Saturday, August 30, 2014

Girls get-away for #13

When our girls were little, I heard about another mom who would take their girls away overnight for their13th birthday. I knew I wanted to do that, too. Jay gets to take them somewhere fun for #16 (he and Katie went to New Orleans for hers). 

So, this was it. The weekend I got to take Mary Margaret overnight for her 13th. We went to Bentonville, Arkansas. 
Fantastic lunch at The Crumpet. The orange rolls were delicious. 
Drop in art was fun at Crystal Bridges Museum. 
We couldn't resist the selfie in front of one of our favorite words. 
We saw deer, up close and undisturbed. 
We even caught a glimpse of Spidey and his co-hort. 
We had a blast! Good fun, nice hotel, lots of bargains and great conversation. I love being this girl's mom. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

I'm too young

I'm too young to have been married twenty years. And if you are my FB friend, you've seen the pictures this week  from our wedding twenty years ago. This is my last mention of it, really it is. But I believe this is worth celebrating! 

I rarely blog or post on FB about my relationship with Jay. There's the occasional mention here or there but I don't too often. For a few reasons, but the main one is that I know that everyone's husband is not like mine. I don't want to be perceived as bragging about him. 

We had guests, another couple, in our home after we had been married just a few months. After supper, the guys left. The other wife asked me how Jay treated me when no one else was there. Not sure of exactly what she was asking, I replied that it was the same as when anyone else was there. She was amazed that he refilled my tea, cleared my place, and spoke kindly to me. She said those specific things to me. She noticed that he did those things and thought it was because he had an audience. I wish I could describe the look on her face when I insisted that's how he is all the time. Disbelief. She just shook her head, said, "You have no idea how good you've got it." and was very quiet the rest of the evening. A few years later, they divorced. She had lived with verbal and emotional abuse for years. 

Jay is an amazing man. He consistently puts my needs and my wants before his own. He serves me daily. He does not complain about what I do or about what I don't do. He does the dishes. He irons better than I do. He is patient with me. From day one in our relationship, he has said that he knows there is a part of me that can only be filled by time with friends. He has always encouraged me to take time for myself, spend time with friends, or Mom and Kelli, and he sees that I come home a better mom and wife. My spirit is refreshed. (this was a much bigger deal when Katie and Mary Margaret were little. It's much easier to do this now.) 
He dances with me in the kitchen. 
Side note - here's the playlist Mary Margaret put together for our anniversary date this week. It was a hoot! He had moved the rug, table and chairs out of the kitchen so we had a great dance floor. 

He has asked the question, "Do you want me to listen or do you want me to fix it?"
He has shown me grace. Like the time I backed into the garage door. Or when I bounced the check the first time he registered to take the CPA exam (he's been balancing our checkbook ever since!). The list goes on and on.  He has freely extended forgiveness to me. He has been patient with me when I've struggled with depression and anxiety. He has taken care of me when I've been sick - menengitis, food poisoning and recovering from surgery. He has taught me that the gift we give when we accept others as they are, rather than trying to make them what we think they need to be, is priceless.
He apologizes when he messes up. He says, "I was wrong."
He has never raised his voice at me. And he insists that Katie and Mary Margaret treat me with respect. 
He makes me laugh. A lot. A whole lot. 
Is he perfect? No. But he is perfect for me. 
When I was pregnant with Katie, I bought a children's book. 
He would lay beside Katie on the floor (when she was a few months old) and read this book to her. "My dad is as strong as a gorilla! My dad can sing like a rock star! My dad is awesome!" 
For Father's Day this year, Katie and Mary Margaret wrote their own version of the book. 
They filled it with photographs of them with their dad. This page made me smile. 
And this one made me laugh. 
And this one took my breath away. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Book club, June 22, chapters 13-16

I hope you are enjoying reading along with me. Feel free to post your answers in the comments. 

10. Has God ever called you to take a step of faith with your finances or career? What was it? How did you handle it? Did you see him provide in ways you couldn’t have imagined? The biggest step of faith in this area was when we made the move to Missouri in 2003. Jay had worked so hard and had bought into the partnership of the CPA firm where he was working. This represented financial security for the coming years. To take a significant pay cut and go to work for the Missouri Baptist Convention as controller -- well, some thought we had lost our minds. But when you clearly know God is leading, you just do it. God did bless and provide, over and over, financially and also through our friends, who became like family. 
11. What was the worst home improvement challenge you’ve ever taken on? Was it worth it in the long run? Oh, boy, well, after gutting one house and nearly gutting another, I can't even narrow it down to one project. Absolutely worth the wait every single time. Here is one of my favorites (before and after) from our house on Brookside Blvd. in Jefferson City. 

12. Do you agree that it’s sometimes our job to be our spouse’s cheerleader? When was a time that you encouraged your husband or helped them through something they were going through?
Yes. I believe that I am Jay's biggest cheerleader. Our pre-marital counselor told me that if Jay has had the absolute worst day, and the world has beat him up all day long, if he knows he has a safe place (me) to come home to, he can find the strength he needs to go back out and do it all over again tomorrow. The most recent time I've been this for Jay was when we moved to Springfield. A new job is a daunting task. It was of utmost importance for him to know I'm behind him and beside him 100%. 
I will say that he is the same for me. When I'm fearful about trying something new or something I think I'm not good at, he says, in his quiet but sure manner, "Niki. You've got this!" 

Book club, June 15, chapters 9-12

Several people have asked me questions about this book. If you are reading along, I hope you will take a few minutes and answer the questions. Thanks! 

I love the story in chapter 9 about P's response to Melanie's belly button surgery. And the acupuncture.  "Oh, hindsight. You are funny."

Her chapter titles crack me up. "That Time I Almost Went on Judge Judy."

The hardest I laughed in the whole book was in chapter 12 when P did the reading at their friends' wedding. Great point to the story though - I am my husband's cheerleader. 

1. Do you remember things you found out about your spouse after you got married that you didn’t necessarily know beforehand? I remember realizing that we  had both participated in things before marriage, simply because it was a way to spend time together. Ex. I don't play tennis. But I would go just to be with Jay. It certainly didn't take him long to figure that one out. He would go shopping with me. That is really not one of his favorite things to do. He also balances the checkbook to the penny. My thought at that time was, "I'm sure they know what they're doing over at the bank. Why should I waste my time opening those envelopes they send me?"
2. What was the first fight of your newlywed days? I'm pretty sure it was when we got a letter in the mail saying that the check mailed in to pay for jay's CPA exam had bounced. And yes, I was in charge of the finances at that time. Guess what? He started taking care of them right then and has been doing it ever since. It works well for both of us that way! 
3. In Chapter 7, Melanie discusses finances. Do you have a budget you stick to every month? Yes, we do. We have used the envelope system for cash for 12+ years. It works well for us. Each year we look at our budget and adjust according to things we know are ahead of us that year. I'm thankful for a husband who believes in saving and is disciplined in that. 

Book club, June 8, chapters 5-8

I've had several people mention this book to me in the last week. If you are reading along with us, please post your answers to the questions. It's so interesting to read each other's answers. 
Favorite parts from chapters 5-8.
I love the reference to Shipley's donuts in chapter 5. The taste of my childhood. My older brother took me to school in 6th & 7th grades - Tommy is 7 years older than I am, and would drop me off on his way to class at LSUA. Anyway, every once in awhile he would swing by Shipley's and get us donuts on the way. As a 12 year old, being driven to school by my older brother, who drove a royal blue beetle bug AND blared Huey Lewis and the News and the Dazz Band from the stereo AND throw in Shipley's --- could it get much better? I certainly didn't think so at the time. 
Moving on...
"Then there's old love. Old love is the comfortable shoe of relationships. You know each other. Each of you as a little more worn and not as pretty and new as used to be." Isn't that the truth?
The Possums. Enough said. 
Chapter 7 "We Make Dave Ramsey Sad."  I laughed out loud when I read this chapter title. 
I loved reading about when Melanie decided to paint the back house. "'You still have a lot of work to do!' Thanks for pointing out the obvious. You must be related to my husband. Have a nice day.'
"In a lot of ways home improvement is like marriage. It's not glamorous. It can take a lot of hard work and effort. Their days it feels like it might be easier to burn the whole thing to the ground and start all over again. Then you remember how much you love the house or your husband and you recommit yourself to what it takes to see the whole thing through.... You have the satisfaction of knowing you've made something beautiful."
1.  Have you ever made a list of qualities you want in your future spouse? What things did you include that ended up not being as important as you originally thought? I did make a list of qualities I hoped for in a future spouse. I was hoping for a man who was taller than me, weighed more than I did, was a people person and a great listener, had a great sense of humor and loved Jesus more than he loved me. Girls, I got everything on my list. And so much more. 
2. What are some things in your life that you feel like you’re waiting on right now? Do you agree that we’re all waiting on something, no matter where we are in life? When I first read this, I thought, "I am not waiting on anything right now." And then I noticed a topic they keeps coming back to my mind - where will Katie go to college? Nearby? Far away? And even though it's not waiting on specifically something for me, it will be a significant change in my life. And after just being away from her for nearly two weeks, I confess, I am not looking forward to it. And yes, I agree, that we are all waiting on something, regardless of the phase of life. 
3. In Chapter 4, Melanie mentions a list of celebrities she’d be friends with if they ever met. Do you have a list? I think I could be friends with Elizabeth Hasselback, Patricia Heaton, Julia Stiles, Jennifer Garner and Nate Berkus. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book club June 1, chapters 1-4

Ok, friends, here we go!

Disclaimer - I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing here, but I think it will be fun and interesting, so here goes. 

 I'm going to mention my favorite parts of the first four chapters and then post suggested questions from Melanie. 

Page 6, (referring to the registration process when you pick out all the things you think you need before you get married) "'re selecting things for the life you think you are going to live, when in reality there is no way to know what life will really entail." Amen to that, Sister! 

Page 26, "My other talent is committing to things that seem like a great idea at the time and regretting it later." Oh, yes, I have learned a few lessons with this one. 

Pages 32-33, when she writes about Perry coming back to the car with a plastic grocery sack, and the next day "he made the walk of shame in his wrinkled rented tuxedo." I laugh every single time I read this. 

1. In Chapter 1, Melanie mentions that she’d always envisioned a Christmas wedding but ended up getting married in August. How did your own wedding day differ from what you thought it might be?  To tell you the truth, I don't remember spending a lot of time imagining my wedding. I do know that I wanted it to be different than everyone else's. I saw pictures of a wedding with cream colored bridesmaids dresses and I knew I wanted mine like that, too. That was not something I had seen before where we lived and people (including my mother) thought that was a crazy idea. I also wanted our wedding to be personal but didn't really know what that would look like. Our pre-marital counselor suggested we each write a letter to our parents and have them read as part of our ceremony. We took his advice and it added a beautiful element to our wedding day. 

2. Have you seen ways in your own life that marriage tends to amplify whatever insecurities you have? Have you looked for your husband or job or anything to complete you in some way? I learned the hard way that Jay is not meant to completely fulfill me. Jesus Christ alone can do that. I had expectations of Jay making me happy all the time. I set myself up for disappointment and I set him up for defeat. Thankfully, through great counsel, we weathered that storm and came out on the other side stronger than before. 

3. Do you remember the first time you met your spouse? What stands out in your mind? The first time I saw Jay, he was playing volleyball with my brother, Tommy. Jay had on purple shorts. I remember that he had braces on his teeth, he was a great volleyball player and he had great legs. Basically I thought, "He. Is. Hot." But out of my league. 

Post your answers in the comments. It will be interesting to see all our different answers. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summer reading

Join me on June 1st for an online book club. We will be reading The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle aka Bigmama. 

I have been reading Melanie's blog for almost ten years. She was recently a guest on Focus on the Family. 

I hope you will join me this summer. Each week we will read a few chapters and every Monday I will post "discussion questions". We can "discuss" through posting comments. You can pick up your copy at LifeWay or Target (I'm sure it's other places, I've just seen at both of these) as well as Amazon. It is also available as E-reader format. 

This is from the back of the book. 

(See you back here June 1st!) 

Marriage . . . you gotta laugh.

They say that marriage is a lot like insanity, in that they both require commitment. I so get that.

When you’re in those first giddy stages of dating, you have no idea what life is going to throw your way. You’re just two bright-eyed kids full of optimism, convinced you’re going to be the happiest married couple ever.

Y’all. Trust me. Saying, “I do” is easy. It’s the next fifty years or so that can get a little tricky.

There are days you feel like you’ve never loved each other more. But there are also days filled with disappointment and silence that never seem to end because you just can’t seem to find the words to make it right.

Marriage can be the biggest blessing and the most significant challenge two people ever take on. It’s the joy of knowing there’s someone to share in your sorrows and triumphs, and the challenge of living with someone who thinks it’s a good idea to hang a giant antelope head on your living room wall.

And yet we are in this thing together. For the rest of our lives. Not just for better or for worse, but for better AND for worse.

That’s what this book is about. The times that brought us together and the times we were falling apart. The days we wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, and that time he hung an antelope on my wall.

Welcome to the story of a real marriage.

Melanie (aka Big Mama)