Friday, March 29, 2013

Twice Upon a Time


At the ripe ol’ age of eighteen, I met the love of my earthly life.



Some may think that five months is too short for a “proper” engagement and I only justified their judgments by being divorced two-and-a-half years later.

I don’t often share super-personal stuff here. I feel compelled to share this, however.

If you knew me over the course of the past six years or so, you likely knew my last name is my married name but that I was single. Divorce is an incredibly painful ordeal to go through and its impacts echoed through my relationships with family and friends and many of the decisions I have made over the past six years. Anger, bitterness, and hurt consistently permeated many of my thoughts, regardless of the smile on my face. Over time, those things eased, but certainly not without some abuse of alcohol and some damage to relationships. Then something just seemed to click and I realized I wasn’t so angry anymore and being jaded was wearing me out.

I read a number of stories about forgiveness and compassion. Last year, a number of those stories came from the People of the Second Chance movement. Many were from former addicts and people who made choices that hurt other people. I read one story (if memory serves correctly, it was just an Instagram picture of a guy with a caption) about a divorced husband who admitted to infidelity, apologized for the pain he caused, and then praised God for His amazing grace. Regardless of the choices that man made, he is a new creation in the eyes of a loving God. “Praise God!” I thought to myself. “What an amazing God we serve! His mercies are never-ceasing!” And yet, my own mercies were continually ceasing. God used that moment to remind me that He forgives anybody who asks, me included. My ex, too. God also reminded me (in His gentle and quiet manner designed just for me) that forgiveness does not just stop with me.

It just so happened that I had received an email that day from the man I had once married. He sent emails every holiday to let me know he thought of me (and on the day he thought was my birthday- now I get two birthdays). I generally only responded on Christmas. I was angry, remember? I didn’t want to bother with him. This particular email was not on a holiday, more or less just because he was thinking of me. I responded more or less just because. Not wanting to alarm me, he responded gently with the question “why now?”

How do you explain grace in an email? How do you explain that the grace I want to extend does not originate with me, rather it is an overflowing of my own mercies received? How do you explain that as mad as I was, I never stopped loving him? He had (years ago) sent an email with his phone number. I dialed it, prayed it was still his, and left a voicemail. As the voicemail recording instructed how to leave a message after the tone, a wave of anxiety crashed into me and I chickened out and decided not to leave my name. I left a calm, vague message (minus a phone number, counting on technology to pass along my number), thinking “well, if he doesn’t know who I am, then tough luck.” I think I also realized there was a possibility that the number was no longer his.

Three minutes later, he called back, speechless.

Over the next several months what started as a closure process turned into a rekindling process. We started dating. It sounded weird when I said it out loud “I am seeing my ex-husband” but that’s what happened. 

We’ve decided to walk down the aisle. Again. We’ve decided to commit to each other. Again. We’ve decided that, indeed, the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing and, indeed, love conquers all.

For those who follow me on this blog or any other social media means, I’ve kept this on the down-low deliberately. Maybe because I needed to sort through this without “interference” (good, bad, indifferent, everybody has got opinions about relationships and are usually willing to grant unsolicited advice). Maybe because I needed to keep this between me, my man, and the awesome God we serve. Maybe because I knew that especially in the early days, this rekindling was so fragile and I did not want to break it (again). So now I share of my plans to remarry. As a matter of fact, we will be remarrying in Las Vegas (for those of you who know me, you know that this has always been my dream) on April 1st (for those of you who know us, you know we have a quirky sense of humor). I will delight in changing my Facebook status on April Fools Day to “married” only to confuse some and startle the rest.

Lest it be forgotten amongst my seemingly light approach (sharing this type of news on a blog) or festivities (Viva Las Vegas) or celebrations (it is still a wedding, regardless how you look at it!): I am serious about this relationship and love my former-and-future husband more than words can express. I am thankful for second chances and understand the rarity of this situation, treasuring this gift. I know we will face difficulties, but thankfully, compassion, forgiveness, and love are our allies. I appreciate the support that I have received from family and close friends AND the support I know I will continue to receive in our future.

Life’s short. Now go out and give somebody a hug. Just because. 



*P.S. I am still not announcing this anywhere else until Monday, so if you are only just finding out now by reading this here... shhhhh....
**P.P.S. Don't think we didn't think about the redemption aspect of this Easter weekend. 

Tornado Anniversary (Sort Of)

Two days ago, I drove up from Atlanta. I wore my running clothes so I could stop somewhere between the ATL and Nashville (through the prettiest country from Georgia to Tennessee) to go for a run. Initially, I stopped at Kennessaw Mountain (excuse me, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park). Being the largest contiguous green space in the metropolitan Atlanta area, it is a local runner's mecca (awesome trails and lots of hill work). But I had forgot my jacket and it was a breezy 31 degrees and ain' nobody got time for that. So I worked my way north. I contemplated stopping in Chattanooga. Ultimately, I stopped at my old stomping grounds, Stones River National Battlefield. I love to run there. I know the trails, am familiar with every curve and bend of the paths.

As I tromped my way around the park, I saw this.

And it reminded me of the tornado that hit Murfreesboro almost four years ago. Four years! In one way, it hit four years ago today, Good Friday. But since Good Friday hops around the calendar, the "official" anniversary is April 10th. That tornado impacted my life (in many ways). Obviously, its impacts still remain on the landscape, too.

It proved to be a good run, nearly 5 miles of soft trails and sunshine.

Friday, March 22, 2013

happy birthday to me!

I am a few days late, but have had a busy few days. Usually, I use my "birthday post" to write a letter to myself. Actually, I usually journal a letter to myself every year on my birthday (I have done that since I was sixteen). It is almost in lieu of new year resolutions. That day separated every year by a whole 365 days allows me a chance to think about my life a little broader than the day-to-day.

This year, however, I forgot to do that (on my actual birthday, that is). I will do it some time this week, but the day itself played out a little differently. Instead of waking up to cupcakes, I woke up to a high-protein breakfast that included eggs, bacon, and broccoli. Yes, broccoli for breakfast (I figured as the day progressed I'd find reasons to exclude eating anything green so I might as well fit it in). I then tied on my new pair of running shoes and deliberated where I should go. Did I want to drive to the battlefield (a twenty minute drive) where I knew I would run a longer distance or just stay in Cumberland City where I don't like the view as much (but it is closer). As I was mentally warming up what my route should look like, it dawned on me:

Crosses Creek National Wildlife Refuge opened last week!!! Woo hoo!!!

Oh, gravel trails that run along the Cumberland River, how I have missed you! What an excellent birthday present!

Even better than finding an awesome birthday present was finding my running "zone." About two miles into the run, I hit this bizarre zen-like mental state in which my body moved comfortably and my breathing felt perfect and I sensed my form was good and and I was in a zone. The temperature was my favorite (55 degrees) and the sun smiled down on the trail. A few times I had to leap over mini-streams and muddy spots that crossed the road. The day was perfect, the run was perfect.

It was probably the broccoli that empowered me. More broccoli for breakfast.

I talk about enjoying running a lot on here, but I definitely don't always love every minute of it. I often have to force myself out the door and convince myself "just a little bit more" when I get tired. It isn't always easy and the days aren't always sunny. But thirty difficult runs make up for the one "perfect run." And now that my favorite course has re-opened, I sense I will have more days of better running. Or at least a more positive outlook when I start my runs.

For one birthday reflection-slash-present-to-myself, I decided that I want to train for a full marathon. Not only that, but I want to run those 26.2 miles at a Boston marathon-qualifying pace (right now, this year for my age group that time is completion in 3 hours and 35 minutes... that's 8-minute miles). And I want to do that by the time I turn thirty. Good news! Over the past few months I have been thinking I already turned 28 and would be turning 29 this year (because something short-circuited in my brain, evidently). It turns out I actually just turned 28 and will have a solid two years to train and run and meet that goal so when I write my "happy birthday to me" letter on my 30th birthday, I will be able to include a pretty solid accomplishment in my letter.

And now you know. And can even help keep me accountable.

Monday, March 18, 2013

have dirt, will garden

I sing "It's the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeeeeear" a lot. I consider many times throughout the year "the most wonderful." This time, it is dirt season.

By winter's end, I get an itch. I need dirt! Under my fingernails and streaked across my work clothes! All winter, I read about gardens, looking up various plants, plotting what might grow where. I fall asleep reading gardening magazines and dream about fresh tomatoes. This past winter was no different. Elation followed the arrival of seed packets while sunny days triggered vast amounts of anticipation! And then it happened: it was time to start some seeds.

Inside, I started several seeds that will be planted outside mid-April. Outside, I started several leafy varieties that like colder weather (spinach, kale, lettuce, other assorted rabbit foods). Yum! Now I have little seedlings inside (and I think I saw a sprout outside yesterday). My babies are growing! I water them, and turn the light on for them, and talk to them provide them with vast amounts of CO2.

I am fortunate that my parents have their "farm" where I can roam around and play in the dirt. I recently moved to Nashville and live in an apartment, but am close enough to the farm that I can trek back and tend to the bigger garden often. I also have several seedlings started to take back as potted plants in order to maintain a mini-garden at my Nashville apartment. Mmm, fresh-from-your-backyard-produce! I can't wait.

Rabbit food identified with popsicle sticks.

Rows! Glorious rows!

My favorite feeling- dirt under the fingernails and mud on my pants.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

intentions

You know, all day long I had this window open, intending to write a post. This morning I thought about intentions and realized all the many intentions I had this week that I did not accomplish. So I thought of next week's intentions and realized I needed more deliberations instead of intentions. Rather than intending to do something, I need to discipline myself to deliberately accomplish something. I thought about it all day, in fact. All day, I intended to write about the difference in the two and now here it is, 11PM and I am just now writing. But those original ideas have been overshadowed.

I am just now writing, thinking of my biggest intention this week. It is still sitting on my nightstand. I propped it on there to remind myself when I turned on my light in the morning to find a stamp (I have a book of them sitting by my keyboard on my desk) and put it in the mail. The envelope is even addressed! But now it is too late.

Earlier this week, my sister called to tell me that the health of her mother-in-law (the mom of my [awesomest-brother-in-law [ever] so I suppose that makes her the [awesomest] mother-in-law [ever], too) was deteriorating and Hospice had been called in. The week before I had a short visit with Hope.  She, like always, smiled and asked how I was doing and congratulated me on things going so well in my life. She shared some encouraging stories. Even through her own exhaustion, pain, and struggles, she made me feel light and warm when I left her. So last week, when I heard about how her condition turned quickly, I wrote out a thank you card to her.

I had the intention of mailing it all week. Now it leans against my lamp. Unopened.

It is difficult to describe the combination of heartache and relief when I found out this evening that Hope's suffering was now over. She's been called Home! She rests in peace with Jesus! I am confident I will see her again one day! But that doesn't stop the grief.

I want to end with something uplifting. I want to share the fond memories I have of the high-energy woman who was always willing to share. And I will do that one day. But now, in this moment, I think of her husband and how he had lost the love of his life and grieve. I think of her sons and how they've lost their mother and grieve. I think of her parents and how they've lost their daughter and grieve. I thank God that He provided an amazing extension of a family to me. But gratitude doesn't remove the heaviness on my heart as I listen to the rain outside that sounds like how I feel inside.


Hope, thank you for your service and attitude and your smiles and your encouragement while you were here. You will be missed by many.