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

 

 

hey little mama.

Parenting is not optional. It’s expensive and exhausting and 3 out of 7 days each week you will want to turn in your resignation.

Dear God,

I regret to inform you I can no longer serve as caregiver of this child. I have decided to take another route.

Sincerely,

Me

Stick around.  God gave you some eggs or some sperm that did what eggs and sperm were created to do and you’ve got a baby.  You can quit a job but you can’t quit on a baby. I mean you can…but someone is going to have to pick up where you leave off and that makes you look like a real piece of crap. Are you okay with looking like a piece of crap. Have you ever just stood over and looked at a piece of crap? Not the cute emoji on your phone but the large pile in your front lawn…your neighbor’s black labrador crap…you mow and edge and plant some geraniums and walk out to find a mountain all fresh and covered in flies in your front yard…Yes. That crap.

I know it’s overwhelming but you are not alone. If your family isn’t in the picture, the world is full of other parents, singles and doubles, and it would be best to find you some good ones and link arms.  Kids are needy. They need you more than you need anything. They get hungry before you clean up the mess from the last time they were hungry. There are diapers to buy and clothes constantly being outgrown.   I know it’s expensive but God will provide. Ask any parent who has made it to the other side about the times they didn’t know how they were going to feed their babies and they will share with you how there was more than enough. His eye really is on the sparrow.

Confessional

I sunbaked Paige at 3 days old. Yep. I brought her home with a mild case of jaundice and was instructed to place her in the sun wearing only a diaper.  The UV rays would balance the high bilirubin levels that were causing her to look yellow.  No problem Doc…I got this. Wearing only a diaper, I carefully placed her in her carseat and set her to face the afternoon sun. I had a storm door that faced west…in Texas…in July. Shall I continue? I shall.

Should I consider neonatal nursing?…It’s like I’m a natural at this…you know…I could start there then go on to be a pediatrician….Can you imagine the life we will have Paige Elizabeth if mommy becomes a doctor?!?! Paige? Paige!

Oh dear Lord…I cooked my baby. I removed her diaper to reveal a coppertone tan gone wrong. She was rock-lobstered. Less than 72 hours into this thing and I’m failing…already.

Motherhood is a learning curve.

I wish I could tell you this was the first and last faux pas of my parenting years. Hardly…everything from cutting bangs that made them look like I’d rescued them from a religious compound to dragging them through grocery stores kicking and screaming to forgetting to pick up needed supplies for a school project to putting mayonnaise on a mustard lover’s sandwich to getting called out on saying crap too much at a Back to School family meeting to subjecting them to the aftermath of a split family…I’ve done it. There is NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT PARENT.

There is such thing as an imperfect person willing to do anything to keep a child safe and confident of their unconditional love.

There will be things you get right and things you get so very wrong. Learn the lesson and keep moving.

Here. Have some grace.

It’s okay to get them a happy meal… because FOR TODAY you’re too tired to bake over priced pasture raised chicken and roast broccoli and sweet potatoes drizzled in coconut oil and sea salt. FOR TODAY it’s okay to send them a package of peanut butter crackers with a spotty banana and some artificially dyed cheese balls in their lunchbox…you will run by the store later and pick up some almond butter, sprouted bread, quinoa, hummus, organic apples and jicama…and don’t you forget the oxygenated water…they’re learning fractions on Thursday and we all know learning begins with proper hydration. My girls were often fed Sonic and McDonald’s and GMO’s from a tired mama bear and they are smart, kind and beautiful inside and out.

Listen to Gina.

You are the one they depend on for EVERYTHING… but honey…they also think you can do ANYTHING.

You are the MOST AMAZING PERSON THEY’VE EVER MET.

…until you’re not the most amazing person they’ve ever met. They grow up and they find new heroes and we pray it’s less Miley Cyrus and more Caitlin Crosby …they get over you and start feeding themselves and dressing themselves and you get booted.

Be the hero of their story for as long as they will let you.

Wear the cape and the crown and use those superpowers. The way you do what you do on 3 hours of sleep. Girl. The way you can make her laugh when all you wanna do is cry. Look at you. I saw you singing over her last night while she slept. It was storming outside as well as inside your soul but you sang anyway. Friday is coming and so is your paycheck. You want to give her everything…I know…but save it. Tuck that money away and give her a box. Her creative spirit will be soaring in a rocket ship to the moon in that simple box. You cannot spoil her with your love and you cannot hurt her with established boundaries. She craves your instruction. Your “no” met with a fussy face is the “yes” that will save her later.  Put your phone away and read the book…and read it again..and again.  She does not know it’s 2017. There is not modern convenience or advanced technology to impress her… there is only a thirst for knowing and the best teacher is you. You are the one. And you are the one who gets to celebrate when she reads her first words in the book you’ve read a million and seven times. You are the one. You are her first teacher. First preacher. First leader. First love.

Provide a safe environment for her to come home to when the world out there feels everything but safe. Be careful what you say…YOUR words are the most important words she hears…be careful what you listen to…she’s listening, too…be careful what you watch…she’s watching, too.

Please guard her heart and let her be little.

Paige recovered faster from her sunburn than I did from my feelings of inadequacy…her jaundice was gone and I moved on to my next hundred failed attempts at motherhood. I watched moms I admired and asked so many questions and learned and grew and over time became rather confident in my ability to raise a child…and then one day my phone rang and an uncertain little momma was asking me for advice! What?!

I pray one day your phone rings from someone watching how well you raise your child and asks you for advice. Lead the way…

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.

friends don't let friends 2

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

 

 

 

high calling.

1754

Dear Ella,

Today was Mother’s Day and while I was counting my motherhood blessings I was counting you.

One year ago this month your Poppy called to say you’d be joining us for dinner.  I left to meet you both at the house and we’ve been together ever since. 

Together we’ve learned and done so much…

We learned to pull up and crawl and walk.  We learned to dance…and NOBODY dances in the kitchen to Up & Up by Coldplay like we do!  We graduated from nasty powdery cereal and squeezy packets of mush to roasted sweet potatoes and cheese grits and sunflower butter sandwiches. While doing so we learned to feed ourselves… and I have to wonder if the messes you make are intentional seeing as you are indeed a mermaid… and you know a good mess will get you to the bathtub and into the water. We’ve pushed a stroller 20,000 miles and we’ve read 30,000 books. We watched Finding Dory and Frozen and we decided NOT to watch Elmo ever again. We are travel buddies and I’m sure all of the intellectual podcasts we listen to will one day come in handy. We are both well fed, starving artists waiting for a break. I will one day publish a book and your creative food art will be hanging in the Met…It’s just a matter of time before we both make it big.

You know, Ella…I tried really hard not to fall so in love with you…I would tell myself things like, “Gina…just take really good care of this innocent, helpless child and keep your heart out of it…you can love her…like hold her and rock her and dance with her but just do what God has called you to do and don’t let silly emotions come into play.” 

Oops.

I’m madly in love with you.

I am. 

But I wasn’t always…

I was just mad. I mean…I didn’t ask for this. Why can’t someone just raise the child they birthed and stop being so selfish?! In the beginning it was almost easy to keep my heart out of it. You show up on the scene and demand ALL MY ATTENTION. Like who do you think you are? You little diaper-pooping, non-stop crying, are you seriously hungry again nine month old little person?!?!? I’m trying to plan a wedding and get on with my life. I’ve raised my children! I’ve already done this! Seriously, God? This is NOT what you want ME to do? Is it?! I’ll be a good grandma but fix her mom so she can go home. I’m tired…as hell. Are you punishing me? Is that what this is? 

I called my mom and had a complete meltdown. She listened and encouraged and more than anyone else understood what it was like to bring a child into your home that you had not birthed but were being called to nurture and love with the essence of motherhood. 

That’s what mothering is. It’s a calling. 

Thank you God for calling me. 

ebugs

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I love you silly bugs…

love gina

 

10 reasons I think you should consider marriage.

marriage-sunshine

  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
date
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.

matching

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

blog-all-night

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!

parasailing

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

ring-on-it

 

 

you don’t love Jesus?…

…if you have children, and especially daughters who watch your every move, you will appreciate this.

goldfishWe took communion on our couch this morning while watching our church online. Yes we did…Ella has been sick the past couple of days and we decided to stay in, yet not miss a good word from our beloved pastor. At the end of his sermon he announced it was Communion Sunday…I went to the kitchen and grabbed us two goldfish crackers and a ramekin of water.  I would have opened the red wine but there was no time! Do you think this is okay? Goldfish and water from the comfort of our couch? In our pajamas?! Remembering the great sacrifice of our Lord? Is this okay?!!!

A B S O L U T E L Y.

Thank God, God looks at our hearts… and my heart was filled to the brim with gratitude for my man and this baby…for our life and all we’ve endured and overcome… and HALLELUJAH  I’m forgiven!…and Heaven bound!… and I could go on and on and on…

That goldfish cracker was taken with tears of remembrance and gratitude. That water washed through me with the sincere acknowledgement that blood was shed for my sins and I am a forgiven and loved child of The Most High God.

All that made me think of this…let’s go back in time.

It was Communion Sunday at First Baptist and Paige Elizabeth called me out. There were no couches or crackers or ramekins of water…just a 30 year old mother of 3, sitting on a church pew and doing her best to be christian and abide by all the rules with precision…and this meant I would NOT be partaking in the sacraments. I’ll explain why in a minute…

So Paige is around 9 years old and by now I’d spent a good 8 years with her watching and monitoring my every move.

Case in point…I am on my way to visit my parents…she’s 3-ish. I  tuck her and her baby sister in the back seat and off we go. Her favorite toy was a Fisher Price recorder and a blank tape was all I needed to keep her entertained and get me the two hours down the road. She was podcasting before podcasting was cool…talking about cows and asking her sister if she’s hungry or happy…singing songs she wrote and monitoring my driving…yes…like a trained patrol officer, in the middle of her highway monologue:

“Ummmmmm, Maaahhhhmmmmm….You ran a reeeedddd liiiigghhtttt.”

Yep. On tape. Recorded as evidence to be used against me in a court of law.

Now back to my church story…

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the white draping over the altar signifying we would be taking The Lord’s Supper.

Oh no….what to do, what to do?

Our family perched itself on the front left side of the church and my mind began the decisive process of whether or not I would partake.

The past week I had an altercation with another mom…I was still stewing from her words and had spent the week allowing them to fester and grow and take root.  It was not the first time she had rubbed me the wrong way…pushed my buttons…ruffled my feathers.

I had been taught that if you had unforgiveness in your heart you better remedy it prior to taking communion. (1 Corinthians 11:28-29) And with this I decided today was not the day for me to participate.

The tray of unleavened bread representing the body of Christ made it’s way to our aisle and I passed…

Then came the tiny cups of grape juice representing Christ’s blood…pass again.

I’m standing there, eyes straight ahead, hands free of the guilt I would feel if I took the bread and the wine knowing I had some unforgiveness in my heart.

Jesus, I’ll catch you the next time around. I’ve got issues with her issues and I’ll work it out…I’ll just stand here today and make sure my daughters don’t spill the grape juice on their cute clothes.

“Mom, You don’t love Jesus?!”

I was truly trying to be inconspicuous with my passing of the tokens of His passing for me, but leave it to Betsy Big Eyes to bust me and call me out…in church!

Did she really just say that? Paige. Shhhhhh.

I tap her arm in a non verbal sort of way to assure her it’s all good and we will discuss this later.

That was not good enough.

“Mom! Why are you not taking The Lord’s Supper, Mom?!”

She was confused and thought in her sweet little mind I’d turned my back on Jesus.

I had not turned my back on Jesus, I’d just turned my eyes upon Gina. 

Funny story and I’m sure we will tell it for generations to come with dramatic additives, but seriously…If someone is pushing your buttons, intentionally or not, give it to God and feel the sweet release of letting it go…sooner rather than later.

  • Pray about it.  Search God’s Word for answers and instruction. Think before you speak. Let them know how they hurt you.  Apologize for anything you might have done to spur the behavior. And most importantly… offer grace.
  • Read Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott and Love Does by Bob Goff.

As our preacher says, “I’m not where I want to be, but THANK GOD I’m not where I used to be!”

I love you Paige. I love your keen awareness and your big beautiful brown eyes. This next little nugget growing in your womb just might be a little girl…and I will buy her a tape recorder. Yes I will.

And yes, your mama does love Jesus. I just forget sometimes how much He loves me.

love gina

 

 

a f f a i r .

Affair (n.) …an intense amorous relationship, usually of short duration

That’s one of the seven definitions found on dictionary.com….it’s a noun. You can go to an affair, host an affair, want an affair, have an affair…

I’m going to try and STOP an affair.

It was two years ago…I was parked at the post office across the street and saw them leaving the hotel. I recognized her immediately…but I had no clue who he was.They were arm in arm. She looked giddy and…can I say, prettier? Yes. Prettier. She had a glow and appeared to have put forth more effort towards her appearance than usual. It was obvious.

I knew her but I never said anything. I just watched and wondered…

Why do we stray?

Yes. We. I’ve been very open about my affair. I gave it to God during my healing process and promised if my story could be used for HIS glory I would not hesitate. I don’t go around initiating the conversation, nor do I allow myself or anyone else to define me by that chapter in my life, but I do listen up and engage when someone involves me and tells me they are “talking to someone else”….”going behind their husband’s back”…”having an affair.”

Last year I got a call that broke my heart…

“I’m so ashamed but I look forward to seeing him everyday…we have been messaging each other on a social media site…things have never been good with me and (her husband)…We have always struggled and I’m just over it. I’m not going to let it get “physical”…I’m just enjoying the attention.” 

Here she was…calling her single 40 something girlfriend who had “been there and done that” and THOUGHT she found a safe, understanding place to confess her sins and find empathy. She was wrong. I could understand but I would no way, no how, sanction her choices.

Tears began to fall uncontrollably…she could hear me crying and tried to change the subject and even make light of the information she’d just dropped on me.

“I would throw myself in front of a train to stop you.”

And I would. But please don’t make me. Please just listen to me and STOP this madness before it starts or goes any further. Yes. I’m talking to YOU. I see how you are going the extra mile to look fantastic…wearing your heels a little higher…You look great. You do. We haven’t seen you paying this much attention to yourself in forever. Have you lost weight? And you’re ALWAYS on your phone. Head down or head in the clouds. It’s exhausting deleting all those text messages…am I right? I am. It’s funny how he just happened to choose the same place for lunch today…out of ALL the places to eat you two just keep winding up at the same spot. Serendipity? No. Stupidity.

Your best friends right now are the ones brave enough to call you out. You don’t like them. You’ve stopped taking their calls or returning their texts because they don’t “understand” …but honey, THEY are the only ones who love you enough to let you hate them. The so called friends who are advocating your behavior need to GO.

I was working at the high school. I would go by the nurse’s office three or four times a week to weigh myself. My clothes were falling off me and I was seeing numbers I hadn’t seen since college. I liked it. I was not eating…I was too busy feeding my flesh. She hands me a book, Starved for Affection and says she’s here for me if I need to talk. I was angry. Like who does she think she is? I felt so judged but she was willing to cross the lines of what felt good and give me a shot of reality. Pun intended. I love you Jill. You prayed for me and made me think. I didn’t like you very much at the time but looking back I am so thankful for who you are and what you stood for. She was one of two people willing to call me out. Why do we sit back and let our brothers and sisters destroy their own lives?

I remember sitting in First Baptist Church and wanting to stand up and shout, “Is anybody else hurting?”

Can you imagine had I stood and taken over the pulpit and proclaimed to the congregation that I was thinking about another man besides my husband and I can’t hear a word the preacher is saying because I’m wrecked with shame and I’m scared to death and I want it to go away?!

Hey Church. Hey Small Group. Hey Family. Be like Jill. The best thing you can do when you suspect something has gone awry with one of your own is to rally the troops and tackle the enemy. Don’t ignore it. Don’t spend more time talking behind their backs than talking to their face. Bug the hell out of them. Literally. THE HELL. Tell them you are fighting for them and if need be against them, as you work towards digging them out of this sinkhole. The worst thing a church can do is stand idly by and watch for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. You will. I’ve said this about so many things! YOU WILL SAY THE WRONG THING. BUT WHEN YOUR HEART IS IN THE RIGHT PLACE AND YOU’VE PRAYED ABOUT THE SITUATION AND ASKED GOD FOR GUIDANCE IT WILL BE OKAY. DO NOT JUST STAND THERE AND WATCH THE FAMILIES AROUND YOU FALL PREY TO THE DIVISION THE ENEMY CRAVES.

Okay. So my dad was a preacher and I got some on me. No apologies for that.

My 18 year marriage was not a disaster…We had a good marriage…three smart, beautiful daughters…great friends…a lovely home in a lovely neighborhood…we both had jobs and our health…we had it all. So what happened and why?

I could tell you we fought too much and he golfed too much. I could give you ten quick reasons that would attempt to justify the affair…but that is making an excuse for sin and I will not.

It’s a simple as this. We had some issues and instead of going to God with my dignity intact I let some eye contact linger longer than necessary… and before you knew it I was wrapped up in the idea that someone “saw me” and thought more of me than my husband.  One moment of feeling noticed became almost two years of neglecting that which God had given me to honor. I am ashamed but I am redeemed…and I am telling you if you are entertaining the idea of another person’s affections outside your home you need to stop and stop immediately.

This will not end well.

You are better than this.

You are being deceived. 

I always write to an audience of one. I am looking at your face in the chair across from my desk. I see you. I see where this is going. You think your case will be different. It won’t. I pray you remove the scales from your eyes and turn your heart towards home. I cannot guarantee your marriage will not end, but I can promise you, you do not want it to end this way.

It’s been 10 years…I am now very happily married to my very best friend. I am humbled that God found this person for me.  He is crazy about my girls and I cannot wait to build our life, see the world and love on our grandbabies together! My first husband is remarried to a wonderful woman that adores my girls and will be a wonderful grandmother to our grandchildren. We are truly blessed. I claimed Romans 8:28 and still do, “He works ALL things together for good.” ALL things. Yes He does. Yes HE did.

With all my heart…I pray you hear me and I am here for you if you need to pray.

love gina

 

 

 

so this was 47…

This time last year I was sitting at Paige and John’s house in Lubbock and blogging my way into my 47th year of life…I had no idea what was waiting for me…and I’m glad. Had I known that night that I would face the things I’ve faced, I might have written with less positive enthusiasm and with more holy crap, how do you expect me to do this God?

47 was name changing, life rearranging, devastating, scary, can’t look, shocking, pure madness, extreme sadness and a test I felt like I was failing.

Nothing is completely perfect.

This weekend Kurt swept me away to a Bed & Breakfast for a birthday/valentine surprise getaway. The drive, the conversation, the scenery, the laughter, the knowing he is so thoughtful and wanted to make my heart smile…All of this was perfect. We stopped to grab some lunch once we got into town and I asked Kurt if he ordered the weather just for me. It was perfect. Cool breeze mixed with the right amount of sunshine as we sat out on the patio…then my food arrives… my chicken was not fully cooked. Nothing like a raw piece of chicken on your plate to kill your appetite. Not so perfect…mixed with perfect.

After lunch we drive to our destination and the scenery was perfect. Huge oak trees draped in moss covered rolling hills and a pond that needed me in a boat with a book, while Kurt rows us out to the middle as swans dance beside us…It was all things The Notebook…but wait…as soon as we arrive the electricity goes out. That was just the beginning…The beds were super uncomfortable. The morning breakfast was in a dining hall with 6 other couples sitting silently beside us as if we would all get in trouble for speaking. It was summer camp meets retirement village and Kurt and I got a bad case of the church giggles. We were expecting to stay in the plantation home and get breakfast in bed…well, not so much…They will get there but they are new owners and let’s just say, there’s work to be done if they want repeat customers. We had such a great time just being together and made funny memories that will offer something to talk about for years to come…Not so perfect…mixed with perfect.

Such is life…such was 47.

Let’s recap the year …

January and February was all wedding planning and job searching, along with starting a little side business. I was eventually offered a job at a culinary institute. What was sold to me as a marketing position that would utilize my skill sets turned out to be phone solicitations for prospective students…sitting behind a desk and taking or making calls to lure individuals into our school for a tour and $25 application fee. Anyone who knows me knows that didn’t last. I could write an entire blog post on this but I’ll save it.

In March we drove to Austin and attended Easter service with Jana and her family, then I kissed her goodbye knowing in my heart I’d never see her again this side of heaven.

Kurt got Ella in May. Our lives immediately became less “what do you want to do after work” to “can you pick up some diapers on the way home”…

Jana left her earthly home on May 14 and her life celebration in Round Rock was a true testament to her sacrificial love and care for others more than herself. I pick the best friends….

Kurt and I married in July under a pecan tree in Austin surrounded by our children and God’s favor.

I had a mammogram in August and was asked to come back in. It was abnormal and I had a biopsy. Praise, all is well, but it was scary…GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM, LADIES.

The Great Flood of 2016 demolished our town a few weeks later. It was the closest thing to a war zone I’d ever witnessed…Thinking it could not get any worse, it got worse.

We lost KJ in September. My new husband was a now a grieving father and together we kept it together and continued to love on Ella and trust God.

From that Tuesday morning until today has been life’s confirmation that we are not meant to do this alone…that we desperately need each other. You think your perfection is a magnet, when in fact it’s your imperfections and messy that warm hearts and draw others into your life. Let your mess be your muse. Let your imperfections find you favor and grace.

As difficult and challenging as the events of my 47th year of life happened to be, I marvel at the beauty that emerges within a soul after survival.

Life will have moments that you can’t take your eyes off of and others that make it hard to look. Relationships will grow you and bring out your best and worst self. Aging is inevitable and loving yourself is magical. Letting things go is a discipline worth studying and practicing daily…leaving your past in the past where it belongs is a great way to soak in the present with full capacity. Struggling with answers? Being kind is the answer to your problems. All of them. Laughter is better than wine. Laughter with your girlfriends after a glass of wine is the best medicine. Trends are just trends. Be you. The way you wear your jeans, the shoes on your feet, the style of your hair…if it makes you happy and you walk out your door feeling like you can conquer a job or a grocery list or just another day…then do it! You do You.

And to all my fellow members of The Art of Midlifery:

Strike a pose. You’re more beautiful than ever.  YOU’RE DEEP WATER WITH RICH SOIL AND STORIES TO SHARE.  Reflect on the beauty of your life and all the imperfections and mistakes that you’ve owned and survived.  TOAST YOUR LIFE WITH CELEBRATION AND DETERMINATION….and when it’s hard to watch what’s going on around you, LOOK UP. JUST KEEP LOOKING UP. RAISE YOUR HEAD TO THE HEAVENS AND FIX YOUR EYES ON CHRIST. HE KNOWS. HE SEES. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

47-collage

Happy Birthday Regina Lynn…You can be a pain in the ass but I’m so happy to be you.

love gina