Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Pop-sicle

Today is Popsicle's 61st birthday. 

Yesterday we had cake and dinner under the setting sun with him. It sounds more lovely than it was because dementia rips all of the loveliness out of life and then some. Though it wasn't lovely in terms of the world, it was love-filled. And today, we celebrate his life before this disease. The lessons he taught us, the laughs he brought us, the love so sweet it could rot us. 
The ten lessons he rocked my world with:
1. Brevity is an art; an art much appreciated.
2. Even if you don't know everything, act confident, -sometimes- that'll get you further than answers.
3. Invest yourself in your life's love, this ensures you'll never lose your professional or personal passion.
4. Go about life in bold, that'll make you impossible to ignore.
5. Take risks. They're always worth it -though it may not be in the way you expect. 
6. Who cares if patterns match? As long as you've got clothes on, you're fashionable. 
7. Create and keep tradition, it's what makes family so.
8. Failure only happens when you actively choose not to pursue your ambitions as wild as they seem.
9. No one can ignore a girl on a tractor.
10. Life's best when lived fast. No one's got time to waste on worries and sadness. 

Happy birthday Popsicle.
I know you wish you were here to celebrate with us emotionally, but you're on your way to overseeing that big job you've got to do up in heaven as you prepare for us to make our grand entrance one day. Thank you for the way you filled our lives so deeply, so purely. And thank you for continuing to do so without knowledge of it.

This song always makes me think of you dad. The heart behind it is yours. Thank you, dad. I love you so dearly.


Shane and Shane - The One You Need (Official Music Video) from shane-and-shane on GodTube.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Moral of the Story: I'm kissing shopping good-bye.

This is me. 
So, I've decided to take a 3 month shopping hiatus. 
I take it with the hopes that I will make the world better, instead of my shopping. No more feeding into the corporate, need-want-need machine. 

I know, you be like: 
That's how I feel too. But the girl who loves clothes and shoes and accessories is swearing new ones off for at least, AT LEAST, three months. For so many reasons that span personal, financial, spiritual, practical. All of which I'm sharing with you today -partly for your information, mostly as a reminder for myself on Black Friday when I want to be like: 
But won't because I'm on a shopping freeze. 

Last night I sat down with Mr. T and said, "We need to talk because you've got to know this before I can convince myself otherwise." We talked, I explained. And he did this: 

And then, he said, "You can do it. I'll make sure." Those make sure words are definitely terrifying. Now, all jokes and hilarious GIFs aside: I'm taking three months off shopping. 

The Reasons: 
1. Stuff matters too much to me. It does. I have a look I want to maintain that has got me thinking I NEED, NEED, NEED. 
2. The different between want and need is so blurry I can't define it. So, I will spend three months re-learning what the two mean to me. 
3. We want a house. Those things cost money -A LOT OF MONEY. So, we save by me not spending. 
4. I have plenty. More than plenty. And plenty breeds plenty-ous. Time to stop the machine and be glad in what I've got. 
5. My heart's been feeling really heavy and really convicted about all my material shit. I stop buying and start evaluating what I've got in a clear mind and we'll see what happens. 

The Rules: 
1. No buying clothes, shoes, jewelry for myself. 
2. No unnecessary grocery store or Target buys. Just because it's for sale, doesn't mean you have to own it. 
3. Birthday and Christmas presents are ONLY allowed for other people. No self-gifting allowed.
4. No telling someone else you want something so they buy it and then pay them back. (Mom, that means us) 
5. All are free to keep Amber accountable. Damn it. 

My Plan: 
1. Stay clear of Target -the kryptonite to my no-shop plan. 
2. Keep off online shopping sights even if I'm "gathering outfit ideas" because that always ends up in a cart of online gold. 
3. Save gift cards until the fast is over. Because, let's be honest, no need to lead oneself into temptation. 
4. Be honest with real life friends. I have some girls who are my shopping sisters. Oh how good we do. And, I need to share my fast, my reasons, my heart so they can support me in my ways. 
5. Remember how much I do have. In the face of clothing racks, I'm a creature of want. Instead, I long to be a creature of thanks. 

Some Related Truth: 
This wasn't Mr. T's idea. All mine, though there will be moments in these months I will blame him. He's in agreement and he's going to do some cut backs of his own, but we'll still vacation, date, and enjoy time together. In fact, we'll do that with a new appreciation for those moments because we're pulling tight the purse strings in other facets of our budget. 

My prayer (seriously, I will pray for this in the next three months and you can pray for me too) is that I will get to January 1st, 2014 and want to try it for an entire year. I know I truly can't believe I'm considering such a possibility. 
All this to say, I want a house for my (one day) family and I want to stay home with my (one day) kids. Doing so changes our finances and if I could begin to prepare, to change my habits now, I should. I will. I can. Because, they're worth it, Mr. T and Baby Ts. 

Finally, Mr. T doesn't get mad. He can dislike my spending habits without getting upset with me. He is a man of grace. Up to this point, I let it be and didn't feel guilt. But, lately, I've recognized this trait in him so specifically and the complementary trait in me that's taking advantage of his grace. What kind of look is that for our marriage? Not a good one. So, in loving Jason and in loving our God, I step back and do what's best for us, not what's best for just me. And, that's practicing self-control and some discipline. 

Moral of the story: I'm kissing shopping good-bye. 
(That was shopping that just awkwardly fell on her face.) 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That In Between.

Yesterday we received two shiny, expensive pieces of equipment. We oohed and aahed over them. We all laughed as they unloaded from a box truck (nearly impossible to fit the machines into). We all followed the operator around the yard as he learned the new joystick controls. Then, we went and did our work. 

I assumed my position behind a desk, answering phones, completing the week's payroll, and all else office. But this little thought loomed: he should be here. That's right, Popsicle. He should be here watching this unload, emblazon his name over the fresh white paint, drive that machine in circles on the lot. He should be here. 

He isn't. He's there. Away. Between life and death. He isn't here. He hasn't a clue we've grown the fleet. Oh, the joy he's missing. He isn't here. He's there. Between life and death. And, for the first time in a long time, this makes me so sad. So deeply sad. 

It's good how we get to honor him with our choices, we think of him often in our business movements -from the daily to the long-term-, we move in ways that we know he'd move. But, some days, I just want him here or in Heaven, not there. Not between life and death. I wish he was one or the other. Not the between. Just like, I wish we could miss him or enjoy him. Not the between. 

Yesterday was a between day. Where I'm between happy and sad. Mostly happy, mostly on the good side of the between. But still sad still a little bit between in the happy-sad zone.

Yesterday we received two shiny, expensive pieces of equipment. They reminded me that we can do this without his voice. Only because His voice is now so loud and clear. We will follow Him around construction sites and pour our hearts into the concrete we level.

Oh Popsicle, I love you. I wish we all weren't suffering, you with this disease, us with this loss. Oh Popsicle, you're a special man who left a legacy of integrity and good work. I wish we got to work in that legacy beside you now, you freed of this disease, us without this loss.

But, there's a different, broken story here. A story so sad sometimes I can't breathe through the tears. But Popsicle, you taught me that He redeems all things. All things, our story, our in between days included. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Do it to it Bub.

My bubba -the older of my two little brothers- left for school last week. Oh my soul is sad without his loud, crazy, hysterical spirit around. This boy is the definition of absurd. And, while he pushes my buttons like no other, he's the little brother who's done so much of life as my teammate. 
Dear Bub,
While I was searching for the perfect picture to capture my thankfulness for your last summer of irresponsibility, I found this gem. You seem to be loved not only by all the people gathered around you, but by my pup too. How do you do that? It's like there's a magnet inside of you the makes people want to know you. I haven't got the pull like you do. Maybe I can take notes one of these days, though I imagine it'll take longer than that. 

Mr. Thomas is lonely without your loud mouth around. He's used to having a mandated man-date across the yard and now, you've up and left him. If I get pulled into some car waxing, beer drinking scheme, you're doomed. You will receive more threatening and angry older sister texts than the average day. I'll send a bear your way to take you down. 

I guess I miss you being around too. I have no one to harass endlessly for no good reason. Or to shoot darts with and win. Or to go pick up lunch at work when packing one is just too much to do in the morning. Or to bring Buckies to unexpectedly. Damn it. Why'd you have to go to school again? 

Anyways, it's your senior year fool. Do it. Whatever fun stuff comes your way, just do it. Because, this is the end dude. You're going to end up working and being all responsible like me (questionable statement) before you know it. So, be it a country-club theme bar crawl, the Bacon Fest, or some other shamefully ridiculous shenanigans, do it and savor. If not for your own fun, do it for me. Because, there's days where I'd give my left leg to go back to college for a weekend (that runs from Thursday night to Sunday). 

And, remember, resumes suck. So do interviews and applications. They come with stress as a package deal. Yes, you're trying to figure out life, but the thing is, you'll change your mind a hundred times. And you're allowed to because it's boring to have everything figured out. Embrace those moments of transition and uncertainty. You've got nothing to weigh you down till you sink, so take a risk or seven. Then, bask in the successes and cheers to the failures. 

In parting, the words of Friedrich Nietzsche: "You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." 

Just do it. And take Him with you. He'll follow and redirect if necessary, but mostly He'll come along for the ride because He wants you to choose, to move, to try all while He is there. 

Do it to it Bub.
sis
P.S. If you're work genius looks as creative as a redneck hot tub, any and all employers will be lucky to have you. I can print this out full page size for your resume should you so desire. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

God was there.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? 
Yet not one will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father." 
-Matthew 10:29
This is a picture of a dead bird in my garden. I don't usually do this whole dead animal picture thing. But, it's got a point. 

A sparrow seems to have fallen from the sky over my garden. And he's got me all twisted up inside. In my head he was flying along all peaceful and birdlike when suddenly BOOM he dropped to the ground on his back dead. And, like all dead things, decomposition began. The ants came in to get their fill along with other bugs of decomposition (of which I don't know much). 

I stood in the garden, motionless except to snap a picture. As I stared upon the peacefully passed corpse of a palm-sized bird, I couldn't help but think of Him. How God was there in that moment as he fell to the ground. God was there. He watched over and cared for this bitty bird as it fell a fatal fall. 

He's here now. Watching me write this. Now, while you read. Later, when works long and it's only Monday. Later, when the lunch hour feels short and the afternoon ahead so long. Later, when you're pouring another mug of coffee feeling that 2:00 pm slump. Later, as you drive home to make dinner, to drink a glass of wine, to watch some mindless TV. And later still, when it's time to lay your troubled mind down to sleep. Do you feel Him? 

I don't either. Not usually. But lately, I've been more intentional in reminding myself of that dead bird in my garden. How he, in his death, was important and not outside of God's care. How I, in my life, am important and inside the care of a great and glorious King. That feels good to think. To know. To write. To read. 

Oh, the mind blowing goodness for you on a Monday morn. 

And, how about a song that's been rocking my world? (It's about sparrows my dears)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Comfort Food. Repurposed.

Back at Blogtember with this prompt: 
React to this term: comfort. 

com·fort food
noun
noun: comfort food; plural noun: comfort foods
  1. 1.
    food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.
    (according to Google.com)

My kind of comfort food doesn't come with that over-consumed, unhealthy connotation we all know and hate. It's food with deep roots in my childhood, a foot in then and another in my now. It brings back those deep feelings of joy, home, family, innocence. They summon Amber-child.

I understand where the negativity surrounding comfort food comes from, but don't think having emotions tied to food is inherently bad. Because on those days that feel so heavy, so bogged down, comfort food is there as a reminder of simple times and pleasures.

Angel food cake with farm fresh strawberries and home-whipped cream will always be birthday celebrations. The smell of the smoke off freshly wished-upon candles and the noise of poor harmonies singing Happy Birthday at the top of lungs. The fluffiness of the cake mimicking the hopes and wishes about the year to come: full of air and lightness, as it should be.

Forever granola will smell and taste like cool mornings on the sofa watching the news. That cinnamon crunchiness that swirls delicately, but powerfully through milk creating a balanced dance on the tongue. Granola summons the sounds of Steve Bosh and Michael Turko reporting the morning news as though our lives depend on them. The crunch between my teeth reminds me of the possibilities of today -not yet soaked through with the liquid of the milk, just as my day remains untouched and crisp with opportunity.

Pickles will always be a little piece of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland at six years old. Snuggling into the crook of dad's arm as the mechanical hippos charge our explorer boat with hunger and the animated driver shoots his cap-gun pistol. There's an edge of my seat feeling to pickles in that salty, sour brininess that mimics my booty on the edge of a wooden bench on Disneyland's perfect recreation of an Amazonian jungle cruise.

Vietnamese Pho will always fill me with warmth -not simply because of the broth- but, mostly, because of the sorority sisters who loved me enough to introduce me to it. I'll remember many Mondays spent sitting around a table in a restaurant across from campus slurping up rice noodles and sipping sake (or in the winter hot tea). It's heated with the giggles of a gaggle of girls sharing their weekend shenanigans while planning the epic events of the weekend ahead.

Barbecue, complete with baked beans, ribs, and macaroni, is the food of Mr. Thomas. The smell of the sweet sauce, the smokey meats, and the tangy sides fills the air, gently but thoroughly, just as he fills those around him. Meat and the fixings take me back to the day we wed, remind me of the meal we shared with those most precious to us, the sauce on his white sleeve after a dinner much enjoyed. Warm melted cheese and carb-filled comfort take me back to the bowl we shared nervously and excitedly in our pajamas soaking in those first moments alone as husband and wife.

Cinnamon tea is forever filled with words, theories, articles. Study tea turned writing drink. As it warms deep in my gut, it loosens ideas, creates inspirations, sets forth new thoughts to be expounded. Just as it provided minor heat in the cold air of the second floor of UCSD's library during finals study marathons back then, it calls my mind to keep vigilant and do good work now. The sharp mint upon my tongue keeps me awake, aware, and focused while allowing me to breath in the aroma of the deep cinnamon flavors.

Not all food is comfort food. Not all comfort food is nutritious for your body, but, oh, the wonders it does for your soul.

What food is your comfort? 
Where does it take you? 

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I'm over sharing my struggles with perfectionism and the way God woke me up from the dangers of my obsession at Blogs by Christian Women today. Stop by and leave your girl some love... Plus, check out the fabulous ladies who've shared there before me! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just be.


Forest Gump once said, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." Well, Forest, I've got to disagree.

Life is more like a litter box, you never know that next time you’ll step on some stinky cat shit.

You read that right. Life. Litter box. Cat shit.

It's not that I think life is inherently bad. I’m a glass half full kind of girl who prefers to seek good even in the darkest of situations because why not? Life's good. God's good. Seriously good. Nor am I anti-litterbox. Because, really, how lovely is it to keep all of your animals' droppings in one convenient location, instead of strewn about the backyard like my dear Hazel’s doo.

But sometimes life throws you for a loop. Or life takes a different course than the one you expected. And in those negative, unexpected times it's like your foot is covered in the stinkiest of shit and you can't possibly manage to wipe it clean. Maybe it's not just your foot, in fact, it's more like stinking sand and life smells worse than a steamer fresh from your dog’s putrid ass.

My shit storm hit at the ripe age of twenty. Dad got sick. The economy tanked. I was at college and missing home deeply. Anxiety set in at a new, obsessive-compulsive level. The scale reflected a weight higher than I’d previously seen. Left, right, up, down: life was shitty. So much so, I lost my desire to look for the silver lining and sat miserably in the pain of it all. The shittiest part of it all: I did so in a void of girlfriends.

Stepping in shit, that’s ugly and painful and disgusting. But doing so within a community of beautiful women who can say, “Yes, I’ve been there. I’ve felt that feeling too. I’ve conquered those demons despite my hopelessness” is so unbelievably redemptive.

The dark moments filled two lonely and longing years of my life, but I know now, they were for this. For me to tell you: vulnerability is right and beautiful. For me to tell you: you have permission to be. Emotional, uncomfortable, downtrodden. You can sit in the shit and process it and feel deeply. But, do it with one another. You owe it to yourself and to that lovely lady beside you.

My deepest of convictions say we were made for one another. Existing in a void, missing out on community, feeling lonely and sad is robbing yourself of life’s greatest joy. So, just be but be in community. Be in this online community or with your high school biffles or your diehards at work. Sit and feel and hurt and clean up the shit, while we, your girls, stand beside you and lift you up when it feels too much.

We need to hold onto those who love us most in the shittiest of times. We need each other to get through this shit. Just be. Still. Clingy. Emotional. Whatever it is, be it here and now.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

This post is in conjunction with Always Ashten's beautiful series of Just Be posts. I'm over there sharing my heart today -giving the skinny on skinny- and you should join in the shit happening there too. Mostly because Ashten is awesome, hilarious and her heart is beautiful, but also because I'm there as a part of her community and have experienced nothing but vulnerable inclusion.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

There are no words to describe this.

Today we share our deep love for the talent of Nicole with Nicole Angelo Photography
We met her for the first time three years ago. Since that initial meeting, she's put up with our antics three more times. And, boy, has she done us well. First, as newly-engaged awkwardness. 
Then, as fresh-faced newlyweds fretting over one another and all the attention being throw our way. 
A year later as a family of three with dear Hazel to contend with... Nicole did amazing work and was so patient with Hazel's bratty ways. 

Then she got married too. And she moved to northern California and, while we were happy for her love and her new life, we were sad to see her go from here. Then, she had a random Sunday opening in San Diego... We got to enjoy her company and her mad skills once again. 
Lucky for us, it's the best work we've seen of hers so far. Thank you so dearly Nicole. 

Words just don't do somethings justice. Here's one of those cases. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

"...you are a letter..."

Back tackling another Blogtember prompt.

Monday, September 16: 
Write a public love letter to someone in your life. 
(It doesn't necessarily need to be romantic.)
Again, I'm challenging what exactly Jenni's asking for here... Don't get turned off just because of scripture. Go the distance with me here.

"You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink, but the Spirit of the Living god, not on tablets, but on human hearts." -2 Corinthians 3:3

As writers we see our digital screens -iPhone, laptop, desktop, iPad-, our keyboards, our emails and comments, but do we see the ripples in the pond beyond our words? 

Though the process is complicated -our thoughts begin in our heard and are refined in our minds, expressed through the dance of fingers on a keyboard and transmitted to the internet-, words are telegraphs of our hearts. They're bits of our insides shared, consumed, and, hopefully, cherished by you, the reader. 

Are the letters of our lives turning out to be words worth reading? 
Do we have something, anything to offer others? 
Who and what does our life letter point the attention to? 

My hope and prayer is the letter that is Mr. Thomas & Me wreaks of love upon opening the envelope. You'll notice cross-outs, misspellings, the -sometimes- misused grammar; but, because the essence is so obvious, I hope those minor blemishes disappear amongst strong convictions. My hope is it screams of care as you glance at the handwritten characters and it points in His general direction. 

May my words on your tablet be ones of inspiration and encouragement. And when those are absent, as they will be some days, may my words bring you laughs. 

Finally -and quite possibly most importantly- your words that come in the forms of comments, emails, tweets, and texts are inscribed on my heart's tablet. By God's grace, you all remind me of my purpose: to write a life of love letters. 
Dear Reader, 

I love you.
I need you.
You feed my soul with sweet words and kind thoughts.
I hope you need me and my words in some small, but meaningful way.

Sincerely and humbly,
Mrs. T

Saturday, September 14, 2013

#sayyesproject: The Link-Up

A few weeks ago, I shared how my anxious mind creates a desire in me to say no. I tend to say no, even to things I really want to try. So, I issued a dare that came in two parts:


[1] Say yes.
To anything really. Anything to which you'd want to say no.

[2] Write about it. Or Instagram it. Or tweet it.
Just share it to inspire the rest of us YES sayers.

Then I promise a little tale of my own Yes Project. And a link-up. Today's the day to bare it all while you share it all.

This inaugural round of my #sayyesproject looks small and seemingly insignificant, but was a part of a larger change in perspective.

I said YES to a night swim with my dear family and a glass of wine.
I'm an early to bed, early to rise sort of girl. So the text that came at 8:35 pm, asking for a dip and a drink immediately summoned a no. The alarm's set for 5:45 am tomorrow, I can't skip that sleep... And the extra calories in those drinks, can I really afford them right now? 

The alternative answer: YES

And I did. And it was full of laughs and care-free moments and refreshment in the cool waters of the pool despite the humid, sticky night heat. 

There were words to be written, bible verses to be read, prayers to be said, dreams to be had; instead, I took a pause. A pause that was just a few hours long, but filling to my soul and, thus, to my creativity. Rather than pour over my list of things I needed to do, I spent time enjoying a step away from pure productivity. And I needed it. I didn't know, but I was desperate for the break from the grind. 

In saying yes I was reminded that, while my online life is well and good and interesting, it doesn't occur without my real life being the same. Well and good and interesting looks like a thirst for all things new -adventures, travels, friends, books. So, I write that discovery on a sticky note for my mirror at home, my computer at work, and my dashboard for the in between. 

Also, magically wrapped into one yes were two others:
1. Post a picture of myself in a bikini on the internet for all to see.
2. Take glass in and around the pool. Isn't that forbidden everywhere? 

There's a few more BIG and little yes moments coming in the next week. Holy smokes, I seem to have taken this dare and made it more of a DOUBLE DOG DARE. If you didn't have the chance to say yes this time around, join us for #sayyesproject take two on October 1st

How'd you say yes friends?
Was it to adventures? Or rest? 
Or something completely out of your ordinary? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A purpose was born.

Going all Blogtember on you pretties again. It starts slow, but stick with me loves. It'll be worth it. Pinky promise.
I started blogging in college, mostly because I read a lot of blogs and I thoroughly enjoyed writing outside of academia. I'd post once a month, at most, but never thought much about my purpose or readership or goals.

Then I married Mr. Thomas and we moved to my hometown which is significantly smaller than beautiful San Diego where we spent our years of dating through college. Making friends didn't come easy and sometimes I'd mop around because I didn't have anything to do. Jason encouraged me to do that blog thing again. So, I did. Again, randomly, without purpose or goals. But more transparently than the first time.

A year later, dad's health took a turn for the worst. And I stopped blogging and started being mopey and sad. After a few weeks of being sad, Jason encouraged me to find the good and to write out the emotions like I always did. Fine, I said. But this time, it looked and felt different. My writing was vulnerable, it was about Him and us and dementia and marriage and faith and issues of faith and so much more of my heart than my kitchen or my running or planning a wedding.

A purpose was born. And a community of readers started speaking back to me. They said, "Amber I know this feeling. You aren't alone." They said just what I needed to hear.

Mother Teresa said it right, "We belong to each other." We do belong to each other. 

As I put words out there to share my experiences and my emotions, I get the same back. I find solace in those shared moments that, though they aren't identical, are similar, are emotional, are hard. And little by little we build a bit more of community. Because we do belong to each other. 

Every time our words resonate in each others' hearts, we are furthering that connection. As we share, we find friends who have been there and encourage us to make it, to hold on to hope, to cling to faith. Our vulnerability breeds more of the same, causing walls to be dropped, facades to be melted, and perfection to be forgotten. This leaves us standing beside one another bare and unashamed.

In the same way that I said yes to blogging, to sharing, to reading, to sharing myself online, you did too. We've turned to one another and invited strangers to speak into our lives with words that contain more power than even we are aware.

And, this Saturday, we will say yes in a bigger, online context of community. 
Please join us friends.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's our anniversary, we can cry if we want to.

It's serendipity that Blogtember prompt is

Tuesday, September 10: 
Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn.

I write about two years ago today. 
The day Mr. Thomas & Me was established.

I love the gentleness of his arm wrapped around my torso. The way my hand clutches his elbow. How my lips graze his cheek as his do mine -though you can't see it. The way our ears match. My mom's beautiful, composed face filled with serenity and not tears -because she kept saying she was going to cry. Jason's eager face filled with youth, expectation, and, mostly, nerves. His hands open, poised, ready to accept me as his wife. His surfer hair that's since retired for a more professional look. My eyes closed tight, allowing me to consciously soak in the moment that I didn’t know I’d have forever on film. 

This is my favorite picture of us -the newlyweds and the veterans- from our wedding day. They hand me off with utmost confidence in our journey, knowing full-well marriage is defined, not by normalcy or continuity, but by what you'd never expect. They stood in support of us with 25 years of marriage to draw from -with knowledge of the blessings and woes of life dedicated to another human. 

Little did any of us know how much unexpected would fill the next two years. 

A picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case, a thousand unspoken prayers. Our hearts are captured in ways invisible to the human eye. The four of us stood full of love, excitement, and hope as it should be on a wedding day. But our feelings extended beyond that ceremony and the following celebration of us. 

That day, we decided to grow the love that made us family. We were filled with excitement about the life we were all going to share. We hoped deeply and purely for dad's healing, for an adventure-filled Thomas union, for a family free of disease -physical, spiritual, and emotional. We stood together and promised to one another that we’d be more than relatives, but family who does hard times together. And, how we have. 

Two years later, I see the way their confidence empowered us to rise to the ugly occasion that is unexpected loss. One retracted offer on a house, two emergency room trips, and three plan derailments later, I realize they knew not only could we do marriage some good, but more importantly, we could do family outside of our newlywed party of two. One hundred and four weeks later, I understand how God works through marriage, how He defines us, refines us, and breaks us in the context of a life-long union. Twenty four months later, I hold the faith they did that very day -that we have the strength to do the hard times because of Him. 
Though I expected we’d look older, more serious, more mature, two years later, I never expected the vast difference in our insides. 

Today, I recommit myself to you Mr. Thomas. 
Knowing full well I can endure those bad times. 
Filled with utmost confidence in our ability to handle the unexpected. 
Grounded in the work God’s done in us and thrilled about what is to come. 
To say I’m proud of Team Thomas would be an understatement. 
Because I see His glory in our story and we’ve barely just begun. 

Our marriage mantra shall be this:

“Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.” 
― Clive BarkerDays of Magic, Nights of War

Because we've done it once. And we can do it for life. 
But only as a team whose roster includes family, friends, and Him. 
You in Mr. T?

In parting, Happy Anniversary Jason. 
You're pretty alright if I do say so myself.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Personality tests are so NOT our thing.

Blogtember calls for a personality test and then our take on the results... I'm anti personality test. Because really, what test can capture all the crazy in my mondo-head? The correct answer is (e) none of the above.

So today, I share with you about our -yes our, as in Mr. T and me's- personalities.
 Mrs. T
1. Getting my Starbucks gold card was like winning an Emmy. Keeping gold status is approached much like an Olympic sport -with much practice and dedication.

2. I hang dry my running shorts -only my running shorts. Yes, I only feel like athletic clothes are worth special treatment. Am I sick in the head?

3. My moms my biffle. And I don't care who knows it. Or who judges it. Best get yourself a hobby if you're sitting around worrying about who I hang around. 

4. Running is what maintains my sanity. Literally.
Mr. T
1. Slept in a room with no windows for years. Air flow is unimportant when he's sleeping (unlike Mrs. T's preference for open windows and fresh air).

2. He believes clothes are all the same so they should all be laundered in the same way. Several white t-shirts turned pink later he was banned from laundry day. 

3. His Weber bullet would be what wood (heh, heh, points for the pun?) be saved in a fire... Even though its fireproof. 

4. Nature is his sanctuary. (It ain't mine)
...And what we share... 
1. Dancing is our groove. After a few drinks and the perfect tune, we'll be rocking till closing time.

2.Less than eight hours of sleep and we're riding the struggle (grouchy) bus. 

3. We're both shy in our own ways. Thankfully, those ways are different so one of us always compensates for the other. 

4. Pictures are something we're bad at. We always talk about wanting more of them around the house, but then we forget to take them in the first place. (Hence, why there's some recycled shots around these parts)

What's your big personality quirk?
And, do you have a gold card? 

Friday, September 6, 2013

You see, life's scary for me.

This is another post participating in the Blogtember Challenge. Join us! 

Friday, September 6: 
A story about a time you were very afraid.
I'm a fearful being. Some of my earliest memories are anxiety-filled.

The first time I ever felt anxious was at four years old when I noticed my pointed ears looked like elf ears. Just like the ears of elves that Santa employs at the North Pole. And as Christmas approached I became paralyzed by the fear he'd take me back North when he came to drop off presents. I was thrilled to help Santa out with the Christmas rush, but devastated by the thought of leaving my family and friends behind.

In third grade I was consumed with the fear of cancer. I was sure one of my cells would go AWOL and I'd find myself bald, nauteous, and knocking on death's door. I'd spend months in a hospital only to whither away as the cells squashed my desire to live. Many nights I'd lay awake in a cold sweat worried

In fifth grade I became aware of the social order at school -cool girls versus not cool girls. And, I was inducted into the "cool" group. Should be a sigh of relief, instead I feared every day they'd find me to be a fraud and kick me out. Surely enough, they did. And my worries didn't stall such an occurrence one bit.

In middle school the fears were social -awkwardness, embrrassment, pimples. The anxiety subsided come eighth grade, until I remembered the unknown world of high school followed promotion.

In high school I feared losing my boyfriends. Yes, lame, but true. I was a serial long-term dater and each boy was dear enough I didn't know what life would look like without him. And, so I'd overanalyze, fret, and lose sleep over the break-up that could (and eventually would) happen to my fragile teenage heart.

Then I went to college. I lived in an apartment alone which was the way I preferred. And I became afraid of everything. Death, life, night, day, evil, good. Fear, fear, fear.

I started my rituals. Little tendencies toward organization turned into hours of consumming obsession over the books on my shelf and the way they were inherently organized "wrong". Alphabetical by author, then by title, by color of the spine, by publisher, I'd do it over and over until I was in tears from the stress and exhaustion of it all. My kitchen cabinets drove me insane to the point of sleep deprivation and I'd spend the night emptying them and refilling over and over and over. Then I discovered the beautiful aroma of a bottle of bleach and I scrubbed every nook and cranny my nubby little fingers could manage. Hours upon hours of knuckle scabbing work only to crave the same routine come noontime.

You see, life's scary for me. 
I'm afraid of the world out yonder.
My heart drains of zest only to be replaced by a deep-seated horrifying feeling of impending chaos.

Thankfully, there's a good God watching over my steps. An omniscient God who won't insulate me from bad, but who is there with me in the darkest, ugliest, scariest of moments. And, I, though hard-headed and struggling, am learning to seek His presence. He reminds me often that not a sparrow falls from the sky without His presence. Am I not more precious than a sparrow? (Matthew 10:29)

You are valuable too. Let go of your fears, anxiety, worry because He didn't make us to live trapped in a bubble of frets. No, He created a vast and unique world in which He longs for us to find joy through exploration. Pack up the bleach, leave the books alone and get out. He's there in all circumstances -good, bad, the in between- and that's where He wants you to rest: in confidence of His presence.

What's restful for you? 
I'm an anxious mover so I'm trying to slow my roll. 
Lectio Devina's one way. Another is silent, still prayer. 
And, still one more, reading His word, other Christian authors' words, blogs.
What slows your mind to a standstill in busy, worried times? 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Don't Go To Bed Mad... & Other Advice We Don't Heed.

Today, Blogtember asks for advice. It wants to know what I've learned and remembered. But, prompts aren't that easy for me to follow. Hell, what am I wasting my breath for? You all know this by now. 

Thursday, September 5: 
Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered. 

Being just two years married, we received tons of advice during our "newlywed" period. Advice that, while well-intentioned, didn't hold water when the rubber hit the road. So, today, I share what advice we remember, but that didn't ring true in the context of our marriage. 


"Don't go to bed mad."
When I want to, I'm pissy and angry and spiteful. I know that about myself and so does Jason. So, sometimes, when the fights are especially overdramatic, we go to bed mad. SURPRISE, in the morning I wake up completely over it. What was worth digging my heels in the night before becomes unmemorable at sunrise. More often than not I need a good night's sleep, not an hour long conversation "talking it out". 

"Happy wife, happy life." 
The last two years have held just as much unhappy as they have happy. Moments of deep, unspeakable pain have fallen upon us and, though transformative, the Happy Wife has been unfathomable. But, the wife who's emotions are acknowledged and affirmed while allowed to be, is far more happy than any spoiling can do. 

"Agree to disagree."
No one likes disagreement. So, instead, we agree to love one another despite our differences of opinion (that, though they don't happen often, are usually passionate). The important point here, we don't dwell on disagreement, but honor the beauty of holding true to opinions that differ. This brings a positive vibe to what can easily be negative. 

"Only use "I" statements when you're fighting."
I've needed a figurative slap in my entitled face just as much as Mr. T. Though it isn't any sort of easy to hear, some days I need to know I'm being a stubborn ass as much as he needs to know he's being a self-righteous know-it-all. It isn't the first time we've heard someone call us out on our shit, and it won't be the last. Don't get abusive or go on a verbal assault, but know that some days we need to hear about our shortcomings even from our spouse. 

"Talk over everything." 
Bullshit. We share lots, but we limit the amount of time we talk about work. It can easily become a whine-zone making us miserable, so ten minutes then onto something else. So, don't force an hour-long conversation on what he doesn't give a damn about and vice versa. Interests aren't always mutual and easily covered, but, after eight hours busy at work, do you really want to spend the night talking about what's there too? We didn't think so. 

The advice we do heed (that needs little to no explanation):
Date your spouse. 
Don't ditch romance just because you're married. 
Take time to have fun together (includes laughter).
Affirm one another (in your love languages). 
Respect your spouse, then communicate with them. One without the other is impossible. 

What works for you guys? Or what doesn't? 
Singles, remind us what it means to operate without another?
(I know, seems odd to ask, but there's so much us some days 
we don't remember what it means to be a me.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Three Months From Life Means Fashion Police

As I've mentioned yesterday, I'm participating in the Story of My Life blog's Blogtember series... And, today I answer prompt II. 

Wednesday, September 4: 
If you could take three months off from your current life and 
do anything in the world, what would you do? 

Because I'm a total fashion plate, I'd take some time from being fashionable and assist the unfashionable of the world. People usually stop me in the street to get my advice regarding clothes, pairing, and accesorizing... After charging a nominal fee, they receive said advice and their lives -as well- as their closets- are changed for the better.  (note: sarcasm through and through)

Instead of making big bucks handing out my fashion advice, I'd take up a non-profit, proactive role as a fashion peace officer. In doing so, I'd assure all major retailers as well as the innocent people on the streets that bad fashion would be cleaned up and eventually suffer total extinction. 

I've decided to spend today pulling together my list of fashion trends that should untrend themselves ASAP because these trends are illegal "fashion" moments that I'd cite in a heartbeat. And, if you happen to have a contact at the local fashion police, get them on your speed dial and turn all offenders in immediately. Lacking a fashion police force in your area? Go vigilante and perform a citizen's arrest. 

Claw Nails
Girl, just because cheetah print's in, doesn't mean the claws are too. I've yet to see a ten nail set that impresses my impeccable taste in nail beds. And these, scratchy abominations, are going to redefine what it means to get in a cat fight... 
Girls, let's leave claws to Salem and his feline friends. 

The Drop Crotch Pant
Just because Psy and MC Hammer do it, doesn't mean you should too. Boy, girl, or otherwise, a sagging crotch region isn't complementary to anyone's legs or tush. I know Tyra couldn't get even her booty to tooch in these fashion mistakes, so please, for the sake of your leg day and your gluteus, leave the drop crotch alone! 

Lady Gaga Hooves
She's the only woman that can pull these off... (Which is a questionable statement in itself) And then people go and wear them to the mall. No. Just no. My shins hurt just thinking of the splints this lack of support would cause. And, Gaga, your legs are awesome, but put some pants on, please. 

Turtle Neck Tank Tops
If your neck needs to be warm, so do your abs. Period. And aren't turtle necks supposed to be conservative? The crop top isn't. I'm all for a fashion statement, but not when it says my neck's cold, but my abs need sun. Make up your mind folks! 

Saggy Beanies
I've got a big head that would need every bit of space in that beanie, so it may simply be jealousy fueling my dislike for these... But, it reminds me of a wilty mushroom. Or a phallic something or other. Or is it that I feel it's channeling the Travelocity knome?

Cartoon Prints
Cartoons are borderline unfashionable to me in the first place. They scream four year old underwear to me... But converting that single graphic into an entire print?!? My vertigo is acting up (and I didn't even know I had vertigo). Plus, doing it double as seen here throws my eyes into a downright and crossed position. 

And I'm off to cite the fashion don'ts of southern California because, though I can't take three months off my current job and life, I can put my new Hello Kitty notepad to use. It seems this humid-heat brings out fashion mistakes in droves... Much like fire ants, but more burning to the eyes than the flesh. 

Clue me in to the most glaring of fashion don'ts in your area. 
Oh, and, wouldn't you love to be the fashion police too? 

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