Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Last First Date

7 years ago tonight, I was getting ready for my last first date (a friend used that term and I liked it.  Thanks, Meghon!).  I was a nervous wreck.  To say it had been a while might have been an understatement.  Had it not been for Will and Spring Tate, I'm pretty sure I would have backed right on out.  Guys made me nervous because somewhere along the way I had decided if I accidentally picked the wrong one, I'd be a miserable girl the rest of my life.  (I went out with a few wrong ones.  I have stories...good stories. But I'll save those for another day...or never.)  But even while I worried, God was guiding.  And even on those days when I tried my hand at one that wasn't just right for me, and got hurt, He was still guiding.

I agreed to a date on a Sunday night after he had football and after I had church.  We went out for Mexican food in Luverne.  He picked me up in his little bitty white car and in the 3 minutes it took us to get there, I remember thinking: 1- He was really cute.  2-He played great music.  3.  I was going to have to roll out on my knees to get out.  (Seriously, the car was low.  It was the first thing to go after I said I do.) We both ate chicken nachos and I use the term "ate" loosely.  I probably didn't eat 3 bites.  We came back and sat on my porch swing...for a long time.  I missed that night's Desperate Housewives.  I should have known then, this was serious business.

I am pretty certain that I did my absolute best to run him off for the first couple of months.  However, 9 months and 5 days after that first date, we were married.  It's not perfect.  He makes me mad.  Some nights we get little to no sleep (our kids are rough bed partners).  We forget to put the trash by the road when the can is overflowing and we don't know how we will fit one more cup in, much less all our trash for a week (that was last night).  I spend too much and he swears we will be eating pork and beans for a month (but my new clothes look cute).  The house gets messy.  I get overwhelmed.  Marriage is tough.  But it's so worth it, too.  And I am so thankful Bradley didn't give up on me.  I'm also thankful that God didn't allow me to settle for less than this, because I am absolutely certain that this was God's BEST for ME.  

It makes me happy to remember these little things.  Maybe it's encouraging for you to read.  It's a reminder of God's faithfulness, and we all need those.  Even those of us who have found our prince often need to be reminded that God's at work in our lives, because sometimes we all feel discouraged.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Six Years of Wedded Bliss

Six years of wedded bliss and zero arguments...just kidding.  In the age of "facebook fake" as someone called it recently, I want to really be honest with you.  Six years ago tonight I walked down the aisle and made a commitment before God and a whole bunch of people...probably some of you.  It was the sweetest day.  It was perfect (really...I wish I could do that day over and over).  I knew that life would always be sweet and romantic and perfect.  And it was. For a week.
The week we returned from our honeymoon, football started and reality set in.  At some point I might have even said, "no one told me it would be this way." I might have been crying.  I enjoy sports, so forever I thought it would be just perfect if I married a coach.  And when God brought me my heart's desire, I realized it was not all pompoms and hugs after games.  I was more like, "Where in the world is my husband?  It's time for dinner."  I learned to adjust, and we settled in.  Everyone told us the first year would be the hardest. I beg to differ.  The year a child arrives...THAT my friends, will test your marriage.  Then you have another baby, and your husband is blessed with his first head football job all in the same month (and your dog barks all.the.time.)  THAT will also test your marriage.  It was hard.  It still is hard.  Marriage is work.
I've been reading a book (The Antelope in the Living Room- I highly recommend it!).  It talks a lot about how our expectations of love and how it really is are very different things.  Love is not all pompoms and hugs.  It's not flowers and candlelit dinners.  It's real life.  In my house, love looks like drinking tea because there is one Coke Zero left and you know your wife will need it at 9:30 p.m. after the kids pass out.  It looks like bringing home chocolate because you know it will make her happy.  It looks like folding that load of clothes on the couch without being asked.  (Typing this is making me think he shows way more love than I do.) Love looks like praying for your spouse even when they don't know it.  Love is choosing to show grace.  It's knowing your spouse isn't perfect and accepting them anyway.  I do not have this thing down.  I am learning.  EVERY.DAY.  My best friend gave me a card on our wedding day. She probably has no idea, but I have kept it in my Bible since then.  It says, "Sometimes love is a choice." How true.  It is making a choice to overlook imperfections.  It's a pardon none of us deserve.
Bradley is so patient with me, y'all.  (Me, not so much...working on that) God knew what he was doing when he brought us together.  I am grateful for him.  I'm grateful for the grace he shows me.
I don't write this to make you think it's always hard.  It's not.  Many days, it's easy.  But on the days it's not easy, I don't want to bail out.  I want to find a way to make it work.  I want to be in this for the long haul. For better or for worse.
Thank you for the best 6 years, B.  Looking forward to real life with you for many more.

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Miss" Sally: A Tribute

I know it's been a while, but my heart is heavy and I am hoping this will help.  Can I tell you about someone special?  Would you listen to me ramble for a few minutes?  When I got ready to begin school in Troy I had some complications regarding where I would live.  It left me with 1 option...to commute.  Through a family connection, a very dear couple who knew very little about me, offered to let me move into their home.  So I did.  When I moved in, I thought I might stay a year, but I ended up staying with them the entire time I was at Troy.  They became like family to me.  We shared dinners, long conversations, laughter (lots of laughter), beach trips, Auburn/Alabama rivalries, and so much more (my heart smiles just thinking about these things).  I came into their home at a time that I felt a little lost about where life was taking me.  I came in questioning some things that I had believed for a long time.  I am certain that "Miss" Sally listened to my sob story at least 499 times.  But she listened.  Every. Time.  She was a great listener.  My time in their home was very healing.
After college, I moved and started my first job, but we continued to call each other often.  During this time, they moved to Auburn, and I would occasionally go spend the weekend with them.  They still invited me on their family beach trips.  They had 4 children and many grandchildren so these trips were so much fun to me. They sat at the front at my wedding.  There is a precious picture of him looking at her prior to the start of the ceremony.  (They were probably in shock that I was finally getting married.)  B and I started to visit together. B is convinced she makes the BEST french toast known to man. One visit that stands out in my mind was just after we brought Ella Kate home from the hospital.  It's no secret that I was pretty sure I had ruined my life and would never sleep again.  Ever.  But "Miss" Sally and Mr. Terry brought dinner that night and I remember as they left, she said to me, "Honey, it's going to get better." She had this laugh that I can still hear. And for some reason when she said that I thought, "you know, maybe it will".  I had a little hope.  She was right.  It did get better.
Two years ago, they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.  We went and enjoyed our time.  Ella Kate was a big fan of the dance floor and "Miss" Sally enjoyed it as well.  We visited them this past March and had the best time.  We spent the day sitting outside, remembering all those times in Troy and laughing.
This precious couple had so much of an impact on my life.  They are selfless.  That is the first word that comes to mind.  I was not the first person they had invited into their home.  They represented the love of Christ.  I think you would have a hard time finding anyone who thought otherwise.  Because that was just how they were.  I have so many fond memories that I'm sure you don't have time to read, nor do I have the time to type.  But I want anyone who reads this to know that Terry and Sally Ingalls were a Godsend in my life.  Words fail me to describe just how much I love them.
This past Saturday morning, I received a heart breaking phone call.  "Miss" Sally's earthly life ended unexpectedly that morning.  Her family is heart broken, as are the many others who loved her.  My heart aches like it hasn't in a very long time.  But my hope is this:  "Miss" Sally is in heaven.  Her joy is full, and I will see her again one day. I want those who didn't know her to know about her, for she was a precious, precious lady.  We could all do well to leave a legacy behind such as hers.  Please be in prayer for her family and friends as they celebrate her life this week.  Remember that life is fleeting and precious.  Spend time with those you love.