I love love but I hate Valentine’s Day

02/14/2012

This is the first year that I completely, whole-heartedly am relieved that we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. And not just because Jason is out on tour. A few years ago he mentioned that he felt like the holiday was forced, putting unhealthy expectations on couples, becoming a competition, and setting a lot of people up for disappointment. We never really did much to celebrate the day—usually dinner at home to avoid the restaurants—and maybe a few candles, some chocolates, flowers, the usual. But we’ve moved away from that to not doing anything at all. I’m sure that sounds really cold and unromantic to some people. The truth is, we go on date nights several times a month, we show and tell how much we love each other everyday, we surprise each other with random gifts—we’re both very affirmed in our love and we have a healthy marriage. So take that, St. Valentine. Or Hallmark. Or whoever… And if I feel I’d enjoy some chocolates or fresh flowers in the house—GASP–I buy them! The random delivery of fresh flowers at work just because he knows I’m having a crappy day or the specialty chocolate from some exotic location just because he was thinking of me—those things mean way more to me than anything Jason has ever given to me on February 14.

Valentine’s Day IS a really important day for another reason, though. It’s my dear friend, Laren’s birthday! Precious says Happy Birthday, Aunt Laren! Fun fact: Laren and Precious both have heart shaped birthmarks.


A Perfect Saturday

11/03/2011

I had plans for a perfect Saturday: sleep in, big home cooked breakfast, clean the house, then rake up the blanket of pine needles covering our front yard and driveway, and then the night off with a date. I woke up naturally (!!) at 9:30 to discover that Jason was still sleeping, Lucy the cocker spaniel was still sleeping, and not a peep was coming from Precious’ room. How about that! I tweeted about it and indulged in some twitter/facebook until baby girl started stirring around 10.

Once I got her up, changed and fed, everyone else was up too. I shared my plans for the day with Jason and he suggested we go to the coffee shop and then thrift stores instead. Feeling stressed by the sink full of dirty dishes and the dog hair dust bunnies floating around the house, I was a little less than agreeable. We compromised and cleaned the house and did dishes before heading out to the coffee shop. My husband is so patient with me…and he’s super helpful with house cleaning. He dusted and vacuumed in the time I did the dishes and straightened up the kitchen.

Anyhow, we DID have a lovely breakfast at the coffee shop. At NOON! (I’m excited about this because we have a 3 month old.) Then, we headed out to our favorite thrift stores. Jason entertained Precious while I found her 2 pairs of socks, 1 headband, 1 hat, 1 pair of pants and 4 shirts (none of which was pink!) for about $12. Most of her clothes up to this point were pink and I was really growing sick of pink. At the next thrift store, we found two new mid-century chairs we couldn’t leave without. They deserve their own blog post.

After a quick nap for the little one and a walk around the block with the ole’ pup, it was time for DATE NIGHT! Woo hoo! I love my Jason.

So really, it was an amazingly perfect Saturday. We all slept in. The house got clean. Daddy got his coffee. We went thrift store hunting as a family of 3! We enjoyed the nice weather. Jason and I had a nice date night.


The Importance of Date Nights

11/02/2011

About a week after Jason and I became parents to Ladybug, my mom offered to babysit so we could go out. It seemed too soon to me, unnecessary even. After all, we had over 8 years of date nights as a childless couple. Jason and I discussed it and decided we would accept the offer. It turned out to be a really rich time for us to catch up and give each other focused attention over dinner without concerning ourselves with a food-flinging toddler.

My mama told me, “The most important thing you can do for your children is to love your spouse.” Date nights are really important.

Saturday night Jason and I got to go on our first date night since the arrival of Precious, 6 weeks ago now. We even planned ahead! We had a Living Social coupon for our favorite sushi place, RuSan’s—paid $15 for a $30 gift certificate. We both got salads with orange ginger, miso soup and fire cracker maki rolls (they’re too good to share) and another forgettable roll (unagi and avocado, I think.) Service was quick, thankfully, because we were rushing to get to a movie. We saw The Help. Excellent movie. We only go to the movie theater a few times a year and this one felt worth the $13.00. Yeah, that’s right we got discounted movie tickets through  my work. I should also mention that we’re sly about finding free street parking in the city. I remembered to wear boots instead of heels so I don’t mind walking a couple blocks. Our entire date night: dinner at a favorite restaurant and a movie, cost just $37. Not bad at all for an indulgent night out. Babysitting was free. Thanks mom and dad!

Do you go on date nights? Even before becoming parents Jason and I made a point of going on a date night at least once a month. We’re not extravagant but the time set apart together is really good for our marriage.


Recommended Reading: “If I Marry”

09/05/2011

This week, while Jason and I spend some time purposefully disconnected from the internet, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recent blog discoveries. Be back soon!

Along with The Pioneer Woman, I’m pretty sure that Lots of Scotts was one of the first blogs I got hooked on reading. JMom is the mother of triplets, now 7 years old, and she shares about their adventures but most importantly, she almost daily has deep revelations about life Truths through her experiences with her kids. This post, If I Marry, is not the best example of that but trust me, look around and you’ll find it (Here are some recent examples: It’s Not Your Story, The Lesson of the Red Handled Scissors and The Meltdown Meter). However, what I wanted to share with you is this quote I love from Ruth Bell Graham that she posted:

“If I marry… He must be big enough to be gentle and great enough to be thoughtful. His arms must be strong enough to carry a little child.” — Ruth Graham

Read the whole quote over at “If I Marry” on Lots of Scotts.


“Am I struggling with infertility?”

06/23/2011

Alternate Title: Why We’re Foster Parenting

I’ve been asked this question a few times lately in regards to our foster parenting motives and we suspect many other people are wondering (or making assumptions) but not asking. So, here’s my answer: no.

I know this an be a sensitive matter to some people so I’ll tread lightly; this is just my personal position on the matter. There are two parts to that phrase “struggling with infertility.” I’ve haven’t, in recent years, been tested for or officially diagnosed with any reproductive problems. I suppose some people would consider not getting pregnant after a year of “not trying not to”—as we like to put it—to be infertility. I have no use for this label as I’m not interested in treatment for this problem… because I’m not treating it like a problem. Either I get pregnant or I don’t—Jason and I have chosen to leave that up to God. We are completely at peace with that. So am I struggling? I hope it’s obvious that I am not.

There were times last year when I struggled a bit. After medically preventing babies for a decade, letting my body “reset” to it’s natural rhythm was interesting. At times I thought I had it figured out and I could control what would happen. Other times I was frustrated and bewildered. With my husband’s gentle urging I chose to really, fully let go of control of this area of our lives and trust God with it.

That was about a year ago. At that point, I never would have guessed that Jason and I would now be on the cusp of becoming foster parents. It just wasn’t on our radar at all. We figured we’d have a couple babies, build an addition on to our house, then maybe adopt a little girl from China. Or something along those lines. I can see how it might look from the outside like we’re substituting foster parenting for infertility treatment. After all, becoming foster parents certainly was part of the bursting of my perfect life plan bubble. But desperation to have children, it is not. God had other plans for us. If I had gotten pregnant right away, I probably wouldn’t have been interested in considering adoption or foster care at the point when God opened our hearts to the need. Somehow that little seed grew into a passion.

Honestly, I’m so busy with everything else going on in my life right now that I really couldn’t care less whether or not I get pregnant. Sure, if it happened we would be excited and happy. But if it never happens, that really is A-ok with us. What I’ve been learning—and believe me, I’m not all the way there yet!—is that this really isn’t about me and what I want. This, this life (marriage, family, work, friendships…) is not all about me getting what I want. As a Christian, if I want God to use me for something big, it’s essential that I grasp this concept. Foster parenting for Jason and I is not about “getting” kids because we just want to be parents. It’s about kids that need some adults to step up and be parents and to love on them. A couple of artists from East Nashville that like gardening and thrift store shopping just might be the perfect fit for some kiddos going through a really rough patch in their young lives.


Overdue

06/22/2011

Last year Jason and I celebrated 7 years of marriage and 11 years since our first date. It was our 7-11 year. I had been wanting to get some professional pictures done. It was time; we hadn’t had any done since our wedding. Sitting in front of a backdrop at a department store isn’t our thing so we commissioned our friend Beth Rose, who is an awesome photographer, to do some lifestyle portraits for us. And I had the perfect idea. A 7-Eleven photo shoot. I envisioned a local Slurpee selling gas station as our setting. Problem is, there aren’t ANY 7-Elevens in Nashville. None in Atlanta where we go to IKEA. None in Naples, FL where we went on vacation last year. None in Cincinnati where we frequently visit our friends. So I shelved the idea. Then, over Christmas we planned to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Emmaus, PA. Before our trip, I looked it up and sure enough, there is a 7-Eleven right near his house. I had a new solution: bring Slurpee cups back home and do the photo in Nashville in the spring. BR was game. (The cup designs exceeded my expectations!) I convinced myself that as long as we did the shoot before May, it was technically still our 7-11 year. But, I’m overdue in sharing these since we’re now absolutely in our 8-12 year. Ah well. But now that you know the back story, the cups will make sense.

(Cup-free pictures were posted here.)

I’m thinking of getting one of the three above (where the cups are prominent) blown up to poster size for something funky/different for the house. Leaning towards the 2nd from the bottom. Do you have a favorite?

All photos by Beth Rose Photography bethrose.com


8 Years

06/14/2011

Happy Anniversary, Jason. You are my best friend, my biggest encourager, my rock. You make me laugh and feel loved like no one else. I think we’re a great team. Like peanut butter and jelly, you and me. I’m so glad to be by your side on this crazy adventure! I’ll forever be your wifey and you’ll always be my right hand man.

All photos by Beth Rose Photography bethrose.com

(One more photo and “8 Things We’ve Learned in 8 Year” here.)

A funny story about how we celebrated our anniversary will be coming tomorrow.



Free Marriage Advice: 8 Things We’ve Learned in 8 Years

06/08/2011

(Photo above is by Beth Rose Photography. Hopefully I’ll have a bunch more to share from this shoot soon!)

As our 8th wedding anniversary approaches (it’s Tuesday!) I thought I’d share some nuggets of marriage goodness Jason and I have gathered the past few years. In our opinion, we have a pretty awesome marriage. We’re not marriage experts but you get what you pay for! Here we go:

1. Share a sink
Now, if your master bathroom already has two sinks you might as well use them. But Jason and I always thought it was pretty silly when some couples go through a lot of trouble to make sure they each have their own sink. We also have one relatively small closet. It’s about sharing. It’s about moderation. These are important values to us.

2. Turn off the car radio
Actually, it rarely gets turned on in the first place when we’re together. It’s not a “rule” but just something that we’ve gotten in the habit of. Jason and I have had most of our best discussions in the car. The uninterrupted alone time is precious and perfect for debating, dreaming and digging into important issues.

3. Do home repairs together
Not only do DIY projects save money and increase our skills, they force us to work together as a team. Sometimes we get frustrated, grumpy, tired but we’re able to encourage each other, brainstorm and troubleshoot, and ultimately celebrate our finished project together.

4. Don’t let each other get away with crap
We have chosen to lovingly, gently hold each other accountable. It’s been a process learning the “lovingly, gently” part of this and even more so, how to receive the constructive criticism without defensiveness. It’s one of the greatest gifts we have given each other. No one cares more about your personal success than your spouse.

The next 4 are things we were told before we got married so we can’t take any credit for these ideas:

5. Go on date nights
I think it was my parents that suggested this. Even though we don’t have kids yet, date nights have proven to be worth the extra commitment on our budget sheet. Sometimes we really just need some time away together that doesn’t involve work (dishes, cooking, tiling, gardening, etc.). We always come back home feeling more in love.

6. Pray together / pray for each other
“Couples that pray together, stay together” is the old saying and apparently it’s statistically true, too. I can’t say we’re great at making time to pray together but praying for each other is a huge priority in our house. It means so much to me when I catch Jason praying over me at night (when he thinks I’m sleeping). And I know it blesses him knowing that I get up early most mornings and spend time praying for him in his studio.

7. Be the first to say you’re sorry
Because being right and holding your ground really isn’t worth it.

8. Don’t quit your marriage
Way to end on a high note, huh? Seriously, I think all marriage couples have times—fights, incidents, rough patches—that make us want to just walk out the door and never look back. Humans are selfish by nature. We want what we want, when we want it. We’ve never allowed divorce or separation to be an option worth considering. It’s just out of the question for us. We have to make a choice to resist selfishness everyday and to put each other above ourselves. That is love.


Love Suffers

09/06/2010

Love is risky. It requires vulnerability as we trust our hearts to another person, believing that he’ll take good care of it. But every person fails at one time or another. Failures from the ones dearest to us hurt the most, don’t they?

Believe me, I do my fair share of failing my husband, but the other day it was my heart that was aching from a misstep on his part. I decided to reread 1 Corinthians 13 as I was making a choice, subconsciously after 11 years, to love him still and trust him again with my bruised heart.

I think just about everyone has read or heard 1 Corinthians 13, “the love chapter,” at some point. It’s popular at weddings and it’s no wonder — it’s a beautiful passage. Verse 7 popped out at me. “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Then I saw verse 4, “Love suffers long and is kind …” That sounds painful. Messy. Beautiful. Dangerous on one side and safe on the other side.

Much like the overwhelming feeling of joyful reunion that we would never experience without times of separation, love would not be the beautiful feeling that it is without the risk of pain.

I am thankful to have a husband who loves me well. When he slips up, he is careful to tenderly pick my heart back up, take it to the Healer of broken things and to lovingly hold it again, a little tighter than before. I hope that I do the same.