Cheers to Another Year

Cheers to Another Year

I just celebrated another birthday. Cheers to that! It was not a biggie…you know, one with a zero at the end. But still one where I sat and realized I’m not that much younger than my early memories of my own grandparents. It’s a weird feeling. It’s almost like I hold my breath every time I look in a mirror. Will this finally be the day I look in the mirror and see my Mamaw staring back at me….silver, short grandma hair perfectly coifed. Nice, tailored dress with an apron over it. Sensible shoes. Perfectly polished fingernails. My grandparents were of the generation with that stereotypical “grandma look”. This “look” was beautiful and precious to me as a kid….but I don’t particularly want to stare at it every time I pass by a mirror! So please pass the hair color and the fancy skin care my way!!

This birthday, though. This year that sees me 4 years short of the next “zero at the end” birthday. It’s all caused me to stop and do some reflecting. I’m not really surprised that one of my very first real memories is of a birthday. My 4th birthday was a year my parents threw a little party for me. This shin dig was at our house, which was a sweet single wide mobile home in Fort Walton Beach. I can remember being super excited about my friends coming over…I can’t tell you a single one of their names today. And I can remember NOT being excited about the nap my mom insisted I take before the shenanigans began. But she let me fall asleep on her lap as she sat in her chair…that I DO remember. My head on her shoulder. Her arms wrapped tightly around me. Being warmly embraced by the love of my mother. That memory is much stronger than the names or faces of the kids who came to my house or the presents they brought for me.

Why? What would make me remember anything about a day fifty something years ago? I’m sure it’s because of the love I felt that day. Because love is a powerful thing!

And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”…1Cor 13:13

Little me looking adorable enough in our “nap chair” that this could’ve actually been the day of that 4th birthday party.

With love powering my sentimentality and with birthdays on my mind, I’m not surprised that memories of birthday’s past have been filling my head this week.

  • Year 15 was celebrated at a local and newish water park. This was 1978 and water parks just weren’t all they are today. But by late 70’s standards, this one was…well…standard. I only remember it having a few different big water slides. I remember the brown bikini I had that summer, certain it showed off my tan all the better. I remember the friends who joined me on this day. And the plethora of cute lifeguards hanging around for me and my teenage friends to gawk at…I mean to save us if our lives were ever in peril from the swishing, raging water! I also remember feeling incredibly loved because my parents knew this outing would make my heart happy . And they were right!
  • The following year we were in a new town. It’s H A R D to move to a completely different state when you’re 16. The summer of this milestone birthday found me knowing pretty much zero people. We had only been in small town Texas for a few weeks, school had yet to begin, and our neighborhood was devoid of anyone even remotely near the ages of myself or my sisters. But this birthday made my heart smile because even in the simplicity of our family of five sitting in a Pizza Hut eating strangely amazing pizza, I felt all warm and cozy inside. It was my birthday and my family, who I knew loved me, surrounded me as we munched on my favorite food together. I think your favorite food and love will always go hand in hand!
  • How can I ever forget my next momentous birthday? I turned 18 in 1981. My friends and I celebrated with an overnight party and our first legal drinks. We made strawberry daiquiris and planned to wake up in time to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. Because why not? What could be more special than royal love! I really needed this time of friendship and love on that very day. When I left my friends later that morning , after basking in the richness of this royal wedding and all the birthday fun, I learned of the death of my beloved Papaw. How sweet of God to surround with me so much fun and love right before what was one of the worst days of my young life.
  • By far my most memorable adult birthday was the big 4 – 0 ! This day saw my one and only surprise party. Somehow my husband was able to pull off a full fledged unexpected gathering of new friends, old friends and family from near and far. How I managed to not notice the line up of my Texas family’s cars as I strolled through the parking lot to the fellowship hall could only have an act of God. The love I felt that day bowled me over. As I walked through the different “layers” of friends and family who had come to celebrate this day with me, the affection we shared was sweet. It was almost like a glimpse of heaven.

Looking back on these birthdays from the past, I’m struck by one thing. The REASON I remember them. There was a very evident strand of love weaving through each of those days. The love of my mother’s arms…the love of a group of friends….the love of family. The feeling of being seen and known and loved is a powerful, grounding feeling. It’s a necessary one, I think.

We all want to be seen.

We all want to be known.

We all want to be loved.

God made us to need these things. Maybe that’s because HE sees us and knows us. And He IS love. Perhaps when we’re craving love, we’re really craving God. Hmmm….because as good as human love is, His love is a million times better. It just is.

So cheers to another year. A year to be loved and seen and known. A year to love and see and know.

Until next time…

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The Good Fight for the Skinny Jeans

The Good Fight for the Skinny Jeans

I had finally done it! That long awaited, can-I-really-do-it goal was mine! And with it came a post card from a popular blue jeans company. The nice lady at the Weight Watchers meeting handed it to me when she announced that I had made Lifetime…HALLELUJAH!! I still remember that day so well. Taking that shiny postcard and checking the box that said YES SEND ME MY FREE SKINNY JEANS!!! Asking these folks to send a size pants I hadn’t worn since I was a senior in high school felt surreal! Would they really believe I was the size I said I was?! Mailing the card …snail mail was still a valuable tool back in 2004! Receiving that package a few weeks later with those glorious jeans wrapped neatly inside! Putting them on for the first time and that feeling of giddiness and pride that those teeny tiny jeans fit! I was certain those jeans would be my favorites forever because they symbolized the fact that I can really do whatever I set my mind to.

I also remember the feeling when I looked at those teeny tiny award jeans hanging in my closet just a few years ago. They hadn’t fit in years. I looked at them in disgust wondering if my big toe would even still fit in them. Like most women , I had hung on to my “skinny” clothes well after they no longer fit . But on that day, I realized the fight in me was hibernating so soundly I really had no reason to hang on to the skinny things in my closet. All they were doing was taunting me…

Hahaha! Look at you! You’ll never fit in us again!

I hope you enjoyed your time wearing us because look at you now.

Why are we still in here? We don’t fit you and we neeeevvvveeeerrrrr wwiiiilllll!! Bwahahahaha!

I couldn’t get those nasty, mean pants out of my closet fast enough! The sound of their mocking voices sent me into a fit of silent tears and woe. The messages they were sending me as they hung there next to my pants 6 sizes larger were too negative for me. But they were right. I was too big for them and I always would be so why keep them .

I found a box and filled it with everything in my closet that didn’t fit and never would again. My resolve to load my closet with nothing but larger sizes was strong. I threw that box of rude small clothes in the donation pile in my garage and commenced to filling my closet with as many upsized clothes as I could. And with that one move, I closed and pad locked the door on any motivation I could muster up to be fit again. But I didn’t really care. Nope, not one bit!

Until, of course, I did.

I’m three months into my journey back to healthy. And the fight in me is stronger than it’s ever been. I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when I felt so determined to do something. I mean, one night last week I actually stopped watching TV at 9pm and instead of heading to bed, I welcomed good old Leslie Sansone onto my screen so I could walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. (If you’ve ever done a Walk at Home video I’m sure you just read that in her voice, huh?)

I can hear the old me screaming “Why would you do such a thing? That’s so weird!!!”

But something has clicked in me that has finally caused me to realize my health and my fitness at almost 56 years old is a fight worth fighting! At this age, I feel the natural state of my body is plain, flat out rebellion. It wants to sit still because moving makes all the achy things ache. It wants to gain weight whenever I look at food because why not? Does my metabolism even still exist?? It wants to fall apart because it’s getting old and worn. It’s worse than a rebellious teenager sneaking out at night to do those teenage things parents tell them not to!

So yes!! It takes some work , a healthy dose of motivation and an amazingly good attitude. Sorta like parenting those rebellious teens! But my GOOD health is worth FIGHTing for. Being able to move with ease is worth fighting for! Not feeling 110 is worth fighting for! Having more energy is worth fighting for!

I spent the day at a spa with my oldest daughter this past weekend . We did some amazing, relaxing things…facials, massages, hot tubs, saunas. Aahhh! But we also worked out! Say what?!?! And when my daughter looked at me on my fancy treadmill and said with a bit of amazement, “Mom, you’re JOGGING! GOOD job! ” …..well that moment let me know that my worthy FIGHT was paying off !

While my ultimate goal is to live a healthy life and to forever believe I can, my little “side goals” involve losing weight. When you have 80 lbs to lose to get to that elusive healthy Body Mass Index, it’s smart to set small achievable goals along the way. That first 30 lb goal is within a half a pound…so what the heck. I’ll just call it because I like to round up! With 30 lbs comes the need to dig out the size “less than” pants or just buy smaller clothes. This has been fun. But remember that day I threw out my skinny jeans? I threw out ALL my skinny clothes.

Or so I thought? Procrastination and hiding things from myself real well sometimes pays off!

I was searching for a paint brush in my garage this week. I’ve been working on refinishing my beloved but very weathered front porch rocking chair. It has needed to be made new just as badly as I have! As I was digging through the things in my way to where I thought this paint brush might be, I literally tripped on a taped up Amazon box. My first thought was “What did I order that I threw in the garage and forgot about?” But then I saw the box was slightly open on one end and what appeared to be clothes was peeking out. I held my breath. Could it be?

YES!! The box was filled with pants of all the “less than” sizes I once determined were only worthy of donating. It was filled with the lie that I never would or could be at a healthy weight again.

But as I dug through the box and found those teeny tiny award jeans from 2004 , I knew something with every fiber of my being .

The GOOD FIGHT to get back into those teeny tiny jeans is worth it because I AM WORTH IT!! I WILL be in those jeans again. They may be horribly outdated by then but hey…jeans are jeans right! And at least they’re not bell bottoms!!

So I’ll persevere however long it takes. I’ll stand firm in my conviction to be a better, healthier me. I will fight the GOOD FIGHT and finish this race.

And I will win life!!

Until next time….

Travelin’ with the Oldies…Another Imperfectly Perfect Tale

We’d been on the road for what felt like hours. Queen blaring Platinum Hits from the car speakers with occasional outbursts from our road guide, Weazer the Almighty Waze Voice.

“Stay on this road for 30 minutes then turn left.” ” Careful, car on the side of the road ahead.” “Keep right, then stay in the left.two lanes.” “Cracker Barrel at the next exit. Take it. You need to eat”

OK, our handy dandy speaking road map didn’t actually say that last thing. But it wouldn’t surprise me if one day it could! Technology knows no bounds, does it? There’s no reason for me to believe that one day our cars won’t automatically pull off at the nearest restaurant when it detects its passengers are in need of nourishment!

We were hungry , though, having been on the road a sufficient amount of time to need food and drink. After noticing a billboard advertising a decent place for grub at the next exit, we took it and began looking for the tell tale white chicken in the red circle marking our stopping point. But then Weazer pipes in and tells us we need to turn left at the next light. That didn’t seem one bit right, but we had been obedient to her directions all day and saw no reason to stray from her guidance . Traffic was horrendous as it is most every where on a holiday weekend so scooching into the left lane was no simple task!

We ended up missing the turn we were suppose to take and ended up in a shopping center parking lot. But that was OK. Surely the restaurant we were looking for would be in this general vicinity. Because you know, Weazer wouldn’t lead us astray and all that!

But no sign of the white chicken in the red circle anywhere. Frustration was mounting and we were getting H A N G R Y !!!

Then like a little birdie whispering in my ear, it hit me. We had exited to get food, but we hadn’t told Weazer to change our destination. We’d just said it out loud. And so far, this particular technology doesn’t have ears and it couldn’t hear us. So faithful Weezy had been rerouting us back to the Interstate we had just exited! Her one and only task was getting us to our resort in Myrtle Beach! But since we were so tuned into her guiding voice AND we were delirious from starvation, we didn’t clue in to the fact that we hadn’t aligned our need for food with Weazers need to tell us exactly where to go.

Once we realized what had happened, we started cracking up at ourselves. Oh my!! Being 50 something certainly has it’s hysterical moments!! We did end up getting back on the Interstate and found a place to eat at the next exit. And when that voice came over our speakers again, telling us to get back on the designated route, we just looked at each other and started laughing all over again, telling this electronic leader NO!! WE WILL NOT FOLLOW YOU WE’RE GETTING FOOD THIS TIME!!!

Aren’t we adorable? Bless our hearts!

This “senior moment” has had me thinking about things over the past few days. There’s more than one marriage moment to share out of this story of our laughing together at ourselves. And they are things that I’m certain have helped get us to now.

Moment #1…Find the humor in every situation! Laugh more!

Oh we’ve had stages in our lives when we growled at each other more than we even cracked a smile in the other’s direction. We are both married to an imperfect person with the capacity to drive the other bonkers!! So before anyone reading this thinks all we do is laugh and be hysterical, know that truth!

In fact, it wasn’t too long ago when I realized we were taking just random stuff way too stinking seriously and we needed to lighten up and laugh together more. Just being mindful of that turned things around again. The faster we can find the hilariousness in any given situation, the better we feel. Laughter is just good medicine…Proverbs 17:22 assures us “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Y’all, as we get older, we don’t need help in the drying up of our bones. The suddenly new aches and pains and stiffness in the joints gets real!! So no crushing of the spirit …..just a big dose of cheer please !!

The little hats are funny! But they’re not as hysterical as me trying to dance….which happened shortly before this picture. There’s no photographic proof of how hilarious my dance moves are but I’m certain that if any of my adult kids had been present, they would’ve been adequately embarrassed!

Moment #2…Some times in life (and in marriage) we need a redirect!

On this traveling day, we were obviously very tuned in to the voice of the Waze chick. So much so that even when we veered off course to do something of our own choosing, we followed her re-direct. It didn’t matter that we didn’t think she was leading us to an actual restaurant! It was just important at that moment to be obedient to the voice coming from our car speakers!

In the course of our 25 years together, I’d be lying if I said we have stayed on the right track and done all the things perfectly and never veered off course. It would be more truthful to say MARRIAGE IS TOUGH!! There have been times when we have totally sucked at it! There have been times when we wondered if we’d survive till the next anniversary. But one thing we have done well…in the midst of every single trial , we’ve found our way back because we let God take the reins and redirect us to the proper path.

Every. Single. Time.

And quite frankly, that is the biggest reason I’m even sitting here able to write these little blog posts celebrating our grand and glorious silver anniversary! So my biggest advice to young marrieds, old marrieds…shoot ALL the marrieds… is this. Let God be in control. Period! If you stray off the path of a great, healthy marriage and think you can find your way back by your own power, rethink that. It was your own power that got you off track in the first place! Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of You; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

When God’s voice has been the loudest. When His voice has been the one we allow to guide us. Those are the times when our lives and our marriage has flourished. The more closely we follow the path God sets before us , the better off we have been. I could go on and on about this because it’s probably the most important marriage thing we’ve done. But that could be a post of its own.

Moment #3…Sometimes it’s OK and even beneficial to change the way you normally do things.

Now this is a subtle point in this imperfectly perfect story. Maybe you picked up on the fact that this little excursion was to Myrtle Beach and it was on Memorial Day weekend. We had planned this short getaway to the beach months ago. At that time, we were just looking forward to a holiday weekend with our toes in the sand as we listened to the waves crash to shore. We are certainly a couple who loves just chilling on the beach and not bothering with much of anything else!! What we didn’t know when we booked this long weekend trip was that Memorial Day at Myrtle Beach has a long standing tradition. I’m not sure why we didn’t think about the fact that this South Carolina beach town has hosted the largest African American Bike Rally in the United States for the past 39 Memorial Day’s!! This is an event that has hosted crowds as large as 400,000. That’s a lot of bikers folks !!! Now we could’ve braved the crowds and just headed to the beach as planned. But we felt the need to keep the crowd around us a bit more PG rated than what we encountered when we simply went to pick up some groceries!! And since I like to keep this little blog of mine PG rated as well, you’ll just have to imagine some of the things we saw while we were out and about.

So we didn’t do this beach trip like we normally do. We could’ve let disappointment rule but instead we chose to embrace this change in the norm and enjoy ourselves. What we discovered was this new plan was good! We had a short walk to the massive pool area at our resort where a nice, comfy lounge chair awaited each of us. There was always an inflatable pool ring ready to carry us down the Lazy River. The drinks were plentiful and the music was cheerful. The people lounging around us provided us with good conversations. We didn’t have to go far for a snack or , most importantly , the bathroom!

What a great weekend where we learned there’s more than the normal way to enjoy a beach trip! Getting stuck in our ways can be oppressive and we don’t even realize it . It can be a joy to be “an old dog doing a new trick”!

So be encouraged today to not take yourself so seriously that you can’t find the cheerful things God has placed in your day. Be encouraged to make God’s voice the loudest in your life and in your relationships. And be encouraged to do old things in new ways.

Until next time…

Tales from an Imperfectly Perfect Union…Part One

As My Man and I quickly approach our 25th wedding anniversary, I suddenly felt that nudge to celebrate that fact on my blog. Because a 25 year marriage is something to celebrate and talk about and share stories from. It’s something to honor! Not because we’ve done the past 25 years so perfectly and y’all will learn so much from how we’ve so grandly done marriage. But sorta the opposite! We’ve been so IMPERFECTLY perfect at most things over the past 25 years that someone is bound to see a bit of themselves in us and think “Shew! I think we can make it too!” Because as lovely as marriage is, it’s just hard at times.

So I’ll start from the beginning…because why not?

Valentines Day 1994 found me drinking a glass of champagne with a ring in it. Because I’m NOT the romantic one in our relationship, I had actually forgotten this detail of our engagement . Shocking, right? How could I forget any details of my long awaited engagement? Even though I longed for this moment when My Man would finally pop The Question…for real this time…I was probably so exhausted from single momming our seven month old son and my two young daughters that this memory likely got caught behind night time bottles, diaper changes and homework !

Hey wait a minute! Back up a second!! Hold please while I rewind this a bit…….

Late November 1992 found me not drinking a glass of champagne. It found me drinking nothing but water. Because I was pregnant. And not married. In the early 90’s, being unwed and pregnant wasn’t as hip and socially acceptable as it is in 2019…at least not in my church going, Jesus loving, God fearing mind. As a 29 year old divorced mom with two young children, I was still not fully grasping how big and deep and enormous God’s love for me was. So while I fully accepted and already loved the baby I was carrying, I felt shame for doing things backwards. I knew I needed to be married…and soon. So when My Man and I digested the news that we were going to be parents together, it was just sort of decided that we would get married. No grand gesture of a proposal was made . There wasn’t even a ring. There was just the decision that we’d get married over Christmas break. We invited my family out from Texas and we’d have a small, intimate ceremony…somewhere. But it didn’t happen quite like that.

My family did come for Christmas that year. But it was mostly to help me lick my wounds from the broken engagement that really never happened in the first place. My Man wasn’t ready to get married. And while I saw ALL the reasons TO be ready to tie the knot, somehow he was able to see the wisdom in not getting hitched right then and there simply “because we had to.” He had no raging hormones coursing through his body at the time to make him feel the false urgency I was feeling! Pesky old hormones!!

Sometimes God tells us “Not yet”. He stalls us with a “holy hold on” because HE sees the big picture! And He simply loves us too much to urge us down a path we’re not quite ready for. There was so much for us to grasp and learn in the journey to the day when the love we had for each other was true and real and not forced because we had to. There was so much God in the journey that got us to that Valentine’s Day in 1994 when I almost drank my engagement ring in a glass of champagne!

We trusted the journey and in the process we learned a valuable life lesson. One we’ve clung to many, many times in our 25 years.

WAIT ON THE LORD!!

Isaiah 40:31 tells us “They who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”

If we had run ahead of God and gotten married too soon, I can only imagine the added heartache we would’ve endured. We both feel certain we would’ve ended up divorced after just a few years because we would’ve married for the wrong reasons. If we had gotten married too soon, we would not have built up the strength to endure the inevitable hard times. We would’ve fallen short of making our marriage fly. We would’ve grown weary of doing the right things because in the back of our minds, we would’ve always been doubtful that we had even started with the right thing.

Our marriage is certainly a mix of questionable decisions mixed with some excellent ones. Whose isn’t? But I have to say that NOT deciding anything in the heat of a moment and truly waiting to hear from God has been one of the excellent things… something we’ve gotten good at. We may have gotten off to a slow start but God took that…our humanness…and He made something beautiful.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

I have more to celebrate and I’ll do that here over the next many weeks leading up to our big day. So until my next tale…