Friday, May 19, 2017

End of School Year for the Littles

Warning: This post is for the grandparents and anyone else who wants an overload of kid pictures. 

Today was Bekah's last day as a pre-schooler (and yesterday was Morgan's) and I think I only cried once (I think...maybe more). It just gets me to realize that this year has already flown by and as of next Thursday afternoon I will have a JUNIOR in HIGH SCHOOL and a KINDERGARTENER and a preschooler. I knew this day would come, but come on! Already? I didn't even mention what I will be in November (in my mind I will always be 25).

Morgan absolutely loved being in school this year and cried on days that she stayed at home while Bekah went to school. She was sad, at first, about moving on the the 4-year old class until she learned Mr. Everett (who is a rockstar to my girls) will be her teacher for Summer Camp.






She got a 2-inch notebook full of memories and pictures from the year...I will cherish it forever! 

Morgan got the award for "Most Cheerful"
Morgan and her teachers

Bekah had a great school as well! The last few months have been more difficult just because she was just so serious while at school and had zero patience for anyone who didn't follow the rules.

Bekah and her teachers. Her assistant teacher was Morgan's lead teacher - which was awesome.  



She had a Step Up Ceremony...which was like graduation. They called her name as "Rebekah Bahn" which had me crying...




I didn't realize how much older she looked (even with the pictures I took above) until I saw this in her memory book.



Her cheeks and then her lack of cheeks...I didn't realize in August how much she still had a baby face and I didn't realize until today how gown up her features have become. CRY!!!! 


I am so thankful for this year and the opportunity that have had. I am thankful for all the memories and friends. I am thankful, though I start to cry, for pictures of them at this young age in the sanctuary where there grandfather preaches each Sunday. I am thankful that their memories are intermingled with the legacy he is making. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Story: Scarlet Letter: The Part I had Left Out

We can only respond compassionately to someone telling her story if we have embraced our own story - shame and all. 
~Dr. Brené Brown

Why is it when I am on a deadline to read a chapter of a book by 4 pm today I get an overwhelming nudge to write? The statement above struck a nerve therefor, my friend, we need to have a chat. 

I can most definitely confirm that we live in a society, a culture, where sin is weighted. Even in our churches we struggle to see sin the same as God with the slate that was washed clean by Jesus’ resurrection. We ultimately place some sins so much higher on our scale of not so bad to horribly bad.  I am not condoning our behavior - I am acknowledging that it’s there while also telling you that it is for that reason that I have not share this part of my story. I hesitate out of fear. I hesitate out shame. And it is also because of those reasons that I share today. I am on a journey to pull the lingering weeds of shame out of my story, to acknowledge I have them, to express the reason why and to connect to the fact that I am not the person I was before. There are parts of this story I am ashamed of and there are parts of this story where I fear judgement. There are also parts where you could call me a hypocrite and you would be somewhat correct. 

In the early fall of 2010, as I walked through Macy’s with my fiancĂ© selecting the perfect shade of fiesta pottery to place on our wedding registry, when my phone rang. Fear ran through my body as I saw a name I had not seen in close to a year appear on the screen of my phone. I quickly sent the caller to voicemail. 

In typical fashion, I then received a text. I cannot remember what his original text said, but I do remember how our conversation continued. 

“I am seriously in the middle of registering for my wedding.” 

“I’ve lost you then,” he responded. 

“It’s over. Goodbye,” I sent back.

And that was the end of a 14 year relationship. I was shocked at how easy it was - how perfectly content I was with the finality of our tumultuous times as the closest friends and the absolute worst people for each other. I was empowered by the ability to end the destructive pattern he and I lived in for years. 

I remember reading Paula Dean’s autobiography, ten years ago and thinking, “that’s a brave women who can admit being in a relationship with a married man.” I cannot imagine the judgement she must have received or felt she might, but wrote those words anyway. I don’t think you set out saying, “I am going to break up a family today” or “today, I am going to hurt people”, but sin in our lives lead us to places we never would imagine we would go. 

After 14 years and countless relationships ended as we tried over and over to be together…
After 14 years and two failed marriages (for me) - one broken marriage for him…
After 14 years and one beautiful daughter we made together…
I said my final good-byes to Danny. 

Now in a matter of all honesty that was not the last time I spoke with Danny. About five years ago, when I found out that one of our close friends (his best friend) from high school was tragically killed we spoke briefly on Facebook. I will tell you that I did decline his friend request after that conversation because we were both good - we were both healthy again - we had both healed from the mess we had made and there was no reason to test the boundaries in the attempts to be friends - even in cyberworld. 

Our friendship wasn’t always fuel for a great episode of Jerry Springer, when we met at the age of eighteen and nineteen we were the greatest of friends with an underlying attraction for each other. If you know my story, you know that I spent the first half of my life (or longer) on a quest to feel loved - to feel accepted. Danny provided that safeness to be myself, but in that safeness there was disfunction. I am not sure I can say honestly that we tried to remain plutonic friends and fight the attraction to each other. Quickly our relationship wrecked havoc on his life with his girlfriend. That is when the destruction ball started rolling. 

Danny and I would spend the next five years showing up when life was too hard to handle apart. I wouldn’t be happy with a guy I was dating so I would find him. When he wasn’t happy or when he felt alone he would find me. While our relationship caused drama to storm around us we continued our pattern of life. Never once was there an exclusive, committed relationship between us - there were no strings - we were safe for each other while so harmful to any other relationship we attempted to have. 

The coziness of our safe, but dysfunctional, life ended in January of 2001 when we learned that our disfunction also leads to pregnancy. I remember knowing that Danny and I would never get married. We would never be a perfect little family, but I had at that time imagined that Danny would be a part of Shelby’s life. 

This is where things get complicated - this where things get ugly - this where there were words said by people around us that I will not repeat, though they sometimes still haunt me. In what I would later find was his attempt to shield my heart, Danny held onto a secret that would change the course of our relationship. Towards the end of my first trimester of pregnancy I received a phone call from a woman I knew had been in a relationship with Danny previously. She stated pretty mater of factly that she knew I was pregnant, but she wanted me to know that she was also pregnant (three months further along than I was). Then she said, “I have known about you this entire time.” Now, I mean, I should be more shocked about the first statement, but really I knew what I was dealing with and that no strings that attached him to me. Her second statement left me shocked. I always felt that we (Danny and I) had a relationship where we were very open with our feelings and our thoughts. Even though we held secrets from others we didn’t really have anything that we kept from one another. 

Oh, I don’t know if this makes sense to you, but if you struggle with trust, as I do, then you will understand the blow that statement caused. Should I have felt privileged that he attempted to not lose our relationship by leaving out some pretty vital facts? Most definitely not, but my very young mind did not think I as I do today. This is where I wish I could go back and speak to the 23 year old me. I wish I had an opportunity to pass along a few words of wisdom - to spoil the ending for this roller coster ride, but I can’t. 

To put it politely, Danny was “away” when both of his children (her’s and mine) were born. He actually was “away” when the phone call above was made and he stayed “away” until after Shelby was born. All of this time “away” led to many letters and many unsolicited phone calls from the other woman in his life. It almost became a competition as to who knew him better, who was closer to him and who did he speak to the most. While “away”, Danny kept up is normal method of operation and left me in the dark about many things including a marriage by proxy ceremony that took place a few months into this situation. 

The movie that played out in my head of me having a baby and Danny being a part of her life, but not there full-time (but it was still all rainbows and butterflies), came to crashing halt in that moment. No where in my daydreaming was there another woman, turned wife (which made me the “other woman”) and another child.  This was not what I had planned, at all. Me, always the writer, quickly composed what was probably three pages of anger sealed with with a “see-ya” and threw it in the mail the next day. The only other correspondence I had with him was a picture of our daughter that I sent to him after her birth. 

Oh how I wish the story of us ended here. 

Danny contacted me, again, when Shelby was about 9-months old. It started as, “I want to see my daughter,” which I agreed to and he saw Shelby on a regular basis. I held strongly to the fact that he was now married and I in no way was going to play “the other woman”. This was a battle because our chemistry and our indescribable connection (mentally) was still there. When I found out that his wife was expecting her second child, a secret he tried to keep for three months, I felt it was best for him to focus on what was going on his life and I pulled away with Shelby. 

At that time Shelby had just turned one and I had began dating the man who would eventually become my ex-husband. As you may remember from the story of my ex-husband, I was I run away bride. 

Two weeks before we were scheduled to fly to vegas things started closing in on me. During idle time at work I looked up an old flame and started an email conversation. You know what they say idle hands are the devil’s playground. With my self esteem in the gutter I let this person refill my love tank with complements and reminders that I was a pretty awesome person. In something I hate to type, I let the relationship move from emails to meeting, to cheating a week before marriage. I was filling a void and I was out to hurt my ex-husband even though he knew nothing about any of it. 

I am sure you can put two and two together and realize that “old flame” was most positively Danny. And that, my friend, is when I earned my scarlet letter and cause a major crack in someone else’s family. A fact that causes me a heavy weight of shame. 

As you remember it end quickly because I was on an airplane later that week headed to Vegas and got married. In my mind I thought Danny and I would run into each other again on a softball field while our children played. I can’t tell you how his marriage was during the time I was married, I can only assume that my actions caused some major distrust and turmoil. I know that Danny was a source of major discourse in my marriage. 

My divorce, three years later, left an open door that Danny walked in and out of again though we managed to stay apart for longer stretches of time there was still destruction in our actions. I am hesitant to say that Matt took all of my need for what I thought was safety in Danny away, but it is almost certainly true that God did a big number to my heart in giving me what was really love with Matt. Knowing that love and feeling that love completely overshadowed anything I had felt previously. 


As I re-read the words I have written, today, I hear the shame in my voice and I feel the struggle to justify my actions, but really I have no case - I have no excuse - I have no real explanation for why I continued this pattern with him. Shame has stopped me from writing this for years, though, those close to me know this story. It’s difficult to look back at the time when I was the “other woman”, “the mistress”, “the adulterer”, “the home wrecker” and not have a reason for my actions a compelling plea for you to not judge me. Life is messy - sin makes it messier. 

As I  conclude this mess I realize you may have some questions:

What will writing this do to Shelby?

Not much. We had this full conversation a few years ago and I did get her blessing to publicly post this story. This is where I protect her privacy, though, and ask that you understand this is as much her private life as it is mine. 

What will this do to his family?

I can’t say. Nothing that I have written should be a shock to anyone, they lived through it as well. At the same time, though, I wish no ill will towards him and his family (I am almost positive that he still married and I give him major props for that). It makes me very happy to know that he is good, that he is very involved in his church and that is he gainfully employed. 

Our story is a mess and I am just happy that we’ve both have embraced grace enough to move beyond the destruction. 

And, of course, getting through this calls for a Crowder tune. 

I've done things I wish I hadn't done
I've seen things I wish I hadn't seen
Just the thought of Your amazing grace
And I cry ”Jesus, forgive me!”



If you have not read all of My Story, click here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Right Words, At the Right Time


The title of this post could've been “This is why David Crowder is amazing” or “Why I Love Music and Can’t Live without it.”


Yesterday I got into my car after two hours in therapy (yep, keep reading) and this song was playing. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed these words at this exact time. 

I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I'm made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

Of course I thought, “Ah David Crowder always putting words to what I need”, but that is followed with “ah, God, always speaking through talented people to send me the words I need.”

You guys this is hard - I am not sure if it is hard to type or hard to admit, but I am not fully healed. And really, if I let myself seriously think about it, I won’t be fully healed on this side of heaven. As long as I walk this earth I will have things that I classify (because I am horribly brutal on myself) as a defect. I am like a dance mom on the side of the stage fiercely showing the moves and getting angry when my child (me also) won’t catch on. In my mind I know exactly how I am supposed to be - how healed I need to be - how I need to act - how I need to speak - and when I miss a step I am ugly to myself - completely unkind. 

I am sitting here 8 months shy of turning 40 wondering how in world I became such a perfectionist. I laugh as I glance across my bedroom - I wish the perfectionism would spill into my house keeping. 

How am I supposed to spread the goodness of forgiveness when I live daily disliking myself?

That is a tough pill to swallow (and it may hurt people I love), but I struggle so much to be nice to me, to speak kind words to myself, to see myself as others see me. And in the fear of my unkindness spreading to those I hold dear I pull myself into my shell and I cut people off. 

This is why I sit two hours on a sofa trying uses everything in my body to get to source of this - to figure out where these feeling came from and to embrace truth over the lies I have lived for years. 

A month ago when I went in with Matt for a couple’s check-up I was heart broken to hear our therapist say, “I think I am still hearing shame that isn’t dealt with.” Seriously, you work so stinking hard to work on things, to “fix” things, to get “right” and then you realize - it’s not over yet. It’s exhausting. And to be honest - nothing she said to me was a shock because in August of last year the devil attacked and instead of standing up to him I welcomed him in and he has wreck havoc on my life. 

Please don’t be discouraged by my words - there is hope in this story, this is just a hurdle that I have to walk through and even though I will always live with these defects and quirks that will need to be tended to from time to time I have come so freaking far. I seriously think that is one thing that I can fully be proud of and embrace. I have conquered a lot of junk. 

So, this song reminds me that 

I am found, I am His
I am loved, I'm made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

And it gives me that reminder I need that 

God is strong, God is sure
God is life, God endures
God is good, always true
God is light breaking through

He is more than enough, He is love. 


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Only Happy When it Rains: A Letter to the Teenager who has taken over my Preschooler


Hey Miss Melancholy, 

When I heard, “This cereal is totes awesome” over the breakfast table this morning I knew this talk was long overdue. 

I have overlooked the increased amount of eye rolling and need to carry a purse to church on Sunday morning, but I have to draw the line on you wanting to only wear black. I understand that your feelings about the color pink, it’s not my go-to fashion color also, but when you strike every item hanging in your closet because it’s not “dark enough.” I have to do a double take to confirm that I am standing next to a five year old. 

I am trying very hard to get my controlling issues in check and the fact that you have veto’d hair bows is killing me! In this house we wear bows, young lady, the bigger the better (and if they have glitter is totes awesome). If it were up to me you and your sisters (including Shelby) would wear bows everyday till graduation. 

Oh, I know that is another sore subject. I have fully heard how school is “so boring” and how you’d rather “just stay home” and “craft or play video games”. Don’t you see your mom is freaking out even by that sentence? 



Where have a made a wrong turn? What have I done wrong that has caused you to “only like it when it rains” and not like “that bright sunshine weather”? Hello, Shirley Manson! Pretty soon you’ll only be listening “to the sad, sad songs”. Your mother is so aging herself! 

Please, for the love of Christmas (which you will probably dislike this year), let me have my eight more years of non-teenage-hood that I am supposed to have with you.

I am not trying to dampen your creativity or put you in a pink shiny bubble, but can your wardrobe have some variations? I will appease you and throw in some black, but I’ve spent too much money on pink (including pink tennis shoes) to throw it all out now.  

Please, I beg of you, 
to stay sweet
to love all the colors that appear on a sunny day
to see the goodness around you
to smile at your friends
to love your sisters (and not call one of them a baby - you were her age just 17 months ago)
to wear a bow once in a while (for your mother)
to enjoy your years as a young person - mortgages, taxes and dealing with your own teenagers will come soon enough - there is no need to rush. 
to stay creative, but know that there are things we have to do in life and we can’t just color all day
to embrace the perfect you that God has created
and to STOP driving your mother CRAZY! (yes, I am sure I still drive Grammy crazy)

Life is too short to be moody just because moody is “cool” and “pink is for babies”. I love you and I am fully open to you going all goth someday, but if you can wait until you are at least 13 (like Aunt Melinda did), then I will promise to cut back on the ruffles and glitter. 

Love, 

Mommy (or as you like to call me “mother”)

And just for education sake, here is the Urban Dictionary definition for Totes: A shorter more convenient form of the word: totally. This word is most commonly used by teenage girls.

Teenage Girls! Not Preschool girls! 


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Eight Years, Still Sucks

Yesterday, I talked a tough game as Matt and were on a walk. I boasted about how eight years later I don’t expect to cry, “ because It’s just life, things like this happen. Eight years have passed and life has gone on.” 

Ugh

Want to know what grief feels like eight years later? 

It still sucks. 

I didn’t feel that swift kick to my gut that I did on February 26, 2009, but as the sun rose this morning a wave of memories filled my mind.  A reminder of the weight of the loss and the sadness of those who also grieve with me today. A realization that it have been eight years since I have heard his voice - that always gets me. 

Facebook cheerfully reminded me that on the one year anniversary of his death I used this quote. 



I cannot explain the emotion that created in me. In the years since Jame’s death that quote became lyrics, lyrics to a song that I have carried with me through every hard I have faced over the last three years. 

It’s amazing. It fills me with gratefulness and makes me say, “that is completely insane.”

In the last few years the memories of James do not flood into my life like the did the year after he passed away, but no matter how tough I am I cannot keep them out of today. Life has gone on and my sadness over today has gotten better, but just like many other things in my life, I don’t think there is full healing this side of heaven. I still miss him. 

I still miss him, but I relish in the fact that someday this sorrow will heal. 

Come out of sadness
From wherever you've been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal





Friday, February 24, 2017

Choke

So, I need some prayers, but I want to tell you a story first. 

I could be considered a try-out queen. I have been to my fair share of try-outs for cheerleading and drill team, not recently, mind you, but in my teens. I think there was also a smattering of theatre auditions mixed in there and countless job interviews. Now job interviews I’ve got. I hate to toot my own horn, but if I got to a face to face interview I usually always got the job. Again, I have only had five jobs (not counting part-time gigs) in my life so it is a little easier for the ratio to be high. 

**I am writing this at a coffee shop and there is a man who just sat next to me who is waiting for a date. Possibly blind - maybe online. He is wearing about three too many squirts of cologne and is nervous and all kinds of fidgeting. If he didn’t drive up in a really nice car I would think he was going to run off with my laptop. Okay, judging over.** 

Back to trying out. I grew up in a small town which had a small, small high school (very, very small, like 45 people in a graduating class). You either were in band, played football, were a cheerleader, in drill team or you were in the crowd that I hung out with - you’ve read the story, you know the crowd. As you can probably assume I didn’t want to be where I was - does anyone want to be who they are in high school? I wanted so badly to be on the field at a football games and not in the stands.

**his date is here…she’s wearing as much perfume as he is cologne…great they are staying right next to me. That’s what I get for coming to a trendy coffee shop on a Friday night. I wasn’t expecting outside to be busy, as well.  I’ll keep you updated.** 

Spring of my Sophomore year (ah, the same age as Shelby right now) I tried-out to be one of the Silver Belles (the school drill team). I attended all of the rehearsals and did my best to learn the dance. I am quite sure it was similar to me in Zumba today - hanging out on the back row slightly off beat probably 55% of the time (or 75%), you know. 

**Earbuds are now in - I was hearing too much of their conversation and becoming very thankful that I am not facing dating in my forties.**

Being a part of the drill team was something I wanted so badly and I tried very hard to keep up - I even had extra help to get the moves down. To be honest I was letting the voices in my head throw everything off. You know those things we say to ourself like, “what are you thinking? You can’t do this. You are not as talented as these girls.” I tried my best to stuff the voices and I envisioned myself in the uniform with the white cowboy boots and big hat with silver sequins. Those voices, though, they were the driving force in me watching tv instead of practicing at home. I thought I had done enough and the night before I had song on repeat. 

Tryout day had arrived. I had a friend give me an awesome fishtail braid and was wearing a full-body black spandex body suit - never I again have I worn anything like that. I was nervous, but still knew I had this because I just wanted so bad. We tried out in groups of three and that day our third bailed so it was me and a veteran. 

We did our step routine to Wild Women Do by Natalie Cole - if you watched Pretty Woman you know the song. Today, I can still do the first three sets of eight probably because that evening those three sets were on point, then things fell apart. I was off, I knocked my partner off - it was sad. After that valiant effort I had to do a kick routine to the 80s song, Cars by Gary Numan (go ahead and click on it, have yourself a listen). It’s playing in my ear buds now and I can visualize every kick - imagine a Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleader kick routine complete with the ending splits. As you might guess, I was off. I was wobbly. I about took my partner’s shoulder out of the socket and I ended with a horrible not really splits, but hurt like hell move. As I am typing this I am having flashbacks from eighth grade cheering leading try-outs where I completely forgot to say “ready, okay” before each cheer and gave then, gave the judges the absolute worst round-off ever imaginable. I told you I was a try-out queen. 

Even though I clearly choked, I just knew the judges would see my passion (you know in all my failed dance steps) and would think I just had try-out anxiety then give me a spot anyway. I knew they would have pity on me. When they posted the numbers that were attached to our spandex get-ups, I searched the blue poster boards twice and then I cried. I hotness, ugly cried all over that school cafeteria. 

I wanted it so badly, I could picture it, but i let me head get in the way of the actual practice that I needed to succeed. This is the story of my life when it comes to try-outs. 

Twenty-three years later, I feel like I am in those same try-outs. I have been given an awesome opportunity and if I make through the “try-out” phase so many years of daydreams will begin to come true. I can’t give you the details, but you may be guessing and you are probably right (or should I say write? wink wink). I just don’t want to get my hopes up, I don’t want anyone else to be disappointed with me if disappointments are meant to happen. 

Lately I am back in that gym - wanting it so badly, but not putting in the practices, not honing the skills - turning in half hearted work and hoping that my passion will show through my crapy dance moves. That’s where I need prayers. I can do this, I have practiced for this - I just need to finish well. I know this is going to be a long process, but I need to make it through try-outs. I don’t want to choke, again. 


And that my friends is why I am freezing my hind end off sitting outside a busier than I ever expected coffee shop (ugh the hipsters, the teenagers and the late forties couple on their date), I am determined not to choke this time.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

This is Life


I spent the afternoon debating on if I should take the littles to the park after school. I had a ton of work to do, but decided for my mental health (thus promoting a better quality of work) and since they were expecting the outing that we would go. 

Before leaving to get them from the preschool I made sure to pack a special “park snack” and some water. I grabbed caffeine for myself and headed to the van. 

It’s a gorgeous day in NorthWest Houston so i just knew that this was going to be the best park trip ever! 

Here is a play by play of what I call “this is life these days”. 


2:05 pm left school and stopped by the house for, what I thought was a very smart idea, a potty pit-stop. 

2:20 pm we were out the door and driving to the park. Yesterday it was decided that we go to the lake that has two parks on each side. 

2:25 pm arrive at the park

2:30 pm finally get everyone out of the van after a long debate about taking a leftover sandwich with us (which wasn’t even in her lunch box) and the other child whining about the fact that I did not bring her bicycle. 

2:32 pm stopped for a “hey dad we are at the lake” picture



2:36 pm finally at the actual play ground since every duck (and this lake is full of them) caused extreme fear (which is new to us) and high pitched “he is going to attack!” screams

2:38 pm Youngest child states “I have to go potty” which leads the middle child to say “I have to go potty too”

2:39 pm we leave the park. 

2:45 pm arrive back at the van after a super slow for two girls who had to go potty badly walk where I was told at least 10 times “this would have been quicker if you brought my bike” and was asked “can I have my snack now” maybe 20 times. 


2:50 pm pull into the drive way and they slowly creep out of the van still asking for a snack

3:05 pm I finally find my cellphone wedged between the seats after frantically thinking I left it at the park. 

This is my life. 

Some days I just have to laugh. 

I wouldn’t change a thing, but I am so ready for a power nap. 


3:22 pm I read this post to my teenager and she questions my truthfulness about the times stated…this is my life.