…so this is 50.

I can’t explain the high I received the day I turned 50…but it was nice. Real nice.

I was like…here I am! I did it! I’m still here!

I didn’t take myself out doing something stupid and GOD ONLY KNOWS how many times I was miraculously kept out of harm’s way. I’ll get to Heaven one day and be met at the gate not by St. Peter, but by my guardian angel giving me the stink eye.

There is an anticipation that comes with turning 50. It comes with some pressure. Pressure perhaps we place upon ourselves, but pressure nonetheless. It’s a halfway point. We think of life in a span of a hundred years. I grew up watching Willard Scott make a big to-do about individuals living to see 100 on The Today Show every morning. It’s a hoopla and halfway to hoopla needed a party.

I decided to landmark this mid-century milestone with something to remember…something to make not only myself smile, but some other people smile, too. I knew it was a long shot but I wanted to gather with some precious girls I’d stayed in touch with on and off since high school and college and do some laughing and catching up for the heck of it. I wanted to hug some friends I’d known since fried perms, popped collars, Madonna and Maybelline.

Kurt was trying to create a fuss for me behind my back that involved Paige, Laken and Hannah…once he realized what I was drumming up we merged the two and congregated all the guests in downtown Austin for a good time! My daughters got to see and meet some of the women I’ve talked about for years and my friends got to meet my daughters. Now, that’s a party!

julie, lisa, me, karen, michelle p, stephanie, michelle c, not pictured: melodie
me and the baby loves…laken, paige, hannah

We had THE BEST time. In fact, we had so much fun I forgot to take enough pictures to really make this blog post pop. That’s when you REALLY know you had fun…

I soooo admire the women in my life. I am so proud to be surrounded, near and far, by beautiful, strong, confident gals! Are you? Do you have good women in your life? Do you have friends that love you in and through your mess and stick around for the message? Do you have those who love you enough to call you out of stupid human tricks instead of choosing to stop calling you? Do you have fans and cheerleaders on the sidelines of your life when it’s a victory moment?!

If 20 years ago I gave you my best sage advice about relationships and life you might think to yourself, Oh please…what does SHE know… But now. Now I’m 50. Now when I say, “Listen up, sugar…” You lean in and listen to my age old wisdom and tall tales of back when.

So gather ’round my proverbial rocking chair and listen up… My advice to you is to be selective in this process. In the process of circling up your tribe. I’ve preached this before and I’ll preach it again…you become what you allow in your life. You better get picky, sister. I didn’t learn this lesson soon enough and if I could go back I would do some things different. Hear me when I say…stay clear of anyone that feels the need to knock you down in order to feel picked up. Run without apology from anyone who incessantly talks about others and tends to use your ears as a sponge for their judgement and jealousy. Not nice. If she is belittling you, she needs to go. If you feel unheard and unappreciated, first kindly talk about your feelings… and if the behavior continues…well…needs to go. You get one life! Don’t spend it with those who exhaust you! LISTEN TO ME! It’s not worth it. And if you are the one acting up…you better stop it. You picked up on some nasty habits from someone you let stay around too long and now you need a revival. Be Kind. Period.

Thank you for listening . I only type that because I care.

So…Now that I’m 50…

  • I am okay with still being a big dreamer and considering going back to college and getting my Master’s degree. I still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up. Be encouraged if you struggle here…you are not alone.
  • I will not ever apologize for wanting to lose another 5 pounds…for ordering a salad and skipping dessert. Why did I ever feel like my desire to be fit and say no to a brownie was offensive? Good Lord.
  • I will continue to value my health to a degree that comes across as obsessive. Have you been watching the news? Healthcare is a crisis! We all better take it into our own hands. If you’re depending on the government to take care of you if you eat one too many cheeseburgers and skip the gym…you’re in trouble. They don’t care if you die.
  • I will not apologize for not being a fan of stuff and needing simple and clean in order to function properly. Stuff makes me crazy. I need order and pretty and without it I’m searching for order and pretty when I could be doing something else.
  • I will not deny my fear of heights and I’ll wait while you ride the roller coasters, jump out of planes, leap off bridges and I will FOREVER think snow skiing is the biggest waste of money because it involves heights and cold and potential broken bones. I’m not paying anyone to make me scared, cold or hospitalized.

I’m just getting started, people. This whole 50 thing is just the beginning of me.

You’ll know I’m old and over it if you catch me doing any of the following:

  • There’s 2 to 3 good inches of gray roots on the top of my head and I make zero effort to conceal it under a cute ball cap.
  • I give away all my heels and stop getting pedicures.
  • I don’t wear a bra in public…and you know it.
  • I eat bags of potato chips with vanilla coke chasers from a recliner while watching reruns of Family Feud…every night.
  • My sheets have not been washed in over a week and I have coupons clipped and sitting in piles on my nightstand.
  • I talk about my most recent bowel movement as if I’m bragging on one of my kids.
  • I get a cat.

…just saying

Ice Cream Party

Just saying ?….

No. Sorry. Nope. Actually…we are never…ever…”just saying”….

Words. Man. Oh. Man. The power within them…it’s SO MUCH MORE than just some consonants and vowels and sentences…inflections and expressions.

Our sentences can sentence someone to a life of wondering if what we just said is WHAT and WHO they really are?!

Maybe you are not aware of this yet, so I’m here to tell you…You have the power in your tongue to speak LIFE and DEATH.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21…The Message version puts it like this: Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.

Speak Life.

If we wanted we could take out a piece of paper and write down all the times someone has said something that hurt us, crushed us, belittled us and left us for dead. But, it would only be fair if we flipped that piece of paper over and began listing the times we lost a grip on our own tongues and flew off the handle…leaving someone questioning their worth and creating distance between us and those we love. Ouch. I wonder if the list of our own verbal scars would be much longer than the times we remember being the offender. Oh how we carry around the words spoken to us…it’s too heavy.

Let’s set it down.

Let it go.

Do better.

And do everything we can to make sure we are not increasing the load for someone else.

Can we do that?

Together?

It will truly change you when you recognize that we are all walking around with a loaded weapon…a *”humanly untameable…unruly and poisonous” beast totally ready, willing and able to destroy someone…and often someone we love. *james 3:7-8

You can’t take back what you’ve said…it’s already out there. And the sting will remain long past the apology. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” ~Abraham Lincoln.

And if what is coming out of our mouth is rude and nasty and distasteful…well…here’s another thing we need to know:

Our words are just our hearts talking…yep…

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” ~ Luke 6:45 NLT

Heart Check.

We have soooooo many ways to communicate a message! Face to face, phone, text, email, social media….so many ways to get it wrong and wish we’d stopped before we fired that weapon.

How about this…before we open our Chatter Boxes let’s PAUSE and ask ourselves:

  • Are my words going to build up or tear down?

  • Will my words encourage or discourage?

  • Use the TKN acronym: Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?

  • Am I gossiping?

  • Is this MY story to tell?

  • Do I really…like really know what I’m talking about?

  • Will I still feel this way tomorrow? You’ll be amazed at how different you feel about something if you just give it 24 hours.

  • Is silence in this moment a better option?

IMG_1317

And look here…

  • If you have to say, “Don’t say anything, but…” before you say anything…just don’t.

  • Taking a verbal jab at someone followed by “just kidding” is not funny. No one is laughing.

I’m sure you can add to the list but it’s a good place to start…don’t ya think?

And remember this one too…

To belittle someone is to be little.

Let’s be the bigger person…

love gina

 

 

 

something else…

Follow Up: I posted my ME TOO blog yesterday evening and I’ve received so many kind words and messages as well as other individuals saying my words encouraged them to try and tell their own stories. In just a few short hours after posting I heard from former students, dear friends, family members and strangers who commended my bravery.  Bravery? I think bravery would have been saying something right after it happened…even though I lived alone with my daughter…even though I was single and had somewhat of a reputation in my small town and feared no one believing me…even though I now knew he was capable of evil…even though he had a child that would have to find out his dad was not the kind of man he should be looking up to.  Even after all of this and more I could have bravely made a call that could potentially stop him from ever hurting another…but I didn’t. I waited, and over the years silently got over it along with a lot of other things I was getting over.  I catalogued this into what being divorced and single must be like and walked away.

This is the part where it hurts the most. That because of my sins, I decided I wasn’t worthy of being treated like anything more than trash. I thought I’d earned it and kinda deserved it. The next year, when I quit my job as a teacher and walked away it felt good because I no longer had to stand in front of those precious students that I adored so much and pretend I had it all together. I needed to go away…so I did. That’s when isolation took hold of me and veiled itself as my friend. “I like being alone….I don’t need anyone….anything….you can have all my stuff…I hate stuff…but I surround myself with books….Books tell them I’m busy reading and do not want to be disturbed.”

I’ve kept shrinking….the smaller the house the more I felt closed in and safe. Tiny. Tiny spaces. I  don’t want to take up much space. I’ve lost a lot but failure feels good. It gives me something to peg for the sad.

This is my day of reckoning. I’ve led a very remote, quiet, isolated existence for too long and I’m declaring today that it’s over. I’m here to be used by God for a purpose and the enemy will at this very moment hand me back my keys. I’m driving now. I have a voice. I have a story. I’m the best friend you’ll ever have but you won’t know that if I don’t get outside these walls and invite you to dinner or start that book club I’ve been considering. I’m funny and considerate and compassionate and real and yes…yes, I am brave. 

Kurt, I love you. You have been my biggest fan…you’ve been declaring my purpose over me and patiently waiting for me to be everything you’ve known I was capable of being. I love trusting Jesus with you. I love dreaming about our future and I love our story. Thank you for your gentleness and strength. You are a good man. I will never feel like I deserve you, but I’ll take you…forever!

Sweet friends…Promise me you’ll tell your story…it doesn’t have to be on a blog or on Facebook…it can be to your closest friends or a small group…but your telling just might encourage another to tell…and that one encourages another…and eventually we are all telling and bringing the darkness into the light where God works best. 

PS: I did not post his picture or give his name because my earnest prayer is that he walked away from that day broken and ashamed and took a good long look in the mirror at what he’d become. I pray he is a changed man.

PSS: God is good. All the time.

hello little girl…

Our family grew by 7 pounds and 15 ounces on September 9th when we said hello to Miss Tatum Elizabeth. A bundle of pink and perfection. Here. Just see for yourself…

tatum 3

Is she not The Most? The most of ALL THINGS worth stopping EVERYTHING…just to stare and lean into her every movement and sound. The baby smacks and tiny coos…and even the cries. The cries that startle the night with announcements of healthy lungs. Praise for healthy lungs. A newborn baby can direct my eyes to God as Creator faster than anything. The wonder of it all. This life that was just yesterday tucked away in Tummyville…safe and sound…yet running out of space to grow.

It got me to thinking how many times in my own life I was comfortably and quietly living a safe life without a lot of noise or fuss…a womb of sorts that I’d created for myself. When suddenly…without warning…God parlays me into an unknown and unexpected world that is in direct opposition to the one that gave me the most peace.  I cry….kick…scream….WAAAAAAHHHHHHHH. This is weird! Who are you people?! It’s cold out here. You’re loud and busy and I miss my refuge away from it all! I just want to stay home where it’s quiet and listen to my music and read my books and continue to grow. Looking back I know that it’s been the times outside my comfort zone that have enriched me the most and provided room for stretching…stretching my mind and heart to make room for holding more love.

More Love.

I was blessed to stay with Paige and Jag for a few days after Tatum was born and their new home is saturated in a new love. What a treasure to behold the connection of Mom and Child…Dad and Tiny Baby Daughter…Little Two Year Old Son and His New Role as The Big.

 

 

I saw all hands on deck to care for the innocence and needs of fresh life…calling out in the night wondering where her cozy amnion world went! Then like magic, all fussing goes idle with the closeness of neck and cheek and breath and touch of the skin she first lived in before she lived in this skin.

tatum 4

Oh Sweet Tatum. I remember when your mom was born…and it is unoriginal without apologetics when I say, it seems like yesterday. It does. I remember the fragility of tiny limbs and helplessness that depended on me for EVERYTHING. I was young and clueless and scared… I went from a college girl with hair too big and dreams too small, to lead actress in a dramatic series. There was no script. There was only showing up for the part with a determination to play the part well. It felt like losing my wandering life and finding direction at the same time… I love being your mom’s mom.

And now look at her…being Luke’s mom…and now your mom…and being amazing…and God fearing…and wise and gentle and motherly….*this is the part where I have to go cry a little and wonder where life goes and wish I could hit the brakes but realize I can’t so I dry my tears and come back to type some more.

paige and tatum

You were born into a sphere of women who will love you and teach you and show up for you. You could not ask for a better tribe. 

tatum 1

10 Things Your Mom Will Teach You Because This Is Your Mom:

  1. To love and trust Jesus.
  2. To put family first.
  3. To respect others even when they don’t respect you.
  4. To speak truth in love.
  5. Taco Soup is synonymous with fall weather and football.
  6. Decorating for holidays is not an option.
  7. Having more “stuff” does not matter.
  8. Community Matters.
  9. You matter.
  10. Having carefully chosen, silly girlfriends who love you…pray for you…encourage you…and let you be YOU, will be a gift you give yourself.

Welcome to your world sweet Tatum…Your mom is the one in camo with a gun. I couldn’t be more proud.

May the silly live on in all of us,

love gina

otherwise known as Bunny.

 

 

g i r l f r i e n d s.

g i r l f r i e n d s bw

I am trying to squeeze all my thoughts on this topic into a blog post and it’s IMPOSSIBLE. Oh for the splendor of having someone in your life that gets you! That knows you. That knows you and hey…loves you anyway. The one who remembers things about you that you’ve long since forgotten, but speaks into you to remind you who you are…Whose you are…how FAR you’ve come and exactly why you are still standing.

We need our girlfriends.

Okay. Now. Stop. Before I continue I want you to write down the names of your tried and true gal pals.  Your chums. Your squad. Got it?  Now finish this sentence for each name:

I knew we were friends for life when…………………………………………………….

What happened after you met that told you this is my person. That’s MY friend. What qualities did this person possess that you knew you wanted in your own life?

I put this question out last night on Facebook and Instagram and within a few minutes I’m crying as precious friends (that I wish I could see more often!) answered my post. I knew how much these girls meant to me, but to hear they feel the same, melted me for a minute. If we don’t ask…we don’t know. I’m so glad I asked.

Years ago my daughters and I were on a long road trip and I asked them:

If you had $1000 and you had to spend it on a dinner party and invite 5 people…who would you invite, what would you serve and where would it be?

We went on lots of road trips but this one is buried in my memory because of their answers…as well as mine.

I remember laughing when Hannah, my youngest, said her dinner party would be on an island with Lizzie Mcguire (Hilary Duff) and four of her classmates from school. She was going to stretch that $1000 real good like…we love our Hannah.

After they all three finished they asked me my answer…

I thought about it and chose five friends that I’d gathered over the span of my life…we were on a back porch with a long wooden table eating woodfired pizzas. Then Paige, my oldest asked…“Why them?”

“Because these are the women that I want in YOUR life. Not just mine…but yours.”

When I think about my close friends they truly are representative of the nature I want my daughters to emulate. They are kind and funny and compassionate. They live to build others up instead of tearing them down. They are encouragers and not discouragers. If they have children, they love them well…and the ones who don’t…they love mine like they are their own.

In Search of Friendship

If you feel friendless get out there and find someone to love! You have to be a friend first. You are not the only one wishing you had a buddy! Pray about it and tell God what you need in a friend. Ask Him to allow your path to cross with someone that would enrich your life and grow you as a person! Pray for ways you can be a friend to someone and pour into their life with the wisdom you’ve gained from your own life lessons.  You will be amazed at how quickly this works…

Built in Friends.

I was over and above blessed to have sisters and daughters…built in friendships that God chose for me. I adore my sisters and they love me like no tomorrow. They are listeners and teachers and paved a sweet path of motherhood for me to watch and follow. I adore my children. I am at my best when I’m with my daughters. They encourage me to raise my standards in excellence and bow my head in prayer. They are witty and wise and the four of us together is a force to be reckoned with. These are relationships I will NEVER have to question…but I didn’t stop at this. I wanted to be friends with YOU. You know who you are…and if you don’t…ask me. Send me a message and ask me how I knew we were friends for life. I’ll tell you. I know exactly why.

 

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find your happy place.

I was having a conversation with my mother-in-law, aka Hunney…aka Judith…about life and health and responsibility and such…she has a mass amount of land that requires her attention and during the course of our chat I told her Kurt mentioned us growing a garden. Funny.  As keen as the idea seems, I am the last person I know that needs to try and keep a plant alive…much less a garden.

I apologize to plants as I tote them home…thinking maybe…just maybe…THIS time I’ll do something right and they will hang around and make like John Travolta and stay alive. I rarely leave Trader Joe’s without herbs. I know our relationship will be shorter than a southern cold spell but I buy them anyway.  After putting the groceries away and planning meals around my zesty new friends, I gingerly place them in a mason jar and rub the leaves between my thumb and index finger… emitting the sweet aroma of mint, basil, cilantro and lemon balm….ahhhhh….I’m so Ree Drummond sometimes. Pioneerish and capable of surviving off the land.  It’s just another day at the county fair for me as I rustle up some biscuits from scratch and spatchcock our former pet chicken for deep frying. I’m so born for this….

Not.

As I type these words I have zero sign of fresh herbs in my house and a dead pot of what was once geraniums on my front porch. Crusty leaves of brown and beige atop cracked soil next to a watering can that symbolized hope. I have super good intentions. I really do.  After painting our front door a welcoming shade of buttery yellow I bought the bright red blossoms as an accent piece that would welcome guests across the threshold of our house.  For a good week or two I watered this plant with care and consideration of its dependency on me for life…I hoped my neighbors saw me out there tending my container garden and found inspiration in their own souls to nurture the land we’ve been given.

Then this happened.

We went out of town.  The morning sun blazes just enough light that overtime, without enough moisture, will apparently suck the life out of a pot of geraniums. As we drove out of town I gave my front porch one last prideful glance knowing I’d seen the last of those perky red blossoms.  I didn’t ask a neighbor to care for it or remove it from the sunny spot to a safer refuge…nope…that would have taken 2 minutes. Nope. I left it there parched and dry in a weary land of abandonment.

dead plant

As I’m telling her that a garden grown by me is a nice thought but a long shot due to my plant murdering rap sheet, she stops me to say the solution is simple…

“It’s not that you are a plant killer…you’re just putting the plants in a place where they cannot survive. You have to find their happy place.”

She went on to explain that when a plant grown up north calls for 4-6 hours of sunlight that amount of southern sun will kill it. She said for me to watch how a plant reacts in certain locations and if it fails to thrive, move it someplace else. Makes sense. And reminds me of this…how many times have I’ve been in a job…relationship…environment…where if I didn’t move myself I’d wither up and die?

Years ago, like I’m talking 1990 something…I was going through a difficult season and feeling frustrated about a lot of things…I confided in a good friend and she sent me a card in the mail with the words Bloom Where You’re Planted printed on the front. A colorful Mary Engelbreit card that should have made me smile…instead I remember thinking to myself, I don’t want to bloom here! I can’t bloom here! Don’t tell me where to bloom! Bloom this. Just because you’re planted and ABLE to bloom doesn’t guarantee you CAN or WILL…just saying.

Succulents are all the rage…wanna know why? They aren’t needy.  You can bring as many home as you like and sit them on a shelf and get on with your life. You only need to acknowledge their presence once a week….it’s a low maintenance relationship and even the weakest of green thumbs can foster a cactus.

Sometimes you feel like a succulent…sometimes you don’t. When your environment is harsh on top of your heart and soul feeling vulnerable and delicate…you are more geranium than aloe vera and that’s okay! Own your neediness and weaknesses and keep moving until you find a place that feeds you and allows you to thrive.  God understands seasons of change. Go read Ecclesiastes 3. There is a time for everything…

Kurt and I are in this season.  We’ve lots to pray about and we love our friends that encourage and feed into us while we consider what’s next.  I encourage you to do the same if you are at that place of knowing it’s time for a change.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for reading my ramblings…it’s my love language. I write and hope you find encouragement.

And you never know, Judith…Perhaps I will one day own and maintain a garden and smile as we crunch a cucumber grown by yours truly. Until that day….

love gina

 

 

l a g n i a p p e.

So my 30 year high school reunion is coming up in two weeks…

Thirty years?! Really? Where did it go?! What have I done since 1987?

Let’s think…So I went to college, got pregnant, got married, had a baby, sold Pampered Chef, sold Discovery Toys, had another baby, got my real estate license, sold some houses, got my nail license, did some nails, had another baby, went back to finish college, taught some high school journalism, started a blog, got divorced, took some road trips, caught the entrepreneurial bug, opened a business, closed a business, moved back in with my parents, waited some tables, found some peace, met my favorite husband, moved to Louisiana and THEN I hear I’ve been out of school 30 years and there’s a party!

Facebook is buzzing with reconnects and daily Q&A’s initiated by our class president. Questions like Where do you live…What’s your occupation…If you had it to do all over again…. The answers are the best read I’ve read in a long time. Seeing how confidences have been gained and insecurities rejected has been my favorite part. Truth is, none of us had a lick of confidence back in high school. We were scared stupid everyday. I don’t know how we did it?

So why do we go back?

We go back to see the faces of those that walked the same halls and sat in desks next to us…those that lived on the same street …played on the same team…stole our first kisses and broke our forming hearts.  We go back to see where we came from and marvel at how far we’ve come…To see us with our fervent attempts to cover the gray, suck in our guts and do our damndest to not look damn near 50.

Ya’ll…we are damn near 50.

But we are still here and this is the sweet part…This is Lagniappe.

I discovered this word after moving to Louisiana and it got me to thinking…Lagniappe (Lan-Yap) simply means a little extra something-something. A gift with purchase…a baker’s dozen…16 ounces for the price of 12…a sweet surprise for good measure.

Today is lagniappe.

Yesterday was hard on all of us.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all felt some deep hurt and pain at some point since 1987. We’ve shown up for battle and we’ve lost things in this war. We’ve lost our security, we’ve lost relationships…we’ve buried some of our parents and sadly even some of our children. We said goodbyes too soon and we hate cancer more than we ever knew we could hate.

We also love more than we ever knew we could love.

We are different now.

We’ve gotten the job and some even left the job to pursue a quieter life with less income…but also less fuss.  We’ve built the house in “the neighborhood” and sold the same house to go off the grid and see the sun rise and set without someone telling us how to mow our grass or park our cars.

We are different now.

Everything before this was strife and worry and wanting and reaching.  We’ve outgrown this. We are more gracious and appreciative of life…and breath…and today.

When I was teaching high school I had a student tell me one day…“Coming into your class is the best part of my day.”  This kid was not easy. She could be challenging. I knew her parents and I could only imagine what she endured when she got home so I always tried to offer some grace and a smile. I knew she was not alone. I knew the 8 hours some of our students spent at school just might be the best part of their day.  I committed to making the time they spent with me as enjoyable as I possibly could.  I thought about my years in high school and how there were days that I looked forward to getting to school to see my friends or a certain teacher or principal with a keen way of lifting my spirits and making me feel like everything would be alright. Thank You.

I really do hope I can make this one.  I look forward to seeing the faces of those who perk up when they hear the year 1987 like I do…

That’s MY year.

And the best part about going back after 30 years…

We’ve stopped worrying if anyone likes us and finally decided to start liking ourselves…

love gina

have a listen…

 

let it do what it came to do.

If no one has told you yet I’m breaking the news…consider this information a gift…

Life will bring you pain.

Isn’t it fantastic! You don’t have to wonder anymore! You don’t have to wonder if you’re going to escape life’s blows!!! You’re NOT! You ARE going to get hit…square between the eyes…at some point…with heartache and loss and pain and all that jazz…

There will be things that happen that you can’t Zig Ziglar your way out of…there will not be a reserve of positive thoughts or fluffy quotes to make the hurt go away or speed the recovery.

It will hurt until it doesn’t hurt anymore and you have to let it do what it came to do…

Let the pain work itself out to completion and not a minute sooner. No premature problem solving will work. If you embrace it, pain will grow you in ways that nothing else can…it will press and squish and sift you into the most raw version of yourself, and while doing so take you back to who you were before you thought you could only survive the pretty.

Now…Let’s talk about the ones who stick around when it’s ugly.

If you’ve ever wondered who your true friends are…the through thick and thin comrades who are not just here for the good news and the promotions and the new house and the nice vacations and the wine and cheese parties…well…now you’ll know.  When you have nothing to offer but you and all your mess and they still show up…

Say hello to your people. 

I drive a 2010 Kia Forte.  I am a stay at home grandma with remaining debt from my business collapse of 2013 and on top of it…I am still grieving! Who wants to be friends with THAT?

She does. And he does. And they do…

My people. My tribe. The ones who walk through the ugly and the valley and ask for nothing…the ones who stick around when some days I have nothing more to offer than the breath in my lungs.

 

friends don't let friends

It is okay to suck at life.

It is okay to suck in spite of your belief in God…and it’s okay to struggle with hope in spite of your hope that Jesus will show up.  So what if your shelves and bedside tables are dripping with best selling books on mental and emotional well being?! It’s still sucking over here… Oh, let us not forget how you’ve listened and re-listened to and practically memorized THAT podcast from THAT pastor that told you everything will be alright and we just need to speak life and joy because life and death are in the tongue…{Sticks out tongue and flips off a puppy} Hey Google…play Hillsong United. Hey Google…turn it up! Love this song…but life still sucks.

Pain is your companion until it’s not…and your companions through the pain are your people.

 

Things to know when your friends are in the valley:

  1. Pain is not contagious.
  2. You don’t have to say anything.
  3. Don’t ask a lot of questions. They honestly don’t know the answers. And even if, the answers are not needed in order for you to just be there.
  4. Don’t be a nosey, busy body friend…Don’t text for the details of a situation then disappear until you’re bored or just curious again.
  5. Don’t ask intimate concerning questions via social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram…for the love.
  6. Let them say F*&@$. Let them scream it at the top of their lungs if it helps.
  7. Let them be in a good mood without wondering HOW they can be in a good mood “considering everything that’s happened”.
  8. Don’t be offended by their need for solitude and time.
  9. Don’t let them remain in solitude.
  10. Call and say, “I’m going to pray with you now…you don’t have to say anything and your tears can’t run me off. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. I love you.”

I love my Claire. Claire is not immune to unexpected sorrow and she does not let her people walk alone. She will bother you until you give in and let her in. She will call you out of solitude and woo you with some soup and wine. She has been a shining example of what to be when our loved ones hurt. And she knows this is it…this is all I’ve got right now…an old car, a grandbaby on my hip and some sadness that is not going anywhere anytime soon…HOWEVER, she wants me around and what that says to me is it’s nothing more than ME she wants in her life. Readers…this is how we must love our friends.

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You’ve heard me say time and time again that MY MESS IS MY MUSE …but I want you to know this one too…MY PAIN HAS BEEN MY PROFESSOR. A professor of life experience that sneaks in the room and says very little…He sits in his chair looking borderline arrogant…as if he knows something I don’t.  He does. He hands me something and watches me cuss and cry and act like I’m above this lesson. Remember those professors? The ones who ticked you off because of their abysmal requirements and immediately you were NOT a fan. And you were not alone. Some even dropped the course and found something easier. But you remained, though not without contempt…and over the course of the school year you start to get it…and the things they were teaching you tend to merge and mesh with other classes you’re taking and oddly enough…all your grades go up?!

Praise God…all my grades are going up.

love gina

 

 

 

10 reasons I think you should consider marriage.

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  1. You have someone to bring you coffee every morning…and if needed…wine every night.
  2. Dating your spouse is a million times better than any date you’ve ever been on. There’s nothing awkward…there’s a million things to talk about…and #3

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instagram ALL the dates. ALL the moments. It’s like scrapbooking without the pressure to actually have to scrapbook.

3. When you go out to eat and you want the enchilada plate but you can’t decide between the spinach enchilada or the cheese and he just wants beef you can order the four enchilada platter and everyone is happy, PLUS you save money! And if it comes with avocado or guacamole and you marry someone who hates it that just means MORE FOR YOU. Sharing is caring in marriage.

4. When you have to put sheets on the bed you can yell, “Hey baby,  you should come into the bedroom…” and like magic he comes running… and helps you so you don’t have to walk ALL THE WAY to the other side a hundred times. And I can’t back this with science or data but I’m 100% certain clean sheets are an aphrodisiac.

5. When you hear something in the night you have someone to wake and see if they hear it, too…it sucks to hear bumps in the night all by yourself.

6. You can get in the car to head to church and realize you are matchy-matchy in head to toe denim and not care because A.) You’re already running late and B.) You can learn from the experience and try not to let it happen again.

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7. Your spouse is a great person to bounce ideas off of…

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8.  Marriage is anything but boring. It’s a wild ride and in my opinion it helps you let go of weird fears and increases your bravery.  A good marriage built with the perfect combo of trust, respect and love comes with an invisible safety net for trying new things and exploring. Nothing like an adrenaline rush to draw you even closer!

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9. You learn what it means to love and in return you learn how to let yourself BE loved. There will be days you don’t love yourself…days you let yourself down…these are the times a supportive spouse can pick up where you leave off.

10. It’s fun to wake everyday and know that the good decisions you’re making for your life are not only affecting your future in a positive way, but also adding to the future of your person. Kurt and I have said from the very beginning,

A better YOU plus a better ME equals a better WE. 

Single has it’s perks and I’m not bashing anyone for remaining a party of one…I did it. In fact, I was so good at it I wondered why I would EVER want to remarry. I was an advocate of marriage but I wondered if it was necessary for MY life. I’d done it…for 18 years…why should I do it again?

And then I spent almost six months living with my parents and I knew…I knew I wanted what they have.

I think God was just waiting for me to know because He had someone waiting for me…

Marriage is not a promise of perfection or bliss, it’s a statement of your life that says,

I am here for someone else that matters more to me than me.

It’s disagreeing and laughing about it. It’s misunderstandings that are real, but miniscule compared to the understanding that humans are flawed and imperfect and you get to stay and say I love you anyways.  There’s something whimsical and majestic about loving someone more than they can love themselves…and then waking up to the same face as it evolves over time and finding it more beautiful every day. parents

My parents will be married 60 years in June. They are the CUTEST. Does this not make you want to be married forever?!

Word on the street is marriage makes you live longer, offers tax breaks, lowers car insurance rates, actually makes you MORE attractive, leads to improved and increased sex, increases happiness, and overall makes us better people.

I know I’m better…

love gina

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straight up rabbit chasing.

 

Yesterday was Jana’s birthday and the missing was real and painful. We could go all year without connecting but when our two-week-apart birthdays showed up on the calendar we were on it! We would call and catch up and my heart would Always, Always be lighter and fuller and happier and humbled that she was my friend.

My favorite was the year we sent “a few of our favorite things” to one another.  It was 2008. Along with some samples of my favorite girly girl things like mascara and nail polish I sent her my current read…Same Kind of Different As Me. 

This past week her husband Chris found this while sorting through her belongings…he sent me a screenshot of the inside cover where I wrote:

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He then went on to say he didn’t know I was the one to give her that book.

“A week into her cancer treatment she said she needed to talk to me and asked if I would do something for her…I said anything…she said, read this book. I read it in one day.”

He went on to say he bought so many of them and gave them to friends to understand what we were going through.

The irony (or was it) is my dad called me back in 2006 when the book first released to tell me to read it. The author was the nephew of one of his professors from seminary. I read it without putting it down and shared several copies with others myself…but little did I know the future impact it would have the year I sent one to my best friend.

The movie based on the book comes out this fall….I’ll be there.

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This evening I took Ella for a long walk in her stroller…taking advantage of this ridiculously incredible weather we’ve had…we were nearing the end of our walk when I could smell the scent of home…and by home I mean supper cooking. I look over and see a young boy, around 8 or 9 watching his older sister practice her hoops in the driveway. Took me back…back to when everything was easier…simpler…when I got out of school and played outside until I could smell the sweet aroma of home cooking beckoning me to the table. I want to be 8 again.

I love pizza. I do. I love salads and quinoa and raspberries and green smoothies but I LOVE pizza. Attempting to lose a pound or five, I found a pizza alternative. I take a piece of Dave’s Sprouted Seed bread, toast it, top it with Trader Joe’s eggplant garlic spread with sweet red pepper, a dash of fresh parmesan and my taste buds are none the wiser. I’m serious…it’s yummy.

My dear Kelly texted tonight to ask for workout music suggestions…here’s my go to list on Spotify…

Believer: Major Lazer

Bring it Back: Shy Carter

There’s your Trouble:Dixie Chicks

Fresh Eyes: Andy Grammer 

In My Mind: Maty Noyes 

I Love You Always Forever: Betty Who

Ride: Twenty One Pilots

Boom Like That: Mark Knopfler

Stomp: Kirk Franklin

Ever Be: Bethel Worship

I am getting back into real estate after TWENTY years…I’ll let you know when I’m good to go and maybe you will need to sell your house or buy a house or just want to ride around with me and look at houses…

Political posts are like sitting beside an extremely out of shape man eating his second overloaded plate of Super Bowl snacks while he screams obscenities and tries to coach professional athletes from the comfort of his couch…If you know so much about the game why aren’t you playing?

 

It’s Tuesday and I blogged…

love gina