Monday, April 16, 2018

LUCKY 13

It's our 13 year wedding anniversary - what!?!  I'm sure you get tired of reading it just as I get tired of writing it, but time goes SO QUICKLY.  I cannot believe that we've been married for 13 years, but it is also hard to imagine not being married.  Like my life began with my marriage, somehow.  Truthfully, because of all that John and I have traversed together, we are woven together in so very many ways - you know, that whole one flesh thing is true.

I posted lots of our wedding pictures here and several of our honeymoon pictures here - my, we were so young and carefree(ish).  It's funny to think back to our wedding and know that it really was exactly what we wanted - though maybe a little bigger than we had imagined.  It was before Pinterest, but I still managed to craft table centerpieces and get M'M's in our wedding colors to spread around.  Also, I found fabric and got patterns for the bridesmaid dresses - bless their hearts.  I was trying to save everyone money whilst also getting a look I wanted, but as it turns out, getting dresses randomly made by seamstresses is challenging in its own way. 🤣🤷🏻‍♀️😳  Thankfully, I had very gracious and beautiful sisters and friends who made the best of this.

It was a most lovely day, and John and I were truly so delighted to be marrying one another.  It's funny the things you plan and don't plan.  For example, my perfectionist husband had a wedding binder full of details, but when we walked out of our ceremony, we didn't know exactly what to do.  We had a feeling we weren't supposed to be seen, so we went and hid in a Sunday school classroom in the church before sneaking out the back to drive to the reception.  Then, when we left on our honeymoon, we did not give any flight or hotel info to anyone - not on purpose - we simply didn't think of it.  But, still to this day, my mother shakes her head when she thinks of not having any idea where or when or anything about our honeymoon whereabouts other than knowing that we would be in Hawaii for a bit.  😂 (sorry, Mom!)

Thankfully, I feel like we actually got the biggest details right - like marrying the right person and committing before the Lord to love Him and one another above all other people or things.  Now - we are not awesome at this every day - in fact, we say sorry all the time in our home.  But, we love and LIKE each other, for which I feel extreme gratitude.

Last night, we went for a leisurely dinner at SO.

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(for some reason, winter made a comeback, so even though it is mid-April, I'm wearing a sweater and tall boots, which I was not happy about.)

Today, we met up for lunch, and by wonderful happenstance, we were handed "13" as our table marker.

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I truly am thankful for the joys and even the challenges of marriage - I certainly find myself being shaped by both into a better woman.  And I would not want to do life with anyone else.  John and I regularly tell each other, "I'm glad I'm in it with you."  Happy Anniversary, John - you are my very favorite!

Past Anniversary Posts:
{2011} {2012} {2013} {2014} {2015} {2016} {2017}

Saturday, April 14, 2018

COMMUNITY

For all of the hard things in our life right now, I am so thankful to have the rich gift of precious friendships.  My friends literally keep me afloat in the craziness through prayers, group texts, lunch dates, working out, sleeping over, hanging out and double dating.  This is not bragging, this is just stating facts - we have great friends, and we regularly count our blessings in this department.

Back at the beginning of March, the guys had their yearly campout/canoe trip, which they thoroughly enjoyed.  This year they canoed 30 - THIRTY - miles.  It doesn't sound relaxing to me, but they had a great time.

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Past D-Group Weekends
{2017} {2016} {2015} {2014} {2013}

While the guys were gone, we ladies got together for sushi one of the nights and dinner with all the kids on the other night.

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We've had several other occasions to be together over the last several of months, between family on family dinners -

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mom/kid sleepover when the dads are away for the night,

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girls' night or lunches out,

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and double dates.

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When I feel sapped and drained from the run-of-the-mill parenting/work/life gig (a lot of the time currently), there is nothing like time with friends to rejuvenate my spirits.  We've also realized that our kiddos often do better with other families in the mix, and now that everyone is getting just a bit older, it is easier to do things together than ever before.

Keep in mind, these friendships take work and intentionality.  They do not "just happen."  But, it is worth every bit of the work, and we regularly reap the rewards in spades.  So grateful for friends who push us towards the Lord and make us laugh and love us in the midst of our messiness!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

TURNING 37

I'm a wee-bit behind on the blog, which is pretty symbolic of everything else in my life.  There are emails in my in-box, shirts that need to be returned, paperwork that needs to be filled out - not to mention the usual piles of laundry and dishes.  (To be fair, those are both sort of under control, because John has been helping and our house was cleaned today. 🙌🏻)

All of that to say, my birthday was over two weeks ago, and I'm just now blogging it. 🤷🏻‍♀️  The other fact of this particular matter is that turning 37 is just not that exciting.  I'm smack dab into my "late" 30s and inching ever closer to the big 4-0.  Life feels like it is both on fast-forward and slow-motion at the same time.  I look up and another day is gone, but certain afternoons can stretch for an eternity. It's just where we're at.

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My day started as many Saturdays do, with children piling onto me in bed.  They were so excited about celebrating me, which truly did warm my heart.  The girls had been obsessively making sure they would have time to shop for presents for me and get me stuff I actually wanted.  This included them creating a plan they pitched to John to "trick" me into telling things I would like to receive during dinner.  The thought they put into it all was precious.  We ate a quick lunch at CFA and headed to Loblolly to celebrate with the kids.

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In a sad turn of events, we ended up heading to NW Arkansas on my actual birthday, because Papa's memorial was the next day.  The upside of this is that I got to see all of my siblings, mom and step-dad on my birthday, which is unheard of these days.  We went out for an adults only meal where laughing was actually the top thing on our menu.  Having adult siblings that I sincerely adore is one of my favorite surprises life has granted me.

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(There were several pictures where my bro was acting like a normal human, but the rest of us all had white eyes, so I picked this one that is probably more true to life anyway. 🤣)

I never get tired of having a spring birthday, because the flowers are usually blooming their hearts out, and we often have some sort of spring break fun up our sleeves.  However, spring often brings some residual sadness for me (which I've written about before but cannot for the life of me find to link 🤦🏻‍♀️), and this year has been worse than others.  There's been a perfect storm of the regular spring gauntlet for me, plus the added stress of where we are at parenting wise.  Let's just say, it's a good thing I'm going to see a counselor regularly.

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I've never just excelled at balance, and trying to hold the pain in one hand while holding all the joy and goodness in the other has been a challenge lately.  In all of this, the gifts in my life far outweigh the pain.  That was driven home to me so clearly on our weekend in NWA when I was surrounded by so much love and reminded of just how faithful the Lord has been in my life.

Cheers to 37!

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Monday, April 09, 2018

HE GAVE ME MY DAD

On March 13th, a faithful soul passed into eternity.  It's been hard for me to explain how and what this means to me, because he was not actually a relative of mine.  But he was family, nonetheless.  He was at the hospital when I was born, and he was at our home in Kansas on the day my own father died.  I called him Papa, and I call his beautiful bride of 60 years, Meme.  It had been several years since I had seen him, but his legacy in my life is so strong, and it is sad to know that his light and love is no longer in this world.  My longing for heaven got just a bit stronger upon hearing the news.

Because of the early death and brokenness in both of my parents' homes, Meme and Papa became my surrogate grandparents.  I remember beach vacations with their entire family where we road-tripped and all had code names to use over the walkie-talkies - maybe I was "Little Squirt"?  I was so little that the details are super fuzzy and come back more as warm remembrances of being showered in love and laughter by many adults whilst basking in sunshine.  Sunday afternoons meant lunch at their house after church with what felt like the rest of the church.  Their house felt like home to me, because of the way they welcomed us all in with open arms.

Their family provided me with a host of surrogate uncles and aunts as well, and these people are all so dear.  In fact, one of Papa's sons provided me with my very first job at CFA, and that has obviously been quite impactful in my current life.  It is truly amazing to see the way God works throughout the course of life and weaves stories and people and places together in a way that only he can.

John and I had the ability to attend Papa's memorial service the last weekend of our spring break, while John's parents graciously kept our children.  My mom and step-dad and all of my siblings also were able to come, so we had the double bonus of seeing my entire family.  The service was extremely well-attended with standing room only, and it was a wonderful celebration of his life.

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It was a joy to see so many wonderful people that have known me my entire life.  I was sort of overwhelmed by the amount of preciousness there in that room.  It was like time-traveling back 30 years and putting all of those people back together - so many of my parents' friends who had also helped to raise us.  They were knit together so closely by the Lord and love, and I was privileged to watch as they prayed over Meme after the service - women of God, bound together by prayers and tears and years and laughter and the Gospel.

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My life without Meme and Papa seems unimaginable.  They taught my dad what a Godly family could look like as they welcomed him in.  He spent countless hours and days that turned into years with them all when he was living in North Little Rock as a single man so long ago, and when he moved to DFW and met my mother, he sought their approval of the new woman in his life.  My parents went on their honeymoon and then extended it by meeting up with the Clark family on the beach.

They mentored both of my parents and poured time and wisdom into them.  Several of the grandsons spoke at the service, and the oldest one said that of all the wonderful things that Papa was to him in life, the greatest gift that Papa gave him was a loving, Godly father of his own.  It struck me then - Papa also gave me my dad.  My father learned so much about the Lord and what a family looks like from Lewis Clark, and it has forever and always impacted my own life.  I'm so very grateful.

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At Papa's memorial, one man who had known both Lewis and my father so very well made the comment that they were probably having biscuits and gravy together in heaven.  Someone else had remarked on Facebook that Lewis and my dad were likely in heaven on a beach together.  Either way, I know they are in heaven together, worshipping the Lord and waiting for us all to join them in the place where tears are no more and we live in joy forever.  Oh what a glorious day that will be.