The Man in My Life


I was checking out at Publix early one morning about 8 years ago I guess it was. Caden was in kindergarten and it was my day to bring the snack. I hadn’t prepared anything in advance so I ran to the grocery store after taking the boys to school then needed to go back and drop off the snack. That was the first time I ran into Lynn out in public somewhere. Lynn was the new music minister at my dad’s church so we’d met but that was about it. I see people I know at the grocery store all the time but this brief encounter stood out to me.

A few weeks later I saw him again at a UAH basketball game. The boys were meeting up with a family from church to watch the game and there he was, just a few rows behind us. I went and talked with him, sat with him a bit. It was nice.

You see, I was in (and trying to get out of) a toxic relationship and it wasn’t pretty. I was struggling and confused and hurting and so many things and yet each of these times I ran into Lynn I felt like God was putting him in my path for a reason. I even said to a few close friends that I feel like God is putting this man in my path to show me there’s a better way, there’s someone else. And honestly that scared me even more, but I just knew God was showing me something.

I saw him occasionally when I visited dad’s church and he was always so friendly, checking on how things were with my job, the boys, my church, always offering to pray for me and whatever was going on at the time. He’s an amazing pianist and one time when I was really, really low I asked him if he’d meet me at the church and play hymns so I could sing. I just wanted to sing and feel better. He did and it’s a sweet memory.

He kinda sorta asked me out that day, mentioning a movie coming out and saying we could see it together if I wanted. I ended up seeing the movie with a girl friend instead but we stayed in touch periodically.

Some time later our conversations turned more flirty and I invited him over one night after the boys went to bed and we sat in bag chairs in my driveway and talked. After an hour or so it was late and time for him to leave. I hugged him goodbye — near my trashcan of all places — and he kissed me. And then said he loved me. It kinda freaked me out. Like he’d known his feelings for me for a while and I wasn’t in the same place … yet.

So I backed off from a relationship but wanted to stay friends, and we did. A few years must have passed … the timeline is a little hazy …Β  but I knew I was still attracted to him and looked forward to seeing him when we visited dad’s church.

About 3 years ago we went out there for the church Thanksgiving meal and when it came time to find a seat I wanted to sit by Lynn and looked for a way to do that but there was no room near him. I was disappointed and really searched my heart for why it bothered me so much. I finally figured it out. It was quite simple really. I wanted to be the one that he saved a seat for, or that saved a seat for him, and I realized that as long as we were just friends I’d never have that right. So I got up the courage to tell him that and wondered if he felt the same. He did and we started dating.

My feelings were catching up to where his had been for a while and we were having a great time. But after about 6 or 7 months I had a moment that felt to me like what Peter experienced when he was walking on water and all the sudden looked down and realized “Oh my gosh I’m walking on water.” For me it was like “oh my gosh I’m in this amazing relationship with this really awesome guy and it’s freaking me out.” I started looking for reasons it wouldn’t work out and of course you find what you’re looking for. I ended it (which was really hard for me to do, by the way) and said let’s be friends, but I also knew I didn’t want to hurt him and being my friend might have been asking too much.

We did stay friends, with loose ties. My heart for him never changed I just pushed those feelings away and now, in addition to all the reasons I had looked for as to why this wouldn’t work, I now felt like I could never ever ask for another chance — for one, I was too risky for him to take a chance on, and two I couldn’t stand to hurt him again and decided I was too risky for *me* to take chance on.

So I stuffed my feelings and told myself don’t even think about it.

I did think about it though. All the time. When I missed him I’d text my friend all about it and sometimes had weak moments when I’d text him. Sometimes he’d reply and we’d have a good friendly conversation. Sometimes he didn’t reply at all and I thought well maybe he’s moved on, seeing someone else even, or maybe he’s still hurt by me and just let it go.

A few months ago though something changed. He left my dad’s church, on good terms, to do music at a different church. Reality hit me that I wouldn’t see him again unless we were intentional. It hurt my heart to think about. We talked on the phone about the change and I understood and supported completely but selfishly thought what do I do now?

Turns out what I did next was tell him the truth, how my feelings had never stopped and only been stuffed down and I wondered if he still felt the same. We cautiously rekindled our romance and it’s been a very good thing.

I tell all of that to say this, that I truly see this man as a gift that God has been trying to give me for a long time I just wasn’t a good at receiving it. I’ve told him this before, that he’s gift to me and one I don’t deserve. He loves the Lord. He is hilarious and keeps me smiling and laughing all the time. He is an amazingly talented pianist and singer. I could just sit and watch and hear him play for long stretches if it wouldn’t hurt his hands, lol. I hear anything with piano music and think he can play it! He’s sweet and a gentleman and a “man’s man” fixing lawn mowers and cars and taking care of his yard and even helped me with mine! He opens doors for me and walks me to my door or my car at the end of our dates. He’s a great dad to two daughters who adore him. In one phone call he can be my weatherman telling me what to prepare for and my sportscaster keeping me in the loop about our favorite sports and teams.

I don’t know the future of course but it looks bright, and I truly believe we’re on a path set into motion all those years ago with what seemed like chance encounters but what I knew then and really know now were really God moments.

Surgery and the Single Mom


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Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

I had surgery last week, my first surgery ever since apparently wisdom teeth don’t actually count.

I thought I knew what to expect, had asked all the questions, googled all the things, dotted i’s and crossed t’s and was ready.

Well, nope, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Not only has the recovery been more complex — I’m one week and one day out and still feeling lousy — I didn’t anticipate AT ALL the impact on my kids.

Now don’t get me wrong, I prepared. I prepared by stocking up on groceries, arranging rides to and from school while I can’t drive, lining up the grandparents to stay overnight while I was in the hospital, etc. The logistics. There’s a lot of logistics for single parents. But I in no way anticipated that they’d be worried about me or not know how to help or feel so displaced shuttling around with family and the parents of their friends. I didn’t prepare for their emotional needs.

At one point, several days after, Finn admitted to having wondered what would happen to them if something happened to me in surgery and I didn’t make it. Oh honey, I said. I had no idea he would think about that. My parents had various surgeries and hospitalizations when I was teenager and I didn’t think that way. But when you’ve already lost one parent, the fear of losing your one remaining parent is much more real and scary. Since surgeries are so routine these days I never considered this possibility myself, actually, and felt awful that he was worried about this and didn’t/couldn’t talk to me about it so I could help answer his questions and calm his fears. Sadly, that’s something a kid who’s already lost one parent has to worry about — what happens to me when something happens to the only parent I have?

So one piece of advice — to myself should I ever need to have surgery again — and to any other single parent out there who’s kids might be worried about them having surgery: Talk openly and honestly to your kids about your surgery. Because my procedure was … ahem … female-related, my teenage sons didn’t want to know anything more than that. I didn’t push the issue but I think knowledge is empowering so maybe if they better understood the what and the why and been simply asked how do you feel about mom having surgery it could have eased their fears, fears of the unknown by getting what is known out in the open.

A life of sliding doors


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I love the movie ‘Sliding Doors.’ I’m often surprised when people haven’t even heard of it, and yet it’s one of my all time favorites. Not because of any spectacular acting or an amazing soundtrack or great special effects. It’s that the truth behind the story resonates somewhere deep in my soul.

A woman is going home after work and she misses her train. The movie illustrates the power of a sliding train door — a door closed vs. a door open — by showing two tales: what happens if she misses the train and what happens if she doesn’t.

Her life is dramatically different depending on whether or not she makes it through that sliding door. In one scenario she catches her boyfriend cheating which starts her down a path of self-discovery and new opportunity. The other scenario, he doesn’t get caught and her life continues down that path.

I’ve had many a sliding door in my life, and while it’s not healthy to wonder “what if” I admit my mind has wandered down that path from time to time. It’s mind-blowing to think what a big impact something so seemingly small can make. It happens everyday though. I forget my phone and run back in the house making me 2 minutes late pulling out of the neighborhood. As a result I’m now behind a school bus slowing me down even more. The school bus rolls through the light just as it turns yellow but I stop. A little farther down the road I see a fender bender that just happened and I wonder if I hadn’t ran back in for my phone and got behind that bus could that have been me in that wreck?

It’s not always bad things either. Ever been one number away from winning an awesome door prize? You came into an event with your co-workers, you all accepted the door prize raffle tickets in random order as you came in, and the person who came in just in front of you won. If only you’d walked in just one person ahead it could be you.

There’s a few big sliding doors from my life that stick with me. They’re not seemingly random things like running late or the order of raffle tickets, but they’re the choices I made. What if I had made a different choice? A different choice of college. A different choice of career. A different choice of job. Et cetera. I know what happened when I chose the choice I chose. This. This life I’m living happened. But if I had made a different choice how different life may be. Maybe better, maybe worse, maybe kinda the same but kinda different.

There’s another movie that explores this same theme. ‘The Butterfly Effect.’ The main character has the supernatural ability to time travel and he tries to fix something that went wrong in the past. But every time he fixes it the way he thinks it should be it messes something else up. Everything that happens is interconnected so you can’t change one thing without changing it all

But we don’t live in movies with alternate realities. What’s happened happened and this is the only shot we get. It’s very interesting though to ponder the significance of every choice and every forgotten phone, every sliding door and the profound impact these seemingly small details can have.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Β β€” A Proverb

Good Golly Miss Molly


How cute is she?!

As if selling a house, buying a house and moving wasn’t enough change for one year we recently added a new family member.

Meet Molly.

I wasn’t actively looking for a second dog but a friend was fostering some puppies, and Caden had been asking for a smaller dog. He wanted one he could carry around and fit in this lap. We love our big dog but he’s not exactly lapdog material (although he tries hard to be one).

Without the boys knowing, I visited the puppies β€” a Chihuahua mix β€” and even took Hudson to see how he felt about it. He thought the puppies were fun at first … until I decided to bring one home!

Big dog, little dog

Actually, Hudson’s adjusted better than I thought. Molly is a good little playmate. She’s about the size of some of his toys (ha!) but even though she’s 1/10th his size she doesn’t act it. She’s fierce and picks fights and doesn’t back down even when he sometimes sends her sliding across the room. She just pounces back for more.

Hudson is very gentle with her too. He plays and rough-houses but not too rough and no one gets hurt.

She can be a little toy thief

Perhaps the biggest struggle for Hudson is she takes his toys. It’s just like children. She wants the one toy he’s decided to play with. He’s so gentle he often lets her take it, albeit with an exasperated sigh of defeat. They’ll fight a little over the antlers Hudson loves to chew. He’ll growl and snap at her when she tries to steal it, but eventually, unless I step in, he’ll let her take his favorite antler too.

This is where they can be found most days while I’m working. Hudson, my protector, always at my feet and by my side and Molly some place comfortable, the carpeted stairs or a spot of sunlight streaming through the windows.

Welcome to the family, Molly!

Wear Sequins


If you got sequins, wear ’em.

If you don’t got sequins, get some, then wear them.

I don’t remember buying this blouse. Knowing me, it was a deal on a clearance rack and something I bought because it was pretty and I justified it just in case I ever had the occasion to wear such a thing.

I’ve only worn it a time or two, mostly because I don’t go to very many fancy things where sequins would fit in. But it’s so very pretty and each time I pass it over and choose some other top I think things like why did you buy it if you’re never gonna wear it or worse, you’re never going to go anywhere fancy enough that you’ll need to wear something like that.

Negative, insecure thoughts.

So this one night a few weeks I had to go to a thing — nothing too fancy but a business casual thing — and I wore my sequins. I also wore hoop earrings. Not because it was a formal event just because I wanted to and I felt good wearing it. I felt pretty and feminine, attractive and stylish even.

I figure if I wait for the perfect occasion to wear my sequined blouse I may never wear it again, so might as well wear it other times. Especially if it boosts how I feel about myself!

So my challenge to you is to buy something you think is pretty but that you think you’ll never wear … and then wear it!

Hangin’ Out with Twenty-Somethings


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Me and Marla, back in my 20s, when I thought I knew so much, only to discover … I still had a lot to learn

I used to be the 20-something in my peer groups.

Do you remember those days, Marla Jones?

My friend Marla was a 30-something when I was a 20-something, and I remember this funny expression on Marla’s face whenever I talked about things that I thought I knew all about but really had no idea because of my youth.

Of course I had no idea that I had no idea, but Marla knew that I had no idea.

Thus the smirk.

Now, I know exactly what my good friend Marla was feeling when she had that humorous little smirk on her face.

I’m now the 30-something with a bunch of 20-somethings in my life — my work, my network, my church, even my family (my 3 nephews, who are more like little brothers, are all in their 20s now).

It’s not that 20-somethings think they know it all, per se (although some of them do think that). I think it’s that for the first 18 years of their life they are dependent on others to give them approval and permission, and now, in their 20s, they give their own approvals and permissions which gives them a new found confidence. So with confidence they exert their viewpoints and opinions and decisions, and they are confident they know what they’re talking about.

And sometimes they do, which is awesome! I learn a lot from the 20-somethings in my life. Just because I’m a decade or so older doesn’t make me the smartest person in the room. And confidence is good!

And other times … they have no clue … and I smile my best Marla smirk and think “Oh how cute” or as we in the South like to say, “Bless their heart.”

:-)

 

An Open Letter To the Couple Who Bought My House Today


I sat across from you today while you signed your names over and over and remembered being you, remembering being a first time home buyer and the excitement and anticipation that brings.

I bet you didn’t know you’d sign your names a million times, did you? I didn’t the first time I bought a house.

You’re newlywed-ish and pregnant — I knew this before meeting you for the first time today. When you made your offer I googled your names, and your wedding website and baby registry were the top two results. It made me feel good about selling my home to you. Ironically I was pregnant too when I bought the house that is now yours.

That was 11 years ago. That baby took his first steps and said his first words, then learned to ride a bike and shoot basketball at that house, just like your baby will now. I joked with you that if one of my sons were elected, that house will be the one they designate as the President’s childhood home.

Today was a little awkward, I’ll admit. Perfect strangers connected by a house that I’ve live in a third of my life — the longest I’ve lived in one place ever — a house that with the signing of your names umpteen million times now belongs to you.

I told you a few of the things on my heart — that the neighbors on the right are amazing and that you’ll never see the neighbors on the left, except when he mows the yard and sprays for weeds and collects Amazon Prime packages from his larger-than-everyone-else’s mailbox. I felt the need to tell you about the family behind us and their teenage son who plays basketball on our — now your — basketball goal and that you may have to tell him if you don’t want him to play there anymore. It was sweet that you said you might go out there and play with him.

But I kept a lot in and pondered quietly.

It’s just a house, I know, but the selling of it is an end to a big chapter of my life and the beginning of a new one. It’s a little scary, but in a good way. I’m excited about this new chapter and the new home I hope to buy now that you have purchased this one. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it’s bittersweet.

I wish you an enjoyable life for as long as you live in our house. May it be filled with laughter and love and many happy memories, as it has been for us.

 

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