Memaw’s House

4 Oct

My Dad text us this evening to let us know Memaw’s house had been sold. This is something I expected. After her second stroke in late August, I knew she couldn’t live on her own anymore. I found myself sobbing, wondering why I was so upset.

Talking to my husband, I realized I was mourning the loss of my favorite place. My refuge.

Memaw’s house was always clean and comfortable. It always smelled good. It was always full of love.

It was my home when my parents split up. I spent countless weekends there growing up. It’s where our family gathered for every holiday, birthday, celebration. I’ve only missed a couple of Christmases my entire life at Memaw’s house. It was her favorite time of year.

It was at her house, Memorial Day weekend last year, that I realized I might be pregnant. The weekend she really got to know Jake and Jami. The weekend they fell in love with her. It was the last time we got to spend quality time with her without the rest of the family around. I’m grateful for that time.

I realize it’s not about the house. It’s about her, but I can’t help but feel my heart break to know that I will never go to Memaw’s house again. It will just never be the same.

I pray that my home can become that refuge for my family. I pray I can fill it with that much love and compassion. I pray I can be such a good example to my children and grandchildren. 

For me, there will never be another home quite like Memaw’s house.

Brand New

6 Apr

**This is a post I started and never finished…

I’m currently sitting in a hospital bed, all propped up with pillows. A seven pound 3 ounce slice of heaven swaddled like a burrito baby on my lap. She’s sleeping peacefully as is her daddy. I should be sleeping too, but I can’t just yet. An alarm is set on our phones for a little before midnight for another feeding and pain meds. 
I’m listening to her breathing and 

**I imagine a nurse came in and I got distracted and then tired. Obviously I forgot all about this blog post in those hazy, post C-section days. It was a wonderful time filled with so much love.

Joni Anne

15 Aug

It turns out that when I thought I was pregnant on Mother’s Day, I was right and the test was wrong. 

But I didn’t doubt the test for even a moment. Why would I? Years of negative tests in the past… I know now that I never really believed it would ever say anything different.

But there I was, on the 2nd day of June, blinking at a positive pregnancy test for the first time in my life. I took the test after a relaxing Memorial Day weekend with my Memaw who found my symptoms “suspicious”. And then my next two days at work, I was utterly exhausted for absolutely no reason. So I decided to take the test that was left over from Mother’s Day… And then another cheapo from the Dollar Store.

And when they both said yes… I was amazed. Shocked. Excited. And terrified.

I didn’t want to lose this baby. Part of me said that it was going to be ok, but part of me said this was never supposed to happen for you. Don’t get too attached.

Fast forward a few weeks to my first OB appointment and ultrasound, and I discovered that I was due January 14th (which meant I got pregnant in early April as I had suspected). I also got to see the baby for the first time and that’s when it got real. But when I heard the heartbeat for the first time… I cried. I loved. I ached. I don’t really know how to describe what I felt. It was the moment it all became real to me.

About a week later, I did some lab work including NIPT and took the option of learning the sex. Just after the 4th of July, we learned we were having a girl and that she was clear of the genetic issues they tested for.

As far as I’m concerned, this pregnancy has been ideal. I haven’t been sick much. I am tired, but that’s ok. I have a family that’s made this so much easier and wonderful. Everything is progressing just as it should. I even bought my first pair of maternity jeans this weekend for my newly formed bump.

We have been talking casually about baby names, and had a few names we liked but nothing we loved. I felt early on that I wanted her to have a J first name or middle name. Jake, Jami and I all have J names. Since we are a blended family, it just felt like a sweet way to tie us all together. 

We had pretty much decided on Emma Jean, but something told me to keep looking.

Jake has an older sister named Toni who passed when he was 4. He wanted to name Jami after her, but his mother said no. And I can understand that. 

The other night, I was looking at a list of girl names that start with J, when I came across the name Joni. I went to school with a couple girls named Joni, but had forgotten the name. When I saw that it meant “God is gracious”. I knew it was perfect.

My mom suggested Ann for a middle name (her late mother’s middle name) and her initials would be the same as Jake’s… Which was an idea he totally loved. And it’s what he has called her all weekend. My only tweak is the spelling of Anne, which is a nod to my English heritage. Jami’s middle name is Lynne, and I like that they are similarly spelled.

But please know that I might take one look at her and change my mind! 😂 Seriously.

The big sonogram is in a couple weeks and I cannot wait to see this little girl and how much she has grown!

I can’t wait to meet you, Joni! Momma and daddy and sister love you so much!

Mother’s Day

8 May

Today is my first Mother’s Day. And I’m feeling mixed emotions.

For the past few years, I have stayed home from church on Mother’s Day. It was just too painful. And while I’m going today, I still feel a little dread. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like I’m not really a mom.

But I look at my life and I can’t deny that I am. I have this girl to care for and love. I can relate to her and her situation in a way that most others can’t. I know I have a purpose in her life.

Jami will see her mom for the first time in over three months today. They had a short phone call last night and shortly after, she fell apart. Crying and emotional about everything and super clingy. A little later, I was putting away laundry and she came to see me. I asked her what was going on and she broke down and said she missed her mommy.

It broke my heart. I’ve been in her shoes.

I just held her and tried to be positive. I wanted to take her hurt away, but I can’t. I put her to bed and made her laugh and she is in better spirits today. That’s what being a mother is to me. Giving her a loving and safe home.

This morning, I took a pregnancy test because my period is late. It was negative just like so many others before. I felt pretty stupid. I had a little conversation with God when I stopped taking birth control. I told him I was done being upset. If it happens, wonderful. If not, it’s ok. 

I have a family. I’m a mom. Right now she’s sitting in bed with me as I type. We are chatting about a number of things. She’s told me several times that she loves me. This is exactly what I’ve always wanted.


5 Oct

via Pinterest

When my fiance and I met 8+ months ago, one of our earliest conversations was about my willingness to move if things worked out between us.  I remember his voice on the other end of the line, timidly asking me if I would consider it.  At the time, we were still getting to know each other and emotions weren’t involved yet.  My impulsive answer was, “NO!” but my rational answer (and the one I shared with him) was that I supposed if I was in love that I would be willing to be wherever I needed to be for us to be together.  But I honestly hoped it didn’t come to that.

I’ve moved myself 5 times in the past 5 years thanks to separations, divorce, and job changes.  Just.  Please lets take a moment for all of the packing I’ve done.  It’s just the worst.

But I digress.  As we got to know each other more and I came to understand his situation, I understood that if things worked out for us – I probably would have to move.  It would be what was best for his daughter.  I truly understood that even if I didn’t like it.

With our recent engagement, a decision had to be made and it was easier than I expected it to be.  In about a month from now, I will make my 6th move in just under 6 years.  I will be leaving Texas to live in Oklahoma.  And I feel pretty great about it.

I have my moments when fear creeps in and I think about how much easier it would be to stay right where I am and stay single and not change anything.  But he is always there to remind me that he’s got my back.  That he’s proud of me for being so strong.  That he knows this is hard and he is here for me.  And then I feel like I can do anything.

I think that the past five years have taught me that I can be happy anywhere and I can be miserable anywhere.  It’s about how I choose to live.  It’s about what’s going on inside of my heart.  Home is what I make it.  Home is who you share it with.  Home is where the love is.  Home is where they are.

I’m glad that I’m going to get to live close to him for a little while before we get married.  It will be a more natural transition than going from long distance to married.

Just one more thing – I know that this move has left some of my family and friends in a less-than-desirable position.  Please know that I love you and that I am sorry to leave you.  I know you understand and you’re happy for me.  I know that you’re worried for me.  I know that you don’t want me to go, but thank you for supporting me anyway.

I have faith that it will all work out.


23 Sep

11999758_10207319580406093_156972444776162387_oI mentioned a little while back that Jake and I had broken up, but that didn’t last too long.  We were broken up for about a month, but pretty much talked to each other that entire time.  Even after we got back together, it took a little while for us to feel like we were back together.

The long-distance made it tough.

I think we just really needed to see each other face-to-face.  When he met me in Spur for my family reunion in July, I think that’s when we both knew.  We had a special moment when it was just the three of us, Jake brought his daughter Jami, and we both felt that this was our future.  Parting ways at the end of that weekend was tough.

We had our next visit already planned for the weekend of September 11th, and it couldn’t get here fast enough.  I flew into Tulsa again, and was surprised when he wanted to go back to the “Center of the Universe.”

IMG_5592The last time I flew into Tulsa, we went to check it out because online reviews made it sound pretty interesting.  It’s supposed to be an acoustical anomaly: voice amplified in the center, muffled from the outside.  It was the first thing we went to after he picked me up from the airport.  We were both nervous and awkward since it was only the second time we had seen each other in person.  So, we get to this tourist attraction and it’s just this circle made of bricks that’s clearly in disrepair and we don’t notice any acoustical difference at all.  Jake cracked a joke and I laughed my face off – totally breaking the ice and creating our first inside joke.  It was perfect.

Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when he wanted to go see it again.  This time we did notice that his voice was slightly amplified (and echoey) in the center.  In any case, he was nervous and there were more people around than he expected…  He told me that I was the center of his universe and asked me to marry him.

Obviously, I said yes.IMG_5594He is even more shy than I am.  So it was sweet and awkward and I loved it.  We asked some Asian tourists to take our picture shortly after so we could commemorate the moment.

We are in the middle of making decisions and plans.  Many things to figure out before we can set a date, but hopefully early next year!

Jake is many wonderful things – he is a worthy priesthood holder, a devoted father, giving and loving, funny, hard-working and driven, sweet, honest and a little ornery.  And he’s crazy about me.  But the truth is that I’m the lucky one.  Can’t wait to make him my eternal companion. ❤


10 Sep
via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Back in early 2009, a little over 2 years into my marriage, we were headed for disaster.  In an effort to save my marriage, I completed The Love Dare and blogged the whole thing.  It was a life-changing experience for me even though it didn’t do much for my marriage.  I gained a testimony of Jesus Christ through that experience.  I learned about the pure love of Christ through that experience.  And I eventually learned that I cannot control someones choices, only my own.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a few months later, I met missionaries and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a special stake fireside in Amarillo.  The topic that night was Christ-like relationships.  The speaker was a church-employed counselor for that area, and I appreciated his honesty and frankness.  At the time, I hadn’t dated in a little over 6 months.  I had decided to focus solely on my spiritual health for a time.

I went by myself, having only been in town for a week.  I took fervent notes and hung onto every word.  That night, I was looking through the lens of a recently-divorced woman who felt very confused about how my marriage had gone so wrong.

I was looking for answers, for understanding.  For peace, but also for hope that I could keep from repeating the past in future relationships.  As I listened with an eager and open heart, I was humbled to realize mistakes that I had made and just how unloving I had been at times…  Just how selfish I had been at times.  How demanding.  Yes, I felt sorrow, but more than that, I felt resolve to change.

To truly have a Christ-like relationship, you have to be able to be selfless.  You have to be willing to love unconditionally and sacrifice for your family.  You have to be willing to trust that your partner will do the same.

This has been my greatest concern…  Was it possible for me?  Could I be that trusting?  Could I be that selfless?  Could I love unconditionally?

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been working on overcoming my issues.  When you don’t have your needs met as a young child, you learn how to meet your own needs.  You learn how to protect yourself from harm.  In some ways, these are really good things.  In some ways, they can hurt our relationships with other people.  For instance, it can lead you to be a pretty selfish person.  You are more concerned about protecting yourself and taking care of yourself than you are others.  It’s a survival skill that helped you when you were young, but you don’t need it anymore.

It isn’t something you can just turn off, but with work and faith it can be changed.  With the help of our Heavenly Father, we can access the gift of the atonement.  We can overcome the sins that have been made against us.

Recently, I’ve wondered, am I ready?  (Which really means, am I capable of creating and maintaining a Christ-like relationship)  Honestly, I haven’t been sure.

This weekend, I was able to visit the San Antonio Temple and took the opportunity to pray in the Celestial room.  When I asked if I was ready to be married, I received an answer that was full of love and promise.  “You will be.”  Then this lesson from The Love Dare came to mind.

It’s amazing how some things in our lives come full-circle.

I realized that I’m ready to make the choice to love. I’m ready because I’ve made peace with the past.  I’m ready because I understand that Christ-like love is not something that comes very naturally or easily to us.  It takes humility and prayer and effort, but it is possible.  I’m ready because I know there will be tough times, no matter how righteous I am.  I’m ready because I have faith in His plan for my life.

I can do this.

There you are

2 Sep
via Pinterest

via Pinterest

About a year ago, I was living in Amarillo and I was miserable.  I hated my job.  HATED it.  I was struggling to deal with life, but I was sure it was because my stress level was through the roof.  When I had a good opportunity to get out, I took it.  And when I told my mom that I was headed back to Corpus Christi, she annoyingly reminded me that “where you go, there you are.”  (you were right, OK mom)

Being back in CC has been interesting.  It’s kind of forced me to face some things and has given me the opportunity for clarity.  I recently started paying attention to my Facebook memories which go back to 2009.  It’s fascinating because it has allowed me to see a pattern that I wouldn’t have found any other way.  For 4 years in a row, at almost the exact same time of year, I was going through the same thing.  I was devastated and heartbroken over choices my ex-husband made and I was determined to take control of my life.  Determined to get to a healthier place and be happy.  And yet, by that time next year, I found myself in the same spot…  Even after I had been divorced for 9 months!!!

I couldn’t help but look at that and wonder, why?  WHY???  And how on Earth could I keep it from ever, ever, ever happening again.

Around 5 months ago, I wrote about how I was falling in love. About six weeks later, we had broken up. And I was miserable. Instead of going on a camping trip in Utah with his family, I spent a week in Amarillo mostly alone. I had a ton of time to reflect and it became clear to me that I needed some help.

The fact is that the more I felt myself falling in love, the more I fortified this wall inside of me.  My fear of being hurt was so great that any means of protection was easily justified.  I found myself looking for reasons it wouldn’t work.  I found myself creating problems, starting arguments, setting him up to say something I could take offense to.  It was a disaster waiting to happen and eventually it did.

At the time, I was all righteous indignation.  I am willing to admit that I was unfair.  The way I portrayed the breakup to my friends and family made it easy for me to justify.  But soon I felt that I was being dishonest with myself.  I started amending my words and I started reconsidering my judgment.  And I realized that I had been in the wrong.

I made a stunning discovery.  I realized that I had pushed away every man who I had ever loved.  For as long as I could remember.  I would push them away, regret it and then try to get them back.  I had repeated the same cycle over and over again and somehow not realized it.  And realizing that made me have to swallow a bitter pill and admit that this cycle played a major part in the destruction of my marriage.

I was aware that I had some issues to work though before I could have a healthy relationship again, which is why I purposely stayed single for two years.  But this new realization opened a door for me, and gave me the final push I needed to really start working on healing.

I’ve been in counseling (weekly) for the past three months.  I was ready to do the hard work that is necessary for it to really help you, and we have accomplished so much in that time.  I’ve come to better understand why I resort to such destructive means to soothe and comfort myself.  I’ve realized my greatest fears about relationships/love are actually of myself.  I understand why I’ve tried to find other people who would save me.  But more than anything, I’m learning how to heal myself.

Because, truly, I am the only one who can.

Yes, I need help from Heavenly Father and I need to access the atonement, but no one else can do the work for me.  No one else can make me feel whole and healed.

I’m not going to say that I am fixed.  All of us are lifelong works in progress, but I have been waiting to feel this peace within myself for many years.  I’ve watched myself repeat choices and patterns over and over again, all along wanting to change, but not knowing how.  It feels amazing to know how to change my path, to have a plan to survive crisis.  The hope is incredible.

I’ve shared so much of my struggle here over the years.  Feels pretty good to share some success. ❤

I want to see you be brave.

26 Jun

IMG_4916The quote pictured above is actually supposed to say “Speak the truth even if your voice shakes,” but I’m only interested in speaking my truth.  That’s why I changed it to read, “Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.”

There was a time in my life, early 20’s, that I felt like I had to shout my beliefs to the world.  I felt that I had something to prove.  I thought I knew it all…  I look back at myself and shake my head.  I was a total idiot who knew nothing.  And no one gave a crap about what I had to say.  The more I tried to assert myself, the worse I felt, the more people I alienated.  And the more I experienced, the less I felt like I understood the world…  The less I understood about myself.

The past 5 years of my life have humbled me.  I found myself in a place where I had to admit that I didn’t know much of anything.  So I kept my mouth shut and I observed.  I listened.  I started from the most basic questions in life and pondered, prayed, and studied until I felt sure.  Some things I still don’t feel sure about and that’s okay.  I don’t have to know exactly what I believe about everything.

I’m grateful for my education and my life experiences.  I’m grateful for my faith and spirituality.  These things have brought me to a point in my life where I feel like I know mostly what I believe about the world.  They’ve also taught me to be open to learning and changing.  But I have been afraid to share.  Afraid to alienate people, afraid to offend people, afraid to be wrong, and afraid that I would be alone.  But I’m not alone.  And that’s exactly why I’m taking a brave step today.  I want others to know they aren’t the only ones who feel this way.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of my personal beliefs, just the ones that I think I need to share at this time-

  1. I believe I should live and let live. Of course, I don’t want anyone to tell me what I can and cannot believe.  I don’t want anyone to interfere with the way I live my life.  I don’t want to be judged for my beliefs.  And thus, I can’t rightfully want to do the same to anyone else.  You and I don’t have to agree.  I’m going to respect you anyway.
  2. I believe in the Constitution of the United States.  I remember my US History teacher in high school.  I remember learning about the Constitution and realizing just how amazing the document was.  I believe in the rights it protects and I believe that all men are created equal.  I believe that the Constitution supports civil rights movements.  I believe it supports equal freedoms for us all regardless of race, sex, ability, sexual-orientation, age, class, etc.  I also believe that our Constitution protects freedom of religion and I think that allows churches to decide what they will or won’t do in certain circumstances.  I also believe in freedom of speech.
  3. I believe in love.  I don’t know how else to put it.  In every lens that I look at this life with, I see that love is critical to our survival.
  4. I believe in the value of human life.  I believe that we are all brothers and sisters.  Every single one of us has value.  We are all flawed.  Every last one of us.  Some of our brothers and sisters can’t or don’t see the value of human life and they make self-centered decisions to hate/harm/kill others.  But if we turn around and perpetuate their hate, we are only moving their cause forward.  The only way to combat hate is with love.

You might call me an idealist.  You might call me naive.  You might call me liberal.  You might call me stupid.  I might agree with you.  I might disagree with you.  I will definitely respect your right to your own opinion.  You might say that I’m not really saying anything at all, so let me be clear:

Racism is still a problem.  I’m glad that same-sex marriage is now legal, but I’m also glad that as of now churches have the right to decide whether or not they will perform those marriages.  I will fight for it to stay that way.  I personally would not seek an abortion, but I’m not about to tell someone else what they can or cannot do with their body.  I believe that we will be judged for our actions and that it is not our responsibility to decide what each other is doing is right/wrong.  I believe that we are responsible for ourselves.  I think we can and should focus on our communities and be of service to those around us.  I choose to use my example as an influence.  I choose love over hate.

If you disagree, I’m cool with that.  I might unfollow your posts on Facebook, but I’ll love you just the same.


3 Apr
via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Super Bowl Sunday, I was sitting around watching the game, when I got a text message from a very dear friend.  She asked me if I had a boyfriend.  I told her I had been dating, but that I was not in a relationship.  She responded by saying she wanted me to meet her cousin.  Would it be okay to give him my number?  I told her that would be fine and figured, what do I have to lose?

That was a little over two months ago.

Such a short period of time, and yet it feels like we’ve known each other forever.  Some have suggested it’s because we are having a long-distance relationship.  That might be the case.  We communicate much more than I think we would in person.  When we did meet up in Memphis at the end of February, we made each minute count because we knew it would have to last us a while.  It’s just more intense I guess.

I’ll see him again in two weeks and I am so excited I can hardly stand it.  But that’s not the point of what I want to write about today.

I’ve been completely single for two years, and I’ve gone into this relationship with a healthier mentality than I think I’ve ever had before.  Even so, I’m still me.  I still think too much, and worry, I’m still logical and analytical, and apparently I’m still a little scared.  I’m so much better at managing my stress, but I know that I have my limit.  When I reach it, my self-control weakens and I act in a manner that I truly can’t stand.  And then I’m disgusted with myself, which only makes it worse.

Yesterday, I was a mess.  I have a full plate of responsibilities, I’m still trying to settle into the new place, the move has me financially strapped, and on top of it all there’s this new relationship that needs my attention and care.  I’m stretched thin and tired, but I think I could handle all of that if I weren’t also falling in love.

I’ve been trying to not let it happen because it’s scary.  I’m thinking of all the ways it can go wrong.  Thinking about how illogical and crazy it all is.  But it isn’t working.  Every time he makes me laugh, I lose a little bit of the control I’m exerting over my emotions and I fall a little bit further in love with him.  I was a crying, worrying, feeling mess yesterday and he handled it like a champ.

He listened to me, comforted me, assured me, prayed for me and supported me.  He kept a positive attitude and never once beat me up about it like I expected him to.  He encouraged me and reminded me to turn it all over to the Lord.  I felt loved and cared for and safe.  Which is what I really needed to feel.

It’s still really new, but already really good.  It’s still scary, but much less so now.

via Pinterest

via Pinterest