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Show Me Your Moves

20+ years with this guy! (Photo: Jessica Quadra, Barcelona, Spain)

20+ years with this guy! (Photo: Jessica Quadra, Barcelona, Spain)

As we were driving home from Denver this evening, after a fun day where Jason and Em went climbing at REI and Ryan and I watched monster trucks in all their volume do their thing at the Pepsi Center, we were flipping through the channels looking for some good tunes to pass the time.

Em told me to stop it at a certain song. It had a pretty good dance beat. And it’s like it’s automatic, or something…but the ribcage just started going.

I turned to Jason, my ribs all over the place, and said, “Show me your moves, Graves.”

Jason has one move, and well, it looks like this: Stand up straight, bend your arms to a 90 degree angle, elbows at the waist, hands held in loose fists. K. Now, barely move your hips from side to side.

That’s it. That’s what he’s got. Though, if you must know, he did once have a mean moonwalk, but that was before I ever knew him, you know, way back when he and his best friends wore parachute pants.

I said, “Dude, we would have never hooked up if we had met at a club…”

He smiled and said, “I would have learned to dance to get you.”

And that’s the end of the story, folks.

Jason Graves is my lobster.

More "Lessons from Spain"

I tell you what…if finding out I was pregnant after a trip to Spain was a way to learn things such as, the sky is the limit, throw caution to the wind, live life to the fullest, OR, say, the opposite, like, be careful, look both ways when crossing the street, always bring an umbrella, well, then the last week has been good for me, in a hellish sort of way.
The age I would be at time of delivery. (Graffiti in Barcelona)

And by “good for me” I mean, “Holy Ship My Pants, Batman!”  Please know, I don’t mean this disrespectfully.  I know, KNOW, know many women who have longed to be mama’s in their life time’s…some never experiencing it, others having only gotten to treasure it for a short time, some never getting to hear their sweet babies cry, or meeting their child face to face.  I, too, have had 2 miscarriages and lost a yummy sweet boy sooner than I ever imagined possible.  I am not discounting these longings, whatsoever.
Translation:  Do not let your dog ship its pants here in this public space.
But I won’t lie when I tell you that for the last few days I have had irregular breathing patterns thinking about the “what if’s” if I were, indeed, pregnant.  And I won’t lie.  Those days were dark in my head and heart. 

Last night as I fell into bed I told my husband I didn’t even need to lower myself down, I simply collapsed under my own body weight.  Still not having shed all my “Viva Espana” weight, then getting PMS like nobody’s business (I NEVER have it, NEVER, no cramps, no tenderness, nada), I was sure we were in for a surprise, and not like, “Ooooh, awesome!”, but more like, “Holy Ship My Pants-ness, Ryan’s going to be a big brother?! #$%^&*.”

I named off two friends I’d consider giving our baby to, since they are looking to adopt.  My heart was heaving and not thrilled at the thought…at all. 

What can I say?  Yes, I celebrate and love children, but these are the real thoughts that went through my head and heart.  I’m sure you’ve never thought this.  Clearly, I suck more than you.

Before I drifted off, however, I told Jason, “If it’s a girl, I’m naming her Georgie.”
This morning I looked at my calendar, counted days, tried to remember what I was thinking or if I had been thinking and, HOLY SHIP MY PANTS, were we even thinking?  I rolled out of bed, pulled up my bootstraps, and actually smiled at the new found peace that had settled into my heart over night. 
“Georgie…totally.  We’ll name her Georgie, and maybe her middle name will be Madrid or Barcelona.” 

I headed into what is usually one of my favorite days of the week:  LAAAAAAA!  Thursday.  My day.  A day where Ryan hangs with our fabulous babysitter and I head to the library, word-nerd heaven, where I sit amongst books and thoughts and dreams to read and write and enjoy the quiet.
First stop, the coffee shop for something with almond milk, “to-go”.  Second stop before setting up my portable office at the library:  the ladies room.
(The following is a text conversation)
A:  “You’re lucky…”
J:  “That made me laugh.”
A:  “I’m glad my bleeding uterus is funny to you. I almost shipped my pants with worry!”
A:  “But, the name Georgie for a little girl IS fabulous!”
A:  “Maybe it’ll be my pen name…hmmm, yes!”
J:  “Your pen name should be Georgie or Bleeding Uterus?”
A:  “Probably Bleeding Uterus.  It’s raw, catchy, authentic…”
I’m not sure I’ll use “Georgie” or “Bleeding Uterus” or something else entirely as a pen name, but I do know this:  I will always write vulnerably and with authenticity, because this particular lesson from Spain is:  life doesn’t always turn out as we plan, but I already know from experience, it can be more beautiful than we ever imagined.

*And, a couple bonus “Lessons from Spain:” menses symptoms are greatly affected by how clean one eats.  It was a reminder, and a heck of a way to re-learn this, but my body tells me things and I need to listen.  Moderation.  And, make that appointment…

Foods that contribute to monthly bloating, mood swings, and cramps: amazing churros from Barcelona

A picture my husband said I’d never post since it’s not flattering…I don’t know what’s not flattering about eating an entire crab by yourself, soaked in butter, but arrrrrr, I love crab!  Living it up, eating without regrets/symptoms in Espana.

Laguardia, Espana, aka, Wine Country, being kissed by my prince on top of a castle…*alcohol, another contributor to monthly swings.

More on the food tour: constipation and bloating,  I mean ice cream and molten chocolate cake with some sort of awesomeness on the side… 

Reminder, Adrienne:  you feel healthy when you eat healthily
So, no.  There is no Georgie Madrid Graves on the way.  The only baby we brought home from Spain is this Spanish Mater.  #vivaespana

History in Pictures

Happy 20th Anniversary, Sweetheart!  20 years.  I wrote a “Husband List” before we even met and started dating.  It was 6 pages long.  No pressure, right?!  I think it was the “thing” to do in Christendom way back when, now hidden in a journal somewhere in the basement.   On it were things about integrity, wisdom, a sense of humor, someone who was a good financial steward.  Truth be told, I don’t recall all the things I thought a husband should be, or at least things I wanted in one, but I remember the first item and it read like this:

  1. My husband has to love God more than he loves me.  If this isn’t in order, nothing else will be.

In my immaturity as a 21 year old girl marrying the love of her life, somewhere in my heart I’m sure I thought you would be all those things when we walked down the aisle.

Time and maturity and many moments on our knees before God have shown me how very short the list could have been in the first place.  The rest has been icing on the cake.  After I self-righteously scribed “The Husband” list years ago, the person leading us in the exercise said, “Okay, now, before you can expect those tings from another person, you have to be willing to let God instruct YOU in them, as well.”

It’s safe to say, this has been a journey of learning, the best and hardest lessons of my life, but I can’t imagine not learning to love and live without you by my side. 

For a man of few words, you sure married a wordy girl.  I could just write, “I love you,” but there’s just so much more to it with 20+ years of inside jokes, memories shared, world travels, losing loved ones, having kids, remodeling 2 houses, job losses and gains.  All I know is, you could write a post entitled, “What Every Husband, and Guy Whoever Wants to be One, Needs to Know to Have a Happy and Healthy Marriage.”  Sweetheart, you are an expert in this field, and I think it boils down to you doing these three things very, very, very well:

You love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind…and you love your neighbor as you love yourself.

And by neighbor, that would be me. *wink, wink

Marriages are crumbling and dying all around us.  This isn’t to say we haven’t walked through gray areas, dry zones, and faced what seemed insurmountable obstacles.  We have.

But I love God more than I love you, too, and so it’s worked.  We work.

I told you “I love you” first.
A note your mom gave to me before our wedding.  This is a letter every mom should write to their future child-in-law.
June 26th, 1993
Our first self-portrait as Mr. and Mrs. Jason Graves, ready to set out on the first of many adventures.
10 nights in paradise
Your leg was shaking as you braced yourself over the waterfalls.  Thanks for splurging on our student income…Maui was a fantastic memory!
Remember the storm that morning?  So much has changed since the time this picture was taken.  I was so blessed to know your dad, Sweetheart!  And my heart is full to call your mom a dear friend and to walk and do life with my parents in the day to day.  We are so rich!
Your first Weber at Foxfire, Tulsa, OK
I love that besides Mexico, every country I’ve ever traveled to, it’s been with you!  Here’s a sweet little Siberian fan of yours.
I believe this anniversary consisted of strange tasting pizza in St. Petersburg, followed up with 60 teenagers asking us how our date went…
I know we moved to MN for your PhD, but I just want to thank you for putting up with me and my love of student ministry and mentoring girls.  Those 5 years I worked at NWC were a highlight of my 20’s, even as rough as some of them were.  I can’t believe I got paid to hang out with hundreds of young women year after year!  Thank YOU for being secure in who you are and never being jealous of the time I spent with the girls!   I loved that job and every girl I met there.  My life is richer for knowing each one, and though you were quiet and working on your thesis most of that time, I felt your constant support, so thank you! You seriously are the best!
Here you are on a bro-mance getaway to Alaska…because that is something we both shared openly up front:  friendship and time with our guys or girlfriends is important.  I appreciate so much your healthy, balanced approach to knowing you can’t fill my every need, nor can I fill yours.  I’m so grateful you have had man getaways and I just want to say, “Thank you!” for the times you’ve encouraged me to be with my Bevies!

More bro-mance happening over turkey carcasses…
On top of the world…or at least the Andes.  I always wanted to travel the world…I didn’t figure we’d always have teenagers with us, but hey, leading trips meant they were paid for, hey hey!!!
Thanks for allowing me this one semi-crush.  Bono is too short for me, and married and all, but I never wanted to marry him…you have always been the only man I ever wanted to marry.  Thanks for all the concerts over the years.
Our first house in White Bear Lake.  We sure did make that thing cute!  I remember being in the basement, barely pregnant with Emily, watching airplanes fly into the Twin Towers.  Better memories, however, were living only a few blocks away from Ryan and Shannon, walking over to that burger place or Einstein’s, and playing pranks on our friends.
Ahh, Gramma Pat’s house.  Thank you for your patience with me as the daughter of a builder who saw no reasons why we couldn’t just knock down that wall and that wall and that wall, all while pregnant with our firstborn!  Were we crazy?  All I know, I was large and in charge!  You did a beautiful job on that place, Sweetheart!  Thanks for making 803 Poplar our home!
I always knew you’d be a great dad!  You were pretty in awe of Emily making her sweet entrance into the world!  Thanks for holding my hand, helping me breathe, and pushing my hair out of my face.  It still blows my mind that God would say, the very moment she was born, “I love her more!” 
Our Peanut, Firstborn, Daddy’s Girl. circa 2004

And since you or I had never been a parent before, all I can say is, I’m glad we’ve gotten to “wing it” together!  We haven’t done it all right, but I think she’s turning out alright…and that because you place God first.
I think this was our first official nugget of time away from Em.  Thanks for playing in the Big Apple with me!  We’ve been in some pretty fun places together!  Can’t wait for some more!
Pretty sure this is our 12th anniversary when we first discovered Vesta Dipping Grill.
Perks of you working for a company out of England…Thanks for letting us tag along for a couple of weeks.  Thanks for being sweet and enduring my love of Lady Di and having lunch at that one place plastered with her pictures, too.
Oh man, this was a fun trip!  Remember the little Japanese ladies who came to our hotel room and walked on our backs?  How was that naked business meeting of yours?  Awkward?  #japanesebathhouse #nikkojapan #tallestpeopleinjapanthatweek

Our firstborn son.  Oh man, I was so happy to give you a boy, and selfishly to soak him up myself.  Thanks for being a champ and going along with inviting all my Bevies into the delivery room!  Thanks, too, for choosing Noah’s name.  It was beautiful…he was beautiful!
Mt. Evans hike with your man cub, June or July 2006.
August 2nd, 2006.  God was my Solid Rock, you were my hand to hold and shoulder to lean on.  Your faithfulness was unmatched.

We celebrated his 1st birthday surrounded by friends and rainbows in the sky.  He was the only one not in attendance.

Years later, on this anniversary, I think we had found our smile again…
On this one, I know we did, because the following picture is a result…wakka, wakka

Brave, protective big sister…scared mama, trying to treasure the life of the one growing in me.  Thanks for taking a risk with me, Sweetheart!  Trying this whole “having a kid again” thing was a rollercoaster, but one I’m glad I got on.  Thanks for holding my hair back as I puked my way through the fear.  You’re kind of awesome!

I know you were tired, physically and emotionally.  By this picture, you and I had already celebrated 17 anniversaries!  Honored to welcome into our lives this son named after your friend. 

#deepcontentmentandthankfulness #utterexhaustion #ilovemyguys

20 years, Sweetheart.  20 years.  You are the most generous man I’ve ever known.  You are wise, in fact, those scriptures in Proverbs about wise guys with few words, well, I know God wrote some of those specifically about you. 

This is from our 19th wedding anniversary last year having Spanish tapas in downtown Denver.  This year we’ll be having tapas in Spain.  I can’t wait for more adventures, though I do not take for granted all we’ve already shared.
Jason Aaron Graves, you are my very best friend and I’d say “I do” all over again if you asked me.  But this time I would skip the poofy dress…

I sure love you, Sweetheart!

Travel with Intention

My Mom and Dad made it possible for me to join Jason for a few days down in Santa Fe, NM, while he worked earlier this week, by watching our precious offspring.  Jason and I are good about getting out for date nights thanks to generous family members and a fantastic babysitter, but overnights are few and far between, though we are intentional about making them happen rather than not.  Gotta do whatcha gotta do to keep a marriage going, right?

A sweet little token, a peace dove on our bed.  #rememberingnoah

Cricket apartments, aka, dried chilis

Stucco, courtyard, old Santa Fe

Sunrise in the East

Peering into an artist’s courtyard

These two colors should always go together

The free-standing spiral staircase of Loretto Chapel

A 3oz Citrus elixir and a Bailey’s gluten-free brownie

The Blue Horse which should be in front of DIA rather than our demon one…

Anyway, I love traveling.  And by “love” I mean, it is my all time favorite thing to do in the whole wide world.  Whether it’s for leisure, work, ministry, or whatever the reason, besides the packing, traveling is in my blood.  It comes naturally, almost as if God designed me with an internal GPS for world navigation.  Jason’s mom keeps offering to watch Em and Ry if Jason and I would just sign up for The Amazing Race, but I would miss my kids too much, so we’ll let others play that game.  The money’s just not worth the sacrifice.  I love people watching, different cultures, the architecture, food, most smells, and the sounds.  Even the deepest of third world countries, where others may squirm and constantly use hand sanitizer, I’m there, in the dirt, playing with the kids.

I simply was made to travel.  And the itch right now is so intense, if it was a rash a doctor would prescribe steroid cream.

Santa Fe has many reputations, but I’d like to believe I’m discerning and was able to walk away not only unscathed by the voodoo and spiritualists, but rather, inspired by God’s creativity and filled with awe, more in love with Him than the day I arrived.  I do not attribute the blessing from God I received merely to the location, therefore pronouncing it a ‘holy place’ as others may.

No.  I think I was blessed because I went with intention.  This is my word for the year and it’s one I’ve tried to weave into each day and setting, seeking God’s will, being intentional towards Him and myself in the day to day.  In getting away to Santa Fe, I will share with you my intentions:

  • Silence and solitude with God 
  • Learning more about Jason and his work
  • Meeting some of his colleagues and learning their stories
  • Appreciating the architecture and history of the beautiful town
  • Soaking in the expression of God’s creativity as shown through the many artists on street corners and in galleries
  • Savoring the yummy cuisine
  • Leaving with inspiration to get my own creative groove on

If the above bullet points were a check-list, there would be a slash through each one.  I wandered around the town, with and without my map app, in and out of galleries, churches, tea and chocolate houses, shops, through parks and neighborhoods, breathing America’s cleanest air.  I got to sit in on Jason’s presentation, gain insight into the work of Compassion, as well as meet people from around the globe as passionate about helping women and children in third world countries as my husband…and I prayed.  We enjoyed meals with several of these and learning their stories of faith and intimacy with Christ in their native countries was both rich and eye-opening for me.

I walked mile after mile around town taking in the awesome architecture that I grew up on in Arizona.  Why every house in the world doesn’t have a courtyard and isn’t made of stucco, it’s a darned shame.

And the art.  Oh, the art!  Imagine:  we are all made in His image, so when 6 billion people are given thousands of different creative ways to express His creativity, wowza!

La comida:  Green chili.  Mexican chocolate.  Tequila.  Local wine.  Blue corn.  Guacamole.  Tamales.  Deliciousness.  I ate with intention, without guilt or obsession…this is good for me.  And, I now firmly believe God also gave me an internal Chocolate GPS.

As we drove over and through the rolling hills, gazing at sky scraping snow-capped ranges in the distance, leaving the creativity of Santa Fe in the rear view mirror, I brought with me inspiration for writing, sewing, relationships, jewelry making, Bevy Girls, travel, family, ministry, faith, health, community, and personal growth.

Sometimes you have to leave your day to day setting to find the inspiration.  Sometimes you don’t.  Either way, life should be lived with intention.

"Food Fight!!!!!"

A couple weeks ago Jason was rude.  And I mean, weird rude.  

To me it seemed totally irrational and out of nowhere, and in 20+ years of knowing him, I should know…because Jason’s not rude.  It’s not his nature or in his character to be rude.  He’s the most thoughtful man I know.

I mean, I had bought extra hot dogs and sausages.  For most guys, I’d be wearing a “Bonus Wife” crown and sash, maybe even holding a bouquet of flowers.  Any woman who bears extra hot dogs and sausages is automatically enrolled in the “Wife of the Year” club.  Clearly everyone knows this…except, apparently Jason?

I pulled into the garage from running to the grocery store.  Our dear friends were coming over to celebrate birthdays and Jason had decided we’d have burgers and brats…they’d bring a big salad.  I’d make yummy cupcakes.

By JC Harrington on July 4, 2012 at Full 500 × 333 pixels

Since starting Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” I am almost exclusively our grocery getter.  I’m the one with the cash for food purchases, where Jason’s cash is allocated for lunches during the work week.  Emily had gone with me to the store, and as we assessed who would be having dinner, I asked Em if she wanted burgers or brats for dinner.  She said, “Can the kids have hot dogs, instead?  I said, “Sure, no problem.”  She shouted an emphatic “NICE,” gave me the “gag me with a spoon” face she always gives me when the word “brats” is mentioned, and then said, “ As long as the hot dogs were all natural without additives, nitrates, or nitrites.”  You know, no lips and asses.  We laughed and gave each other that, “I don’t even WANT to know what is in those other hot dogs!” look.  

Anyway, back to the story…

So, it was a Sunday afternoon.  Ryan was down for his nap while Em and I were at the store and Jason was hanging out, watching a little football.  He came out to the garage to help carry in bags once he heard the door open.  As he grabbed for several bags in the trunk he quietly said, “Why did you buy hot dogs?  Why do you alwayssecond guess me?”

I was all, “Whoa…are you okay?  Why are you being passive aggressive?”

Jason, “I’m not being passive aggressive!  I decided we were having burgers and brats and you second guessed my plan and bought hot dogs.”

I said, thinking to myself what on earth is going on with Jason, “Emily asked if she could have hot dogs.  We only had a pound of ground beef and 3 brats, so with 4 adults and three kids, 3 of which don’t eat brats, I decided to get some hot dogs, and a little extra ground beef, too, just in case.  But what’s really going on, why on earth are you so upset about hot dogs?”

Jason, “I’m not upset.  I just don’t like how you always second guess me.”

Me, “Sweetheart, I am really, really sorry.  I’m really sad that you feel I second guess you!  I totally trust you.  As the one who usually does the hosting, I just wanted to make sure we had enough food.  Have you felt like this a long time?  I’m really sorry.  I had no idea you felt so strongly about this or that you’ve been feeling this way for so long…you did use the word, “always.”  If this is how you’ve felt all along why haven’t you told me?”

Jason, “No.  Nothing’s bothering me…it’s fine…it’s not what I meant, it came out wrong.”

I froze, really sad in my heart, like grieved-ish, that I did something to cause my non-reactive husband to be so distraught over bratwurst.  I started to throw up my walls.  Jason was dressed in his mountain biking gear, so I told him to leave and think about what was going on and we could talk about it when he got home, but we both needed space…over an 8-pack of nitrate-free hotdogs…and a little extra ground beef.

After about an hour and a half Jason came home from his bike ride.

He said, “I’m sorry I overreacted about the brats.  When you got home you opened the garage door and Lady started barking, Ryan wasn’t going down for his nap, and the Redskins had just lost.”


Me, “Are you kidding me?!  This was all because the Redskins suck?  Sweetheart, the Redskins haven’t been good ever since you liked them in the ‘80’s.  I’m just glad it wasn’t something more serious!  You are lucky I love you and realize you had a moment of sheer stupidity to treat me like that because of the lack of athletic performance from a football team.”

“Stupid” Stuff Skins Fans Say or Do

Oh yeah…AND, guess what EVERYONE but Emily wanted for dinner? 


It’s a good thing the grass-fed ground beef was on sale, thankyouverymuch, Dave Ramsey!

More On: Girlfriends!

NOT “Moron Girlfriends!”  Just to clarify

There are many titles I could have gone with concerning this post:

“Modern Day Miracle!”
“Man Uncovers Ancient Secret!”
“Husband Found His Wife’s Sweet Spot…”
“Mars Finally Moves to Venus to Form a Planetary Merger”
“Jesus Can Come On Back Now…All the Problems in the World are Solved.”
Or, my favorite:
“My Husband is a Better Girlfriend than Me.”

I know what you were thinking when you read the one about the “sweet spot”, but that’s not what I’m talking about here today.  Maybe another day?  Nah.  This isn’t that kind of blog…

Anyway, here’s a snippet of the conversation which took place in the corner of our kitchen the day before I left for my girlfriends’ retreat earlier this month in Austin.  I must preface this to say, anyone who knows my husband knows he barely meets the minimum word requirements that a man may speak in one day…if I’m lucky, the guy spreads his 7,000 words a day out over the course of a week…so when he talks, I listen…

Part II:  Girls Gone Wild in Texas
Jason:  Why are you so stressed out?
Me:  When you ask me that it makes me feel like I’m not allowed to have stress…like, what could be so stressful about my life???
Jason:  No, that’s not it, I just want to know because you are visibly stressed…
Me:  First off, you know how I get when I’m packing and preparing for a trip, but also, I just feel so jumbled right now…I don’t feel like I’ve gotten into the swing of things, like I haven’t had a routine since last school year.  I do well with routine.  Everything is spinning…I feel like I am emotionally ON one-hundred percent of the time…I love, love, love being a wife and mom, I just don’t ever have other adult interaction.  A 2-year old talks at me all day.  Sometimes that gets emotionally draining…
Jason:  Maybe you should get a baby-sitter one day every week and spend some time with your friends.
Me:  That’s awesome in theory, but everyone is busy, plus we’re taking Financial Peace University!  What would Dave Ramsey say about this?  We need to budget in a babysitter…and if we do that, I’d want to use that time to go on a date with you…
Jason:  Adrienne, I cannot give you what time with your girlfriends provides.  Emily and Ryan cannot give you what they can give you.  I am willing to sacrifice one night a week with you where you spend time with friends so that you aren’t stressed…you need time for yourself.
And so there you go.  
My husband is a better girlfriend than I am.  
Let me just go ahead and have you read that again:
“Adrienne, I cannot give you what time with your girlfriends provides.  Emily and Ryan cannot give you what they can give you.  I am willing to sacrifice one night a week with you where you spend time with friends so that you aren’t stressed…you need time for yourself.” – Jason Graves, brilliant genius husband, stellar dad, overall great guy…

Sitting in a Cambridge coffee shop, looking all business-like, holding secret knowledge about women tightly locked up in his brain…WHAT ELSE DO YOU KNOW, JASON?!

He’s, like, IN TUNE or something.  
Who knew?  I MEAN, I knew he was awesome, but for him to see that my heart truly needs, longs for, and thrives on time spent with my girlfriends, well, that’s like “Husband of the Year” material, you know what I’m sayin’!  Maybe even Nobel Prize stuff…
So, ladies, I’m not sure what to tell you at this point…maybe print this off and put it on the fridge, or above his bathroom sink, or in the garage on his workbench.  Print off a copy for his briefcase.  I don’t suggest taping it to his new flat screen, but perhaps erecting an easel just off to the side or somewhere in his man-cave?  Maybe insert your name into the statement, record it, and then play it softly while your husband sleeps?  
Of course, praying that your husband would have his eyes opened and his heart in tune with God’s design for women and friendship is likely the most life-changing route, but do what you gotta do 🙂  
The point is this:  My husband isn’t insecure with the truth.  The truth is that I’m madly in love with him and he is my very best friend and I’d choose him any day over my girlfriends, but that doesn’t mean I don’t NEED or LIKE or LOVE being WITH my girlfriends on a regular basis because it’s good for my heart.
*What will it take for you to understand what, quite possibly, your husband already knows about you?  And, whether you are married or not, what will it take for you to realize that solitude is good for a season, but God made girlfriends for a reason?

Get on the phone and set up a date with some of your friends…ready:  GO!

Girlfriends are MANDATORY!

I just got back from Austin, Texas, where I took part in a girls weekend.  Two friends from college, one from the East Coast, another from the West, dreamed it up and decided to invite their friends from around the country to meet in the middle.  Those friends invited friends, and so on, and so forth…
When I originally received the “Save the Date” I thought, “Man, this sounds like so much fun, but: I only know two of the women, I can’t technically afford to go, and what do I do with the kids?”  
I will say this; only knowing two of the women wasn’t enough of a roadblock.  I love women and love meeting new women and hearing their stories…it’s what makes my heart beat, it’s the whole emphasis of my non-profit, Bevy…but, I am a tight wad when it comes to money.  
Okay, so I’m not a tight wad.  I love to share and I think it’s fun to treat others to meals and such, but I don’t like to be a financial burden to my family.  As a wife and mom who stays at home, it’s important to me to financially steward our cash flow (Doing FPU right now…more on that later…).  So yeah, not to sound like a martyr or burden, but I’m not a huge fan of spending moo-lah on myself when I think of all the other ways it could be spent.  Whah, whah.
Anyway…I have to say, the “what do I do with the kids?” question left my mind about as quickly as it entered.  I’m not bragging in the sense of, “In YO FACE!” but my husband really does indeed ROCK.  I knew if I talked to him about this retreat and told him I really wanted to go and felt like I was supposed to be there, he would work with me to make it happen, which would include him making some sacrifices and working from home for at least part of my weekend away.  He knows how much I love to be with girlfriends.
The necessary self-portrait

Where cowboy boots are king…and girls night out mandatory!

With Kim and Jessica, the two friends with “Insane Courage!”

After our time with Kristin

Meeting another bereaved momma-friend
I can’t really explain why I felt like I was supposed to go to this girls’ weekend away, but I knew I wasn’t invited on accident and that whomever God would introduce me to over the course of the time away would fill my heart and inspire me to keep pressing on with the dreams God has put upon my heart for years now.
I can’t even begin to put into words all the things the Lord did in my heart over the course of one hot, but beautiful weekend in Austin.  I’m still processing much of it.  One thing that blessed my heart was the fact that I got to just show up.  I feel like a bit of a slacker writing that previous sentence, but I’ve been a leader among my peers and in women’s groups for as long as I can remember.  I’ve only been to one other retreat that I didn’t plan…and that was 8 years ago.  Ironically, I received the “Save the Date” from my friends, Kim and Jessica, the week after I cancelled a Midwest Bevy Retreat.  It seems I was due for a retreat, but not one I would have to plan or organize. 

I showed up with expectations.  Not expectations of people or that I’d be entertained all weekend, but anticipation of God’s hand in our time together, and for what each of us would take away.  I prayed a lot during the months leading up to September 6-9.  Prayers for my friends who were coordinating the weekend, prayers for Kristin Armstrong who shared with us on Saturday, prayers for all the women whom I had never met but whose stories I would get to hear throughout the weekend, prayers for my girlfriend living in Austin who would join me in the adventure, and prayers for my own heart to take it all in, hear God’s direction and purpose for my life, and to JUST BE!
The weekend exceeded my expectations!  It was a little tough to transition back into my “day to day extraordinary life”, but not without hope or a course of action to move forward with dreams He has placed on my heart.
I’m just thankful to Kim and Jessica who took Matt Damon’s advice and went for it!
I’m so grateful God knew what my heart needed even more than I did…He’s BIG that way!

*What will it take for you and your girlfriends to realize time together isn’t a luxury but rather mandatory for your heart?!
The night before I left for my trip, Jason and I had a heart to heart in the corner of the kitchen.  I will share more on that tomorrow…

What’s in your man-cave?

So, I was reading Proverbs 31 for the millionth time the other day. I have a lot of thoughts on this wife and mom, but for this particular post, I will share what stood out on that day. First, here are the scriptures:

” 10A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 11Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12

Verse 11 is where I started jotting things down. The word “lacks” first jumped out at me. Followed by “value.” I have a good friend that is a professional organizer. She has worked some modern day miracles in peoples lives, helping them purge and reorganize. She’s even worked with big time hoarders. If I were to guess here, she helps clients determine what is of value to them, and then, with those things the client deems valuable, she helps put them in places where they are easily accessible. The things they are able to get rid of, those things that are simply taking up space, or lack value, they either donate or throw away.

It’s all about creating margin. Space. Not only in their physical homes but in their hearts and minds. Less is more.

Now, in all fairness, if you dropped by my casa right now you’d witness my organized chaos and want to call my friend the organizer to tattle on me. Don’t worry, she’s knows 🙂

But that’s not what I’m talking about here…

I looked up the definition of value. It talks of worth, both “material value” and “human value.”

Which one is verse 11 addressing?

It’s not difficult to realize that in light of eternity, the obvious answer is the eternal, Godly value of life and love. But the problem is, in America the land of excess, I think there is a big blur between our material and human values. I don’t think it. It’s rather obvious.

Do our husbands feel loved and have full confidence in us because their garages are chock full of man toys and their basements pimped to resemble something of an IMAX theatre? No. I mean, hopefully not. Hopefully if those things were swept away in an instant, you two would still have a foundation. (I’m not judging you if you have a lot of toys or a home theater. That’s not the point.)

The point is, if two people without earthly possessions can fall in love and stay in love, isn’t that man’s life full? He lacks nothing because he has what is truly valuable. He has love. He has relationship. He has trust.

On earth, we can get caught up in a rat race of the realization that there will always be someone else out there with more stuff than us. Filling our lives with more stuff won’t give us more value. Heck, even if you had an expensive house and genuine diamonds, were in all the right social circles and had loads of finances in the bank…if your heart was empty, your family distant, and your marriage a shell, compared to one of Jason’s (my husband) moms in Bolivia whose home is made of mud and wardrobe made up of two articles, but she has food on her table and beautiful children laughing and running around, well, it’s not hard to see which husband has value and which one is trying to fill his life with meaning.

Having lost a child it’s not difficult for Jason or me to not attach heartstrings or value to things.

Life is short. People are God’s very creation, an expression of Himself to share His love with the world.

And as moms, our children are only with us for a short time. That time is valuable. And, their lives are priceless. I guarantee that if you give your kid a hug and kiss and tell them how very special they are to you, they will feel so much more valued than if their toy box is full and they wear the latest fashions.

I know I have a lot of margin to create in my home. I have a list of projects that include purging, cleaning, donating and organizing. But when Jason comes home from his blessing of a job, arriving in his paid for car, to our beautiful house, he doesn’t hug the wall and kiss the television and the Blue Ray. Instead, he puts his computer bag down, tries to calm the spastic dog, crosses the kitchen to give me a kiss and then embraces and loves on his sweet kids that he hasn’t seen in hours.

Back it up a little…

So, Em and Jason and I went in on Tuesday for our uber-ultra ultrasound. They check for all the important vital body parts.

Most parents look only for genitalia.

Obviously since we seem to produce children with more than just private parts, and since our lives have been radically changed over the past 4 years and since we have friends who have cried through ultrasounds showing them that certain vital parts were not growing in their sweet babies, we were looking for more than just genitalia…so was the ultrasound technician. I asked:

“Is that a kidney? Are there 2? Ureters? Do they empty to the bladder? How many chambers in the heart? A spleen? How about a liver? How about its brain? Eyes? Its jaw? Does it have a jaw? May I see its spine?”

Admittedly, it’s sad I can’t just look for a hoo-ha or weiner…(don’t worry, we use the proper terms with Em…I just don’t feel that comfortable with you! Ha!)

As she pushed on, likely, the fullest bladder in the world that morning, she showed me almost every other body part, confirming its presence and performance, before she headed down to check out the femurs. The femurs were…femurish…you know, long and femur looking. So that was good.

But, wait…what was that?

Me: Oh! Huh!?
Tech: Yeah, did you catch that?
Me: Pretty sure I did…back it up a little…
Tech: There you go.
Me: Are you sure that’s not just engorged?
Tech: I’m sure. That is what you think it is.
Me: Oh my gosh, Em, you’re having a brother! It’s a baby boy!
Me: (Sob. Bawl. Sob. Wipe snot. Bawl. Smile. Sob with heaves and lip biting. Smile. Awe. Wonder. Bawl. Wipe more snot.)
Jason: (Quietly choking back tears in the dark room…Em just thinking he had sinus issues…)

Jason and I had planned on naming Noah “Mary” or “Claire” if he had been a girl. We both, likely out of protection of our hearts and emotions, had decided this was a girl. I had even oooohed and ahhhhed over cute girl clothes at BabyGap and found a super duper cute poster of Paris to put in her room.

Deep down, of course I wanted a boy. Boys melt Mommies’ hearts. In the 7 weeks Noah was home after he was born I had the worst back and neck pain from staring down at him, constantly. I mean, way down deep love that is quite impossible for me to ‘splain so I won’t even try…

Back up years…like probably 5 or 6. I walked into one of our favorite local restaurants for take out. There was a mom and her older teenage son in line in front of me. He was tall, maybe a foot taller than his mom, and handsome. I remember looking at them and feeling a promise in my heart of God saying to me that one day I would have a son. I had always pictured him in that stage of life. FF to June 10, 2006 and I was overjoyed that I had a son…my promise. FF to January 12, 2007 and I’m not going to lie at how unfair and sick I felt that promise was…like a “psych” moment, but painful and gut-wrenching…a slap in the face.

FF to Tuesday, April 27th at approximately 9:30 am MT when we saw his parts…and having come through all we have, learning more about the God of the Universe who knows way more than I ever will and is good and has a plan, and trusting that He knows what is best and desires to bless His children…I could not help but bawl my head off, and my mascara, in hope and thankfulness for whatever it is He has in store.

However, at the same time, realizing that He is in charge. I trust Him. He has asked me to live one day at a time. And so, God has blessed me with two sons. One in His presence now and the other kicking the heck out of my entire abdominal cavity…

And I am thankful.

And I am in awe.

And I am treasuring one kick at a time.

And I am hanging onto hope…hope that one day I will meet this sweet little man face to face…and when I do, I will fall in love with him and he with me…and one day…

One day he will throw his arm around my 55 year old shoulder and smile down at me. And I will try to contain the squeals within me, stay cool and not act on all the kisses I’ll want to plant on his cheeks and tell him how very handsome he is and how very proud of him I am…I’ll just act cool and order our falafels.