because we're walking through a valley. It isn't because the laundry is piled sky high. It is something different.

Throughout the past twenty-one years we've made a conscious choice to daily say that we still do, even now, especially now.

He has continued to choose me, even on days I wear sweat pants and a messy bun. He has continued to choose me, throughout every sickness and surgery. He has continued to choose me, even when I'm undeserving.

And I've chosen him.  This is daily love.

Daily love is strung together choices. The feelings, undoubtedly, will rise and fall. Being in love with love will fade as the toughness of life becomes a reality. But marriage is not meant to be a lifetime commitment to fairy tale love alone. Marriage is designed to be a repetitive I do, a daily commitment of choosing us over me.

Marriage was designed specifically by God to mirror the relationship between Christ and His church. In marriage, we are acting out a living parable to help our children and others around us grasp what God is like in a more concrete way.

Over the years God has softened and shaped my heart. He has shown me that I need to love my husband without unreal, fairy tale expectations. He has shown me that marriage means intentionally looking for love. It's in those moments, when I pause and reflect, I am flooded with displays of love right in front of me:

  • It’s in the endless miles he's driven me to appointments.
  • It’s in the washing, drying and folding of laundry he does.
  • It’s in the hug and kiss I get when he walks in the door.
  • It’s in the time we spend together, from grocery shopping to shooting guns.
  • It’s in his understanding when somehow 8 backyard chickens suddenly become 43.
  • It’s in his support of all my crazy ideas.

In these ways and thousands of others, he shows me, he tells me, he loves me.

I am so thankful our love story has so many chapters left to be written in it. As your love story is written by the ultimate Author of love, you might just be surprised at the romance you find. And just how much your husband does, in fact, resemble prince charming. No matter what the situation, or what mess it may hold, he's still my hero and I’m still his girl.

Twenty-One Years Ago

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Twenty-one years ago today, my life changed. I can still remember getting ready...teasing my hair, putting on my jeans and flannel and lacing up my boots.  I hopped in my Chevy Celebrity and off I went. Little did I know what that night would hold. I was about to meet the one I had been praying for since I was a little girl.  I was about to meet the heart God had been preparing for mine.

I wasn't quite sure what to think of this long haired guy covered with tattoos. He was basically the exact opposite of anyone I had dated prior. Which made my heart quietly sigh a hallelujah! He was funny, oh so funny. We would laugh for hours at absolutely nothing. He was a little wild, which my Mama didn't quite care for. But most of all, he was so sincerely nice and he treated me with respect. What an absolute breath of fresh air that was.

Our paths had crossed numerous times before that night. I can still remember the first moment that I saw his face...staring at me...from behind the pizza counter. And I turned to my friend and said "what in the world is this guy staring at". I then promptly gave him a sassy look, rolled my eyes, spun around, flipped my hair and left. Time after time, we ran into each other.

Until finally, I quit looking past him and looked directly into his eyes.

He stole my heart and our life journey began.

That first night we went to Pizza Hut and hung out with friends. I remember it like it was yesterday, from the butterflies in my stomach to laughing non-stop all evening. And from that day on we spent as much time together as we could. One month later we were engaged and four months later we were married ♥

Our life journey has been full of ups and downs, laughter and tears, death and triumph, sickness and health.  But throughout it all, there isn't a single other person I'd rather walk beside through this crazy life.

{Semi} Wordless Wednesday

40 Budget Friendly Date Ideas

I love going on dates with my husband, whether they are little mini-dates we catch here and there or a full day together. I love that feeling of just reconnecting with him and being able to give him my full attention without interruption. I think it's so important to take time out of our busy lives to solely focus on each other. It keeps our marriage alive.  It's so important to stay connected!  Some day those babies are going to grow up and leave your house.  You don't want to be two strangers just coexisting as roommates when that happens.

Romance doesn't have to be expensive to be great! Here is a list of free or nearly free ideas to make your dating a pure pleasure:

  1. Walk through the mall, holding hands of course.
  2. Grab your skates and head to the roller-skating rink. What, not everyone has skates like I do? Believe me, my littles remind me every year that my skates are as old as dirt. As long as you don't mind being the oldest people there who aren't chaperoning their children, it's a great way to have fun and let loose with each other.
  3. Fill the bed of the truck up with pillows + blankets, head out in a field, hop in the back and count your lucky stars.
  4. Celebrate the first snow fall with a day of sledding together. At the end of the day, head inside for hot cocoa and a hot shower.
  5. Have a winter picnic. Put a blanket on the living room floor, turn the TV off, turn the music on and light candles.
  6. Jump in the car and just drive with no destination in mind. Turn the music up, sing together, hold hands and enjoy the ride. Make a love song "mix tape" to enjoy during your drive. This one is one of my favs!
  7. Wake your love up early. Have coffee, donuts and lead them outside to watch the sunrise together.
  8. Grab your camera and head out. Stop at scenic locations and start taking pictures of each other. Be goofy and creative. Dare each other to put those wacky pictures on Facebook! The loser has to give a massage!
  9. Karaoke is a guaranteed fun night, even if you can't hold a note to save your life.
  10. Go for a walk together in the woods.
  11. Have a spa day by pampering each other with massages, candles and music.
  12. Grab a tent, sleeping bag and head into the woods for a night of camping. Leave all the distractions behind. Spend the evening cuddling together under the stars talking for hours. If you don't have a tent, you can get one for as cheap as $25 at Walmart. Sleeping bags can be as cheap as $10. 
  13. Re-enact one of your favorite dates from your "dating days".
  14. Go to a park, push one another in the swings and talk. 
  15. Dance lessons are fun and romantic. You’re moving, bodies are touching, and you might be working up a little bit of sultry sweat. 
  16. Have a photoshoot together.
  17. Buy a pizza and play board games together.
  18. Head to an indoor or outdoor ice-skating rink — it's the perfect excuse to hold hands!
  19. Go shooting together, something we love to do. I mean, hello, seeing your guy handle a gun is pretty hot. Just remember, safety first! 
  20. Celebrate your married romance by spending the day in bed together watching TV.
  21. Spend a night sharing your favorite memories from the past. Stay in, turn off the TV, shut down your computer and ignore your phones. Just stay in the moment with each other.
  22. Pray together, taking turns thanking God for each other.
  23. Look through old photo albums together.
  24. Go to the drive-in, pack snacks and a blanket and get cozy in the back seat.
  25. Plan your dream vacation with each other — it might be the incentive you need to start putting your loose change in the piggy bank.
  26. Have your children play waiter and waitress and serve a romantic dinner, then tell them the story of how you fell in love.
  27. Volunteer together. I think watching my husband serve and seeing his heart is pretty amazing and makes me fall in love with him all over again.
  28. Spend the day together in the great outdoors. Go for a hike together, enjoying a day of great conversation while getting exercise at the same time.
  29. Build a snowman together.
  30. On a hot summer day, wash the car together, with the intent of splashing each other with water.
  31. Go play mini-golf.
  32. Go bowling and have fun laughing together! If you're like us, that laughing will come from you accidentally stepping on the slippy lane, falling and splitting your pants. Not my most graceful moment.
  33. Write a love letter to each other, exchanging them after a candle light dinner.
  34. Have a "remember when" night. Reminisce about your dating days, when you fell in love and recall some of your best memories.
  35. Make a playlist {aka...mix tape} of your favorite slow songs. Cook your favorite meal together. Light the candles. Have a romantic dinner together! Once dinner is over, leave the dishes until the next day! Spend the rest of the evening slow dancing together!
  36. Search out some local music! 
  37. Go House Shopping. Even if you aren’t in the market for a new house, just go browse anyway. There is just something fun about the home-browsing process.
  38. Go for a moonlight walk. There is something very romantic about walking around at night, especially under the moonlight. Tell your spouse all the things you love about them and walk slowly.
  39. Kiss, dance and play in the rain.
  40. Head to a flea market or antique store. I could spend hours browsing through the aisles, dreaming of what I could fit a baby in {I'm a photographer y'all}. And thankfully, my husband enjoys these too!

What She Really Wants For Valentines Day

Oh men, only six weeks after Christmas and again you’re under pressure to find the perfect gift. And let's face it, we don't make it easy on you. You are expected to read our minds and know what the perfectly perfect gift is that our heart is craving. Y'all have no idea how many tears I shed in during our relationship because my husband didn't inherently know what I wanted to receive. Of course I couldn't tell him, that would take every ounce of romance out of it.

For the past week I've been thinking of what I would love to receive myself for Valentine's Day. My thoughts kept going a bit beyond the tangible. I began thinking about what, for me, would communicate: I love you, I adore you, I still want to date you, I'm thankful for you, I cherish you, I appreciate you, I see the many things you do that go unnoticed and I love how you take care of our children.

I'm sure you've all heard about the popular series of books by Gary Chapman based on what he calls The 5 Love Languages. The main concept of the book is that there are 5 main ways in which people receive and give love: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, gifts and quality time. The primary way in which you express love is also the main way in which you receive love from others. Being aware of how your partner communicates love is key here. If you aren't aware of how they naturally communicate love, you may very well be missing out on all of the ways they ARE expressing love to you on the daily. Take the time to figure out her love language, and gift giving will be made easy!

The gift ideas I offer to you today are those which touch on the intangible. Gifts, that when coupled with some simple actions will communicate more than any one present has the ability to do.

The Gift of Planning

For Valentine's Day (or honestly any other day of the year), most women would love for their husbands to just plan a date all on their own. Y'all, she would love this! I would love this.  You have no idea how many times my husbands asks what I would like to do for our date and my response is surprise me!  Women love for you to take the lead when it comes to pursuing them! You don't need to ask her what she wants to do or where she wants to eat, just plan it. She'll adore you taking the time and initiative to plan an entire date, and it will make her feel so appreciated. If you're married, trust your instincts. You know her likes and dislikes, just go with it. Trust me, she won't be disappointed.

The Gift of Words

Tell her what she means to you. Tell her. Tell her over and over again. Write her a note to tell her and hide it in a place she'll find it. Put it on her pillow, on the washing machine or in that book she's reading. Believe me, she'll appreciate that more than you know. And she'll more than likely shed a few tears. Give her a big hug and kiss when you walk in the door after work. Just hold her in your arms. From a woman's perspective, this little act of kindness can wash away the negative things that happened during the day and change the tone of the evening. To me, this would mean more than all the flowers and chocolate in the world.

The Gift of Free Time

This might be the most simple, yet one of the best gifts ever that a wife could receive! While it is so important to regularly spend time together as a coupl, there's something to be said for a woman having time alone with absolutely NO agenda. Free time without kids, no one needing their noses wiped, no laundry staring them in the face, no curfew of when to be home by and no cell phone interruptions. Allow her to be completely unplugged. Wives, imagine your husband saying, "Saturday I'm getting up with the kids and taking them out. Just sleep in, take a bath and then take the day and do whatever you want to do. Don't worry about us, just enjoy your day." If you're wondering if this is an actual gift, all you need is ten minutes on Facebook. You'll see just how many Mama's post about a trip alone to Target feeling like a vacation or craving they could actually go to the bathroom by themselves for 2 minutes. Yep, this absolutely would qualify as a gift! And I guarantee when you get home, she'll feel like a new woman! Want to take this gift to an entire new level? Add in some gift cards to her favorite stores and one for her lunch. She'll adore her free day and not having to worry about her spending!

The Gift of Service

As women, we are the keepers of our home. As a full-time stay at home wife and mom who also runs a business, the tasks I do daily often feel not only repetitious but also like they aren't seen or noticed. Women are generally the ones who have everyone's schedule and needs simultaneously running through our minds at any given moment. We're always thinking out beyond the present moment to what needs to happen next to keep it all on track, on schedule and sane. Read this as we're stressed. Tell her you're taking over her chores for the day and for her to go sit in the living room and catch up on her DVR'd shows. This will show her that you not only recognize what she does daily, but that you appreciate it. And guess what? She's going to be like "Wow, this is amazing. I so super love you.". And guess who is going to look like the hero? Yeah, you. And who will reap the rewards of said hero? Yep, you will!

Hopefully I've given you some good ideas, or just some inspiration to come up with your own ideas. I know this post isn't full of easy-to-click links with flashy pictures, but I hope it challenges you to think about how you communicate love to your partner and how she receives love. Above all, I really challenge you to not just settle into a groove where your spouse is concerned. True love is not selfish, but the amazing thing is that when when you are loved well, you will love well in return. Be inspired, love well, make it an unforgettable Valentine's Day and move beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Happy Birthday Mama

Today marks a very special day in the life of one of my most special, favorite people. Today is my Mama's birthday. There is something special about the mother-daughter bond. It's why so many girls would describe their own mother as the best ever. That is certainly how I feel about my mother, she is the best mother.

She lead by example teaching me how very important it is to love Jesus, to be kind, to be thoughtful, to be gracious, to be loving, to be caring, to be selfless, to be thankful, to be honest and to be hard working. She taught me what it means to truly love someone unconditionally.

She taught me how to smile no matter what life throws at you, and know that tomorrow will bring new promises and hope when you feel down. She taught me to value myself, to surround myself with like minded people and to know when it's time to cut ties when someone isn't good for you.

She taught me to honor my commitments and to keep my promises. She made me value education, perseverance and personal values. She raised me to be a strong woman.

If you're new to my blog, you may not know this about me, about us. This is why I feel our bond is so strong. I was adopted at 3 days old. God basically hand-picked these amazing people to be my parents. And y'all, I won the parent lottery!

She has been my loudest cheerleader and she always believes in me, even when I don't believe in myself. I know she has many more lessons to teach me as the years continue to roll on, and each day I value our relationship more than the day that has past.

Then on top of being an amazing mom, she’s the best grandmother ever. She goes by Nanny, and she sure loves these two. These littles of mine have no clue how blessed they are to have a Nanny as wonderful as she is. I’m so glad that our littles have her right next door to love and care for them. And teach them and help them. And let’s be completely honest…She spoils them too.  Y'all, we have lived out the "it takes a village" mantra.

If it wasn't for this woman, I would not be who I am today. It is certainly a blessing to be able to say your mother is your best friend. And she is clearly that, my best friend. I live beside her, normally see her every day and talk to her a million times a day.  She never once complains of the hundreds of times I call her to ask silly questions like what does bad hamburg smell like, I have a skunk in my chicken coop and need your help or can you look and see if this injury is emergency room worthy? I am truly blessed!

As we look towards the future, I just want you to know Mom, I love you. It feels like such an inadequately simple phrase to express how very much I care for you. My life is blessed because you are in it. Everything I am and will be, I owe to you. You're the best. I hope the year to come is one of your very best yet!

Hello. Goodbye.

Hello February, goodbye January
Hello month full of gushy, squishy love
Hello to 21 years with my super amazing man!
Hello homemade Valentines, love letters and blog posts of love.

Hello afternoons full of baking
Hello healing and feeling like myself again
Hello to new girls laying, goodbye freeloading chickens

Hello Superbowl that I only half-watch for the snacks, commercials and half-time show
Hello watching my little girl do something amazing

Tell me, what are you looking forward to this month? I’d love to hear!