Second Chance; An Update

First, let me apologize for taking almost two months to post. (I should really work on that! I’ll add it to my list of things.🙄) I’m sure many of you are making assumptions based on the title of the post and that’s okay, you just might be right. 🙃 In my last post, I was very vulnerable and very upfront about the events that had taken place in my life. I will keep that same momentum for this post. (You’ve been warned! 😜) A lot has changed in two months and I have still been soul searching and falling in love with myself. And I will continue to do that from now on.

In my last post I was very adamant about two things. 1. The best thing that Chase ever did for me was to leave. 2. I don’t believe in second chances.

Well, not very much from that last post has changed. I, 100%, still believe that the best thing Chase ever did for me was leave me. We were in a rut. We were struggling to even fake a smile anymore. We were prideful and neither wanted to admit faults leading up to the “blow out.” We were in the pits and we were unhappy. (Side note: I’m not saying that leaving is the answer because I believe you should fight for love no matter what.) The day he left I learned of strength I never knew I had. Through the chaos I was able to find myself again and that is something that is so important. Even through the pain I was able to better myself and I am grateful for that. So that part hasn’t changed at all. I still stand by that statement and always will. I am a better woman for having gone through it.

What has changed is my belief that second chances shouldn’t exist. At the end of July, I was seeing someone else and desperately trying to move on. (No judgement – Chase had been seeing other people too!) I was ignoring all of Chase’s efforts to reconcile. I wasn’t interested. Or so I pretended. Deep down I had questions and hoped that one day I could get to a point where I was ready to pursue a reconciliation. Despite everything, two facts remained; I loved him. And Chase felt like home to me. From the day I met him he gave home a whole new meaning. Not like 4 walls and a door, but 2 eyes, open arms and a heart beat. No matter how hard I tried to fight it or how much I tried to outrun it, my soul got tired of running from those facts. There have been so many instances and so many occasions over the last few months that showed me how serious Chase is about making us work and just how much he has changed. So with that said, I believe him and my soul can rest! I’m home. 💜 No more fighting it, just fighting for us.

Marriage is hard and sometimes when pride gets in the way, it’s harder than it should be. We have both learned so much in the last few months, but the main things are: 1. God has to be at the center of us. 2. There is no one else in this world for the either of us. We were meant to be. 3. TRUE LOVE FORGIVES. (But true love isn’t stupid – I believe in second chances now! Not third, fourth and fifth chances. 😂😜)

On a serious note – as we start this journey, we know it will be hard and we are prepared for that! We ask for your prayers. Between the love we have for each other, church, counseling, swallowing our pride even when it’s uncomfortable and the best friends & family – we will make it. Here’s to our new life and embracing every struggle as a team. Love always wins!!! 💝

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. – Maya Angelou

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What’s the best thing he ever did?

The day he left, my world was flipped upside down. His words were cold. His emotions didn't exist. His heart just wasn't in it anymore. And I was left wondering where I went wrong or if it was all a lie. Confused. Hurt. Angry. Guarded. And "broken". I grieved the loss of someone who was still living. Someone I thought I would never get over. I grieved a marriage, that was troubled, but one I never thought would fail.

And then something happened….I woke up one morning in my new place and looked around. Here I was laying in bed all alone in my house, that was still strange at the time. It should have been a moment where I cried, prayed, and (possibly) screamed. Instead, all I did was lay there and smile. I SMILED. I found my strength. Strength I never knew I even had. I found my courage. The courage to stand up for myself and the courage to be selfish with my time and my energy. I found my happy. Strange, huh? But I did! I found my happiness – happiness in ME! For the first time in a long time I was no longer seeking validation from anyone else. I found my confidence. I lost 36 pounds (with more to lose!) and started to feel good about myself again. I found my tribe. You know those people who ARE always there with no hesitation and no questions asked. The type of friends that we all long for. The friends that you never have to question their motives or their loyalties. I found my peace. Peace in my decisions, my life, my circumstances. I found CONTENTMENT.

And for the first time in probably 3 years, I am genuinely happy. So when the question comes up if I miss him, the answer is no. When the question comes up if I want to reconcile, again, the answer is no. The reason my answer is no is simple…..

I would have never given up, even when I should have, because that's not me! If he hadn't left, I wouldn't know what happiness was like and I will forever be grateful that he did leave.

Thoughts on Beauty

So after being called ugly today for my physical appearance I started thinking. So here are some thoughts I have strung together. Forgive me if they don’t flow properly.

What sickens me the most about the world that my kids are growing up in is the harsh reality of the pressure they feel to look a certain way or be a certain size. At 11 and 12, my girls should not be concerned about their weight. Yet, they are! 
I think that being beautiful starts in your soul and radiates outward. It’s important to me to teach my children, that physical beauty is not near as important as inner beauty. I have said it a million times and will say it a million more, you can be the prettiest woman in the world, but an ugly heart automatically makes you ugly to me. Society is trying to teach my kids and myself differently. It’s a fine line, I get it, attractiveness sells. Really though? What are good looks without some substance? 
I may never be that girl that other women envy as far as physical beauty goes. I’m not insanely fit, I don’t have a thigh gap, or eyebrows that are on fleek (whatever that really means), I don’t have hair to die for, or perfect skin. And that’s okay by me! However, I do have a listening ear to anyone who needs it, a kind word to say when someone needs to hear it, a heart that breaks when I see someone struggling, hurting or down on their luck. I do have understanding. The understanding that we all are different, that we all fall short at times. The understanding that every single person is beautiful in their own way. Physically, mentally and emotionally beautiful; and its that understanding alone that allows me to look for the good in people. 
The day that society started caring more about who the skinniest of them all is versus who the fairest (or kindest) of them all is…is exactly the day that we lost the true definition of beauty. Beauty is so much more than just the skin we wear. I wish more people could see that. I wish more people would find the beauty in someone’s soul smiling or in the laugh lines on their face or even in their brokenness. Sometimes in our brokenness we find all of our inner beauty, believe it or not. It’s where I have sought mine out more than a few times. Being broken can be beautiful too; it means you’re growing. You’re learning. YOU ARE LIVING. And living is such a thing to find beauty in. So start seeking the things that matter most and seeing their FULL potential. Their fill beauty. 
What matters to me the most is that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I want to do all I can to help whoever I can. I’m strong on the inside. I’m brave. I’m optimistic. I have Christ in my heart. And when I love, I love with every single fiber of my being! Those are the things that I want to pass along to my kids. Those are the things that I want to be envied for. Looks will fade, a good heart…it’s here to stay. So while I may not fit your mold because of how I look, you’ll still fit my mold because I’m not judging you on the outside.


 

The truth about my 30….

Today, on my 30th birthday, as I stood after a long day at work staring out my kitchen window while washing dishes. I was sobbing. Sobbing, while scrubbing pots and pans.
And no, not crying because I was doing dishes. I was crying because I’m celebrating 30 years today. Crying because that makes me happy because some people don’t get to see thirty years old or healthy kids. And I don’t take that for granted. Not one bit, I count those blessings daily. But there was more, I was also crying because I was sad. Reflecting back on my life, I’m no where near where I thought I would be at 30. Not in my career, not in friendships, not in relationships with my family, not physically, not in my writing, not financially (but are we ever there really?), not in putting a dent in my bucket list. Just not there. Let me be clear; I am educated and I have a great job. I have some of the best friends and family a girl could ask for. I have a handsome husband that loves me and healthy, beautiful kids. I go to the gym and I’m finally noticing my weight loss. I write, not as much as I would like too or the things I would like too. We live comfortably and our kids are spoiled. 😜 And we are working on the bucket list. So, I know what you’re all thinking…it’s never too late. I know that, I’m working on it. 
The thing that hurts the most? The reason I was so upset? The friendships and relationships with my family. At one point in my life I knew that there was a handful of people that could look at me or hear my voice and instantly know when something was off. But now….Not even close! You see the thing is, things haven’t been right for months now. I’ve been carrying the burden of health issues and silently fighting them…all while NO ONE in my life knew me well enough to notice. I told a select few what was going and their response was “I had no idea!” I am most of the problem here, because I become a recluse sometimes. BUT at one point, there were people that would know anyway that something was off. This is NOT the kind of relationships that I want. I don’t want surface relationships anymore. I want real, raw, intense relationships. The kind of friendships were we cry together, we laugh together, we get angry together, we learn together and we love together. 
I’m not saying this to hurt feelings or make anyone feel like I don’t value them in my life. I value each and every single person in my life. And I have a few friends like this already, so don’t get me wrong. I just want more substance in my life. Museum visits, history lessons, religious talks, childhood memories, trials and tribulations in our lives, political talks, the ugly stuff, the beautiful stuff, prayer meetings, Bible talks….I want deeper friendships. Deeper relationships in general. I want people who want to know the parts of me that I hide from the world. I want to know people on a deeper level and I want people to know me on a deeper level. 

I had a wonderful birthday and am ready to take on my thirties. Sometimes, I’m just emotional and those are the vulnerabilites I want to share with people. With that said, thank you so much everyone for your heartfelt words today and for taking the time to wish me a happy birthday. It means so much to me! Here’s to 30 and here’s to tackling life harder than ever before.  

(Picture is from this past weekend visiting the Angel Oak on St. John’s island in Charleston, SC. Don’t ever pass up the opportunity to visit….it is breath taking.) 

 

I know what kind of love I want

As I sit in the airport this afternoon, I realize that these walls hold the most genuine emotions and sincere embraces I’ve ever seen. The long hugs good-bye that seem to linger until the two hands can’t touch anymore because one is running to catch a flight. The ecstatic yelps of seeing someone again after just a few days, months or even years. The smiles, the tears, the frustration, the rush…it’s all genuine. It’s all raw. Real. On the wake of all the violent terrorist attacks -Everyone of them, Baghdad included – I sit here in Chicago, in the midst of the hustle of a busy airport and I’m reminded of what is so important in my life. And there is so much. (Side Note: I started this blog to be honest and open, so here it comes!) This business trip not only comes when the world around me is in chaos, but when my home is in chaos as well. Life isn’t always easy. Furthermore, marriage is not always easy. Chase and I don’t always see eye to eye and we love VERY differently. Which makes marriage even harder. We have been at each other’s throats lately and we ARE that couple who will go to bed mad at each other. We are both stubborn and if we aren’t ready to make nice, we don’t. We wait until we are both ready (and tempers aren’t flaring) to talk. We do things on our own time and while some may see that as a problem…we know for us, it’s best. This airport has reminded me of how lucky I am. I have someone to miss me while I’m away. My children have a great father. Lawd, knows I ain’t perfect, but he puts up with me. (And if you know me well, you know that ain’t easy!) On the flip side of that, I put up with him….and there is no else I would rather argue with, annoy and love for the rest of my life. Sometimes, a little distance can put things into perspective a little better. My hope is that we all can start having more airport hugs in our lives. Having more airport greetings and sincere appreciation of the people we see daily. And even the ones we don’t. Practice love. Practice sincere love – airport love.  
  Leaving SC.  
   

What are Godparents? 

What are Godparents? 
I didn’t grow up with Godparents, so I have often times wondered what exactly is a Godparent? What do they do? Well, by definition a Godparent is: “1. a person who presents a child at baptism and responds on the child’s behalf, promising to take responsibility for the child’s religious education. 2. a person who will assume responsibility for a child in the event that the birth parents die or cannot take care of the child.” 

So, there’s that definition and then there is the definition that I have watched unfold right before my eyes. I’ll get there in a minute. 
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a “Type A” personality and a planner who suffers from OCD (tease: post coming about that later). I like having a plan and a back-up plan for everything. So in the event that something were to ever happen to Chase and myself and We were unable to take care of Colton, I needed a plan in motion. 
Colton was between 6 & 8 short weeks old when I approached Chase with the question of who would take care of Colton if something happened to us. We had a couple ideas that we bounced around, but we both kept going back to our initial thought….HEATHER AND BRIAN. (No last names because I didn’t get permission! 😝) Heather is Chase’s cousin and they grew up super close to one another. The years and life had inevitably gotten in the way and they weren’t as close as they once were, but we had been fixing that. {And I will NEVER be able to say how thankful I am that we did fix that!} So we asked them and of course, they were honored. Well that little definition in ole Webster is not what a Godparent is, in my opinion. 
I have been shown that a Godparent is there every step of the way. Celebrating the little things like rolling over for the first time, a first tooth, or crawling for the first time. A Godparent is someone who you don’t have to ask to be there for your child(ren), they are with no hesitation and no sense of obligation. I have been shown that a Godparent wants to document everything just like it was their child, because (Heaven forbid) one day it could be! I’ll never know that feeling personally….but I’m so blessed that my kids will. (It’s tricky with the older two where Godparents are concerned because of coparenting.) 
Im so glad that he will know the love of the absolute best choice of Godparents for us. I’m so glad that he has someone willing to spend an entire day sitting at the hospital to make sure that he is okay. I’m so glad that he will know the love of someone (other than his parents) cheering him on in life. I’m so honored and humbled at how Heather and Brian love my boy. I hope it never does (and We get to see all 3 of our babies grow up and become parents themselves), but if something ever happened to his dad and me I know with 100% certainty that my little boy would be loved, cared for, supported and cheered on in everything that he chooses to do in life. 
In closing a Godparent is just a grandparent without the “obligation” or direct tie to the child. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the definition of a Godparent. These two right here. I will never be able to say thank you enough for loving our babies like y’all do! 

   

   

What I wanted to teach my kids, but they taught me…

Ever had a moment where you were dwelling on how to teach your children something and then something so beautiful happens…they teach you! Let me explain. 

We arrived at the water park on Friday about 11:00 and my mind was filled with thoughts of my “mom-bod” in a bathing suit for the first time since baby #2. I was a little (okay, a LOT) consumed with what people were going to say about me. (Not sure why I care so much, just a woman thing, I guess.) Once inside the water park while applying sunscreen to the kids, I remembered the bigger picture in the world right now…My heart was still heavy from the news of the Charleston shooting. In the midst of this race war that was supposed to be sparked by this, I wanted to teach my children a valuable lesson from the horrific act of violence. In fact, the opposite of racism. Equality. That we all are AMERICANS, some just have better tans. (LUCKY!) I was practicing in my head what I was going to say to my kiddos, how to tell them about the evil, how I could change MY ways to show them better on a daily basis that we are all the same on the inside. All these thoughts filled my mind and weighed on my heart. And then my sweet BriAnna looked up at me and said, “Momma, look how pretty she is.” I turned around…I was looking and there was only one woman standing behind me…so I knew exactly who she was referring to. (Now I’m not judging, simply describing this lady.) She was late twenties – early thirties, blue hair, covered in tattoos and heavier set, she had stretch marks (which in my opinion are beautiful) and she had the widest, prettiest smile I’ve ever seen in my life! She was pretty, without a doubt!! No, she was gorgeous in her imperfections!! In that moment, I was so proud of my little girl. There were 100 other people out there that she could have pointed out and complimented, but she chose her, she picked her out of that crowd. Despite the tattoos, her hair color, her age or her weight! I’m FARRRR from perfect, but Bri taught me in that moment that I have adequately instilled in her that we all are beautiful. We all are EQUAL. 
As we walked over and got in the pool, I noticed that Colton was smiling at everyone. Men, women, black, white, children….It didn’t matter he was smiling at them all. He wanted to play and splash with them all equally. In the midst of wanting to teach my kids a lesson about equality, they taught me!! I know everyone says it, but it’s so true…YOU ARE NOT BORN WITH HATE IN YOUR HEART, IT IS TAUGHT! I will strive EVERY day to teach my children that LOVE will always prevail over HATE. Proverbs 22:6 🙏🏼
Not to toot my own horn, but I am so proud of myself for teaching my children to LOVE and ACCEPT EVERYONE no matter what color someone is, how old they are, handicaps or not, what religion they are, or how they choose to express themselves. (But ya know…Toot, toot!😜) 

Just another day vs. Father’s Day 💙

Tomorrow is Father’s Day, Y’all. Better go shop, if you haven’t already!! It’s only Natural that this post is about just that. Put on your reading pants, it might be long! 

Father’s Day has always been, “just another day” to me. The reason? Because when you don’t have a “Father,” what’s the point? That was my attitude. What a crappy attitude, huh? To say that I was a child scorned by the absence of my father would be an understatement. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I grew to realize just how blessed I had always been on Father’s Day! I had my PAPA, who was my DADDY! Every single memory I have as a child, he was there! He was holding me. It was him there loving me like his daughter, when he didn’t have too! He took me on vacations, he held me when I fell down, he made me a stage in the living room floor every time I wanted to put on a concert, he took me fishing, he took me the park and would play on the swings for hours and climb that tall slide 100 times if I asked him too. Those are the things that make a father – building those memories. I’ll always cherish those memories with him and be thankful that I had him to show me what it felt like to have a daddy. 
On the other hand, it took me a long time to realize that my mom did the best she could as both parents to me! No mom should ever have to play daddy. And vice versa! My mom broke her back to make sure we had what we needed! It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies all the time. It was hard! But you know what I remember? A mom who provided for me and protected me. A mom who tried to shelter me from the pain of his absence! She made sacrifices and she did what she had to do for her children. I’m forever grateful for that! Forever. No one can tell me that she didn’t work just as hard as any man to make a life for us. 

When I was 14, my life changed drastically! My mom married a man named Todd. I thought that would be how I always addressed him. I thought I’m too old for a dad now. It’s too late. Little I did I know….IT WASN’T TOO LATE AT ALL. That man is my daddy and no one could ever tell me different. Or him. I may not have childhood memories with him. I may not have his blood running through my veins. I may not have his attitude, his smile or his eyes, but that’s my daddy! The one that loved every broken piece of me enough to call me his daughter. The one that cries when I cry and laughs when I laugh. The one that didn’t have to love me by obligation….he’s the one that chose to love me! Not just me, all my siblings. And my mom – he loved us and he opened up his heart to us. Now, ladies and gentlemen….that’s a father! 

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Now as an adult who has children of her own, the term father takes on a whole new meaning. About a year into my relationship with Chase, I just knew there was no way I could ever love him more! Boy, was I wrong!!! That man finds a new way to make me fall in love with him daily. He doesn’t think I notice that every time he puts CJ in the car he leans in to kiss him. He doesn’t think I hear him whispering to CJ that he loves him multiple times in the same sitting. He doesn’t think I notice that he makes sure his entire ball team respects when HIS girls are there. He may not know that I smile every time he hugs our babies. He doesn’t know that I watch him admiring all three kids when they play together. And he may not know that I think he’s the greatest dad in the world….BUT I DO! I’m so blessed to be able to parent with him. To love him. To be loved by him and to have our children feel his love. His heart is priceless and I’m so glad it’s mine. ❤️ 
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE DADDIES OUT THERE! 
   
     

If you don’t have anything nice to say.

Having been raised in a Southern home where we went to church on Tuesday nights, Wednesday nights and twice on Sundays, I was always taught that the golden rule is to treat others how you want to be treated. Let’s just be honest, some people make that very difficult. So naturally as a Southern Woman, we end up just blessing their little heart and bringing out the “Steel Magnolias” in us all. You know, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me,” but as I’m growing older, I’m definitely getting wiser…each year is a struggle between that “mean girl” that I used to be and the woman that I have matured into. I am developing a more patient attitude with unkind people.

I’m learning that the unkind people we encounter are almost always facing some sort of battle that we couldn’t imagine facing. Does it give them the right to be mean? Not at all. But it does give us a chance to be more understanding of situations that we may not understand.

We are called to simply love people where they are at. So if that means we have to suck it up and paint on a smile when people are unkind to us…I intend to do just that. And when I pray that night, I’ll pray for their situation and their circumstances and hope that through my kindness they have seen a little bit of the light.

I’ll keep this post short and sweet (for a change)!! Just remember the quote “Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

And while it may not be as “fun,” if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Out loud. ;)))

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What are we fighting for?

When I decided it was time to start a blog, I kept thinking about all the things I wanted to write about. I decided that no matter what the topic was, I would be REAL, HONEST, and VULNERABLE. This post may shock some and may stir up the judgement that comes my way, but it’s my life and I’m finally at a point where I have no desire to hide the things that have happened in my life or the struggles I’ve faced.

Confessional #1 is upon us! (Well, you!)

Every single day in the mirror is a struggle for me. It’s always me versus my reflection. What I see on the outside is a far cry from what others see on the outside. And only 1/2 of the time am I able to see the good that radiates outward. A daily battle of convincing myself THAT I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH.

At a very early age I learned a lesson that no child should ever have to learn. The lesson of an absentee father. A father who thought it was more than okay to skip out on his child support (which my young mom desperately needed) and take care of his step daughter, but not see his own children. In turn, that taught me that I wasn’t good enough for him. And while every little girl seeks validation from her daddy, I did too. I just didn’t realize how bad I wanted that validation until I was an adult and was looking for it in all the wrong places and things. (Let’s face it, being an attention whore is not a good thing!)

As an adult it’s been a struggle in jobs, friendships, being a mom, and relationships to know that I am good enough. I strive for perfection and damn near kill myself trying to achieve it. It’s always been hard for me to accept failure because in my mind that’s confirmation that I’m not good enough. It’s been a constant battle of good and evil when I look in the mirror. The good side tells me to see the beauty within and the evil side tells me every flaw in my outward appearance and how it will never be enough.
I did some serious soul searching and worked on myself (with the help of a counselor and really good friends) and even though it will probably always be a battle when I look in the mirror, I’ve learned a lot! Most importantly, I’ve learned that just because “that man” wasn’t present in my life that I am in no way to blame for that. That is totally a defect within him, NOT ME! I’ve also learned that forgiving him for his absence was the absolute most freeing thing I’ve ever done for myself. I look around and see so many people on a daily basis who love me and support me in every aspect of my life, so obviously I AM ENOUGH.

It’s hard to silence those demons I see in the mirror and it’s even harder to convince myself (on a bad day) that I am beautiful. I don’t find my validation in the opinions of others and I don’t allow their judgements to effect my life anymore. Once you start working on yourself from the inside out THE MOST AMAZING THINGS WILL HAPPEN. I am proof of that!!!

I viewed myself as unloveable for the majority of my adult life, but when I started seeing myself differently and became truly happy with who I am as a person…I FOUND THE GREATEST LOVE OF MY LIFE (On an intimate level). I found my forever kind of love. While my self worth is NOT wrapped up in Chase, he has never made me feel not good enough. He understands my struggle and with just one look on a particularly bad day can let me know that I am more than he could ever asked for in a woman. In a future wife. In the mother to his children. And in a best friend. He loves me despite my flaws and insecurities and does his best to ensure that my “not good enough” fears are a thing of the past. I had to fight the battle myself to teach myself these things, but having him by my side…he helps me win the war EVERYDAY. “Love is patient, love is kind…” That is true even with the love we have for ourselves.

No matter what YOUR struggle is, please know that YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH -despite your past, your flaws & your insecurities- FOR THE HEART THAT GOD MADE FOR YOU! So when you look in the mirror, ask yourself, “What are we fighting for?” I’m willing to bet you’ll find the struggle with your reflection isn’t worth the heartache or pain you are causing yourself. I encourage EVERYONE to do some soul searching at least once in your life. For me, it’s something I don’t mind doing constantly because I can always be better than I was yesterday.

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