Category Archives: Life

The best compliment I’ve ever received…

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The best compliment I’ve ever received…

This week my husband and I celebrated 13 years of wedded bliss. As is often the case with military marriages, my husband was not here to celebrate with me this year. We are kind of used to being apart on “big” days–birthdays, holidays, anniversaries–so it’s become normal for us to not go overboard with gifts or celebrating. That’s one of the things I love about my husband, we both are committed to celebrating our marriage every day, not just on the ones Hallmark tells us we should.

I thought in honor of our anniversary I would post a list of things I have learned during these 13 years as a wife, but something on Twitter made me change my mind. Yesterday on my feed, I saw this tweet by Melanie Weeden, wife of former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden who is currently preparing for the NFL draft:

@MelanieWeeden: My man@bweeden3 is KILLIN it on ESPN today!!!!! #proudwife

(Very quick aside here: I am a HUGE sports fan, but I have a particular affinity for all things Oklahoma State. While I’m not a grad, my husband and I met while we were both attending OSU and my husband is indeed a proper alum. I will likely address my passion for OSU sports when we begin gearing up for football season again–although with the spring game approaching, it might be sooner than that. Yeah, I’m kind of fanatical.)

Back to the topic at hand, Melanie’s enthusiastic and deservedly proud tweet reminded me of the very best compliment I have ever received as a wife. About five years into our marriage, I was talking to a family friend about my husband and all that he’s accomplished, how he’s followed his dreams, and how that has made him a better husband and father. The friend said, “I really admire the fact that you are your husband’s biggest fan.” There wasn’t a trace of irony or sarcasm in her comment, it was quite sincere. I’d never really considered it from that point of view before, but it really summed up how I felt about my husband. I AM his biggest fan, his cheerleader, encourager and promoter. I want nothing but the best for him simply because I love him. On the days when things don’t quite go his way, I want to be the person he comes to–to renew his confidence and raise his spirits.

On the flip side, he’s also my biggest fan. For some strange reason, he thinks I’m wonderful. He tends to see the best in me rather than seeing me as the mess I feel like I am most of the time. He appreciates and respects me as a wife, a mom, and–most importantly–as a person with her own opinions and ideas. I am a better woman for having the opportunity to see myself through his eyes.

Now don’t misunderstand, we are both painfully aware of the other’s quirks and faults. While we acknowledge those traits, we don’t dwell on them–most of the time anyway. When you are truly someone’s biggest fan you don’t focus on the negative, you promote the positive. You take joy in their success. You support and encourage them in any way you possibly can. And to me that seems like a pretty good foundation for a lifelong relationship. I know that’s what my husband and I are both rooting for.

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When I grow up

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When I grow up

One of my favorite questions to ask my boys is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Formula 1 driver, teacher, football player, ornithologist, and Olympic gymnast are just a few of the answers they have given me. I’ve often heard that the key to discovering your purpose and passion (which is the journey I am on right now) lies in recalling your earliest childhood ambitions. If that’s the case, I might be in a bit of a bind.

When I was a little girl, my answer to that question was pretty consistent as I recall–I wanted to be a singer or an actress. I never once said teacher or doctor or veterinarian or even mom. Over the years I participated in talent searches and community theater productions; I took singing and acting lessons; when I was old enough I started competing in preliminary pageants within the Miss America system (that’s the one with talent y’all, not to be confused with Miss USA).Older me--the pageant girl with news anchor hair

But along the way something strange happened. I lost my confidence. I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment it happened, I think it was more of a slow erosion than a sudden epiphany. It might have started the day my sisters and I totally blew a performance at a community festival by dissolving into schoolgirl giggles. When we left the stage that afternoon, our mom met us crying and telling us that we were an embarrassment. (In her defense, we probably were.) Or was it the day in high school that I auditioned for the role of Emily in Our Town? I read the dramatic monologue with such intensity that by the end, I was in tears and so were the other students in the room. Sadly, a girl who was known to be the teacher’s pet got the part. When I was in college I tried out for the show choir. I got lots of compliments after the singing portion of the audition, but never heard from them again after I performed the dance. (The years of dance lessons my parents paid for didn’t help that day. It was pretty bad.) Could it have happened more recently when I sang for a church music minister and was told I wasn’t good enough for worship team but I was welcome to join the choir?

Now as I reflect back, I recognize that the actual events didn’t make me lose my confidence, my internal dialogue did. You see, these are the memories that I fixate on and replay in my mind over and over again. I don’t focus on the time I played Lucy in my high school production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; or the two other college show choirs I was invited to join after auditioning (Yes, I went to three colleges. Please stop counting.); or that I played the part of the Queen in a large community theater production of Cinderella; or that in our last church I was not only part of an excellent worship team but a featured soloist as well.

Somehow I have decided my negative experiences carry more weight than any of my achievements.

That thought is totally taking me by surprise even as I type it. I have decided that my negative experiences carry more weight than any of my achievements.  Typing it again doesn’t make the thought any more comforting.

In reflection, I can see that I have applied this apparent principle in more areas of my life than just my childhood performing ambitions. For example, when I was in 8th grade I decided to run for student council representative in my homeroom class. There might have been 20 or 25 kids in the class, a few of them were my friends so I thought I stood a pretty good chance of being elected. I found out very publicly just how wrong I was. You see, my homeroom class was civics–the study of government and her processes. My homeroom teacher thought it would be a good idea to tally the votes on the chalkboard (this was long before whiteboards) in an effort to teach us more about elections I’m sure. When the votes had been counted, it was revealed that my opponent had won by a landslide. Looking at the chalkboard, the only thing next to my name was one sad, solitary tally mark. I had received one vote–the vote I had cast for myself. Retelling that story now (25 years after the fact) fills me with immense sadness and shame. When I think of elections, this is where my mind naturally lands. What I don’t consider is a day 5 years later when, as a senior in high school, I was elected by my peers as a state officer for a large marketing education organization. It should be obvious to anyone–including me–which of these events I should assign more importance, yet I have chosen to focus on the negative experience for these many years, not the positive.

I started this post thinking that I needed to find my purpose, but it appears right now I should be more concerned with finding my voice. The quiet internal voice that only I hear as it whispers what I have believed to be truths. The journey I should be on is rewriting my internal dialogue, beginning to claim my successes and leaving my failures in the past where they belong. Going forward I want to make Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14 my desire, my aspiration: I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. (The Message)

In Him is where my answers lie. Lord, I may not be singing yet, but help me find my voice (Your Voice). Amen.

Sea Glass Mom?

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I love sea glass.  Looking for the small colorful pieces in the sand is my favorite beach activity–finding a new piece is like stumbling upon precious treasure.  I love the irony of sea glass itself.  Basically it’s ocean trash.  Junk thrown away because its purpose has been fulfilled.  Tossed into the ocean as garbage, a no longer desired bottle goes through an amazing transformation.  It’s shattered, tossed, tumbled, buffed and polished until it no longer resembles its original shape.  The former common bottle has been changed into something uncommon.  A jewel of the sea, rivaled only by the pearl.  I like to think of sea glass as a perfect analogy for what God does as he transforms our lives, the process making us nearly unrecognizable from where we began but more precious for what we become.  At least that’s how it’s been for me.  I’m still being shattered, tossed, tumbled, buffed and polished.  I have no idea how I will look when the process is over, but I know I am more beautiful than I was when it began.