it’s not enough

Ok, humans. I need to preface all of this with an acknowledgment that I’ve spent a significant amount of time debating clicking ‘Publish.’ Because we might not be on the same page. I also want to make it 10000% clear that I believe in humanity as a whole. And I also support those whose role is to protect and serve. In fact, I personally know and love some of them. But, it is possible you might not like what I’ve poured out here. And, it’s ok. And also? Going back to something I’d shared a while back, I can’t give one single crap about that. Finally, I truly believe we can still be friends. The world would be so boring if we all felt the same. Amiright?

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more golden things

Oh, 2020. Although it feels like 17 months ago now that the calendar changed, I remember how much hope you held. And now? Well, now I think you’re kind of a jerk. And it’s only June.

In hindsight, how many times have we heard ‘don’t get your hopes up.’ And how many times do we do exactly the opposite because, things! They hold such promise! And I turned 40 at the Grand Canyon! And Connor had a golden birthday! And my dad turned 70! And Connor finished middle school! And Alyssa graduated from college! And we were going on trips!

And that’s where that word that rhymes with zovonatirus broke everything. Because we had a grand family trip planned (after the other trip CJ and I had to cancel) to one of my very favorite places in all of the entire universe (which my familiarity of travel-wise is fairly small, but still) … Colorado. We were planning on leaving this coming Monday.

And while it is really, really difficult to put my hopes back down about a hot air balloon ride in the middle of Rocky Mountain country (wut?!), there is still cause for celebration. And this is where I’ll peel my temper tantrum-throwing body off the floor to share something really sweet.

These two? They’ve been married for 50 years. 5.0. Fifty. Weren’t they adorable? That was February 14, 1970. The day my dad proposed. And for the record, my mom was still in high school.

Now, I can’t sit here and pretend I know the secret to a staying power like theirs because … I’ll just say that I will likely NEVER be married for 50 years (yo! potential husbands! we are running out of timmmmme!). But, just like Forrest Gump, I know what love is.

And it’s what they’ve got.

My devotional actually led me to the love chapter this morning. You know … the one they read at all the weddings. I’ve been especially taken with The Passion Translation as of late and the seventh verse hit me in a special kind of way.

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. 1 Cor. 13:7 (TPT)

I should have asked them what the trick is to tolerating the same human being for that.freaking.long but after watching them for the past forty years, I have a few ideas. I’ll be as brief as I can (grab a pencil and some paper, too. it’s a golden list. duh.)

  • You become best friends
  • You know every good and bad and even terrible thing about the other and love them anyway
  • You compromise (often). This is also known as sacrifice. Which is also known as do the hard thing sometimes because you choose them first
  • You find things you both enjoy so you can keep that date thing a real thing
  • You opt for shared interests in TV when going out isn’t an option for whatever reason zovonatirus. This might include such gems like Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, Chicago Fire and America’s Got Talent. And, when the time is right (is it ever?), Hallmark Christmas movies
  • You wear matching jackets occasionally. These can include both spring jackets as well as mauve-colored leather. I’m still so proud of my dad for being that bold
  • You share in major decision-making … home, kids, work, finances, etc.
  • You celebrate each other’s successes. And you still celebrate even if you are struggling
  • You make each other coffee. That’s a total given, right? But you also know how the other takes their coffee; which is more important
  • You take care of the other when they’re sick or if they’ve had not one, but two, major surgeries and they might be a little ‘difficult’.
  • You show each other affection. Even if your kids think it’s so, so gross. Which they will. You talk openly about how hot and bothered the other makes you. Again, so gross. But looking back, it’s something I am so grateful for (except for a few interesting moments. ha!)
  • You find out the other’s love language and love them that way; even if it feels weird and foreign to you
  • You take care of each other’s feet. And if you have the money, you go get pedicures. Together. This is an actual thing
  • You pick a side of the bed and it’s yours forever and ever, amen. And, if you’re super nice and it’s cold, you warm up the other’s side before they get into bed. 50 extra credit points for that
  • You find a comfortable couch just in case you lost your spot in the bed (that can be due to coughing fits as well, to be clear)
  • You side with each other when your kids are trying to play one of you against the other. Or you at least apologize when your daughter(s) are far too convincing
  • You know that there is literally no one else on the planet that you would want by your side for the rest of this life. And you act that way

Quite frankly (dad! lol), I could go on and on with what I’ve witnessed in a marriage that spans 50 years, but here’s the very simple truth …

You just don’t give up. That’s it.

How many times do you think my parents failed each other? I’m guessing at least a few. But both of them; both of those young and adorable ‘children’ decided on June 12, 1970 that they were choosing each other. They were choosing to be each other’s safe place of shelter. And they were choosing that regardless of anything this completely questionable and seemingly unraveling world could throw at them, they were going to make that choice to fight for the other day in and day out forever and ever amen.

Love never gives up.

I love you and your love, D & C. I pray that some day I can have something like you do, if only so that I can show you that I DO know what love is. It’s what you’ve got, even if I have to break up your arguments over how to operate the FF button.

Cheers to your golden day. And to many, many more. ❤

a fierce-hearted woman

I read a book a couple years ago that quickly came to mind this morning as I considered how I could humbly and even remotely honor the mamas.

See, I consider myself so incredibly fortunate to have a number of women in my life that fulfill the role of a mama. To be clear, I have one mama. More on that later. But I also fully believe that you do not have to have given birth to another human to be a mama. I’ve witnessed the incredible pain of women who have battled infertility only to never have the opportunity to conceive a child. Those women (and men who stand alongside them) have the heart of a parent.

I’ve seen women who have had to carry on through miscarriages and loss near, at or after giving birth; some experiencing loss after their child reaches their teens or even their twenties. Nothing takes away their role of being a mama.

And then there are mamas who choose not to birth biological children (for one reason or another) and yet opt to pour their heart and soul into children who were birthed by another and, out of some circumstance, made available to love. (These women are true heroes, by the way.) Mamas still.

The women in my life have been shaped by many of the paths to becoming a mama noted above but they chose to love me like a mama without giving birth to me. (And I bet to all high heaven they are surely glad they didn’t get the privilege of being my actual parent. Only God could have prepared the two I got for that monumental task.) I started going through all the names in my mind and it was actually a bit overwhelming.

I’m so grateful and blessed beyond measure. I have women who have held me during intense shake crying; women who have silently prayed for me (some even with paper reminders in their own prayer room); women who have spoken such life to me that I can’t put words to it and then of course, just women who have befriended me with such sweet tenderness that they still call me friend despite my constant sucking at being a friend back.

To all of these mamas, I just humbly whisper ‘thank you.’ (Like with tears and red cheeks but you already knew about all that because you chose to know me.) And because I’m getting up there in years, I’m going to forego the actual list. I don’t want to forget anyone. But I feel like you know who you are. And that I love the crap out of you.

Finally, there is my own mom. The one who gave me life. I will NEVER be able to be the daughter I feel like you deserve. Thank God for Nikki, right? I mean, I know I have given you more to worry about, to stress over, to be fearful of, to shake your head about, to find a padded room to step into over and to likely just want to run outside and shake your fist at heaven and say, ‘whyyyyyy me, God?! whyyyyy?’ And yet, you have loved me in the way that only a fierce-hearted mama can. You have chosen to love me despite my myriad of flaws, to show me kindness when I didn’t deserve it, to fight for me when I couldn’t fight for myself, to demonstrate what a successful professional woman looks like, to stand next to your man in the dirt pile (figuratively and literally), to speak up for injustice and give generously to those who need it (even when it doesn’t make any sense at all) and to rise up from a pile of freaking ashes, dust myself off and realize that I can take another step. And of course, how to give all of that to a child of my own. I will never feel adequate or equipped. But, I’m doing my best.

Mostly, though? You’ve shown me what a Godly woman looks like; how that Proverbs 31 woman comes to life. You are her. And I will always be the lucky one for having such an inspiring example in my immediate (non-socially distant) circle. I love you, mama.

Finally, for all the fierce-hearted women out there, I want to share with you the intro to that book I mentioned … the words I take line by line and write about in my own journal. To remind myself of who this woman is and who I aspire to be. Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.

golden child

Does anyone still do golden birthdays these days? Are any of you old enough to know what that means? I was sitting here thinking back to when I turned 17 on that one fine (and I’m sure, cold) January 17th back in … eh, it doesn’t matter the year. Because I’m too old to remember. But doggoneit, we just had a golden day around here and it was for my one and only golden child.

I was so super proud of myself this year because at least three weeks in advance of Connor’s birthday I had a cake ordered, gold-colored candles, a gold-flanked 14th birthday banner and a shirt I’ve wanted to order for years from Amazon in-hand. I’ve not ordered it previously because it isn’t on Prime (which is so dumb!) but it made sense for the golden theme. I mean, you only turn 14 on the 14th one.time. It might be totally lame but I love it; it says, ‘February 2006 – Limited Edition – 14 Years of Being Awesome’. And yes, I made sure he wore that sucker to school. But my hunch is no one saw it because the child lives in a hoodie. It’s fine.

We also had our ducks in a row a couple weeks prior about our plans because Connor’s birthday happens to fall on the highly-anticipated love fest that is Valentine’s Day so instead of trying to do dinner out, he chose B.C. Pizza, cake and ice cream in with the fam bam. Honestly, it’s one of the many reasons I think the world of this child. He’s not terribly high-maintenance (maybe just thank God in general for boys) and he is ridiculously happy to eat gluten free bacon and cheese-laden bread. Also, a huge shout-out to Connie’s Cakes in Grand Rapids. They delivered what I heard was ‘the best cake I’ve ever eaten in my life.’ So, good job on that, too.

So, while it was a golden birthday, I really mean it when I say this child is golden. Maybe it’s supposed to be man child now. I don’t know when they make the official switch but I do know that we talk more about him being a man (ahem) than we talk about him being a child. And I’ve watched him change so much again just from a year go, deep voice aside.

I thought I’d put a quick list of ‘things I never want to forget about Connor at 14’ together so I can refer back when I’m much older, like 41.

  • This was the year Connor fell in love with golf. He spent much of his summer days at a few different courses with my parents and has decided he will probably be playing that instead of baseball (yes, I die) when he gets into high school. Side note that my parents are the greatest grandparents on the planet
  • This was the year Connor got sick. And it sucked and we’ve talked about it. But, it was also when he showed amazing resilience, courage and commitment when it came to his school work. He was nominated for Student of the Month when he missed the most school he’s ever missed (16 days).
  • Speaking of school, the kid is a straight-A student. And it’s effortless for him. That was never the case (still isn’t) for me, to be clear.
  • He is also super diligent about getting his homework done. That, or he is doing the gchat thing with a few ladies that make his little face grin in a way that frightens me. I’ve seen the grin. I know the grin.
  • We also likely know by now Connor is a sports fanatic (FAN-A-TIC). He has dreams of being a commentator of some kind and I have no doubt he can do it if he so desires. I hear there is a good school for that in Oregon. *wink*
  • … which means he is obsessed with football and basketball. Well, those are the two he is obsessed with anyway. And it also means that he plays on fantasy leagues. Not just one. Multiple. He played in a league with some guys from church and it was literally the sweetest thing ever because those adult (I mean, are they really though?) men welcomed him into their little clique and then gave him awards at the end of the season. More than that, they just loved on him and it always warms this mama’s heart to see it.
  • In the world of outdoor sports, Connor has shown crazy promise fishing as well as now, hunting. We went camping for a bit last summer and he spent H-O-U-R-S fishing. Sometimes, I had to beg him to come to the camper to eat dinner. That’s not like him. He also snagged his first deer this past gun season. I mean, it was his first time out. And, the second time (aside from sighting it in) that he shot his gun. I actually cried watching the whole scene. It might have been because he was gutting a poor, defenseless deer as well. I can’t be sure. But, it was a beautiful buck and I’ll be honest that I was actually crying because his brother-in-law (my hero) took him out and showed him all the ropes and celebrated alongside him. I’m serious. I’ve never felt more thankful and appreciative for the man my sister sucked into this chaos. It was also sweet because his dad came to see. We were both so excited for Connor.
  • He grew and he grew, too. CJ is now hovering just over 5’10” which is officially the height that makes it too hard to let go of him sometimes. He just needs a little more meat on his bones and then he’ll be my perfect snuggly companion.
  • Nearly everyone that I encounter who has spent time with CJ tells me what an amazing young man he is and how much they just love him. I pray that is always the case despite his age

Connor’s 14th made for a good sampling of who he is right now. He had a great day at school (which he said was easy), a dance after (to which he said he didn’t dance with anyone … can we just all pause and say a big ‘hallelujah’ about that?), a shower (in which he takes too freaking long), his favorite meal (that he can devour in three minutes-ish), gift-opening with the fam (where I had no choice but to get him a membership to the Dollar Shave Club – save me) and a basketball game that he forgot to tell me about until ten minutes before he wanted to leave (yep, that’s 14).

I love him. He is my hero. He makes me more proud than I ever could have imagined he would (even when he does act like a teenager, because he does!). And I just know that God has so much more for ahead for my golden man child.