Friday, October 3, 2014

Marriage and Kids

I recently came across an article that made me stop and think. I have read it three times and I am sure I will read it three more. The title, "How American Parenting Is Killing the American Marriage." How could this not stop you in your tracks? I do not buy into every aspect of the article as if it were gospel. I do believe, however, that there is validity to the overall premise. And, I will be the first to admit that I fall into this category. Yep, I said it. Right or wrong, my kids are the priority in life. After all, they are 8 and 11 - how can they not be? That is not to say that I do not have a life outside of them, but I do take my role as their mother, caregiver and protector very seriously. I suppose potential fallout or reward for making that decision has yet to be seen.

How American Parenting Is Killing the American Marriage

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

It's true - it finally happened. After a long, frigid winter the sun and some glimpses of warmth found their way back to Northeast Ohio. It couldn't come soon enough for me.

I am a lover of the sun, heat and blooming things. These are all signs of life to me. And, everything is so much better when the sun is shining! 

As I was driving this week, I noticed an elderly gentleman working in his field - tending to a broken fence that no doubt was creamed by high winds and crazy amounts of snow this winter. It reminded me so much of my Granddad. If the weather was decent, he could be found tinkering in the yard, shed or garage. That's just how he rolled. It took me back to a time when he was here. Vibrant. Alive. Oh how I miss him. But, oh so thankful for my memories.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Madness

'Tis the season to lose your mind. Lose your picks. And, lose your bracket. March Madness should be a holiday in our home. Games are set to record if missed, apps are downloaded to keep tabs on teams and we get our money's worth from our XM subscription for the NCAA Basketball station alone. It's crazy! It's madness.

In the midst of the madness, my very dear friend Jill and I schemed and planned to attend the Women's NCAA quarterfinals in Toledo. What a memorable trip this was - for all parties involved. Jill and her friend Jody, as well as Jody's daughter Kylee who just so happens to play for Vanderbilt, managed to pull together an unforgettable trip for three young, aspiring basketball players. Sidney and her two friends along with Jill and I road-tripped to Toledo on a Friday evening in preparation for two games on Saturday: Vanderbilt vs. Arizona State and Notre Dame vs. Robert Morris. Excitement was brewing for days before this trip! 

It was a journey of many firsts: my first time attending a NCAA tournament; Jill's first time spending over 24 hours with three high-energy 10 + 11 year old girls; the girls' first NCAA tournament and opportunity to see a college team other than Akron U play. All of these things on their own were really enough to make for a memorable, fun and exciting weekend. (Jill may disagree with her 24 hours with Sidney-squared and Katie!) But, there was more to come...

Jody, Mark and Kylee managed to sweeten the weekend. After we checked into the hotel, the girls were prompted by Jill to knock on a hotel room door where they were greeted by Kylee - #23 for Vanderbilt. The girls were awestruck by this beautiful, towering real-life college basketball player who greeted them with the warmest of welcomes and a huge hug for each of them. After the loads of bags and piles of stuff were dropped off in our hotel room, the Smith family including Kylee invited us to the lobby to chat, take pictures and get acquainted. We all quickly realized what an amazing family this was - they were so warm and generous with their time as well as making us feel like they knew us for a long while. Truly genuine people. The girls enjoyed chatting with Kylee, having photo-opps and talking about the day ahead. 

In the morning, the girls had a chance run-in with the team and the coach who slapped them high-fives and talked to them before they boarded the bus. The girls were on cloud nine!! So, after the face-painting, last minute beautifying and loading up the car we found ourselves in the arena heading to find where are seats would be. We were fortunate to have reserved seating with the team's family and found ourselves sitting right behind the Vanderbilt bench. And, I mean right behind it - like three rows behind it. I couldn't have imagined that we would have been sitting so close to the action. Right in the middle of it. Amazing. We were thrilled to have such great seats to cheer on Vandy! Mark (Kylee's dad) apparently thought third row seating was not good enough for Sidney-squared and Katie and moved them down to the 1st row behind the bench. Again, awestruck little girls. 

We yelled and cheered. We questioned calls. We loved watching the game. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a win. 

I am so grateful to Kylee and her family for making this experience such a positive, memorable for Sidney - for all of us. It always amazes me when people go out of their way to create sunshine for people they don't even know. And, that is exactly what this family did.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Story Behind Forgiveness

If you have not read the blog post Forgiveness check it out and then return to this post to gain perspective of the story of Forgiveness.

I fell in love with Matthew West's song "Forgiveness" the first time I heard it. The lyrics are compelling. Stirring. We are called to forgive and show grace - yet we as humans struggle with this difficult act. Forgiving people who have wronged us. It sometimes feels impossible to do.

I recently learned of the story behind the song and it broke my heart. I found myself convicted and thankful all at the same time. I implore you to take the five minutes and watch and listen to this video.

The story behind Forgiveness

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Its the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve
Its the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
Its always angers own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying, "Set It Free"
Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible
It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me

- Matthew West


Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines Day

Valentines Day - I only celebrate when forced. Meaning, kids events. Ashton has a party and Sidney has a dance. The party should be a walk in the park. I am responsible for paper products and whipped cream for sundaes. Ashton will be thrilled that his mom will actually be at a party - aka: he doesn't have to ride the bus home! The dance on the other's been a thorn in the side for the past week.

My little tomboy who wears dresses only at weddings took the stance that she would be wearing jeans and a t-shirt to her "Dress your best" Valentines dance. That all changed the minute I hopped on a plane for a business trip. My daily check-in phone call turned into, "Mom, I want a dress for the Valentines dance." Awesome! I'm out of the state and you decide now that you want a dress. Great! "Dad will have to take you." Well, Dad didn't ended up taking Sidney, Nina did and she ended up with a shirt not a dress. Whatever...if that's what she wants, great! That decision was replaced by buyer's remorse within 36 hours. All the meanwhile, I was stuck in Atlanta with all of the winter wrath that hit the eastern seaboard. Stores, restaurants, business, flights, roads - all closed. State of emergency issued, no one moves. No one. 

I made it home, 36 hours later than anticipated. Turned on my phone upon landing only to receive a multitude of texts from Sidney - all asking me to buy her a dress. I venture to the mall - buy two dresses and a blazer so she would have options. After she put them on she informs me she is just going to wear jeans and the shirt she bought with Nina. Un, no, you're not. Game over. The crazy came out and I legislated she was wearing the dress and would provide me photographic evidence at the dance that it was worn. Oh, happy day! Can't wait to see the pictures from the dance! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ashton's Prayer

Ashton recently shared with Aaron a conversation he had with God. And, with great sincerity.

"I prayed to God last night that we would have a snow day. Just not on Wednesday so I could play basketball."

You've got to love the mind and heart of a seven year old.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


This morning's lesson in church was on marriage. I'm going into 15 years of marriage this July - so I should know a thing or two about it, right? ....not so much.

In the past few months, I have been working toward renewing my mind and soul. If you are a long-time church-goer you know what that means. If you aren't, it simply means trying to align your life with Christ. Having a Christ-centric life and outlook and thereby realized in thoughts, words and actions. It's life-transforming, I assure you. It's also painful to see how different life could have been if only this commitment occurred long ago. But, you have to start somewhere.

As I said, 14 1/2 years into marriage and I should know the meaning of that - the roles, expectations, the importance and meaning of vows. To some degree, yes, I get it. From a practical, Biblical standpoint, I have not upheld my vows the way that God intended marriage to be. There you go - my confession.

I have been working more and more on what those vows mean and upholding them with Aaron. It wasn't until this morning that I understood or allowed my heart to hear what marriage meant and at it's core - forgiveness. The covenant of marriage, not the contract. The marriage covenant of promises - of things that I promise, that I will do to honor God and my husband. Not a contract or a piece of paper stating that I am contractually bound to a person. But a promise to honor, love, submit and put him above all others.

Something many people know about me is that I am an independent, do what-I-want, when-I-want type of a woman. It's just how I roll. That's okay to some degree, but has no place in a marriage. This is a hard life-lesson for me. Something I have been working on along with forgiveness. My hard heart has gotten in the way many, many, many (did I say many?) times over the past 14+ years. Submission for me meant "doing what I am told" or agreeing to something I may not truly agree with. What I have learned over the past few months is that isn't what it means at all. It means the willingness to make my wants or needs secondary for the betterment of the marriage. To put Aaron's needs above mine. This is something that I do all the time - with virtually everyone - so why not him? The one person who should be my priority has rarely reaped what so many others have associated with me - service.

The point of all of this is to say, being married for over a decade doesn't mean that you're doing it right. I have been fortunate that Aaron has persisted despite a strong-minded wife who became closed-off and hard-hearted for various reasons. I am fortunate for grace and forgiveness even though I have not always offered it freely.

Marriage is tough. It's work. But, once you begin to understand it, it becomes a little easier to navigate and more enjoyable. I guess I will consider myself a slow learner, and thankful that I have an opportunity to move forward - with Christ and with Aaron.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reflections of 2013 it is - finally - the reflections of 2013. Historically, I am anti-resolution. I just don't get the idea of "I resolve to do _________" at the beginning of the year. Why not have an epiphany of something to improve upon and work toward it from that moment? I have had several of those throughout the year and have resolved to work on those in my everyday life.

What 2013 brought to light was....

.....silence can be deafening. Damaging. Counterproductive in some cases. family is a safe haven. Their presence offers me serenity even in the most chaotic instances. kids still light me up - every single day. 

....I do not love or even remotely like Sci-Fi or anything that resembles it. I can't even pretend to! I would rather watch an episode of Elmo's World (is that still on?) than Star Trek. heart is in service, this I know. I will serve in my home, my community and eventually someplace in the world.

....I am not defined by my work or the success or failures that may come alongside of a career. My work is a means to an end, and that end is contributing to a healthy, happy household. marriage is a partnership rather than a parallel effort. Two on the same team works much better than two separately working toward the same goals.

....I still get a kick out of the word "duty." I will laugh every single time. friends are invaluable. While they are few in number, they are mighty in support, laughter, love and strength and for this I am grateful.

2013 was okay...benign in some ways, treacherous in others and sprinkled with some good times. 2014 will be great - mark my words.