sent off with a sandwich and a prayer.

Back to School.

I’m reading all the Facebook posts and seeing all your pictures on Instagram of your baby loves heading back to school in their new uniforms and tennis shoes that have just enough wiggle room…the summer sunshine mixed with pool chlorine no doubt serves as a juvenile cocktail for growth spurts.

“Child. How can the pants you wore 12 weeks ago be three inches too short?!”

Am I lying? No. You know it’s true. Kids sprout in the summer.

A photo is a must. I’m loving all the new ways to document the year…the letter boards declaring their age, grade and a quote…

Annabelle 6, 1st grade. “I like Dora the Explorer and bacon.”

We didn’t have letter boards or Instagram when my girls were little..Let me think what I would have shared for this first day  back picture…

back to school

Paige 8, 3rd grade. I like tweety bird and having my own room.

Laken 5, Kindergarten. I like to pick out my own clothes and this dress is stupid.

Ask my girls about the year I was burning up with a fever on their first day back…I stumble out of my bedroom just as they are preparing to exit the infirmary and insist on a picture. “Wait, girls! Lemme get your picture.” Hunched over in a wrinkled oversized t-shirt and my underwear I capture another “first”. I didn’t want to miss it. I won’t miss it.

That’s what we  do…we snap one photo after another…trying to stop time and freeze moments in squares.

You will blink and it’s Christmas Break.

You will blink again and need to blink real fast to hold back tears as they walk across the stage and close this chapter.

You feed and clothe and teach and nurture your birdies for 18 years then in what seems like a minute they leave home and you have boring couches where the pillows stay in the same place for weeks… The same five loads of repetitive laundry with socks that stick with their partners…Their rooms feel stark and hollow without their personalities and your refrigerator is left with mayonnaise and ketchup that will be tossed before consumed. Where is everyone?! It’s a ghost town up in here.

Empty Nest Syndrome is not something that lasts a scientifically researched set amount of time and then dissipates…no, ENS comes and goes in waves…waves of nostalgia dipped and battered in crocodile tears. Odds are it was brought on by a song, or commercial or seeing another mom loving on her baby. The onset and symptoms may vary but the cure is universal: Hearing that they still need you and watching them build their own nests with some of the love, comfort and care that you desperately tried to teach.

Mama. Daddy.

It goes by fast. It goes by more. than. fast.

Back When It Didn’t Feel So Fast…

School days were hard. Getting them all out the door happy was my personal mission impossible. If all three of them were chipper and satisfied with what they were wearing and how their hair looked, I knew to get right with Jesus…He was on His way. Get right with the Lord! I’m dropping them happy girls off and going back home to curl up in my designated “quiet time” chair with my half-attempted Beth Moore bible study so when He finds me He shall find me faithful.

Can I stop and chase a rabbit for a minute?…Those bible studies. Y’all. I tried so hard to emulate some of the precious women in my church that spoke spiritual discipline into my life. They were all about having a quiet time.  They had comfy chairs in carefully selected corners next to a small table bedecked with a lamp giving off a perfect 60 watt glow. Along with the lamp was a bible, a stack of current books from Lifeway Christian Book Store and a fill in the blank bible study. The chair was accented with a throw in complimentary colors to place in their lap while they sipped coffee, prayed and dug into The Word at 5 am. Girls. I tried. I did. Except I was tired as hell. I blamed my borderline anemia and the dry West Texas winds for my eternal fatigue but the truth was I was tired from all the pressure to be perfect. Jesus and I had an ongoing conversation…like I started praying from the time my feet hit the ground and never said Amen.  I prayed they loved their teachers, made good friends with good values, felt and held onto their worth, felt safe and WERE safe. Like, I would start out strong then find myself saying, hold on…I’ll be back…don’t leave…I’ve just got to see if I can find her other shoe and get them to school on time but I still have some things to say…and ask of You.  I never wanted to raise my kids without Him. It just seemed like I couldn’t measure up. I mixed what was meant to be grace and mercy and my greatest love story with shades of shame, self- defeating talk and a focus on inadequacy. Just as the enemy would have wanted.  I wish I could go back and release Young Mama Gina from the standards I thought I needed to meet.

Now back to the Back to School Blogging…

I cannot recall a time when all three of my girls liked the same thing in their lunches. It was mayonnaise for one, mustard for another and PB&J for the third. Which one hates turkey? Which one wants vanilla pudding?  Crisis Alert: I only have two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos left…someone is getting regular Lay’s…please forgive me.  Dear Lord Jesus…please don’t let her starve today and please help her pass her spelling test on an empty stomach if I fail to pack the provisions necessary in order for her to do so.

But this… THIS tops all of that…

‘Twas the night before a new school year and I called for the customary family meeting. We gathered in the lamplit living room and I began my rhetoric.

“This year will be different. My expectations are higher. Paige you will be in middle school, Laken at Devonian, and Hannah starts kindergarten…This will mean I’ll have 3 kids at 3 different schools. The ONLY way I can pull this off is if we ALL cooperate.”

I then began my well comprised list of To Do’s…

Eat breakfast and brush your teeth before you get dressed. I don’t want toaster strudel icing or toothpaste on your clothes. Eat naked if you have to but DO NOT eat or brush your teeth after you’ve dressed. And you better brush your teeth.

I will not sign ANY papers or check homework in the mornings. I won’t. I mean it. All of this needs to be taken care of the night before or it doesn’t get taken care of…

Speaking of homework…get your homework done before you do anything…like right when you get home. Before you watch Lizzie McGuire…before you jump on the trampoline…They nod in agreement and I carry on…I made sure we would be on our toes this year…like professional ballerinas on pointe. No more lazy up in this house.

I finish my New School Year Dissertation when Paige raises her hand.

Yes Paige?

“Can I say something.”

Of course.

“Can you stop saying crap so much?”

Hello?

The room got oddly quiet and I got uncomfortable…

Yes. Yes, Paige. I…I will stop saying crap.

There I was dropping the law and cultivating a plan for a smooth as butter school year and all my daughter wanted was for me to not say crap?

You could feel the struggle to hold in laughter. It didn’t take long for this stuffy meeting to make some great memories. I love it.

Attempts at perfection are nothing more than catalysts for profanity.

Perfection still makes me say crap.

Good Lawsy…I WISH I could tell you the worst thing I ever did as a mom was illicit a synonym for cow pies upon moments of frustration.

Nope.

My rap sheet is longer than that.

Now Listen.

With all my babies out of school…officially as of last Saturday…Go Hannah and Praise Jesus…I come at you from The Other Side as an encourager of peace and gently ask you to slow down and take it easy. It’s messy sometimes. It’s messy MOST of the times…

Beds won’t get made. Papers won’t get signed. The breakfast of your champions might some days include Teddy Grahams and a Diet Dr. Pepper. Dirty gym clothes found in a backpack on the way to school will fly under the stink radar thanks to a quick spritz of Victoria’s Secret body spray…and brace yourself for this one…retainers will be accidentally thrown in the lunchroom trash can…more than once.

It’s. Okay.

You will one day long for these moments. Moments you will treasure more once they pass, but learning to treasure them now will serve your heart well later.

And when nostalgia comes knocking and you long for the noise and the busy and the days you can’t get back…the days that sometimes made you say doggy doo but also the days that gave you meaning and purpose and crazy beautiful joy…

Something as simple as one of your babies calling to ask for something that they remember as part of the place they called home will remind you that a part of you will forever be with them…

Mom…Can I get your taco soup recipe?

You know you can…

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Stripes must have been the theme this year. Hannah 5, Kindergarten. Gymnastics, Blue’s Clues and honey mustard on everything.  Paige 12, 7th. Volleyball, Choir and Friends.  Laken 9, 4th. Dancing, Even Stevens and American Girl Dolls.

 

 

Podcast Episode 1. Macroholics with Trey & Burgandy Rinker

I did it. I’ve been talking about podcasting for many months now and finally went for it! Nothing fancy and with zero training, but I gotta say…Not Too Shabby For A Start! From the comfort of my closet with a mic clipped to my t-shirt I made a phone call to Trey and Burgandy Rinker to find out more about the program that has changed their world!  If you feel stuck in a rut and you’re looking for some tools to lose some unwanted pounds, tone up, gain muscle, make some lifelong friends and be SUPER encouraged while doing so…listen here

family

Are they not the cutest!? Lubbock is seriously full of amazing young families and I know Trey and Burgandy will blend in, as well as stand out!

LIKE WOW.

family 2

burgandyHope you enjoyed this! Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to doll this thing up, load it onto iTunes and be a total girl boss about it…but for now…I’m just me…taking leaps and building my wings on the way down.

Show Notes:

macroholicsnutrition.com

Myfitnesspal.com

To those of you who constantly encourage me in all my happy pursuits, I want to say THANK YOU. I love having you on my team. Us “Creatives” are funny people. We wake up with a new idea almost everyday! We try really hard to fit in the boxes that look safe and consistent but we just never seem to fit. We take risks that sometimes leave us looking a tad silly…then we move on to the next one with childlike enthusiasm. It’s a gamble. But I’ll never stop rolling the dice.

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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.

 

 

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

high calling.

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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

 

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

 

 

 

life is a treat.

Ask 9 year old, 4th grade Gina her favorite holiday and you would get this answer:

Halloween.

Yep. I loved October 31st…better than Christmas.

Halloween meant costumes… and costumes meant witches… and witches had long nails… and I was a witch so I could press those suckers on and  pretend!

Halloween was a haunted house youth fundraiser held at our church. Yes. Our church. And my dad, the preacher, was in charge. He was a scream king and coached me on how to perfect the pop up out of the casket… on cue.

Halloween was a carnival at the high school with a fortune teller, bean bag toss, cake walk, prizes and most importantly…a “wedding chapel”. Yes. Underneath that tent members of Student Council would marry us to our boyfriends and give us gold plastic fantastic rings to make it official.

Halloween was popcorn balls and caramel apples and a candy haul that kept our small town dentist in a really nice house.

Favorite memory of all has to be when I went out well before trick or treating time (I’ve always had issues with patience) and rang the doorbell of an elderly couple down the street. He said his wife had run to the store to pick up some candy and wasn’t back yet…however I didn’t leave empty handed.

“How about a watermelon?”

Sure!

It was too heavy to carry but I had a plan. I ran home and got my doll carriage….wheeled it down the street and plopped that watermelon in there like a fat baby and headed back to the house.

Next thing I knew, it fell through the bottom and splattered all over the sidewalk. Oh well…we tried. I don’t remember being sad, I was on a candy getting mission and a busted buggy wasn’t going to stop me.

I remember getting candy cigarettes and feeling so dirty and wrong that I loved them the best. What adult hands out candy cigarettes to small children? That’s funny. But I puffed those things with my Lee Press On Nails and felt like the kind of chick that Fonzi would dig…no doubt.

Once I had kids, Halloween had been “found out”.  The origination of the celebration was uncovered and we discovered there was more to this than a costume, some candy and a carnival. Churches offered alternatives…and still do. Trunk or Treat…Harvest Festivals…a place for us to still do everything everyone else is doing but without the guilt. We were Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz instead of witches. We were angels instead of devils. We were Samson instead of Frankenstein. Candy purchased from the same stores, just handed out in a different fashion.

So today is over and if you didn’t participate the good news is all the candy will be marked half off tomorrow and even more so by the end of the week…time to clear the shelves and get ready for Christmas! Oh boy…here we go again.  Now to decide whether or not we want to participate in Santa and a tree or if we want to “keep it holy”.

Let me let you in on a little something. The way we treat the cashier in training at Target who is taking a little longer than we would appreciate is much more effective in our “christian walk” and speaks louder than our opposition or acceptance of a few man made holidays. Just be nice. Be kind. Love others and pray for our country.

I release you to raise your kids the way you want to raise them. If you turned your garage into a haunted house I hope you gave it your best. If you closed your blinds, turned off your porch light and ignored the ones brave enough to ring your doorbell anyways, I hope you watch the sun rise tomorrow and breathe a sigh of relief that another Halloween has come and gone.

You do you.

You wanna know what’s scarier than Halloween?

This election.

Boo.

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Ella Bug
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If this makes her happy we will grow pumpkins and dress up like bugs forever.

 

 

 

 

real talk.

SAHM

 

Did you have time to put makeup on today?

ahhhhh…

You got a pedicure and some trendy seasonal shellac on your nails? 

How precious.

You had lunch with a friend? 

Well…that’s special.

 

I know…you saw my wedding video and the birthday post for Ella and you’re thinking I’ve got it all together and life is sweet and calm and I’m laughing and loving and raising someone else’s child with a Christian servant’s heart and Snow White’s cheery disposition….singing and sweeping up crumbs while she quietly coos nearby on a blanket with her first book of words.

Stop.

It’s me.

I’m a mess.

I now live in sweats and it’s not because I’m going to the gym.

I feel lazy and overweight and tired.

Ugh.

I’m disgusting.

What happened to me?

I’m at my worst.

I’m having a day…

Is that okay…

Can I be real and have a day and you’ll come back to me and read about how I overcame this season?!

Look…

I stayed home with my girls when they were little and I remember feeling like a cocktail of sacrificial nobility mixed with frazzled exhaustion while the rest of the world carried on with life. I was “into” my kids! I was! I lived for birthday parties and coming up with creative themes! I coached soccer without knowing a dern thing about it other than David Beckham was pretty. I was room mom for more than my fair share of school Christmas parties. It was not about me, it was about them! My girls! AND BY CHOICE. My life was bite sized food, laundry that wouldn’t quit, a goofy purple dinosaur and a million other things that will exceed the recommended 500 word blog post.

I did it.

I just never thought I’d have to do it again.

Jana called me back in 2011 and said she was praying for me and kept hearing the words, “Full Circle”…I wrote the words in my bible and circled them with a yellow highlighter.

Full circle…? Okay.

We got Ella one month before Jana passed away.

I was adopted.

I know my birth mom.

She is related to me.

My parents brought me in as an innocent child who needed a home and they were more than willing to sacrifice whatever it took to provide me one.

My life was better because of their sacrifice.

I don’t think I need to say anything else…

I just need to go to bed.

love gina

 

 

 

 

e l l a…

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Dear Ella,

We celebrated your first birthday this past Saturday along with Uncle KJ, Claire, Ty, Lucy Claire, her pal Laurel, Sadie the Cupcake Queen and Kerald.

We went to my favorite restaurant and had pink drinks and appetizers and of course, I had my Wasabi Chicken Salad. As soon as your pretty teeth learn the art of chewing we will have girl dates to Bistro Byronz and I will treat you to this salad. Yum. But we know birthdays are for cupcakes and you know a good cupcake when you see one…before my camera was ready you dug in! We don’t blame you. Sadie knows cupcakes.

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0987You had no idea you were an official whole number but you had a fantastic grasp on the bash in your honor…and you were twenty different kinds of excited. I get the feeling life will be cause to celebrate when you are around. Your enthusiasm for life is captivating and contagious and I pray it never stops!

You love an audience…attention…you amaze us with your love of people…and trust me when I say they love you right back.

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Lucy Claire and Laurel brought handmade cards. Adorable.

You got some really cute and educational toys but all you want is the tissue paper and boxes! You will make Christmas shopping super easy if this remains your joy.

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So…this is you at 1. You’re taking a few steps now and talking ALL DAY LONG. You have a language all your own and love to sing. You love patty cake and sign language and we recently discovered Elmo’s World. This is a nice break from Baby Einstein. We are convinced you’re brilliant and we tell you about it daily. Every night before bed we hammock and say Psalm 23 together.  Poppy is super close to having it memorized. We pray over you and remind you that you are created for a purpose and God has big plans for your beautiful life.

We can’t wait to watch you grow…but let’s take it slow….

We know it’s best to let you be little.

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We love you Ella.

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