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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! ūüėā 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!

Engaged!

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. ‚̧

Ready

10 Sep
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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
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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. ‚̧

Falling

3 Apr
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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.

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Fear

18 Feb
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Food for thought, Brandi.

Patiently

25 May

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This may not be much of a surprise to anyone, but I’ve been frustrated for some time now. ¬†I’ve been struggling personally with a number of issues from the stress of my job to my lack of personal progress since going to the temple back in early February. ¬†I’ve been fully aware that I shouldn’t be feeling the way I feel and at the same time unable to change.

This past week, there’s been some significant changes at work and church – new callings. ¬†And I’ve been praying specifically for help in being happier and understanding exactly what’s going on.

This morning, I was listening to the Mormon Channel app while I got ready for church.  A program called Music with a Message came on.  This specific episode was about Patience.  For 30 minutes, I heard song after song and message after message about waiting faithfully.  There was one particularly poignant moment in the program:

Patience isn’t passive resignation. ¬†Nor is it failing to act because of our fears. ¬†Patience means active waiting and enduring. ¬†It means staying with something and doing all we can, working, hoping and exercising faith- bearing hardship with fortitude. ¬†Even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. ¬†Patience is not simply enduring, it is enduring well.

I taught my last lesson in Primary today – Prayers are Answered in the Best Way. ¬†In the lesson, I taught the story of Zacharias and Elisabeth, John the Baptist’s parents. ¬†They were both righteous people who had prayed for a baby for many years. ¬†They were older and still had not had a child. ¬†An angel appeared to Zacharias and told him to fear not, that his wife would bear a son and he would be named John.

What the angel promised did happen.  John was born at this time so that he could prepare many people to believe in Jesus Christ and follow him.

Obviously this story is especially poignant to me.

Finally, I went to my Single Adults Family Home Evening tonight and we did an exercise out of Preach My Gospel where we had to rate our Christlike attributes.  While I scored well when it came to Charity and Love and Hope, it became quite clear that I am struggling with patience and faith.

I don’t think God has ever given me a clearer message. ¬†The answer isn’t “no”, but rather “not now”. ¬†I need to be patient and have faith in my waiting, but most importantly – I have work to do. ¬†And I know exactly what that work is. ¬†I’ve known for so long, but I have yet to do it.

I have been failing to act because of my fears. ¬†I have been resigned to the situation. ¬†I dare say that I’ve been slothful. ¬†But that is changing right now. ¬†Just watch me.