Tag Archives: Inspirational

25 years

3 Jul

We met in high school, just two young, scrappy teens, with no direction. No plan. We were headed to McDonald’s for chicken nuggets and fries on a Friday night…. wasting time in a very small, cottage town.

1991 /2022

There wasn’t a lot for teens to do where we lived. We didn’t have a movie theater, or skating rink, or a mall. So, we’d talk for hours under the moonlight, sitting on the hood of his hatchback. Dreaming of where life would take us.

We soon found ourselves pregnant and confused…over the years, some have questioned how young we were…The truth is, we started our family before either of us graduated high school.

The road we were on was difficult and stressful. It was just too much for these two kids to navigate. By the time our son’s first birthday rolled around, we were learning to co-parent, albeit not well in the beginning.

1993, First birthday. Co-parenting

In three more years, we had the co-parenting thing down. We were very comfortable with the situation and with each other.

Like a gravitational pull, our souls kept drawing us to each other and we’d find ourselves (unsuccessfully) trying to push the other away again. Surprisingly, we somehow became best friends along the way.

After many late night conversations, we agreed to what we deemed as “our last chance”. With lots of heartache in our rearview, it didn’t make much sense to anyone around us.

Our friends and family warned against it. But we leaned in.

We lived in two different states. He packed up and headed my way (800 miles). I told him he could stay two weeks in my apartment until he found his own place. We would then “date” to see how it went.

He never moved out.

1997

People said two teens couldn’t really know what love is.

People said this was “puppy love”.

People said we had to give up our dreams if we wanted to keep our baby.

People said we should consider other options.

People said I was trash.

People said I’d never be able to finish high school.

People said I was ruining my life.

People said I was ruining his life.

People (A history teacher) said teenage moms can’t love their babies.

People said we’d end up divorced in five years.

Or with 15 children, broke and desolate.

People said we’d never make it.

People said we’d never be able to go to college.

People said we’d never have decent jobs.

People said we’d never amount to much.

People said there is no way we’d find lasting, long-term happiness.

People said ….

And we refused to listen.

This year we celebrate 25 years of marriage.

Deeply connected. We developed our own communication style through lots of therapy – together and alone. We know that the secret is to never stop growing, together. Our hands and hearts are intertwined in love, in sickness, in health, in poverty, and in wealth. God-loving, college-educated, multiple home-owning, empty nesters of two healthy, well-rounded, fantastic young men. Grandparents to two adorable, spunky, set the world on fire, littles. Travelers, adventure-seeking, joy finders, soul mates with a desire to see as much as we can, dream as big as we can, and live our lives out loud.

It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone.

Forge your own path. Your life is the only one you’ve been gifted. The only one you’ll get.

Live without regrets.

We have crafted a damn good life. It’s one that I’m proud of.

25 years down, 100 to go.

I've always been drawn to crooked paths, likely because mine has been a bit off-center too.
Picture from a random stop on a road trip. I’ve always been drawn to crooked paths, likely because mine has been a bit off-center too.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both….I took the one less traveled and it has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

It is real…

17 Apr

A few years ago, we spent 10 days touring Israel with our church group. It was an amazing, life changing experience. I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember. Surrendering my spirit with every alter call, more times than I could count, until I learned that you only needed to do it once.

I tell you this because I have always been a believer. I don’t have all the answers and I can’t quote every scripture at the right time, but I’ve always believed in a God that is greater than I. I’ve witnessed “only God” moments and have seen Him work things out in my own life that seem unexplainable. I also know that bad things happen to good people and I don’t know why. I can’t explain it beyond the fact that sin is in the world. I know one day I’ll crawl up on God’s lap and ask him all about the things I don’t understand. Until then, I hold my faith tightly in a world where it seems so easy to just let it go.

The trip to Israel was a whirlwind. I intended to journal every night…and I failed most nights as I fell into bed exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. Several times during the trip, my husband and looked at each other and said “This is real. The Bible is REAL.”

I’m not sure what we expected. Neither one of us can really answer that question in hindsight. Maybe we thought we’d see artifacts in a museum….or stories in front buildings where your imagination had to be sparked to see what was there so many years ago. Maybe we thought it would be a bit like Disney…over commercialized.

What we saw though were the actual buildings and landmarks described in the Bible. Still standing…still exactly as described.

Skull Mountain (Golgotha) from my camera
From a google search

The garden tomb is nearly at the feet of Golgotha.

John 19:41: “At the place where Jesus is crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had been laid.”
My husband and I near a mock stone that would have been rolled in front of the tomb at the Garden.

In addition to these landmarks, we saw the Temple Mount, the pool of Bethesda, The Garden of Gethsemane, The Mount of Olives, Herod’s palace (it was indeed a palace)…and so much more. We sat on the steps where Jesus would have walked to access the temple…this stuff is real. It’s real…and it’s still there for you to see too.

If I can touch it, walk on it, see it…it’s not a hard leap to believe the rest of the Bible is real too. I’ve always been a believer but this trip cemented faith into my soul and grounded me there. It is real. He has risen!

Happy Easter friends!

Love

Lady Chats A lot.

XoXo

The entrance to the Garden of Gethsemane
The Garden of Gethsemane with olive trees.

Not Hard

27 Feb

“For we are God’s masterpiece.” Ephesians 2:10, NLT

Kevin and I were working the side door at church today. It’s something we like to do at least once a month, sometimes more. For some reason, around midweek I felt a strong pull to volunteer. My soul has been exceptionally tired with normal life stuff: work, kids, grandkids…and not normal life stuff: covid and the real potential for war… I often find just what I need to refuel at Cathedral and it helps me get through the week ahead. So after discussing with Kev, I signed us up.

We assumed our position, chatted with friends, said hello to a few acquaintances, and welcomed in tired mommas and daddies by the handfuls.  One of our favorite things to do while working the door is to toss out compliments like confetti and watch the smiles spread across faces.

Right before service started, three young ladies and an older gentleman stopped by our door to chat. The young (teen) ladies reminded me of myself in 1987…ripped jeans, fishnets, heavily rimmed eyeliner, blue hair, and nervous energy. In all honesty, they are probably way cooler than I was in 1987. I didn’t have blue hair, but I wanted it! My combat boot loving soul longed for a pair of hand-shredded jeans and a concert tee at that exact moment… as I stood there in my dress pants and heels. I was unsure of the relationship between the man and the girls, but what was clear is that he wanted them to have a good experience. We chatted some more about where to sit, and they chose the balcony. I watched as they found their seats. Waving to them as they got comfortable and saying a little prayer that the message would be one that landed on their hearts.

As Pastor Megan took the stage in her own ripped jeans and heeled work boots, I knew these girls were in luck. We’ve been attending Cathedral of Praise for twelve years. Watching Megan on stage, being completely who she is, in heels and glitter, or ripped jeans and sweatshirts, or in blouses and beautiful clothes, has made me more comfortable in my own skin.

The message was on relationships. 

“You need people and people need you.”

As Pastor Megan dove into the reasons why we ALL need healthy, rooted relationships she paused. Taking a purposeful timeout, she said

“You are NOT hard to love.  You are just…the…way… God made you.  You are easy to love. You have to find your people. People who love you the way you are. You are NOT hard to love.”

My eyes welled up…it was just what my 1987 soul needed to hear and what my 2022 soul knows very well.

My hope is that it also spoke life into the young ladies’ hearts.   I glanced to the balcony to see their beautiful faces.  The older man tilted his head to the heavens. Maybe he needed to hear it too.  Maybe he was thanking God for the same reason I was…. answered prayer.

Love,

Lady Chats A Lot

XoXo

Shortlisted

20 Dec

A few weeks ago, my littles participated in our small-town parade. My husband had to work so I was by myself, ready to record every second of the smiling goodness on my phone for him, for prosperity, and for Facebook 😊. Getting there early, I set up my folding chair on the empty sidewalk, sipped my (as skinny as they can make it) peppermint mocha, and watched as the path around me quickly filled with other littles and their families. Everyone was ready to see Santa!

Before I go on, I need to say a few things. This story isn’t one of judgment. In fact, I almost didn’t write it because I don’t want it to be misinterpreted. However, I made a pact with God this year that if he puts something on my heart to write, I’ll do it. Even when it’s uncomfortable or even when it could be misinterpreted. I thought about writing this story moments after the parade, then tossed it out the window. It woke me up at six am this morning….and well, here we are.

Reminder: No judgment, just observation.

The sidewalks are filling up, our folding chairs are nearly touching those of others.  Covid six-foot rules don’t apply on limited, parade viewing pathways in the South.  I’ve noticed a little girl two families down from me.  She is maybe four and she is so stinking cute, dressed in her adorable Christmas outfit. Her white-blonde hair is pulled up in a ponytail, where the ribbons bounce when she talks.  

She caught my eye again because she is now stomping her tiny rhinestone tennis shoes, and is doing something between a shout and a whine into her mother’s face “I have to GOOOOOO.” Her hands trying to stop the flow and her legs are crossed. Her mom, yells “OKAY…OKAY…Then let’s gooo.” She shouts back shoving her hands on the armrest to push herself to her feet….Her response is angered. I now realize that I’ve heard the child asking to go to the bathroom a few times over the course of the last half-hour, but I’ve dismissed it like much of the other conversation around me. The mom doesn’t want to leave her friends that have joined her. She has been chatting and laughing since they arrived. She waved a few folks over from the opposite side and had us all slide down a little to accommodate. She was excited to experience this moment of Christmas together.

The mom snatches the blond child’s hand and pulls her across the street to Starbucks to use their facilities. She is back in what seems like only seconds. Her friend, enthusiastically says “THAT WAS QUICK!” To which the mom replies

No. I have to get my keys. She wet her pants.

Crestfallen. The little girl is standing there looking at people she loves, and people she doesn’t even know. Ashamed. Her eyes are pointed at her shoes. 

My heart breaks.

My first thought…and I nearly said it out loud before catching myself… “SHE TOLD YOU. SHE TOLD YOU SHE HAD TO GO POTTY.”

But my heart tugged again. I remember those days. I remember being a new momma. Ragged, tired. Trying my best. I remember getting so lost in doing unimportant things, that I forgot to focus on my real job. My most important job. The one where I’m not replaceable. The “being” of a mom.

The truth is, not a parent on the planet can say that they have all been fully present ALL the time. It’s so easy to become distracted with nonsense. With our phones, friends, work, t.v., football, housework, chores, social media, stress, parades..…it feels like the list never gets shorter. What I wish I would have known back then, is that none of that other stuff matters. Unraveling yourself at both ends isn’t helping anyone, least of all you.

This momma was no different. It was obvious this beautiful child was well-loved. There was simply nothing to indicate otherwise. I can only imagine that momma had planned for weeks to take her little to the parade, picked out her perfect Christmas outfit, and told her all morning how much fun they would have while doing her hair. Maybe they even sang Christmas carols on the way there. She wanted to create sweet memories. She had the best of intentions…Then life happened.

As I reflect on the Christmas season and the upcoming new year, I’ve decided to use this time to get better at sinking in. To be fully present, immersed in the moment. I encourage you, friend, to do the same. Sit. Hold hands. Look into your children’s eyes. Fall in love again with your spouse. Listen to your parents’ (and grandparents’) stories. Play.

Sift through life and toss out the things that no longer serve your purpose.  Your purpose is where you find your passion. For me, I’m deeply passionate about my family. I don’t want to miss a moment. Find those important things and hold on tight. Handcuff yourself to them and settle in. Let them fill your heart with joy.  What I know for sure, is that joy is what carries you through when life gets twisted. 

We don’t always get it right. The list of distractions never gets shorter. But your list of priorities can.

Create your shortlist and stick to it.

Sharing this message with you, friend, because I needed it too. No judgment. No mom shaming. Just observation.

I’m coming for you 2022. 

XoXo,

Lady Chats A Lot

Love well

9 Oct

I caught myself breathing deeply and letting out a sigh, more than a few times this morning. I heard my husband do the same. Today will be difficult.

In an attempt to clear the anxiety thumping between my ears and running down my neck, I laced up my sneakers and headed outside . Just a few minutes in, my feet glide over this leaf. Turning around to look closer, I snapped the photo.

I whispered a thank you to God for reminding me, he is here too. In the little places. In the big places. In the need to escape places.

We are headed to the funeral of a good, good man. One who loved well, and who was loved well.

We’ve already stuffed our pockets with tissue. We’ve already blinked back the tears …so many times. We won’t be able to contain them much longer. We know this.

Today we will love on his family. The heartbroken. Those left behind with no answers, but with great faith. They hold tight to belief that they will reunite with him again on the streets of Heaven.

Light rain has begun to fall. The skies are gray and cloudy. It’s as if the earth knows… and is mourning with us.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalms 34:18

Love well,

Lady Chats a lot

Xoxo

I am… who I say I am

22 Sep

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Guilty. I’m guilty of allowing the heaviness of outside opinions to penetrate who I know myself to be. Sometimes I alter my expression to suit…More often than not, I  permit their words to sink into my spirit, fueling the voice that sets my limitations. Somehow I believe they must see clearer than I do. From their perch, they can detect the real me.

The truth is, everyone judges each other. It is human nature.  It is how we categorize…What we choose to pursue. What we choose to walk away from…. We peer through our own spectacles, tainted by the dusty roads we’ve left behind, to evaluate each situation, opportunity and character trait.

We assess what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ from the vantage point of our own road, yet we are interpreting your circumstance.

Recently, when faced with the betrayal of unflattering chatter, I tossed this idea around a bit. Juggling each side, inspecting closely for authenticity. Contemplating what I should allow to stay and what  I’ll toss out with last week’s trash.

Conclusion?

Perception is not truth. It is a feeling.

Feelings are finicky and often power hungry.

Perception, without the knowledge and understanding of intention, is dangerous.

This isn’t to say that we should turn our back on feedback. Feedback can be enlightening and helpful, for sure. When accepting feedback, consider the source, the voice and the value it brings to your life. Know that you get to decide where it be housed. Will it find its way to the top shelf of your thoughts? Or will you dismiss it from your arena?

Just because someone says it, it doesn’t always make it true.

Taking off my mirrored shades, the light is blinding. Slipping on a cute, introspective pair, my view is a bit rosier….and free of those thoughts that no longer serve me.

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Dream Weaver

15 Sep

Intricately spun with precision. Moving diligently with perfection and grace as it crosses, then descends.  It is an unequaled masterpiece.  I stop to gaze; amazed by the ability of such a small creature to weave so beautifully.  Elegantly trapping her dinner…the Martha Stewart of nature.  Perched high on my toes, I tilt my head to the left, and then the right, analyzing the design nestled between two trees. All while keeping watch on the moving spider inside.

Twice this week, while walking through trails, I’ve passed two colossal banana spiders. Often painted with brightly colored bodies, stripped leggings, and spanning the width of my palm, they are quite the sight.  Scary because of their size, they command attention. I willingly give it to them, watching with childlike curiosity.

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Both weavers ironically were in the same predicament. Working feverishly, you could see the anticipation as the web bounced with movement.  Wrapping, spinning, scurrying up and down the silk lines they drew the day before. No doubt, salivating over the meal they were so hungry to devour.

As I watched from a distance, a twinge of sorrow swept over me.  For all their effort, they deserved a meal made for a queen. But it wasn’t there. It wasn’t in their web.

No.  A fallen brown leaf, had become tangled. Twisting in the wind, it gave the impression of life.  She worked as if it were true.

Both times I thought, “I wonder if they know they are working on a leaf” Surely not.

Shrugging, realizing I was unable to assist…If I tried, the potential of damaging the web was high. Pulling her farther from her only goal, satisfying hunger. She would have to rebuild, spending even more energy…No, that wasn’t fair. I could only watch with the hope she realized her mistake quickly.

With nothing more for me to do, I continued my walk wondering how many times in our lives,   —-  read here  < In my life > —  , are we working so hard to accomplish the things we think we need? What we think we want?  Putting in long hours, wearing ourselves out, spending time fruitlessly, going into spiritual debt….working….spinning….

Only for someone, with the clarity of distance to say, “I wonder if she knows that is just a ….leaf?” Having the same realization that we must do this alone. Forced to watch as we flounder, expending unnecessary energy in an area that will not serve us. Prayerfully they are hoping we “get” it sooner than later.

Simultaneously I was aware that I’ve felt this way many times watching my children…If only I could make their path straighter, clear of debris…easy…Yet I know…I know… it doesn’t work that way. They are better equipped for their next bump when they muscle through today’s struggle.

I wonder how many times God looks down at our choices and responds the same way?

“It is only a leaf dear girl…move along. I have greater things planned for you.” 

Letter to Ashley

12 Jul

Dear sweet beautiful Ashley,

I saw it in your big brown eyes. Heard it in the tremble of your voice.  The residual pain lingered on the surface  from when someone unknowingly spewed judgement over your life.  Those words that insinuated that your choices didn’t line up with their view.  At that moment the world stopped for me. The air evaporated from the room. My stomach twisted and was tense…I didn’t respond the way I wanted to.  I have a hard time processing hate on the fly.

It has been on my heart and on my mind ever since.

I don’t want ANY young lady, who chooses to give life, to feel like she doesn’t live up to some invisible standard. Especially one whom I adore and love.

I believe with all my heart that God blesses those who make hard choices that line up with his word.  I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it.

When I look back at all those people who insisted they were doing it “right”, I shake my head.  I wouldn’t want their shoes for anything in the world.

I’ve watched you with the princess.  You are going to be amazing at this mom thing!  Don’t let anyone tarnish your sparkle.  Shut out that judgmental nonsense.  “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”  – Job 23:10.

You have so much love to give.  I promise you,  God doesn’t make mistakes!

With all my heart I shout to the world that we are so proud of you! I pray abundant blessings over your life.  I can’t wait to watch you grow and watch God work in your life.

Good things are coming! Hold on tight! This is going to be a beautiful bumpy road.

He Knows Where I'm Going - Job 23:10 - Bible Verse - Blank Notecard - Encouragement - Graduation - Blank Inside - Gold. $4.00, via Etsy.

Runner?

29 Sep

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For the record, I consider anything faster than my walking pace, a run…

So, I’m not really a runner. My body isn’t made for it. I hurt when I run. My calves tighten instantly like stretched rubber bands ready to pop. The arches of my feet scream and my hips ache. I’ve been attempting to run for about two years now, and within the first half mile, these pains return and stay with me until I finally succumb. Yet, I keep lacing up my kicks, enthusiastically thinking this time will be different. It never is.

This morning I started my run feeling good, better than average. My aches returned a few minutes in. I pushed them out of my mind, bouncing to the beat of the music. At some point it hit me that the familiar voice of the runkeeper ap lady had not come on yet…I must be doing better than I thought! She is programed to tell me my pace and mileage every 5 minutes. I kept pushing. I hit the end of a street, which I know from experience is about a mile…still the ap lady had not come through my ear buds. I looked down. DAMN. I must have hit the pause button…six seconds into my run. I had no idea how fast I ran…and instantly I wanted to quit.

I thought to myself, are you running because you want something to measure? If you are not able to measure it, does it make it worthless? This is a common thread in my life right now…something I’m working on…You see, I like numbers. Numbers are safe. They are constant, reliable. 2+2 is always four. I love the exactness, the perfection of math. If done correctly, you are always right. No, I thought, that isn’t why I run. Although I do love logging a run into runkeeper.

So why am I running, torturing my body for what seems like a minimal amount of calorie burn? It isn’t the only exercise I do. I take a weightlifting and dance classes at the gym. I work in a 90 minute hot yoga class weekly. Running is battle, a true war between my mind and my body. For the next 2 miles I allowed myself to contemplate this.

Where I live we have awesome trails that wind around the various neighborhoods and provide views of the lake. This is where I run. Even though I have music blaring in my ears, it is my escape from the noise. Sometimes while running my mind goes completely blank, sometimes it solves problems, sometimes my focus is the music and at other times it is my screaming tendons. In the spring I’m reminded to soak up the world around me as the smell of honey suckles blooming fill the air. In the fall, the changing of the leaves tug at my heart signaling what I already know, life is short. The gators in the lake reinforce that fear is always looming right under the surface. The blue herring is both a symbol of strength and calmness as he effortlessly plucks fish from the lake. The wild flowers sprinkled along the trail show the artistic work of God’s hand. I deeply breath it in, while pounding the pavement, replacing the negative energy I’ve inadvertently consumed during the week with the simplicity of nature.

I run to see the world through a micro lens. For me, it isn’t just about the stats (how fast, how far, how much). It is about the silent exploration, the anticipation of what will unfold on the trail. I may never be a great runner. I’m not even sure that it matters to me. Through this process, I realized there is freedom in being a pseudo runner. More important to me is the desire to explore, to witness life from a new perspective, to be open to what is around the corner, to absorb, to allow it to change me for the better. Running is so much more than the act itself. For these reasons, I will fight through the pain, battling my own body, against all odds.. pushing..sweating…to log another mile…and gain another ounce of clarity.

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