Friday, September 4, 2015

An Open Letter To My 20's

"Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others."
~Virginia Woolf

I have been dreading my 30th birthday for over a year.

There is something that seems so grown up about being 30. 

Something that whispers about how I should have my life together by now and how I should totally have that retirement fund started. 

Something that mocks my credit card debt and my student loans (which I'm still accruing at 30).

Something that looks over the vast, beautiful landscape of the miles I've traveled through my 20's and says, "What the hell have you been doing for the last 10 years?!" 

Part of me wishes there was some magical potion you could drink on your 30th birthday that erases the past ten years of mistakes, returns your credit card balance to zero, and forgives all that student loan debt you'll probably be paying on until your 65.

But, the other part of me-the part of me that has been weathered and worn over the last ten years and who has watched herself grow up through each and every storm-wouldn't change a single thing about the last ten years for anything. 

Because over the last ten years:
  • I've watched myself go from spoiled child bride to an independent, driven woman who knows what it truly means to be grateful for every single penny you basically kill yourself to earn. 
  • I've given birth and realized just how much a tiny human can teach you about yourself, sleep deprivation, patience, and how little you care about the world's opinion when it comes to your crying baby in the middle of Wal-mart and the puke on your clothes.
  • I've fought tooth and nail for every single college credit I've earned. I've pretty much worked full-time and had to take care of another human being throughout my entire college career and I am here to tell you that I am better because of it. December 2016 cannot get here soon enough!
  • I found a career that I love and that is so completely different from anything I ever thought I wanted to do. I am living proof that it's completely okay if you don't know at 18 years old what you want to be when you grow up. 
  • I have known young love. The kind of love that is exciting and so full of promise, but is not strong enough to withstand the challenges that come with growing up.
  • I have known real heartbreak. The kind that still lingers years later, but makes you better, stronger, and wiser. 
  • I've learned that not all promises are based on truth and that all lies even the most beautiful ones always hurt. Always.  
  • I have come to know that for some things in this life you will never get an apology, and that part of growing up is learning to accept apologies your never going to get. 
  • I've struggled through my first three years of co-parenting and learned what it means to find common ground with someone you have so little in common with anymore, because it's just better that way. Trust me.  
  • I have found that honesty really is the best policy and I have come to prefer this no filter version of myself.
  • I have embraced the awkward, crazy, beautiful woman-girl who stares back at me from my mirror. I wouldn't trade the self-acceptance and self-confidence I now have for anything...not even another walk through my twenties. 
  • I have finally found a love that is good and true. A forever kind of love. A grace for this moment kind of love-the kind of love that makes me feel safe and accepted no matter what the days or years may bring. 
It's been a good run, and you know, I'm really proud of her-the woman I've become. 

I may not have it all together and my life may not appear to be as grown up as it's supposed to be, but that's okay. 

In my book, I still get another ten years. 

Because whether or not you can see it, I have done a lot of growing over the last ten years, and something tells me that my thirties are going to be the best years yet. 

I can't wait to watch my beautiful first grader grow into the brillant young woman I can already see her becoming. I can't wait to help her pick out her first dress for her first dance, and help her study for her driver's license. I can't wait to see what her hobbies will be in ten years or to help her start making decisions about college. 

I can't wait to marry the man of my dreams in 232 days. The man whose going to build dreams with me and make babies with me. The man whose going to love me through my best years that have been made possible by my crazy, reckless years. The man who has taught me more about God's grace and mercy than I ever knew was possible. The man who sees beauty and strength in me even when I can't see it myself. My forever love. My future. 

I can't wait for our life to start-me and him and her-all of us together. I can't wait to see how our family is going to grow and to experience all of the blessings I know are coming. I can't wait to weather storms with them, and cry with them. I can't wait to laugh with them, and experience the joy that will come from a family that is just ours. Me and him and her. 

I can't wait to see where my career takes me, and to see where each door He opens leads. 

I can't wait to finish school and finally get my degree.

I can't wait to finally write my book. THE book. The world should just start preparing now.

I can't wait. 

The next ten years is going to be amazing.

Just you wait and see. 

So, this post is for my twenties.

Thank you for all the lessons learned and all the memories made. 

Thank you for helping me find the woman I was always supposed to be. 

And thank you for bringing me to this place that isn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. 

Because today is less about what I'm going to miss about my twenties, and more about all the things I have to look forward to in my thirties. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Co-parenting Diaries: Sharing My Motherhood


Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, 
and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed. 
~Linda Wooten

There have been moments in our co-parenting journey that I have come to dread.

Moments that you know are coming, but they are still the moments when you are never fully braced for the impact.

You can coach yourself over and over up to these moments.

You can write pretty blog posts about how you should feel, but they never quite prepare you for how you are actually going to feel.

From the moment I gave her life 6 years and 4 months ago, she has been my calling.

The very purpose of my existence.

I never knew what it meant to love someone with every cell of my being until I held her for the very first time.

The power that comes with being the only person who can grow, nourish, and soothe a much smaller version of yourself is both terrifying and exhilarating.

It exhausts you and renews you all in the same breath.

It completes you in a way you that seems so incredibly impossible.

I have always considered it a privilege that God chose me above all the other woman who seem far more capable than me to be her mother.

I wear my title as her mother like a badge of honor.

When I hear her little voice calling out to me, I am reminded that my title has not only been my saving grace, but it is the one thing that got me through all of the sleepless nights, the entire year she cried any time we went anywhere, the sequestered weeks of potty training, the puking episodes in the car, and all the exhausted tears I shed in those first few years.

I wouldn't change that season of our lives for anything.

Those years were worth it.

They were so worth it. 

I am the one the who has put in countless hours.

The one who has invested my blood, sweat, and tears into her life.

And yet here we are.

Face to face with the moment I knew was coming, but I wished it never would.

A moment that was never quite part of the plan, but I think we can all agree that we are beyond Plan A and even Plan B at this point.

The moment when you ask me to let our daughter call her, "mom" and you-as usual-just expect me to accept it without a single ounce of fight.

It's funny how the promises you make in the beginning change when the feelings of the other party no longer become the priority. 

I mean, it's all okay, right?

We're all just flying by the seat of our pants and making up the rules as we go along, and that's why were here.

In this place.

This place where I am being asked to scoot over and not only share my place as her mother, but my title as well.

I smile and shake my head at you sitting there across the desk from me.

Here we are three years into this, and you still manage to surprise me.

And I'm trying my damnedest not to let this get the best of me.

I'm trying to remember the pretty words I've written and the prayers I've prayed for this woman.

I'm trying.

God, am I trying.

Because I want this to work and I want us to get this down.

I want us to be on the same page and I want everything to be fair.

I write about these things. I preach about these things. I coach others about these things.

I have spent enough time watching so many other people just like us get it wrong that I am determined with every ounce of my fragile being to get it right.

Because that's what's best for her.

This is how we are going to succeed at not messing her up more than we already have.

I know that blood doesn't necessarily make you a mother.

I know time, love, and investing in a child do.

I know so many people who have healthy, awesome relationships with their adoptive mother or stepmother.

I know this.

I know ALL of this.

So why does this hurt so much? 

Why does it feel like someone is stabbing me in the gut every single time she says it?

Why do I feel like some evil villian when I am the one who has been fighting for what's best for her for so long?

Oh yeah. 

It's because I'm human.

A real flesh and blood human with feelings.

 Feelings you forget about 100% of the time now.

Which is how you still manage to break my heart again and again, even though I keep trying to take that power away from you.

You will always know-better than anyone else-which knives cut the deepest. 

And so, I will figure out a way to be fine with this.

Not okay.

Just fine.

Because that's what's best.

And I will always be our daughter's number one champion for what's best.

Even if it's killing me. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

A New Chapter: The Beginning of My Happily Ever After

"With some, 
we're certain our hearts must have been acquainted,
long before we ever met them."
~Shakieb Orgunwall

To my oldest friends.

The ones who have been reading my story since the days of brand new motherhood.

The days when I wrote about things like family vacations, and recipes, and blog awards. 

The ones who have laughed and cried with me. 

The ones who have cheered for me and forgiven me.

The ones who have taken my brutal honesty in stride. 

I have been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now, but the words just would not come.

I cannot express this happiness I still do not believe is my own.

I keep wondering if I've somehow lost myself in a dream, but then he puts his arms around me and pulls me in for a furry kiss, and I am reminded that very real.

On June 13, 2015, the man of my dreams asked me to be his wife.

Was I surprised?

Not really.

We've been talking about it for a while and I knew it was coming.

But, I had no idea how he was planning to ask, and I am proud to say that the gorgeous ring on my finger was selected and designed by him and him alone.

Yeah. He'll try to tell you that he stinks at being romantic.

I, however, will tell you a completely different story.

Because, my dear friends, I can honestly say that I had no idea that love could ever be this sweet or this sincere, and he is teaching me every single day that it can be and it should be and it is.

It just is.

So, with this engagement, I feel a chapter of my life closing and a new one getting ready to begin, and I have a feeling that the girl I am in this new chapter is ten thousand times more ready for the journey ahead than the girl I was only a few chapters ago.

She has known young love and come to realize that it doesn't always grow up with you.

She has known passionate love and come to learn that more often than not, that kind of love is merely a disguise for ugly lies and even uglier truths.

And now that she is almost 30, she is finally getting to know true love-the kind of love that will withstand the test of time with a man who will only love you more as your crow's feet and laugh lines deepen, and as your body softens through the years with babies and a slowing metabolism that refuses to listen to your pleas.

The kind of love that chooses to love you right where you are-every single day-no exceptions.

The kind of love that doesn't care about the past, because the future is so much better.

The real kind. The good kind. The truest of true kind.

I don't think she ever believed it existed until now. 

I have never been full of so much purpose and drive as I am in this moment, and I know this is only a glimmer of all the wonderful things my Father has planned for me.

So, for my dear friends who have followed me from chapter to chapter, this is my thank you.

Thank you for walking this journey with me, and for secretly cheering for me every step of the way.

I want you to know that I've made it.

My story is finally on it's way to a happy ending-a beautiful ending.

And I can't wait to write every single word. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Short Season

"Childhood is a short season."
~Helen Hayes 

My earliest memories are from when I was 5 years old. 

I don't have any memories of carpet from when I started crawling or standing at the screen door in the evenings when I was two years old waiting patiently for my dad. 

No. Kindergarten is when my earliest concrete memories began and those are the memories that have stayed with me for almost 25 years. 

In kindergarten, I remember crying almost every. single. day. 

I remember the sticker chart where we were rewarded for memorizing our phone number, address, and birthday. 

I remember getting sent to the Principal's office after I kissed Matthew Crutchfield for the first time...on the back. 

I remember Jason Goodwin drooling on my desk at least once a week. I still have a phobia of spit to this day. 

I also remember how Mrs. Dulaney lead me to the Lord in the tiny down stairs office after my kindergarten teacher gave an extremely intimidating Bible study lesson on hell. 

I remember that the summer after kindergarten was when our favorite babysitter, Anna, started watching my sisters and I. 

I remember how much I adored her and how I would get up while it was still dark outside to sit on the couch and wait for her. 

I remember how awful my sisters and I were to her, but how she kept coming back year after year. 

I remember swimming in my Grandma's swimming pool and living in our swimming suits all summer long. I have no memories of real clothes or shoes or even actual baths. Just swim suits, bare feet, and shampooing our hair in the swimming pool each night. 

I remember the summer trips we always took with my mother, and how she'd brave our favorite theme park alone with only me, my sisters, and all of our cousins in tow. 

I remember the summer that the Disney movie Pocahontas came out, and how I spent the entire summer pretending that I was her by making forts in the woods and wearing the same green t-shirt and shorts almost every single day.  

I remember all of this and so much more. 

I had a great childhood free of hardship and heartache, and all of my memories are full of sweet innocence.

Unlike you, my darling daughter. 

No one asked me to make hard choices.

I didn't live in fear of disappointing one parent or the other.

I didn't have to watch my mom struggle with how to help me not to feel that way.

I didn't have to divide my time up between one parents house and the other. 

I didn't have to deal with different bedrooms, different toys, and different rules from one place to the next. 

I never had to tell my mom about how much easier my little life was when my parents were still together. 

I didn't cry when my dad picked me up on Sundays. 

I never felt like I was missing out on birthday parties or fun Sunday school activities. 

And unlike you, I got to go to my Grandma's house with the pool every single Sunday and I never knew what it was like to miss my cousins-my very best friends. 

And sometimes I wonder what childhood memories you will take with you? 

Will you remember all the hard things your daddy and I have asked you to go through? 

Will you remember all of your tears and fleeting moments at either place?

Will you remember the tremendous amount of pressure being put on you to grow up way too soon?

Will you?

Or will you also remember the way we loved you-fiercely-and how we fought to protect you the best we could? 

Will you remember the date nights with your daddy and the impromptu hotel stays we had together-just you and I? 

Will you remember how you loved to swim and how you had more pools to choose from than any of the other children you knew? 

Will you remember the first time you got flowers from a boy in your kindergarten class for your birthday?

Will you remember the Branson trips with Grandma Kelly and the summer you spent with your Noah?

Or will you remember the sleepovers with sweet Mya, because even I know you don't get to see her enough and the age gap just seems to be getting wider and wider with you two?

I wonder often about these things, my sweet girl. 

I want nothing more than for your childhood to be a happy one, and for the good memories to outweigh the bad.

Which is why I have fought so hard for your childhood and I will continue to fight for your childhood, because I know the world around you will make you grow up soon enough and all that will be left of your fleeting moment in childhood will be your memories.

So that's why I don't care that you still ask for my help sometimes, or that you still find your way to my bed when your scared.

Because I know that someday you won't ask me to read just one more book to you and that pajama parties and our "fancy" dinners where we dress up like princesses will be the last thing on your mind.

I know that eventually your American Girl dolls and all your beloved stuffed animals will take a back seat to your phone, your car, and your friends.

I know that there will come a day when you won't ask for girl nights with me and that I will someday spend my evenings without you while I wait for you to come home from dates and the movies with your friends.

I know all of this.

And I accept all of this.

But, for now, I want you to be 6 years old.

Just 6.

Whatever that looks like to you.

No matter how silly it may seem to them or how many times they may tell me that I need to let you grow up and that I need to treat you like a "big girl".

I hope you remember how I never listened.

Not one time.

Because when you're with me, I just let you be the child that some of them keep forgetting you still are.

And I know.

Trust me, I know. 

I know good and well that you will grow up far before you and I are ready for you too.

But I'm thankful that isn't today.

And I'm trusting it won't be tomorrow either. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Co-Parenting Diaries: Crazy Train

I swear.

If you were to ask my ex-husband, he would tell you that I'm crazy.

Certifiably, why-have-they-not-committed-me-yet, crazy.

And in his defense, sometimes I am.

Yep. It's true.

This divorcee-who sometimes feels like I have at least 10,000 reasons as to why I am divorced from my ex-husband-isn't perfect and yes, even I have my moments.

I know! Shocking, right?!

I mean just the other day, while we were having an argument that was pretty much the direct result of me blowing something completely out of proportion, I completely lost it.

Another shocker, I know. 

And in the middle of that heated screaming match conversation, I told my ex-husband I was going to kill him.


That happened.

Those words actually left my mouth.

Dear God, please help us. 

I, of course, didn't mean it and I could tell by his laughter-which was only adding fuel to the fire-that he also knew I didn't mean it.

But seriously, if he turns up dead in the next month or so, I'm gonna have some serious explaining to do.

So, let it be known that if that happens, I didn't do it.

I mean, I probably didn't do it. 

Just kidding.

I promise.

I digress.

Anyway, it's clear that we obviously still have our moments.

Despite our commitment to successful co-parenting and the HUGE strides we have made in that general direction, I would be straight up lying if I told you we had perfected it.

He is still the best person at pushing my buttons, and I am still the best person at completely over reacting about some of the stupidest crap.

I swear, we all turn into our mothers eventually. 

Trust me, when I encourage other divorced parents to "pick their battles", it's with full knowledge that I am not always the best at doing this.

And if we're telling the truth, the commitment to successful co-parenting is just straight up hard some days.

It's hard to find common ground with the one person you have so little in common with anymore.

It's hard to communicate with the last person on earth you really want to talk to today.

And it's hard to know sometimes where the line of respecting the other parent and allowing them to help you make parenting decisions ends and where the line of being able to make your own parenting decisions without them begins.

It's just hard.

Like super hard. 

But, thank God for wine and co-workers who overlook the scene you just made in the middle of work and let you take a break to cry it out.

Because tomorrow is a new day.

We may not always get it right, but the point is that we are trying.

Every. single. day.

And at the end of each day, no matter how mad he makes me or how crazy I act towards him, our daughter still knows how much she is loved and wanted by both parents

We're all just doing our best over here.

Most of the time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I Wish I Would Have Known About Marriage in My Early 20's

I was 21 years old the first time I said, "I do".

I have written a lot about our journey from two crazy kids who were ready to take on the whole world to two grown ups trying to figure out our journey through divorce and co-parenting.

And as you all already know, it has been a struggle. 

Needless to say, I am a completely different person now than I was at the very young age of 21.

At almost 30, I am wiser, stronger, and so much more sure of who I am and what I want in this life.

I have life experiences I didn't have 8 years ago and all the scars to prove it.

The journey from naive little girl to lionhearted woman hasn't been an easy one, and while I don't regret the road that brought me here, I often wonder about the things I know now that I wish I would of known then.

The things that would of eased the heartache and turmoil of my journey to the place where I am now.

Over the past few months, I have compiled a list of all the things I wish I would of known about marriage in my early 20's. This list is composed of advice I received, but didn't take to heart, and advice that I would give now that I didn't even know existed during those early moments of my first marriage.

As wedding season approaches, I would hope that this post would encourage more than discourage.

While my child-bride fairytale didn't quite pan out, I know several couples who chose to get married very young and those couples are still going strong. I admire them and the hard work I watch them put into their marriages daily. It is no easy feat, but one that they choose over and over and over again every single day.

I would encourage any young person planning on getting married to find these couples who have withstood the test of time and learn all that you can from them. Their advice is indispensable and it comes from a place of deep understanding. Listen to their words carefully and absorb all that they have to offer.

Who knows? Maybe you will save yourself from all the hard lessons that I stubbornly chose to learn on my own.


1. Marriage is HARD work. 

I am aware that this is the oldest piece of wedding day advice in the book, but I truly believe it is the most overlooked piece of advice by all newlyweds. Trust me, I know that marriage is hard work no matter what age you are when you get married, but I think it's even harder when you choose to marry young.

I believe this to be true, because you spend your first few years basically growing up together. I chose to get married when I was 21, and by the time I was 25, I had morphed into a completely different person than I was the day I got married. I had different dreams and goals for my life, and most of those things differed from what I had originally wanted at 21. This was really hard on my first marriage, and played a huge part in our downfall.

My encouragement to anyone who is choosing to get married very young would be to keep this in mind. Be open to how your spouse is going to mature and grow, and be willing to grow with them through it. It's not going to be easy and you will be tempted to hold them back by reminding them of what the had said they wanted in the beginning, but I believe the strongest marriages are the ones where both people can learn to love one another through every season of their lives. It's important to allow each other to grow and mature into the people God wants you to be in every aspect of your life together.

2. Your very first fight as a married couple will be about money. 

Let me paint a picture for you:

My ex-husband's parents are very financially sound people and they have worked very hard to be that way. My ex-husband wanted to follow in their footsteps.

I-on the other hand-was a spoiled brat whose parents had always bought her EVERYTHING her little heart desired. I used to be notorious for spending every dime in my checking account the moment my paycheck hit the bank. This was because I had never had any real financial responsibility until I got married.

What happened next was absolute chaos!

My ex-husband's father told us in the weeks and months leading up to our wedding that our very first fight would most likely be about money. While we heard his warning, I don't think anything could of prepared us for the years of financial hardship that awaited us. Not only were we very young and absolutely stupid with our money most of the time, we also jumped headlong into two huge financial responsibilities within our first year of marriage: our first home and a brand new car.

We did all of this without completely understanding each others views on money which made our first "official" argument about money more than a fight, but a full on nuclear attack of our marriage!

Unfortunately, we were never able to get on the same page about money and finances, and this played a huge part in our ultimate demise.

If I could encourage any young couple to address one major issue before tying the knot: this would be it!

Money most certainly isn't everything, but if you aren't committed to being open and honest about it and you don't share the same views about how it should be spent, then it can definitely end up being a deal breaker.

3. You can't change people.

As the oldest of four girls, I have always been notorious for being bossy.

Like REALLY bossy.

My sisters can all attest to the fact that when we were growing up, it was always my way or the highway! In other words, if you didn't play what I wanted to play, you didn't get to play at all.

And at almost 30 years old, this hasn't changed much, except that I am far less selfish and I have finally figured out that I'm not always going to get my way.

I know. Shocking, right?! 

You want to know how I was able to learn this shocking truth? By choosing to get married at 21 to someone who was not intimidated by my bossy personality.

For years, I tried to "boss" my ex-husband into the mold I thought he should fit in to "make me happy" and "meet my needs".

But, instead of succeeding, I just screamed, cried, and pouted my way into a miserable existence.

I know now, many years later, that I should have listened to the whispers of those around me who just happened to know so much more than I did when they said,

"You can't change people, Ash." 

I can't even begin to describe how much heartache I would of saved my little, 21 year old self if I would of absorbed this advice the first time around.

You cannot force your spouse to be something their not. You just can't.

Yes, it's important to bend, to listen, and to understand each other.

Yes, it's important to be in tune to one another's love language, and to understand that meeting their needs may require you to do things that may not be a first instinct for you.

Yes, marriage is all about compromise. The give and take.

All of this is crucial to a successful marriage.

But, I'm here to tell you that if you're expecting your no bullsh*t country boy whose definition of romance is smacking your butt and remembering to put the toilet seat down to turn into Mr. McDreamy whose overtly romantic gestures are straight from the script of a romantic movie the moment you say, "I do", then girl, I'm here to tell you that you have another thing coming!

One of the most important things you could ever do is to learn how to love and accept your partner for who they are no matter where they are at in their life.

4. Communication is key. 

During my first year of college, I was incredibly homesick. I hated being away from my family. My ex-husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, would call me all of the time while I was away, and on particularly bad nights he would sleep with his phone still connected to mine until one of our phones died. We would literally spend HOURS on the phone with each other-talking about anything and nothing. If someone would of told my 21 year old self how important communication was after marriage, I would have rolled my eyes and assured them that we had the whole communication thing down to a science.

But, after we got married, we figured out that talking on the phone all the time and actually living together were two totally different things. Suddenly, I couldn't just hang up the phone when we had an argument or cut our conversation short if I was wanting some "alone time". Our "communication" became constant, and in the midst of it all, we forgot how to talk to each other.

I would get offended when he couln't "read my mind" and instead of talking to him about how his words or actions made me feel, I would get angry and bury it all inside. He would spend weeks completely oblivious that anything was wrong until I exploded and made the fight ten times worse than it had to be.

We would go round and round like this, and unfortunately, it played a huge part in the damage that we never could quite repair.

If you are choosing marriage young, I would urge you and your significant other to make sure that you know how to communicate effectively and how to fight fair. A great marriage counselor can help equip you with the tools you need to communicate effectively before you tie the knot, and I would highly recommend seeking marriage counseling now before it's too late.

Along the lines of communication, I would also encourage you to pick your battles. Life is too short to be constantly at war with each other over petty things. If you learn to accept now that you won't always be right and that yes, there really are two sides to every story, then that will also save you from a ton of fighting and heartache.

5. Always, always, ALWAYS have each others back. 

As I said earlier, I come from pretty good sized family of girls.

Girls who like to talk.

A lot.

During my first marriage, I developed a incredibly harmful pattern of telling my parents and my sisters EVERYTHING that went on inside my marriage.

Every fight. Every misunderstanding. Every disappointment.

It was ridiculous.

The way I was constantly choosing to involve my family made it extremely difficult for my ex-husband and I to present a united front when it was necessary that we do so.

This became a huge source of conflict in my first marriage!

 I also never-not one time in the whole 6 years we were married-felt like my ex-husband had my back, because in addition to me relying on my family instead of him, we would also disagree with each other in front of others. I have learned that this is a huge no-no.

While, we may not have always agreed with each other during a particular situation, we should have waited to openly disagree with each other in private when other people were not around.

I believe presenting a united front is one of the most important things every couple should strive to do not just in your marriage, but also in your parenting.

My ex husband and I may have struggled with maintaining a united front during our marriage, but that is something we have prioritized in our co-parenting. I may not always agree with him, but our daughter would never know that and I think it has made our co-parenting relationship better and stronger.

The same is true in marriage.

When your spouse knows and trusts that you will always have their back, even if you don't agree with them, it will make your marriage stronger because of it.


As I have said before at least ten thousand times, I am NOT an expert! 

But, I think that those of us who have failed at marriage before and learned from our mistakes have some of the best advice.

We have seen first hand what it takes to destroy a marriage and we know that it's not always something that happens over night.

While I know that every marriage is different and I'm sure my next marriage will be nothing like my first, I do know that the advice I shared above is advice that I should of listened to or wished that I would have received long before I said "I do" the first time. 

My heart still breaks for that young, naive 21 year old girl from time to time, but I know with out a shadow of a doubt, that even though the journey was hard, I am better because of it. 

If you are considering getting married in your early 20's, I hope you know that I am not trying to discourage you, BUT encourage you. This commitment is one of the most important commitment you will ever make and the best thing you could ever do is enter your marriage with an open mind and an open heart. Who knows where the years to come will take you, but you will go alot farther if you listen to the warnings and advice of those around you whose own stories could save you from even the silliest mistakes. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dear Brave Heart

My dear brave heart,

Yes, you.

The one reading this blog post over a cup of coffee while Bubble Guppies plays in the background, or while you pretend to work at your desk on this typical Thursday-why-are-you-not Friday morning, or right before you turn off the light on another long, hard day of being someone's mother, wife, sister, daughter, or girlfriend.

Listen up!

I just want to tell you that no matter where you are in your life.

I think you're brave. 

No matter what kind of storm you might be walking through.

I think you're brave.

No matter what hard choices you have to make every single day-whether it's telling your toddler "no" just one more time without yelling or taking that life changing job offer even though it's pushing you out of your comfort zone.

I think you're brave.

No matter what your life calling is-whether it's the full-time job of mothering your littles or to own that conference room every time you set foot in it or to do both.

I think you're brave.

I really do.

I think you're brave when you get up every morning and make breakfast even though you're running on only 2 hours of sleep.

When you do one more load of laundry even though the piles never seem to grow any smaller.

When you haven't worn your "nice" clothes in who knows how long, because they just don't stand up to the spit up, and spilled juice, and sticky fingers like your leggings do.

When your signature hair style is a pony tail that's going on day #4 of dry shampoo.

When you sing, and sway, and rock, and kiss, and cuddle, and fix, and find, and then sing some more.

When you put your children above everything else.

I think you're brave. 

When you work long hours, and send just one more email.

When you take that last phone call, and you live on caffeine and the hidden snacks in your desk-like the Tic-Tacs you've been saving for another late night.

When you choose to lock up even though it's Friday and everyone else left hours ago.

When you do all of this just to earn an ounce of the respect that you deserve in this "man's" world we're all trying to make in.

I think you're brave.

You're brave when you hold your sister's hand through a scary diagnosis, or when you make time for your family in the midst of this crazy thing we call life.

You're brave in those moments when life asks you to decide to put your parent in the nursing home or to bury your child.

You're brave when you take your best friend's phone call at 3:00 a.m. even though you have to be at work at 8:00 a.m.

You're brave when you talk to your daughter about how to deal with the "mean girl" in her grade or you cheer your son on at his soccer game.

You're brave when you work 2 jobs just provide for your children, and you take all the judgemental glances and comments straight on the chin. Never backing down once.

You're brave when you take that chance to give love just one more shot on a date with a boy you only met three days ago.

You're brave when you sing in the car with the windows down and you ignore the dirty looks from all the other people sitting at the stoplight.

You're brave when you take time for just you even when you feel like you shouldn't-whether it's an hour at the nail salon or 15 minutes locked in the bathroom by yourself with tiny fingers reaching under the door.

No matter where you are or what your doing in this very minute.

From one brave girl to another.

I want you to know that I see your bravery and I admire it.

I am encouraged by your perserverance.

Your strength.

Your grace in the midst of adversity.

I see this bravery in the eyes of every single woman that I meet, and I am intrigued by her story.

Because we all have stories.

Every single one of us-whether they are good or bad or ugly.

They are our stories.

The truths that make us who we are.

And at the end of the day, we should never, ever be ashamed of our story.

Instead, we should be using our stories to join our hearts to the women around us-women with stories all their own.

We should be using our stories to empower women.

To take their faces in our hands and say, "Sweet, sister. I see your bravery."

Because it's up to us to encourage each other-in the way that only we as women know how to reach each other.

It's up to us to build each other up and make a stand for the women all around us.

No matter where we are at in our lives.

So, this is my encouragement to you.

This is my acknowledgement of your bravery that fills you with so much power.

What will you do with your power?

Will you use it to encourage the women around you, or will you use it to compete with them and tear them down?

Will you use it to see their individual beauty, or to focus on their scars that may seem uglier than yours?

What will you do, dear brave heart?

Because I don't know about you, but I'm tired of feeling like this is a competition even though it's not.

I'm tired of the back stabbing, the judgemental glances, the hateful gossip, and the lies we tell in an effort to appear like we're the one coming out on top.

I'm tired of the way we give into the world, and the whispers that tell us that we will never be good enough.

Because trust me, dear brave heart, you ARE good enough.

I promise.

No matter who we are or where we are at in this life, we're all in the same boat here.

And we are all just looking for someone to see our bravery.

And remind us that we are not alone.
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