My Whispered "Me Too".

Wednesday Morning Matt woke up at 430. He thought it would be a good idea to work out at 530 in the morning. That is a poor idea, always. I woke to him trying to quietly roll his body out of bed and then watched as he fumbled around the room trying to get all his things together. Actually, to be fair, I was already kind of awake thanks to the gentle nervous shaking of the butterflies in my stomach, the same ones that are with me now as I sit here typing.

I spent the next few hours tossing and turning, trying to convince myself that sleep was possible, all the while knowing what we were going to do when Matt got home.

I had been feeling a little off the past few days, but I had also just got back in country, so that could have been to blame. For every feeling that I had, I had a possible reason to write it off, trying to ward of the excitement that I wasn’t sure was mine to have yet.

Matt got home and showered, because sweat. I attempted to nonchalantly roll out of bed and join him in the bathroom where I then attempted to open the packaging. I’m not sure why they make those tests so hard to open, especially since I can only imagine that most are opened with shaking hands.

The next few minutes we stood there waiting and praying. And then together we turned it over, revealing two pink lines.

I was pregnant.

I had taken enough of those tests throughout our marriage to know the subtle disappointment that usually follows after the results are read. I had no clue how to process this.

We were having a baby. A real live human!

He laughed, I cried, and we sat and stared at each other for a long time, giggling, dreaming, planning.

We spent the next two days telling our sweet families. They each celebrated in their own way, excited for this coming generation. Three out of four of the brothers expressed their selfless willingness to share their name with the baby.

We managed to tell a handful of extras before Matt went into surgery Friday afternoon. Apparently, you do not need a gallbladder.

I get him back to our house by Friday evening.

Saturday the cramping started. But that’s normal, so I push through.

Sunday the bleeding started, and by Sunday afternoon we knew we had lost the baby.

 

And as my hands continue to shake, what can I say after that?

It is a weird sense of loss.  

We couldn’t hold or grasp or cling to what we lost. It was not someone that we felt or knew.

But I still feel the loss.

 

I am physically in pain as my body says goodbye to the life I have been praying for, and my heart hurts as my dreams for that life are painfully paused.

And these are some of the feelings I am feeling: Sad, confused, angry, disappointed, guilty, thankful, grateful.

Then, in the midst of all these feelings, I struggle through if I am even allowed to feel these things. There are others all around who have experienced loss further into pregnancy, and even into life, a loss I can’t even begin to imagine. But now I do have a piece of that.

Over and over again, I have heard people caution telling others about pregnancy before the week that is deemed safe. And now, over and over again I cry for and with you sweet people who felt this weird sense of loss, alone.

The world screams silence, but it is silence because of pain and for protection.

But while I have fought that silence for a long time, I get it a bit more now.

What am I supposed to say? How do I even start? What if I break down? What if I don’t? I don’t want to put them in a spot where they are uncomfortable and don’t know what to say. What if they think I am making a big deal about this and overreacting?

But God, you don’t belittle my pain and my suffering, so I will let myself feel.

So, we have decided to allow others to be a part of this with us. And goodness it has been painful and sweet.

One of my favorite things one friend said was, “I don’t know if this is the right thing to say, but…”

Because let’s be honest, what the heck are you supposed to say? What am I supposed to say?

 

So, I am trying to allow myself to fully feel.

I am sad.

I am sad that this baby will not grow inside of me. I am sad that I will not feel the movement inside of me, and that Matt’s hand will not get kicked. I am sad that I do not get to spend the next 9 months making Matt a Daddy.

I am sad that on March 21, 2018, we will not meet our baby, the culmination of the two of us in one tiny human.

And I am grateful.

I am grateful that the baby was too small to see yet. I am grateful that we now know we have the ability to get pregnant, a fear that was taking root in my heart. I am grateful for a family that has chosen to step up and help both Matt and I rest and heal. I am grateful for the healing that Jesus is doing in the family though pain. I am grateful that God can bring incredible good out of sadness, and is choosing, this time, to let us see some of that goodness right away.  

And I am thankful.

I am thankful for the people in our world. I am thankful for strength to allow people in, and for the healing that it brings. Silence creates isolation and loneliness, and loneliness in pain can do unbelievable damage.

The more I talk, the more “me too” whispers are being passed to me.

This reality speaks too truly to so many people.

Honesty moving forward, I am scared. I am scared that the next time that two pink lines appear on the test, fear will be the first emotion that comes over me. I have fought so hard over the past few years to stand up to the fear that consumed my life for so long, and this feels like a win for fear before it even happens. And that protective fear will do no good to protect my heart, as much as it might lie that it will.

I so badly do not want to give my heart in pieces, because fully processed or not, this hurts, and if it happens again, it will hurt.

And if next time it doesn’t happen, I want to say that I loved that baby from the day I knew.

And if next time it does happen, I want to say that I loved my baby from the day I knew.

 

So here is my whispered “me too” in attempts to quiet the voice of silence and isolation. I am so sorry for this pain so many of you feel along with me. It sucks.

Here’s to laughing together as life moves on and our hearts heal. To crying together as unexpected triggers produce tears and sudden sadness.

Here’s to learning how to love fully and without abandon, and to many more

“me too’s”.

Mornings With God

                                                                                                             Good Morning God,

As this week of baby-making continues,

I so badly want to trust you.

Can I trust you and your timing and still be hopeful of this timing?

Because I am hopeful,

But every time I feel hope I also feel a slam of what I call

"Reality" that is really

Self protection.

I feel my body and heart tense and tighten,

Like bracing myself for a punch I am praying against.

So I've set you up to lose.

Because you either act according to the timeline I deem fitting and gracious,

Or I interact with you as beaten and bruised. 

Part of my says, "Why can't I believe it will work?"

Why can't I dream and imagine and plan

confetti announcements?

After all,

You split the seas so I could walk right through them. 

You drown my fears in perfect love. 

I have spent most of my life believing you can and 

                                                              you might.

And as I have dove into you and your character, I have found 

You are a good, good Father. 

             You can and you will.

Until I [need] you to, then

You might. 

But why do I [need] you to?

I don't need it. 

My heart wants it, 

But so does yours.

And while my life is measured by minutes, weeks, cycles,

You are not. 

You want this for us.

Because it is really for you anyways.

And since you aren't measured in time, 

I am going to stop measuring your goodness on my time. 

Because 400 years later, 

You were still good. 

And like that babe,

When I hear mine cry for the first time,

You

Will

Still

Be

Good. 


Even as I wrote this, I was not sure that I could truly feel at peace with whatever happens. 

But shockingly enough, God was kind, and from that day forward my heart has calmed and my constant need to grasp at control has gone away. 

His heart for me is good, and my heart for him is becoming more sure and steady.

 

My Honest Thoughts About Getting Pregnant.

I’m currently on a plane. According to the captain, “Today is not a great day to be flying over the East coast.” I do not love flying. 

You know what else I don’t love, the thought of having a baby. (How is that for a Segway?)

I want to be honest about my thoughts and feelings about planning a family, because I know I can’t be the only one out there who is freaking the freak out. (Or maybe I am, in which case judge away!)

It started a few months ago. I have shared in other posts how I have many REGERTS about how I have not done a great job fully being present in the current stages of life. 

Well, I have been on a mission to change that. 

So here is my here and now: I am young and I like my husband as much as I love him. We both have jobs that we love and people around us that we adore. 

I can say with joy I love the stage of life that I am in. 

So much so that I think I decided I never want to leave it. Because kids ruin your life, or so I'm constantly told, and that has to be the next step. 

So I decided not to step. Ever. Sorry mom. 

Kids scare me. Pay no mind to the fact that I have 18 of them to my name Monday-Friday. Your kid I’m great with. It’s mine that I'm unsure about. Plus I have dreams and plans of what I want my life to look like, all of which will get flushed down the toilet when a baby pops out (hopefully not in said toilet.) 

I am terrified of messing up a kid. I can do my best and that sweet baby will still have wounds to work through as an adult. I should set up a therapy fund now. 

You know what else freaks me out?! Picking a name. I will have the responsibility for naming another human. Where is the line between unique and stripper? I am unsure. 

I have a job to take into account as well with kids that look up to me and depend on me to make sure they are both well rounded, kind, and independent people, and at the same time that they do not sniff the scented markers too long. 

Over the summer Matt and I talked in depth about when to have kids. He told me that he is ready and excited but he is also good to wait until I am ready. He said that he truly feels that it is going to have to be a me and Jesus decision. 

Well in that case, NOPE. Kids ruin lives. 

I have spent the past 6 months freaking out and pushing back our “start trying date.” 

Then the other day I randomly asked Matt honestly his thoughts. He has been quiet about the matter in hope to not sway or push me. He is kind. 

He is also so ready. He wants to be a younger dad, and lets be honest, he is pushing it! He wants to be able to play and be intimately involved in their lives. He is excited to see the person that we create together. 

And then all at once God kindly and gently showed me how selfish I was being. Go back and reread this. I never once said “we”, only ever “I”. I have been planning and fearing all around myself through this whole decision. I never once took into account my sweet husband. I never took into account our sweet community that is thrilled for us and would be there to support us the whole way through. 

I’m not trusting the God who would make that sweet baby in the first place. It’s his right? We are just borrowing it.

I might not be ready, but I think we could be. 

And the more ready “we” feel, the more excited I get. 

I can’t live my whole life in the fear that others around me speak. 

It’s not my fear to take on. 

So we have officially decided to start trying. Here’s to hoping that Baby Nations makes a grand debut in 2017.

And here is also to the therapy fund that will be started immediately. 

I Want To Punch My Husband In The Esophagus.

Matt and I currently both have injuries on our faces. Both were sustained individually and just so happened to be at the same time. Needless to say, when we both walk into a room with marks on us, our friends start making jokes and asking questions about a fight. While my regular threat to him is that I am going to punch him in the esophagus, (who knows where I got that…) our answer to confrontation is not violence, because, as I tell the 1 year olds I work with, that is not how to make or keep friends. I will say though, that our old way of solving issues was equally as unsuccessful.

You know those people who have super delicate hearts who you have to be gentle with? Well multiply that by 10 and you get me, especially when it comes to dealing with Matt! Mix my need for extreme gentleness with my fear of disappointing him, the fact that I process things internally and that I prefer to avoid hard situations, and you have a beautiful mess.

Lucky for me, Matt is a super gentle man. After a few times of me crying because the tone of his voice shifted ever so slightly, he learned that his level of gentleness was going to have to increase even more than he thought possible. The problem for us came because home boy is a fixer and also likes to externally process things.

So now you have two people who process and work through conflict very differently, and we could not and did not understand the way the other person processed. We really sucked at this for a while. When conflict would arise, I would shut down hard. I would struggle to both physically and mentally stay present in the conversation. I would much rather tune him out and also run away, but apparently that's not a helpful solution. He would want to ‘fix’ the situation immediately. Which often involved a lot of talking on his part as he processed the situation for himself and bombarding me with questions that I was not sure how nor did I really want to answer. Wouldn’t you like to be around for that?! Soops fun. (and yes I did just say ‘soops’, no other word felt right.)

The switch to not being quite as awful at this for us came very slowly. Little by little we started to figure it out, and it started when we stopped associating the other person and their heart with our own hurt.

He finally told me when I said, “I don’t know,” (which was often all I would say over and over again,) it felt like, “I don’t care.” That was not true, I really did care, I just needed a moment to process and collect my thoughts and feelings so that I could make sure that the words that I said were the words that I actually meant, but I could see how in that moment, he would feel that because I know the way his heart processes and the fears it holds. His heart was to make whatever the situation was, right again as quickly as he could, and me not participating was only hurting his heart more because it felt like I did not care enough to do the same.

I eventually voiced that him trying to fix the situation the moment it happened was overwhelming for me sometimes. I could not think it through and I felt attacked by all his questions. My heart for him was not to put him through the pain of silence and add to the fear of letting hurts pass and then build. His heart for me was not to attack me and what I was feeling. And when we realized that our hearts for each other were good, that helped change the way we had those conversations.

I was able to say, “I know your heart for me is good, but this situation made me feel this way.” As opposed to, “You suck and I want to punch you in the esophagus.”

I might not always fully grasp why he is feeling or processing a certain way, because that is not natural to me, but I sure can try to understand and respond in a way that I know will be helpful to him. Now, when we are in the middle of something and I feel overwhelmed about a situation, I say something along the lines of, “I do not know right now, but I will think about it and let you know.” Or “I need a little time to process through what I am feeling, and I will get back to you.” That is much better for his sweet little heart, as long as I actually do come back to him and don’t leave the poor guy hanging.

I cannot assume or expect that all others think, feel, and respond the same way that I do, especially Matt. And really thank goodness that we don’t because two of either of us would be an actual nightmare.

 

Me punching him in the esophagus and him using his grace muscles.

Me punching him in the esophagus and him using his grace muscles.

Let's Talk About Sex

Let me be honest with you, this was one of the hardest topics for me to talk about for a long time. Like a very long time. I was talking to a sweet friend the other day and I was trying to explain to her just how bad I was at it. Just then Matt walked up and I asked him, “1-10 how bad did I use to be at talking about sex?” Apparently he was wearing his sassy pants because he began doing the math in his head and writing it out in the air. “Let’s see. Carry the 3. Take away four, bring down the 9…. negative 14.” Yeah, that sounds about right!

When Matt was in college, one of his professors gave everyone a list of 400 questions to go through with their significant other before getting married. It covered everything, and we loved going through them! They asked so many questions that brought about great conversations that probably would not have happened otherwise simply because we didn’t think about having them. They addressed everything from beliefs to finances, from personal fears to motivation, growing up to raising kids. There was a section in the middle that asked questions that had to do with sex. We use to pick random numbers and talk about whatever question we landed on. Needless to say, I memorized the sex section and avoided it like the plague.

I could talk about sex somewhat with my friends, as long as it had more to do with them and their stories. I was not, however good at talking to Matt or other women about it, and that greatly negatively impacted many of my relationships.

Why is it so hard to talk about? And why is it especially hard for girls? Matt has had the chance to talk to many guys about it, and through honest conversations really cool things have happened in many people’s lives and relationships. I do not see those same conversations happening with the women around me.

Why is there such a silencing shame that encoumpasses sex, especially for girls? I have found, that the more I speak to other sweet girls, the more freedom is found. I was sitting on my back porch with a friend one night and I went on a rant about how I wish so much that sex was more of a conversation among unmarried girls in the church. She turned to me and said, “Ok fine, I’ll go for it.” It was one of my favorite conversations because it was real. It was not fake or protected, but rather open and honest.

It is not her fault for feeling the initial need to protect herself. That is what she has been told. I was told that daily one way or another. I was told it in the glances that I saw people give to girls in high school. I was told that in the hushed rumors that spread like wildfire. I was told that as I read rulebooks that outlined expulsion for pregnancy.

I want to be clear. I do believe that sex was designed for a marriage relationship. I have experienced personally the freedom and grace that is found with sex in marriage. I have heard story after story echoing the same thing of freedom and joy that is found as opposed to the shame and guilt that used to ring true.

I do however also believe that more conversations should be had. I want so badly for my life to look even a little bit like Jesus. What I see in Jesus is kindness and truth.

He sees people and chooses their hearts over their choices.

He does not guilt or shame. He spent time with people, and loved them. He did not scare people into choosing the life he originally intended. He loved them to it, and in those moments and in those conversations different choices began to be made.

Sex should not be a conversation that elicits fear, like it did for so long in me. It should be a conversations that reaches the heart of the person. I have had more funny, uplifting, encouraging, and inspiring conversations that started with sex than most other topics. Don’t get me wrong, there have also been difficult, painful, and devastating conversations around the same topic, but man, in the end of the day, at least we talked. Because when voices start speaking, lies start silencing, and the grace that has always been offered, is slowly but surely accepted.

Year Two of Marriage Was Not Comfortable.

The past few weeks have been heavy for me. I wouldn’t say bad necessarily, because God is good and hope is shining through all of the yucky stuff. Still, the emotions that I felt, both good and bad, have been a lot. As I tried to navigate that, I missed a post last week and I was not a big fan of that. Sorry folks.

In the midst of all the heaviness, Matt and I celebrated our two year anniversary! I have been married for two whole years as of Tuesday, so clearly I am now an expert in all things marriage, and while the second part of what I just said is far from true, the first part is indeed a fact. We are now 5 days into our third year of marriage, and seeing as I am still a big fan of him, I would say we are killing it.

To celebrate our first year of marriage, some sweet friends gave us their timeshare in Orlando for the weekend. We spent most of the ride up there reminiscing on the past year. Conversation included but was not limited to the best moments, the hardest moments, the saddest moments, and the funniest moments. We eventually decided that we would describe year 1 as ‘fun’. We had a blast. We laughed all the time played lots of games (battleship is one of our favorites. Yes we might be 80.) and really enjoyed being best friends.

On Tuesday, in the midst of a crazy life we managed to find some time to sit and be together. We were recently gifted a couch for our porch, and it has quickly become our favorite place. If you cannot find me, I am probably there with my nose in a book (the book I referred to last time was one of a series that has what feels like 300 books. Matt asks me how my ‘friends’ are in reference to the book… I may have a problem….)

There is a different feel about this past year. It was still fun and I enjoy being married to my best friend (sometimes I do find myself saying, “Eww! I live with a booooy!”), but there was a little something else this time.

The second year of marriage was comfortable. Not in a complacent comfortable, but in a comfortableness that I am not sure I have ever fully experienced.

I have grown increasingly and surprisingly comfortable with dancing. I am not a great dancer. I get that from my dad who, bless his little heart (I was told if you say this before insulting someone, the insult doesn't count) cannot keep a beat. Mom has banned him from clapping in public places. Not only can I not dance, but I have never had the confidence to not care and have fun with it. I use to avoid dancing because it felt silly. Then year 2 hit and I no longer had an option. We dance in our apartment ALL THE TIME. Our downstairs neighbors probably hate us. Again, I don’t dance well, but I this past year I have found myself comfortable enough to break that fear and dance like a fool, and I love it! I was at a wedding recently and I was dancing like I had ants in my pants. Someone came over to me and said that they wanted to dance by me because I looked fun. That was a first! It might sound silly, but because of the comfort that I felt with Matt and with looking silly and not caring with Matt, I found a new freedom to not care what others think, but instead shake my tail feathers and enjoy.

I found myself becoming comfortable with hard conversations. Let me make one thing clear, I hate confrontation. Once I heard someone say, “I am like the runaway bride of confrontation.” and I really liked that. I have had horrible experience with it and prefer to just not. That, shockingly enough, made year one a bit difficult with Matt. He is a fixer and I am an avoider; a match made in heaven. My response to hard conversations use to be physically running away. I would have to force myself to sit and talk to Matt while inside I just wanted to run out the door. I also was not good at bringing up things. Poor guy would have to guess what it was because I was too scared to start the conversation.

This past year I felt a shift in that. I think it happened for a few reasons. I think one thing that helped was that hard conversations happened frequently enough that I got a lot of positive experience with confrontation with my husband. We got to talk through problems and over and over I watched it work out well. The lies of confrontation always ending horribly and it never working out were proven wrong and that was sweet for my heart. I also found that shockingly enough, he could not always read my mind. I began to share what I was feeling slowly and he was kind and celebrated that in me. What is celebrated gets repeated, so the next time I felt a little braver to start conversations. I became comfortable and confident with Matt and secure in the fact that hard conversations usually end in very sweet ways.  

Intimacy is being fully known and fully accepted without the fear of rejection. I think this past year I began to really experience that and watch that play out in my own marriage. The intimacy I found with Matt gave my spirit a contentment and level of comfort with both myself and him that I have not experienced before. I felt freedom and life in that, and for that we celebrate! There are still areas in which I would love to get more ‘comfortable’ with, but seeing as I have forever to go, I am trying to pace myself.  


I told Matt that I thought comfortable was a good word to describe our second year of marriage. He said that it was too formal sounding, not fun enough, and had too many sy-laaa-bles. He proposed ‘comfy’ because it “just feels right.” So year two of marriage was not comfortable, it was comfy. Here’s to year three.

I Am Discontent With This Season of Life.

Guys, in the last 24 hours I have read a 300+ page book. How that happened, I am still unsure. Last night, a few hours in, Matt looks over and asks me how it is going. I put the book down and reveal that I am currently sobbing. He had no idea what to do with that. He came running over freaking out about why all that watery stuff was coming out of my eyes. He is not a fan of reading. (His sweet grandma may or may not have voice recorded herself reading all of his books throughout high school to help him out. She is the real MVP.) He cannot grasp how a book could make that much emotion come out of my body, and he had zero ideas about how to best handle my current meltdown (poor sweet man).

I can really get into a good book. I love seeing other people's lives written out in front of me, unfolding with each turning page. I like to watch them move to various stages of life as adventure, heartache, and love play out. It takes just about everything inside of me not to turn to the last page and read the ending. I have done that often which quickly ruins the books for me. Now I no longer wonder if the sweet lady dies of cancer, I can look at the last page and find the answer (now you understand the uncontrollable sobbing), which make me rush through the sweet, painful, and precious moments and conversations that lead up to the end.

Lo and behold, I live my life in a very similar fashion. It is not my favorite quality about myself, but I do. I am a dreamer, and often find myself dreaming about what my life has to offer. What jobs will I have and what adventures will I go on? What will my sweet babies look like, be like, and act like. Will they get my unbelievable athletic abilities (jokes) or my hair?

I do not think that dreaming is bad, but my problem comes when my dreaming turns into longing that turns into discontentment.

I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. I think the next stage of life will be better, sweeter, and more fun, so I rush through the current one, missing all the sweet moments that one has for me.

My sophomore year of college Matt and I were dating long distance. As my relationship with Matt moved on, I could see where it was going and I was so excited. I couldn’t wait until I was finally back near him so we could start a life together in the same area. I spent so much time dreaming of being together and getting married, that I  became discontent and disconnected from the place I was currently calling home. I was living with 5 sweet girls in a four bedroom apartment off campus. Life was crazy for all of us at this point in time, and I missed so many opportunities to be involved with many moments with these friends. I could have taken that year to enjoy where I was. I was in a beautiful city in North Florida in the middle of a lively college town with fun adventures waiting. There were people who I had loved that I let fall away because I was so focused on what was next. I missed out. I do not think that I allowed my second year up at school be all that it could be.

 

And the funny thing is, with each milestone that is reached, I simply moved on to the next one:

I got married, and looked forward to finally graduating. But the reality is this is a sweet time of learning that I will not get again. I get the chance to interact with peers, teachers, and precious little kindergartners that I would not get to otherwise. By being discontent in this season of school (that after 3 schools, 4 majors, and 5 years seems to never actually be ending) I could miss out on the daily interactions and moments that I do get.

We got a little apartment, and I look forward to the house I dream of often with a yard. Again, dreaming is not bad, but I have found myself too often ungrateful for the space that I do have. After 2 years of living in a little apartment, I am starting to find contentment in my little space in the world. I do not have a lot of stuff, and I do not have a lot of space, and I kind of like that. The space I do have is cozy and comfortable and I feel safe. I have started to hold onto the sweet memories that Matt and I have gotten to make here and I get sad at the thought of handing the key over to the next family.

We get married and I quickly look and long for the sound of little footsteps running back and forth around us. Even today I spent an hour stalking a stranger and her baby on Instagram. (Don’t judge me, you know you have done it. If not, I’ll show you how.) I found myself discontent with this stage of life and longing to be there (Mom, put your hand down and quit praising Jesus. We still have some time.) But as I sit on my porch with my husband napping in the next room over, I am learning to be content with the quiet of this season. I get to be selfish with my time and my husband and I are both good with that for now.

 

I do not want to look back at my life the way that I look back at my sophomore year with a lot of regrets of missed opportunities because of a discontent heart. I want to be able to find the sweet moments where I am now, taking full advantage of the view around me. This season is sweet and this season is passing, and I want to look back with fondness of each season and confidence that I lived those moments to their fullest and celebrated each along the way.

All squinty eyed and happy, and working on loving this moment (despite the spiders).

All squinty eyed and happy, and working on loving this moment (despite the spiders).

Marriage Counseling Did Not Prepare Us For Our First Fight.

At my wedding shower, one of my best friends gave me a darling gift. In it there were wine bottles that were specially picked and specially made with labels of Matt and me on them. Each had an important life milestone that couples go through in the first few years. Some included our wedding night, our first valentines, our first fight, our first new years (champagne), our first home, and our fist baby (sparkling apple juice, and no, we have not opened that one yet). 

The first one we got to open together was our wedding night one, and the second one we opened very shortly after that. 

There are 2 things I currently feel like sharing about marriage. The first is that it is an absolute blast! I remember when I was engaged, I heard so much negativity from both friends and strangers. The loudest voices are often the loudest because of their own hurt and anger with their own story. People would often say, "The first year is the hardest!" Well thanks buddy, I have no way of skipping that, but thanks for your encouragement....

I would like to take a second to be the voice of hope to you people about to be married. Being married is so much fun! There is something so sweet about being married to my best friend. I get to come home to him every day, no matter how crazy the day has been and be myself in the comfort of another soul. I love it. We laughed our way through our first year of marriage and stayed clear of some of those super 'encouraging' people. 

 While it is a blast, it is also one of the hardest things I have done so far. The second bottle of wine that we opened, very shortly after the first, was the first fight one, which was probably opened during our first week of marriage (we were clearly killing it). Here was the situation: it is bedtime and we are cuddled in our little baby bed that Matt had owned for way too many years (literally  had a dip in the middle so we would role onto each other. Not nearly as romantic as it may seem. I would hold onto the side of the bed to avoid rolling). I am a person who LOVES the fan on at night, like really loves it. I would install 17 more if I could. I like the sound and the feeling. My sweet husband on the other hand HATES fans. He would like to rip out all of them and also kill the inventor of them. I feel like this is a topic that should probably be talked about in marriage counseling, but it wasn't so here we were. 

For the first bit, the fan just stayed on high all the time. Then Matt started to speak up and voice his hate. He would wake up angry as he told me all the horrible things a fan does to his body (maybe a little dramatic, but still clearly he was frustrated). Then there was one night when we slept with the fan off. Here is a fact about me: if I am hot at night, I am angry. Needless to say, 20 minutes after I woke up the next day, Matt literally made me get back into bed and crawl out the bottom because I had "gotten up on the wrong side of the bed" and I needed to try again (maybe a little dramatic, but still clearly I was frustrated). 

Needless to say, I found out very quickly just how selfish I really was. I had always thought I was a relatively selfless person. Apparently not, crap. This is the way that I had always done things, and this is how I was going to continue to do them. I was frustrated why he could not just see that and let me have my fan on full blast. Apparently that was not the right mindset to have. While marriage counseling did not cover the fan, I was told something helpful. I was told that my mindset had to change. I had to realize that if I won, it was not a victory, because he lost. If he looses, I lose. This was not a me verses him thing, we are a team. 

Okay, yay, Go Team! but lets keep the fan on. 

We talked through it, laughed a little and got out the bottle. I do want him to win. If he wins I win, and if we both have that mindset the chances of us coming to a compromise is pretty good. 

We have found a compromise for now. The fan is on mid-speed during the night. We found that his biggest complaint is waking up with it. Since I am up before noon, I am almost always awake before him. I turn off the fan immediately and he continues to sleep and wake up peacefully. Boom! GO team!  

This was our one year picture. Still big fans of each other, still laughing, and the fan is still there.

This was our one year picture. Still big fans of each other, still laughing, and the fan is still there.


But What If It Does.​

Three days prior to this moment I finally went to the doctor and he gave me less than stellar news about my foot. He proceeded to place me on rest and ban me from work. That night I went to a Fourth of July party where I was told about this guy I needed to meet. The chances seemed very slim so a running joke was made about my “boyfriend” who was busy saving little children in Nicaragua. That same night I was invited to be a leader at a youth camp in Daytona Beach. The doctor said no sand and no water, so the only logical answer was yes.

Six hours prior to this moment, I walk down to the hotel lobby to eat breakfast with all the camp people, and I was quickly informed that my “boyfriend” was actually on his way and I would be meeting him shortly. I’m pretty sure my given middle name is awkward, and that immediately began to show through. I just kept saying, “I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

The moment arrives and I see him walk through the foyer. I am keeping cool, calm, and collected, and hiding behind friends and strangers. He came close and I ran away. I would like to say that I was trying to play hard to get, but no, I’m just not that smooth. An hour later the whole group is sitting in the middle of thousands of other youth students. Steph gives me a pep talk, and I man up and go introduce myself. It was a brief but kind introduction, and right when it was over I ditched for the second time. Needless to say I make one heck of a first impression.

But give me some grace (I heard someone say the other day, “Use your grace muscles, so I will from now on be stealing that), last week’s story had just begun to wrap up and I was emotionally drained. I said I had learned about being vulnerable with others about my heart, I was not, however, a pro. I had just learned that I could survive heartache and come out okay, I was in no way looking for that to happen again. This was probably the first time in my life that I was not looking for a guy. I had always heard it said, “The minute you stop looking, God sends Mr. Right in.” So I used to tell God, “Okay, I’m not looking. Bring him on.” He didn’t fall for it and I remained single up to this moment in the story. Now I’m pretty much over it, and walks in this guy.

Our timeline after that was pretty quick. Two weeks after that, we were dating, and I was beyond out of my element. I wanted a relationship, but I had no idea how to actually be in a healthy one. In the past, I was really good at playing games. It was part of my defense and self-protection. I remember calling a friend and telling her that for the first time ever, I didn’t have a move, and that scared me. I liked the control I thought that I maintained through self-protection. But really I was just isolating myself and not allowing myself to be truly known, which led to loneliness.

Not only was this relationship new, but right after we started dating, I went back up to school 6 hours away. If you have ever done long distance, you know the struggle is so real. The only form of intimacy available is communication, and I was not good at that. I was still learning how to speak and allow my voice and heart to be heard and known. A few months in, I remember a skype conversation where Matt had to literally say to me, “You know it is okay to like me.” Yes I was that bad. Poor guy. His patience surpasses most, and I’m over hear getting mad when he leaves the toilet seat up (which is fully warranted when I fall in…)

While long distance was one of the hardest things we did, for me, it was also one of the best. I had no choice but to risk. I was not guaranteed anything, but day by day I found freedom in risking my heart. For the first time, I felt known by another, and being known gave me that power and confidence to keep trying. It was, and still sometimes is a very slow process for me. There are times in the midst of hard conversations that I feel myself retreating back behind the walls that Matt had slowly pushed aside a little while ago. It’s a constant choice to risk and be known, and it can be painful at times. Not because people are cruel, but because people are people, and people are messy, oh and people aren’t perfect. That’s where a whole lot of grace comes in, and when grace is given and healing starts and relationship continues, I have found that I feel more free and more known.

I will say that there is a whole lot of wisdom that goes into risking. But I believe that wisdom and gentle nudges (or in my case, less gentle, but there are points that I do not know that I would have known a nudge if it was a punch in the head) are given, and that God provides the chances to risk. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Right before Matt, when my world was less than stellar, I will say that was one of the times I felt God the most. I was pissed at him, but I still felt the whole time that he was there, sad right with me. I felt a constant ‘just wait, I know what’s coming.’ Turned out he was right. Without that initial risk and the pain that came from that, I would have in no way been ready for the biggest risk I have ever taken.

It is a risk to love.

What if it doesn’t work out?

Ah darling, but what if it does.

You Hurt Me

Every week, sweet Matt edits these things for me. Usually he is super kind and encouraging, until last week. I wrote, "When Matt and I started dating, I was a mess." Home boy got to that part of the text and laughed and gave a hearty "AMEN!" Punk. Unfortunately, I didn't have any anger to stand on because it was true, and that poor sweet man put up with a whole lot of crazy. The first day I met him I literally ran away from him... twice. What can I say, I make one heck of a first impression. 

The summer we met was a rough one for me. Work, family, boys and friends were all in disarray, and then to top it off, I broke my foot.

I broke my foot thanks to low water and the desire for a picture. Priorities. 

I broke my foot thanks to low water and the desire for a picture. Priorities. 

This was, however, the first time in my little life, that I actually started to address those issues and voiced the feelings that went along with them.

Iv'e stated before that I used to avoid emotions at all cost. It was not just emotions, but really feelings in general and voicing them to others. In my head, 'aint nobody got time for that,' and I lived by that motto for a good little while. Somewhere along the way, I rooted in my soul the lie that telling others how I felt gave them power over me. That scared the hell out of me, so I avoided it.   

The summer before I met Matt, Jesus stepped in and in a very painful yet gentle way, he began shaking those lies out of me. There was a boy, and I was the girl, can I make it any more obvious? (Yes I did just quote Avril Lavigne, and I made myself laugh while doing so.) I got hurt and became angry and tried to fall back into my normal "forget you" pattern of life. This was one of the few times in my life when I felt that God wanted me to do something very specific. In this case, speak. And for the first time, during a painful interaction with someone else, I did just that. Saying the words, "I am hurt," turned out to be some of the most freeing words I have spoken to another person. I found that instead of feeling that he now had power over me, I was free. Silence is bondage, speaking is freedom. Through that I learned that I could survive heart ache, and I could also let others be a part of it with me. I allowed my sweet sister in to figure life out with me. I felt supported and loved, which was polar opposite of how I always believed I would feel.

I would like to say the conversation went perfectly and we became best friends forever, but life. When God calls me to hard things, it does not mean they will turn out the exact way I think would be perfect. His perfect way turned up two weeks later in the form of a hot surfer boy. Without a summer of hurt, I would have in no way been ready for Matt. Funny how God's time seems to always work out, it's like he plans it or something. 

 

 

 

Being Called "Perfect" Destroyed My Self-Image

From this post and the last, it is pretty clear that I had some identity issues. Maybe like a mid-life crisis, but since I am planning on living to 100, more like a quarter life crisis. 

I was/am a person who likes and needs the approval from others around me. This is not one of my favorite qualities about myself, but none the less, very true. In high school especially, I lived off the compliments and attention from both strangers and friends. About half way through high school, I stated to get a lot of attention from strangers about my hair, which in and of itself, is not at all bad. People would kindly comment often about my hair and how beautiful and unique it was. I have actually met people by them coming up and playing with my hair, and then me feeling the need to then introduce myself.  Luckily my personal bubble is virtually non-existent so it did not creep me out as much as it probably should have. 

My self-confidence about my self-image began to depend on how many people complimented me. I worked hard to make myself look a certain way, and on days or weeks when the kindness of strangers wasn't as vocal, I fretted all the more. I think at one point I calculated that I was spending 10 and a half hours a week on my hair. There is without a doubt a hole in the ozone layer above my parents house from all the hairspray (sorry "green" people, I tried to recycle the best I could to make up for it!)

College made it even worse, because now I was surrounded by thousands of people my age which gave me a large number of people to be comparing myself to who all also had social media and a seemingly wonderful life.  

The time I spent on my hair went down significantly because showering is way too much effort (Don't even get me started on shaving my legs, my legs may or may not currently look like a middle schools boy's....) My new concern was my size and shape. I pretty quickly developed a false view of my own body, that I still have not fully recovered from. While I knew in my head that the truth was that I was small, I still did not believe it.  I made poor choices in regard to food, and fell into bad and unhealthy eating habits in hope of feeling better about myself. 

And then social media blew up. Do not get me wrong, I am a huge fan. I have seen more of the world than many before me have through the eyes and pictures of people who have had the opportunity to go on different adventures than I. But social media is a chosen snap shot of the life someone wants to portray, and that is what I began measuring my life to. 

When I was in college, I would often say and hear other say, "well you're perfect!" That phrase seemed to be used a lot. It was used with a good heart, but it slowly destroyed my self image. I now had perfection to try to continue to live up to. I had to act perfect, look perfect, have perfect friendships and the perfect relationship. When Matt and I started dating, I was a mess. I had no idea how to be in a healthy relationship but I sure as heck was going to fake it to the world around me. The pictures and posts I made were all sweet. The interactions I talked about where all kind and funny. I needed to maintain the perfection that people often told me we were. But there is no way live up to perfect, so I failed constantly.  

I didn't even notice the detrimental effects this one word had on my own life until I heard what it did to one of my friends. She had an eating disorder and body dysmorphia and hated herself, but the smaller she got, the more she was called perfect which fed her disease. I watched as her life was turned upside down and swore that would never be me. But it already was. I did not feel like I could be honest with others about my issues and about my life because I worried that what I said would not match the perfection I was obsessed with achieving. 

I have since found how freeing speaking truth, even about pain is. I have found others with stories of grace very similar to mine. My heart in writing this is not that people would stop complimenting each other, I would be hated pretty quickly for that and this would be a really sad world. But being aware of how even your compliments influence people is important. Perfection is actually a set up for failure, so I am trying to destroy the idea of perfection in regards to the life I live. So here is a less than attractive picture of me looking as awkward as ever, not because my sweet sister in not talented, but because, "I don't know what to do with my hands." Enjoy. 

What is My Favorite Color?

My dad had curly hair, and by curly hair I mean an ethnic fro that could rival most. It should not have been a surprise then that when I popped out, tiny ringlets circled my head. My dad's afro and my mom's perm phase somehow did not prepare them for me and all that my head produced. looking back at my childhood pictures, I am convinced my parents didn't even try to tame the beast. 

Needless to say, my awkward phase last a loooooong time, and it only went from bad to worse. My hair was poofy and frizzy and really just a hot mess. There was a long time where I would part my hair down the middle and slick it back into a tight bun that hung at the nape of my neck. Then I moved to Florida and between the humidity, puberty, and a friend directing me in how to do my hair,  I began to figure it out. Soon enough my hair became a part of my identity for a few reasons. 

First off, its pretty noticeable. I am a really small human, but when I put my hair up, I add about 6 inches to my height. Between that and my incessant hair flip, my husband can almost always spot me in a crowd. If people did not know my name, they would refer to me as "the girl with the curly hair." (Whoop! There it is!) In high school my best friend's mom knew and referred to me as that for the first part of our friendship, that is, until we thought it was fun to give each other tattoos in permanent marker, and then suddenly she learned my name. 

Second off, apparently people with curly hair all look the same. In college one of my roommates had super curly hair and was also Irish, Native American, African American, and Hispanic. I am only one of those things, and still there were many occasions in which people would stop us and ask if we were twins. Our answers to that depended greatly on our mood. 

I moved down to Florida the summer between my seventh and eight grade year, and like a respectful and understanding child, I threw a massive fit. For me, middle school was a pivotal time to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be, and I had zero idea. Add moving states and starting a new school on your 13th birthday (I really hated life that year) and a perfect storm for identity issues had begun. 

Soon after I started school, people began to tell me who I was. I had some similar physical and behavioral characteristics to some of the people around me, so  little by little my identity was handed to me; I didn't have to figure out who I was, people just told me. I wasn't mad, less work for me. I was also really good at becoming that person. I was sarcastic (some things never change) and strong. I avoided emotions at all cost and guarded myself and the people around me fiercely. I seemed independent and self-sufficient. When I talk about high school with some of my friends, the conversation usually starts with, "You really used to scare me when I first met you." I became what people said I was because that was safe for me. I honestly do not think I even realized how much of myself was not actually me until I went to college.

In college I was not known, and therefore I could be anyone I choose. Jesus slowly started to reveal to me who I actually was, which lead to all sorts of identity crisis. The first thing to go was my lack of emotions. I feel like I got payback for the years I subdued them, and they came out in a force. Due to a series of hurtful events, I learned very quickly how healing emotions are. They do not represent weakness but rather I found strength through them. 

Fun fact about me, for years I would become who I was around. I guess parent's might know what they are talking about when they say to choose your friends carefully. It did not matter how strong I was, in a group of people I eventually took on different attributes that I saw attractive in them for myself. I think part of that was my lack of self confidence and desire to be wanted and liked. 

I slowly but surely have been working to find who I am for myself. I started the sometimes painful process of figuring out who I was at the core. There were also little things I had to figure out. I remember one night, sitting on my dorm room floor freaking out that I did not know what my favorite color was (I also came to grips in that moment that I might be a tad dramatic). I found that it changes very often depending on the season and my mood. Today it is green, but just to prove a point, if you look in my About Me, my answer is different.

This is a work in progress for me. I am still figuring it out. For the first time probably ever, I am beginning to feel comfortable in my own skin and I think that a big part of that is that I am actually being myself inside it. I truly believe that each of us has a purpose here that cannot be done if I am too busy trying to stuff myself into someone else's mold. I will not and cannot accomplish it if I am busy being someone else. So here's to celebrating our differences and the great things I see in others without trying to take that on. You do you (insert fist pump here).

 

 

My Child.

I have a friend who chooses 1 word each year. This is a word that is going to define who she is and what her year will be about. It is not just a hip word that sounds cool, but rather a word that she feels God has given to her. From both my experience and from talking to the people around me, this word is often a hard and painful thing because it really touches the core of who you are and moves to change it to who God wants you to be.  

Last year I picked freedom. Should be easy enough right? I already hate shoes, and from what I've heard from less than reliable sources, that is the peak of freedom anyways.

I chose freedom in the height of a very painful time in my little world. 

My senior year of high school, I had horrible anxiety. An earthquake, a few shaky plane rides, and heart palpitations were the perfect storm that catapulted a series of panic attacks that soon dictated how I lived my life. I went to counseling and was fully healed from my fear. 

I know what it is like to be afraid, and I know what it is like to live in freedom after. That is why it was so confusing to me when my fear came back towards the end of my first year of marriage. Life was good, I was happy, I didn't have any reason to freak the heck out, but still that's what I did day after day.

I was constantly scared. I checked behind the shower curtains multiple times to make sure there were no bad guys behind them. I have no earthly idea what I would have done if there was actually someone behind it, but it seemed comforting at the time. I would clearly be that girl in horror movies who goes looking for what made the noise and dies first. 

I have always had super vivid dreams, even as a little girl. Add fear to the mix, and I had horrible and realistic dreams almost every night that I would remember fully the next day. 

The beginning of last year was the height of it all. I was living my life as though I was depressed. I preferred sleeping because  even with my dreams, it beat the constant fear that I had. The worst part of it all is that I believed the lie that it was all spiritual and that I was not trying hard enough, trusting hard enough, or praying hard enough to make it go away. 

I begged God daily to take away my fear; to let me just live in the freedom I had once known. And I was pretty heated about his response, which seemed to always be nothing. There was one night specifically that I remember right before I finally got help. I had just had a complete and total emotional breakdown with my sweet husband. I freaked the freak out about something, and even during it I could hear myself in the back of my head saying, "Jess this is irrational, just stop. You're going to be okay." But I couldn't stop. When I was coming back down, I walked into my bathroom and tried to breathe for a minute. I looked at myself in the mirror, unsure of what was happening to me, and in the moment I heard God simply say, 

"My Child."

I was both comforted and heated by that. Over the next few weeks I finally made the steps to get the help I thought that I needed. I went to my sweet mom who was a counselor and begged for any and everything she had. She kindly refused. Thanks mom. 

She did however inform me that she thought that my issue was chemical. You see I had started birth control a few months before I got married. The first kind I tried went horribly wrong, so when I got on the second one it seemed better and so I assumed it was fine. False. I went to my gynecologist who was less than kind and super unhelpful. Sweet Matt had come with me to the appointment and on the ride home while I was bawling in the passenger seat he said something about God, and I flipped. I screamed that He hadn't shown up so far despite my desperate prayers so what good was he going to be now. 

I stopped taking birth control that day and my world changed. I realized that for the last year and a half I had been nauseous. I had also been tired all the time. Come to find out my "fight or flight response" was always on, which wears down the body and immune system which in turn is part of why I was also sick all the time. And pretty quickly, my fear began to diminish.

I don't say all of this to say the birth control is the devil. It actually helped Matt and I win bets against pretty much all of our family who swore we would have a sweet little human in the first year of marriage.  For some people it works perfectly, for others like myself, I was taking my poison every day. If you are on it and are having issues in life, I would like to inform you that you might not be crazy. I know after I started talking about this, some of my friends found freedom in their lives and marriages as well. 

The biggest thing I had to work through was my anger toward God. I felt that he had given me many promises about what my life would be and some things I would do, and then took my hopes of it away. At the core of it all, I dealt with the goodness of God. I knew he was able, I just stopped believing he would. This past year I walked through learning that God's goodness is often way bigger than my little world, but even in my little world, He is still good. I can look back in the midst of some of those moments and still see God's kind goodness and tender heart for me as he groaned in pain for me, "My child." 

So naturally the logical thing to do next was get a tattoo. (You would think I would write "sorry mom" here, but she cheered me on. Sorry dad.) This past year I learned what it was to live in freedom once again; freedom instead of crippling fear. I learned that God is good and God's plans for my life were not hindered. God was not sitting on his thrown freaking out, unsure of what to do next. He doesn't fall off his thrown. He was crying along with me, eager and excited for the days when I would fly in freedom, days that he knew then were soon to come, days I am now living in.   

                                                                                                          fly my child

                                                                                                          fly my child