I have been dreading this day for weeks now. Last week there were multiple days I was so depressed at the thought of this day without her I could barely function. Losing my mom has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face in my life. From regrets of how I treated her at times growing up, to wishing I would’ve had her show me how to make her chicken salad (to which all other chicken salad pales in comparison), to aching for my youngest child that will never be held by his LaLa. It is so very true that you can’t ever know how hard it is to lose a parent until you do yourself (of course the same goes for losing a child as well, and my heart aches for those mamas today that have faced that).
This morning my Father in law who is a wonderful preacher taught a great sermon that was about mothers. At one point during the lesson where I was trying not to focus on how much I missed her, I looked down at my bible. My bible that was hers, that she had gotten to celebrate my birth. In that moment, I realized that I still have her. I can study the bible with her by seeing her highlights and reading the notes she’s written in it. Her loving manner is in my oldest son who will run up to strangers in the store and ask if he can hug them and tells them that he loves them. There’s been a time or two you could see it in their eyes that they needed that. Her gentleness is in my daughter who as I was crying last week on one of those days hugged me tight and just simply told me that she loves me and misses LaLa too. Her warmth is in my youngest who just lights up a room with his sweet smile. He has been such a ray of sunshine through this difficult year.
People often tell me just how special and sweet my mom was. How much she’s missed. The great example she left for them. She lives on through them and the things they tell me about her. Sometimes things I didn’t know. My siblings and I were very blessed to have her as our mother. I’m so thankful for the example she left, especially that of her faith. Often the thought of her, no matter how happy the memory, can leave me feeling as if my heart has been ripped apart… But today in that moment looking at my mother’s bible I had a sense of peace and comfort. In that moment, I knew that she would truly always be with me. Happy Mother’s Day mom. I love you and will miss you always.
Proverbs 31: 25-31
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
I recently had surgery on my knee and my in-laws watched our two toddlers for us while I was incapable of doing so (Thank you so much!). They, unfortunately, live 3 hours away so we went a whole month without seeing them. It was tough on everyone, especially my 3 year old little boy. He had fun with his grandparents, but every time we were on the phone with him, he would ask us (specifically Daddy) to come get him and bring him home. It broke our hearts (I may or may not have cried when he would ask that). Ever since he has been back he has been extra clingy. He even had a meltdown the other night when my husband ran into the store real quick to get a gallon of milk. This wasn’t just a fit because he wanted to go too and didn’t get his way. He was screaming for Daddy to come back and crying because he was afraid of Daddy leaving him again.
We have many military friends that have to be away from their family way too often and for longer than we had to be apart. I am thankful for our military personnel that make this sacrifice for all of us. I know it is hard on them. It is hard for anyone to be away from those they love for an extended period of time. The hardest separation that any of us can face, however, is when someone we love leaves this world.
During the month my kids weren’t home, two people I love passed away. That grief made me miss my babies all the more. One was my Aunt Nancy who had been battling lung cancer for years. She was so genuine, kind, loving, and giving. She was an amazing woman. She will be sorely missed. I will always regret that we didn’t drive the few extra hours to go see her when we visited my dad this past summer. We had intended to, but the kids were already having a tough time with all of the driving and we opted not to go. I lost my last chance to see her. We also lost a good friend of ours who was an elder in the congregation we are a part of. Trey wrote a post about him a couple of weeks ago: In Honor of Brother Vinson
This week has been very hard on friends of ours. We have some friends who lost their young niece to cancer on Sunday, a coworker and friend of my husband lost his wife yesterday, a friend of mine lost his father earlier this week, and today a friend of ours lost her mother.
All of these things make me think about how we are not promised tomorrow. Neither are our children. I hold my babies a little bit tighter any time I hear of someone losing their child- whether it is a friend or a stranger my heart breaks for them. We never know how much time we have left. There is no way to know if that will be the last time I get to hold them.
Each time someone dies people say that you need to spend more time on the important things: tell those you love that you love them, spend extra time with those that matter to you even if it might be a little inconvenient sometimes. How many of us take that to heart? How many of us only do it for a short time then get back into our day to day rush where we miss those precious little moments with our family? I know I have been guilty of doing it. Hold your babies, love your babies, thank God for your babies and that you are blessed with another day with them. Tell them you love them all the time. You can still get things done (chores, work, etc.) and take an extra few minutes to just be with them. Don’t take this time for granted. Call your parents more to let them know you are thinking of them. Make time for those that matter to you. Even if it is just sending them a quick text to let them know you are thinking about them. Don’t wait to do it, you may not get another chance.
“Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14
So, a few years back my friend Alicia kept posting pictures of big piles of stuff that she got for $2 and crazy amounts like that. It kinda gave me the bug to start couponing. I have always thought it was a good idea, but I never really realized how much you could save if you do it right. Alicia emailed everyone interested some tips, websites, etc. to get started couponing.
I had been an occasional coupon user before, but once I really got started I was mad at myself for not having started sooner. I save about 30% to 50% every grocery trip… there are even some times I have saved up to 70%+. This is even with not planning thoroughly each time! Imagine what I could do if I really focus and use all of the resources available!
We are doing our Dave Ramsey baby steps and trying to cut where we can and trying to get “gazelle intense” about getting out of debt. Since I am working VERY few hours now that Willow is here, it is part of my job as homemaker to make every dollar of Trey’s paycheck count. My goal is to cut our grocery budget by 1/3 to 1/2 of what it is now.
Yes, it can definitely be time consuming sometimes, but it is worth how much you can save that hard earned money!
I am going to share a few tips from my limited coupon knowledge:
1. If your grocery store has different “clubs” that will give you coupons, sign up! Most of our savings comes from baby club coupons at Publix and Winn Dixie.
2. Even if you only print coupons or buy papers for them, match your coupons up with current deals. You can do this yourself or use websites like southernsavers.com or couponmom.com.
3. Find out the coupon policies for the places you shop at most.
I must apologize for posting this practically on the coattails of my wife’s other post. I’ve come down with something and can’t focus on writing for very long. This is the article she wrote for our old blog to accompany my post.
The picture above is the picture of my first bouquet that I sent her that she mentions below.
Have I mentioned how awesome my wife is?
Well, first off, I have always been against internet dating oddly enough. However, In July 2004 I went on a trip to Flaming Pine Youth Camp for the day with my mom, my friend Jen, and Jen’s mom Candy. On the way back home my mom and Candy were talking about how Candy was single and it’s hard to find a good single Christian guy. My mom mentioned a website that she had heard about…. www.churchofchristsingles.com.
There weren’t really any single Christian guys in my area around my age either that I hadn’t already dated. So, I figured why not join it to at least make some more friends. I didn’t plan on meeting anyone on there to actually start a relationship with. That changed not too long after joining.
On Thursday July 22nd I was going through profiles and looked at Trey’s for the second time. I hadn’t messaged him before because he didn’t have a whole lot on his profile. He did mention on there, however that he had been to a Renaissance Faire in Texas. My brother Jim was married at Scarborough Faire in Texas. I was curious, and I figured why not at least message and ask. As cheesy as this sounds, I had the Reba McEntire song “Somebody” going through my head. If you’re not familiar with the song, it’s basically talking about how the person who is the one for you could be anyone… “Somebody in the next car, somebody on the morning train, somebody in the coffee shop that you walk right by everyday…” I also was thinking Carpe diem… why not just message him. So, I did, I wrote him a quick email before driving down to Madison to buy a car my step-dad had found on e-bay.
I am so glad I wrote that first message. He replied fairly quickly. It was only a matter of days before we were instant messaging. I was in training to be an assistant manager in Hayward, Wisconsin 5 days a week. I didn’t have the internet when I was there and it didn’t take long before I started missing my conversations with him while I was there. I was so happy when he asked for my number so we could talk when I was there. It also gave me something to do besides just killing my time there when I wasn’t working, going to Wal-Mart, or watching TV. He called me that night when I was at home. We talked for so long that my phone was dying. When I plugged it in it shocked me. I don’t know why but it amused us for some reason. That HE shocked me. 🙂 I loved his voice.
From then on, when we both had spare time we were more than likely talking to each other. Trey went over his cell phone minutes in August and September. I had unlimited minutes, so I was good. In fact, Trey ended up getting a home phone for me to call him on because of how much he was going over on his minutes. We just couldn’t seem to talk to each other enough. He was so sweet. One day I mentioned how a girl at the store I was training at got a bouquet of flowers sent to her and apparently that made him want to give me some. He searched based on what I had told him for which Hardees I was working at the day. He called the number to make sure it was the one I was at. I was very surprised to hear his voice at work, by the way. Then a couple of hours later I received a beautiful bouquet of purple flowers. Purple is my favorite color. It was either that day or the next that I went back home for a couple of days. My mom took a picture of me with the flowers. She made me stand in front of a picture in our living room that had the love verses… “Love is patient; love is kind, etc…” This was also the verse that Trey had them write on the card for the bouquet. This was just the first of many bouquets Trey would give me.
Almost 2 months after we first started talking, I had a weekend off. We had discussed me possibly coming down to visit, but decided against it because of how far the drive was. The Thursday before my weekend off, Hurricane Ivan hit where Trey worked and the roof of his workplace was in the parking lot next door. He was worried about if he would still have a job and things like that. So, I decided that I would drive the 20 hours down to meet him. I arrived on September 18, 2004 at around 9pm at his apartment complex. I was so excited to meet him. When we finally met in person, we no longer had any doubts about how we were meant to be together. After talking for a little while I went to spend the night at his friends’ house (Greg and Lis). In the morning he picked me up and we went to church together. I got to meet the majority of his close friends during the weekend. There was a pot luck at church and it was fun to hang out with his friends some more. After church we went to the mall and walked around. We were joking about how we should just elope so I wouldn’t have to go back the next day. Neither of us wanted me to go back. We went to his place and started watching the movie “Big Fish” until it was time to go back to church. After church we finished the movie and had some lasagna for dinner. I guess you could technically say this was the first time I cooked for him… even though it was just frozen lasagna. I spent Sunday night at his friends Joel and Erin’s house. First thing in the morning I stopped by his workplace to say bye and start on my 20 hour journey back home.
I was driving through Birmingham and remember that when I had stopped for food on the way down in Tennessee that Trey had said that his parents lived just a mile or so from the Hardees I stopped at. I had an idea that I would stop and meet his parents if they were home. Yes, I was very brave. I had talked to them through email and on the phone before. I just figured it would be a good time to meet them before I moved down. I knew I was going to move down as soon as possible because I had to live near Trey so I could actually see him every now and then. Trey called his parents and his dad said it would be fine for me to stop by because it was his day off. I got to their house in the afternoon. His dad was doing yard work and we talked for a while. I thought his dad was a blast. His mom came home after school and before some appointment that she had so she could meet me. I thought she was very sweet. Not too long after she left, I left too so I could get back to Minnesota. When I got to Nashville, Trey called me and said that his parents wanted me to turn around and come spend the night. They didn’t want me driving through the night alone. So, I turned around and went back to their house.
They were having some homemade chili for dinner that his dad had made. We watched some TV and ate yummy chili. I stayed in the room that Trey usually stayed in when he was at their house. The next morning his mom came up to say goodbye to me before she headed off to work. I got ready to go and before I left I asked his dad to take a picture of me with Trey’s dog Wejh. Wejh was old and I knew that he meant a lot to Trey. He had mentioned that Wejh and I were his favorite people. I figured he would appreciate the photo. After that I went on my way back to Minnesota.
The first weekend of October Trey came up to Minnesota. We had been planning on him coming them since before I had gone to Alabama. A friend from the congregation he attended let him use his frequent flier miles to come up. We were originally going to go to a church camp in Wisconsin for a singles retreat. I ended up not being able to get the weekend off, so we just stayed in town. When I picked him up from the airport we went to the mall of America and walked around. We ate at the oriental food place there and both got food poisoning. So almost the entire time he was there, we were both sick and I still had to work part of the time. We did still go see some of the sights while he was there. It was nice. He came to church with me Sunday morning and got to meet a lot of my “family”. A few days after Trey went back home I turned in my two week notice so I could move down to Alabama. Trey had a friend whose girlfriend needed a roommate, so I had a place to stay. All I needed was a job down there.
The Tuesday before Halloween my roommate Cynthia and best friend Sarah helped me load up my car to move. Wednesday after work I went back home one last time to make sure I got everything and to take a quick nap. I then left on my trip to move down to be able to actually date Trey. I was a little nervous because it was such a big move and would be the first time I was really on my own. I was mostly excited though, because I knew that Trey and I would eventually get married and I couldn’t wait to be near him and actually get to see him everyday. On Thursday morning I arrived at his parent’s house. He was there as well. His parents had some extra furniture they were going to let me use in my new place. The next day we packed everything up and the four of us caravanned to Montgomery. His mother helped me organize stuff as Trey and his dad moved things in. I was excited; it was an old, but nice house. The rent for each of us was pretty decent. There were two other girls that lived there. It didn’t take me too long to get settled in. His parents drove back to their house after I was settled and Trey went back home for a little bit while I did some more unpacking.
It took me a couple of weeks before finding a job. Trey was looking for a job as well. He had lost his job about a week before I moved down. In the meantime Trey’s parents were very nice and helped us out. My boss Amanda and I became pretty good friends. Her mom was dating Trey’s cousin at the time and they are married now. There were issues at the house I was staying at and ended up moving in with Amanda in December. Amanda was like my long lost twin that was older than me and had brown hair. It was fun. Trey had left his apartment and moved in to an apartment upstairs at his other cousins’ house. We hung out as much as we could and spent a lot of times with his friends as well. We had already talked a lot about marriage and both knew we would marry each other.
On Christmas Eve we drove up to his parents’ house to spend Christmas with them. I had hoped that he would propose to me. I figured it would be a pretty good Christmas present. I didn’t think that he actually would then, but I could always hope.
It was about a 3 hour drive to his parents’ house and we decided that we would go through the Christmas lights display in the Botanical Gardens on the way. I got to open 2 gifts on the way. Right before we got to the Gardens, Trey stopped at a gas station claiming that he had to go to the bathroom. He apparently met his dad there because his dad had the ring. He also said that the gas station employee wished him luck / congratulated him. Anyway, when we were driving through the displays we were listening to some Rascal Flatts music. Then, when we were driving by the display that looked like Cinderella’s castle, he told me I could open my other gift that was behind my seat. It was a stuffed leopard. He then said “There is a second part to that gift” and pulled out the ring box. He told me how wonderful and beautiful I was. He told me how much I meant to him and then he asked me to marry him. I was about balling at this point and of course said yes. He pulled the engagement ring out of the ring set and put it on my finger. Keep in mind we were driving during all of this as well. His dad said later that he was farther in front of us in the line and kept trying to go slower to give Trey more time to be able to do it. The ring was beautiful and it was exactly how I had described my dream engagement ring to him not too long after we first started talking. He designed it himself and his mother let him use the diamond from her 25th wedding anniversary ring.
When we got to his parents’ house there was a little disagreement on to who should tell everyone in HIS family. I thought he should since it was his family. He said I should because it’s the woman who should show off the ring. Because of this disagreement, we didn’t say anything right away. His father ended up taking him outside to see if I didn’t say yes or what was going on. So then Trey made me tell everyone. They all congratulated us of course. It was so cute, ’cause then his nieces were asking about being the flower girls. When we told them that they would both be the flower girls, they were excited. April, the youngest, forgot all about Santa Claus and started practicing walking down the aisle and dropping the flowers. It was so cute. First thing Christmas morning she asked, “I still be flower girl?” We told her of course and she was content.
We got married on July 9, 2005. Originally we were going to get married on the 3rd, but my mom and step-dad weren’t leaving China (where they teach English) until the 4th. All of my immediate family got to come except for my oldest brother and his family. I was sad that he didn’t get to come, but I talked to him on the phone not too long before I walked down the aisle. It was a great ceremony. His dad was our officiate. My daddy walked me down the aisle. It was just great. My best friend Sarah caught the bouquet. Trey’s dad drove us away from the building in their convertible. We were originally going to go to the beach for our honeymoon. However, Hurricane Dennis was hitting the gulf that weekend, so we had to go the opposite direction. We stayed at a very nice suite that his parents’ paid for us as our wedding gift. It was in northern Alabama on a lake. We went to Wal-mart a few times while we were there for groceries for the mini kitchen and we also bought Scrabble. We were there for half of the week and on Wednesday we went to his parent’s house and went to church with them. My mom and step-dad were staying with them since the day of the wedding. I was happy to get to spend time with my mom since besides the little bit of time before the wedding and the wedding itself, I hadn’t spent any time with here since before they moved to China the August before. His parents’ held a reception for us and invited the friends and family from that area that weren’t able to make it to the wedding.
We lived in the apartment above his cousin’s house until the end of December 2005, when we bought our own house. It’s great to have our own place. His parents and his oldest sister Tami came down to help us move in. They helped paint and clean and that kind of stuff. It was fun. It was definitely a good way to start the New Year. My best bud Sarah came down a couple of weeks later to visit and because the first guest in our house after it was mostly set up. I was promoted at work in March of 2006, and have been staying busy since.
I did get a week off for our anniversary. We drove to Oklahoma to visit my family. We stayed at his parents’ house on the way there and back. We met two of my friends that I went to college with for dinner on the way to Oklahoma City. It was fun, I was glad he finally got to meet some of my other friends. We stayed with my sister while we were there. For our anniversary we stayed at a bed and breakfast in Guthrie, Oklahoma. It was nice enough, but since it was in the old downtown of an OLD town, it was kinda creepy. Trey said that the city reminded him of Silent Hill, which just made it even creepier. We made a trip to the Wal-Mart that night for some snacks and what-not. Wal-Mart trips officially became an anniversary tradition. Odd, I know, but it is just what we do. 🙂 I got to spend time with a lot of my family. My mom also came down to visit the family in Oklahoma at the same time. We visited the bombing memorial and the Cowboy hall of fame, since neither of us had ever been to those.
We had a good vacation overall. On the way back to Alabama we ran into some bad weather. We swear we saw a tornado not too far behind us at one point. It was crazy. It was pouring so hard that the interstate was either not moving at all or going 10 mph because of horrible visibility. We stopped at his parents’ house for the night on the way back. Then when we were starting to drive home the next day, it started hailing and lightning every 2 seconds, so we had to turn back around and stay another night. We always tend to have bad weather when we go on trips. We got home safe and sound, obviously.
Close to Valentine’s Day 2007 we made an addition to our family. Mio is our baby kitty. We found her at the shelter. We were going just to look at puppies and kitties. When I saw her she came to the cage door and was rubbing up against it. I opened the cage and picked her up. She just snuggled with me! I tried to give her to Trey and our friend Jamie to hold for a little bit, but it took a lot to get her to go to someone else. When I had to put her back down because we had to go and couldn’t get her until payday a few days away, she cried. I was so sad to leave her, but I told her that she wasn’t allowed to let anyone else fall in love with her and to wait for me to come and get her. We went back on the Sunday afternoon before Valentine’s Day and she was still there! I was so happy. When she saw me, she jumped down from the shelf in the cage and went right to the door. She climbed right into my arms. So we bought her and brought her home. She was sick and we had to give her a lot of medicine to get her better. She was worth it. She is so sweet and fluffy!
For our second anniversary Trey bought me a tent (which is what I wanted) as well as making this website. I got him a stuffed Aslan and on our anniversary we bought him a puppy, Sam. He is a sweet little miniature dachshund/ Australian shepherd mix. He is so tiny. He was also sick because the person we bought him from didn’t take good care of him or the rest of his family. He spent most of his first 2 days with us at the vet. He had to get some fluids under his skin because of dehydration and had to have a blood transfusion as well. He is doing great now.
It’s been a great two years and I am so excited to spend the rest of our lives together. I know I made the right choice in whom I married. I am very blessed. He’s a great man and daddy to our kitty and puppy. 🙂
My wonderful wife offered to write for me today. She is truly a Proverbs 31 woman and I look forward to more writing from her as time goes on.
Trey and I had many discussions about marriage before our wedding almost 8 years ago. One of the things we immediately agreed on was making divorce a swear word in our house. Trey had mentioned that his parents did this (they will be celebrating their 49th anniversary next month) and it sounded like a great plan. We discussed that no matter what, divorce would never be an option for us. We agreed to always work it out. When we made this decision to be together “no matter what” it instilled such a major sense of security in me.
We have been told by different people that they look up to us as a married couple because of how much we love each other, respect each other, and how we can make people sick with how affectionate we are. My family has made comments about how it seems that I got it right the first time (I am the only person in my immediate family that is married that hasn’t been divorced at least once). When they tell me this, I respond with “the only time”. It is always a wonderful compliment when others can see how great a marriage you have.
No marriage is perfect. We have had ups and downs. We struggled through infertility, financial stress (including financial “infidelity” as Dave Ramsey calls it on my part), and just the usual day to day stresses that come with life as a growing family. It is definitely true when people say that when you first get married you don’t really know what love is… or maybe it would be better to say that you don’t know the depth of love yet. Love is so much deeper, stronger, and harder than that. I am sure that Trey and I have only scratched the surface of how great our love can be.
A few months ago we have been asked by separate people at separate times if we were alright. Apparently other people could see that we were struggling, and we were. We were just in a sort of funk that stemmed from not communicating clearly with each other and possibly a bit having to do with some postpartum depression I experienced this time around. It is during times like these, where we are struggling, that I am so thankful for that agreement we made years ago. I never worry about losing him, because I know that no matter how hard things get neither of us will walk away. Not that things were close to that, but I am so grateful to be married to Trey.
We are working on strengthening our marriage. It is hard sometimes with a toddler and an infant to find the time to focus on our marriage, as I’m sure anyone that has kids knows, but we try. This is where I am going to brag on my husband for a minute: When we realized there was a problem we talked about what we could do to fix it. One of the things that he suggested was to make sure that we study the bible and pray together every night. We had let other things get in the way and had slacked in that area. He has been so great at making sure we do that each night since. Him suggesting this is one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place. Before I met him I had decided that one of the qualifications of the person I would marry would be a man that suggested we study and pray together. We also have started writing in journals each work day and swapping them for the other to read the next day (I got this idea from some friends of ours that do the same thing) to just work on communicating more. We also tell each other one thing we love about each other before we go to bed each night.
I am so thankful and so blessed that I am married to someone that is as committed to our marriage as I am. I know that many people aren’t so blessed. My heart breaks for anyone in that situation. I will close this out by using a verse that I think encompasses how Trey has been, especially lately:
Ephesians 5:28-29 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
By the way, if anyone that has offered still wants to watch our kids so we can have a date night, let us know. — Trey 🙂