i am romanian.

I asked Santa for a DNA kit for Christmas but after 70 hundred thousand dollars worth of dental work…I got dental work and perfume for Christmas. Seriously. I went in for an annual teeth cleaning and walked out wondering where the nearest plasma donation center was located. For someone who has CTBS, Chronic Teeth Brushing Syndrome, I somehow have the teeth of a homeless woman who lives on skittles, milk duds and generic cola.

I wholeheartedly dread the dentist. Give me all the monkey gas and wake me when it’s over…

So why do I want this DNA kit so bad…? Because I’m adopted. I know my birth mom so I’m not completely oblivious to my bloodline. However, I know NOTHING about my sperm donor. Thank you for your service by the way…I’m happy to be here.

When you go to the doctor, an unadopted and informed individual can most likely answer the questions when asked about family history of diseases. When I get asked I play the adoption card and say I don’t know because it’s quicker than an explanation.

This…

Do you have a family history of….

Don’t know.

I’m adopted.

Is quicker than this…

Well…you see…I know my biological mother but not the air-quote-father…and my daddy is biologically my great uncle which means when I go to family reunions I am adopted but still related to everyone? Does that make sense?…You see my grandmother…who is actually my great grandmother…lived to be just a couple days shy of her 100th! I swear that woman could touch her toes like a seasoned yoga instructor up until she passed! Now…she was blind as a bat and had cataracts…Do you think I need to get checked for cataracts? Oh…and her oldest daughter, my dad’s sister and my aunt is actually my grandmother. She died an early death. I believe in her 50’s? Cancer. Sad. I don’t really remember her. I was young… My maternal-biological-grandfather is barking at 100 and just got baptized! My paternal grandfather, who is technically my maternal great grandfather passed away in the kitchen one morning! He was eating his breakfast just like any other normal day and the angels came and took him…he was in his 70’s. Older I get that is just too young to be finished. Did you get all that? 

If you are not adopted you may not understand fully what it’s like to feel this mystery…and it’s so much more than just being able to answer your health care professional with a hint of confidence…It’s more about the wonder of what he looks like, if he’s nice, if he loves Jesus…do I have any half siblings running around this planet with my features and quirks? Has he ever wondered about me? Did he ever, at any point care if I was alive or dead? It’s deep…and I would be lying if I said it hasn’t stung a little.

And any interest in my paternal roots is NOT because I need a daddy. I have a WONDERFUL daddy. I get real defensive when someone asks me if I want to find my “real dad” or if I know my “real mom”.

This is my personal truth and one I can guess is felt by other girls wondering about the dads that got away…We want you to see us and openly, to our faces accept or reject us so we can move on. We do. And here’s why…

A father is the first male a girl ever feels acceptance or rejection from…and I’ve spent my life feeling a sense of rejection and abandonment. And when I was younger I often wondered if he saw me…if he physically laid eyes on me if he could walk away or if perhaps there was something about me worth knowing.

Don’t you agree that we all just want to be worth knowing?

So until I get my DNA kit I am Romanian.

How do I know…

I went in for a wax.

A painful waxing.

There I was in all my glory and she says…

What nationality are you?

Considering the shot or two of vodka I have to take before this delicate procedure I could have given her all the details. I tipsy talk. But I didn’t. I gracefully replied…

I don’t know exactly…I am adopted.

And then…without hesitation…as I was exposed as exposed could be, she solved the long felt mystery of my life in one statement…

You are Romanian.

I am what?

Romanian.

I am? How do you know?

I’ve been doing this for a long time and I can tell by the way hair grows along with skin tone and eye color.

Well then…you are the professional so I guess I am.

romania flag

I had no idea walking in that day that my technician was also a genealogist…but she was.

Score.

So until further notice…

I am Romanian.

love gina

 

 

 

Hello 2018.

I have been buying Bath and Body Works scented wall plugs for what?…20 years now? Seems like it…might even be longer. I recently took advantage of the end of year clearance and bought all new flavors knowing it was time to change them. I have my favorite scents and part of my nesting ritual is deciding where to plug them in so the entire house has a little smelly good in all areas…usually one per room.

We’ve been remodeling and shifting some things around here and I moved the wall plug in my living room to another outlet. Days passed and I couldn’t smell anything…I thought perhaps the fragrance I chose was lighter and also blamed my stuffy nose and this cold that won’t quit. Not the case. I removed it and with the vacuum cleaner nearby plugged it in and turned it on…nothing. The outlet was to blame.

I googled what to do if an outlet does not work:

Switch the circuit breaker off until you’ve located the problem. In most cases, a tripped circuit breaker is caused by a temporary overload on the circuit or a short circuit in some device plugged into the circuit. But in rare cases, a loose wire in an electrical box could be causing the problem.

Tripped up. Temporary Overload. Short Circuits. Loose Wires.

Made me think…

I wonder how many dysfunctional things we are plugged into that are keeping us from doing what we were made to do.

It’s a new day. A new year. Ready to make some changes? Ready to get your power back?

I am!

refresco

Here. I’ll even make us a little starter checklist…

  • Look at your circle. Okay. So we all have people in our lives that can be difficult. You might want to eliminate them all together but let me offer something that has worked for me. Just step away and while you’re away, work on you and be an example. You can’t change anyone, but you can change you. Someone else’s decision making is their decision and your decision not to participate is totally up to you. Bullying is not limited to school yards. Adults can be mean. You know it. Be kind to everyone and pray for those who hurt you. Don’t exchange mean for mean. God can change hearts and perspective. I’ve witnessed this too and it’s beautiful. Please….if you only read one book this year, read Boundaries. Here’s the link…
  • Eliminate the negative thoughts. Stop beating yourself up. You are a work in progress. Everything takes time. Be good to you. Speak life over your life. If you don’t love you…why should someone else? See?
  • Unfollow.  You have all the power in deciding whose life you want a peek into. That’s all social media is…a virtual look into another person’s quick visual. Following means someone else is leading…let’s look at who we allow to lead us.
  • Delete some apps.  Clear the clutter and look up from your phone. If it’s not making you smarter, kinder, healthier or more productive get rid of it. We are captivated by our phones…our screens…technology…information. We look like a bunch of zombies. It’s sad. I don’t want to look back at my life and see how much time I wasted on things that were trivial and mundane.  Can it get worse? Yes. Can it get better? Absolutely. But it’s totally up to us.
  • Be intentional in what you watch on tv. Look. It’s good to be informed and we can’t live in a bubble of oblivion but get the main points and turn it off. The banter will drive you nuts. You do understand the news runs for 24 hours around the clock and they have to blab about something…stop giving them your ears.
  • Pray for, more than you moan about your country.  Trump won. Let the man serve and pray for him. He won’t be president forever and the unrelenting and uneducated demands at bringing down our leader make us, as a country, look foolish(er). It’s wasted energy. Are you in office? Are you planning to run for president? On that note…begin now praying for our next president.

I haven’t always practiced what I’m preaching here. The lessons have come at a price. And in regards to reformatting your circle of influence…let me add…there was a time in my life that friends I’d known and loved stepped away from me. Yep. And for good reason. Not my proudest moments. I was the one acting a fool and they in all their wisdom had to create boundaries that they felt were best for them. Ouch. Even thinking about it hurts.

Flashback…

I remember a time, just before my divorce…I was living with my sister and my life had dramatically shifted. I’d messed up. Big time. Lots of cold shoulders…and I’m not talking about the fashion trend that invaded our closets in 2017. My little world was turned upside down in a small town with one grocery store…One night the doorbell rang and my sister came to my room…”Gina, someone is here to see you.” I went outside and there she stood beside her suburban. I had yet to hear what she thought of me…I’d yet to hear anything from her. She handed me a plate of chocolate chip cookies. “Here. You need to eat.” I said thanks and she continued… “We don’t hate you. We don’t. We’re just mad at you. We’re mad at you for showing us it can happen. We are all struggling to keep our marriages in tact and if it can happen to you…it can happen to any of us. You are reality and we can’t look.” I took my cookies and went back inside. I wrote down her words and cried. They can’t look. I understood now. I had created a life that was hard to watch. They needed to step away.

It’s okay to step away…

I’d love for you to tell me your plans for 2018 in the comments section below. I will forever be the girl who loves January 1st…who loves fresh starts and new beginnings. THANK GOD FOR NEW BEGINNINGS. I am looking forward to the next 12 months but intentionally living in this very moment. I don’t want to be so plugged into something so dead that I miss finding my true purpose and power.

I pray 2018 finds you plugged into the things that give you back your power…things that allow you an opportunity to shine and emit a sweet fragrance of peace that naturally draws us into your presence and positive energy.

love gina

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…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.

yep…me too

When I first saw my instagram feed blowing up with the words, ME TOO, I thought it was in reference to Meghan Trainor’s song..if I was you, I’d wanna be me too…

It’s not…It’s a raising of hands from individuals saying they’ve been sexually assaulted, raped, touched inappropriately, sexually harassed…The famous and the unfamiliar are calling out their offenders in a group effort to let the world know this is not some little problem…it’s global. It’s happened and it’s happening right now… in our world, our towns, our jobs, our homes… I firmly believe this joint effort will suppress the efforts of the bullies thinking they can continue to get away with it. I think it’s become really clear that we’ve all had enough and now we’re telling on you.

There’s strength in numbers.

Much like anything that is put out there for opinion, there is opinion as to what good two little words can do…I don’t know that two little words can stop a creeper from creeping, a molester from molesting, a rapist from raping or an assaulter from assaulting…but I do know this…

If my rapist is reading this he’s freaking out wondering if I’m about to finally call him out.

me too

Yes. Me too.

Hey. Are you reading this? Are you sitting there wondering if I’m about to say your name? Good. Sit there…I think that’s the good in all of this “me too” campaign. If nothing else, anyone who has ever violated someone else in ANY way and walked away, is now wondering if the facts are rising and their period of escape is coming to a close. 

And just so we’re clear…before I go any further…let me give you the definition of rape.

rape: unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.

Look. I was kissed on the lips by my brother’s friend on my 12th birthday. I was in 6th grade and he was a senior in high school. He met me in the narrow hallway of our home as I was heading to the car for the annual church valentine banquet. He said I was growing up then pressed his lips against mine…not a friendly kiss…but an uncomfortable, I don’t think you would have just done that if my dad were standing here kiss.  It was gross and awkward and what he sheepishly disguised as flattery made me feel ugly and afraid to get a day older if this is what growing up meant. He did not rape me with a kiss. He stole some innocence but he did not rape me.

I got my first real consenting kiss the next year on the way home from the skating rink. Cutie McCutie. I had a huge crush and I said, yes! You can kiss me! There is a huge difference between being okay with someone’s lips on yours versus NOT being okay with it.

In between 12 and 42 I kissed a lot of boys…by choice…had sex…by choice..and was never again kissed or even touched without my consent. I was in the clear by now…right?

Not so much…

So here’s what happened. We’d been friends since the 9th grade and reconnected via Facebook.  We’d been visiting on and off like old times for the past two years. It was good to hear from him again and he, like myself, had gone through a divorce.  There was zero attraction and just like high school our relationship was founded and continued on the premise of friendship alone. He called and said he was going to be in Dallas and I should drive over. Without hesitation I made plans. I was in much need of a getaway.  I  looked forward to seeing him after 20 years. I had zero concerns about the decision to meet him.

He made a snarky remark about booking only one room.  I took it in jest and made it clear I would be getting my own. I met him at the hotel before we headed to dinner. He said there were storm warnings in the area and another friend from high school that had planned to join us was now hunkered down with his wife and kids due to a tornado warning. The sky was clear from where we stood…for now.

We went to dinner and he went on and on about his child with grand affections…the conversation was totally normal.

After eating, we went to a piano bar within close proximity. I had a glass of wine and then a bachelorette party offered a round of shots to the crowd. I remember taking the shot.

Yes. Alcohol Was Involved.

From taking that shot, to the moment I’m about to describe to you is a blank.

I’m lying on my back on the bed in the hotel room. I’m fully clothed and he is on top of me. His knees holding my arms down on each side as he attempts to put his penis in my mouth. I’m turning my head with my mouth clenched shut as he continues to force himself on me. I realized when I said no, or tried to scream, that meant I had to open my mouth. I was not opening my mouth. There was only one thing to do and I did it well…I took my right knee and nailed him in the groin area. The ramming and twisting of my knee cap threw him off me and I made my way to the bathroom and locked the door. Not knowing how I was going to get out of there I decided the best thing to do was act calm, unbothered and offer to go get us some coffee. 

“Hey, I’m going to go get coffee…we need to wake up.”

“I’ll make coffee here.”

I hear him take the coffee pot and begin to run some water…at this point I open the bathroom door, grab my purse from the floor and get out.

I’m making my way down the hall of the hotel when he calls out to me in the calmest voice… “Hey…don’t be that way.”

Don’t be that way.

Don’t be what way? Don’t be smart enough to realize you’re an animal and I made a huge mistake in trusting you?

I got in my car and drove the 6 hours back home in complete silence.

 

The next morning I awoke to multiple text messages asking me if I made it home safely. He had the audacity to try and talk to me after pinning me down and trying to put his unwelcomed penis in my mouth? Really? I finally replied with, “DO NOT EVER CALL ME OR TEXT ME AGAIN. YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID.”

His reply:

You just walked away from the only man who ever really loved you.

Yes. He said that. That’s what a perpetrator will do…they will put the guilt back on you and make themselves look like the victims.

What Now?

I thought about whether or not to notify the police. I thought about the fact that I drove to meet him voluntarily…I thought how stupid I was in not knowing the monster he’d become.  I thought about the fact I’d been drinking and wondered if that would serve as leverage and the case would be dismissed. So, I never said anything and he got away with it.  I’m sure I wasn’t the first, but I pray I was the last.

Oh. And I forgave him. Eventually I had to forgive him…and I did. The act of forgiveness was for me…not him. I was fine. I was. I was disappointed and sickened by his behavior but I dusted myself off, learned a lesson and moved on. His illness was not mine and I refused to wear it. I forgave him much quicker than I forgave myself for my silence and the fear that my silence cut him loose to possibly hurt another.

So why now? Why six years later am I telling? Because I can. I have a blog. If you didn’t want me to say anything…you shouldn’t have done what you did. This is nothing compared to the book I’m writing…

love gina

Hey…DON’T BE SILENT.

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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

 

 

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…