What does Easter mean to you?
My daughter came home from PSR (Parish School of Religion) class a few weeks ago posing this question. It was her last class of the year and the teacher had asked this question of the students. I asked her what her answer was. She replied “God wins”. My heart soared with pride in my young daughter’s answer. God wins. Could it be any more simple?
As I drove home from the church that afternoon, my daughter’s words continued to cycle through my mind. “God wins”. Yes, baby girl, He wins. He saw the ugliness in the world, and He sent His only Son to die a brutal and humiliating death so that we could be free. That is the ultimate display of love.
So I began thinking. What does Easter mean to me? I hate to admit it, but I’d never seriously posed that question to myself in such a pointed and simple way. Sure, I knew what Easter was all about. And of course every year I take time to reflect on the awesome gift God gave us and the miracle of Christ’s resurrection. But I’d never considered before that, despite the obvious miracle, Easter has a very personal meaning to each individual person.
We all bear scars from our past. We all have shackles we either wear or have thankfully been freed from. We all work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. So we all have our own personal story of what Easter means to us.
As I pondered the question, the answer came through loud and clear: Love. To me, Easter means love. The love of the Father. The love of the Son. The love that claimed victory over death and sin. The love that erases our past and allows us to stand blamelessly before our Creator. Love that conquers all!
So Easter Sunday, I walked into Mass with my children and my boyfriend. I knelt on the kneeling bench and I did as I do every time I attend Mass; I thanked God for allowing me to come and gather with other Christians and worship Him.
But this time, I also thanked Him for love. His love. Jesus’ love. The love of my family and friends. The love of my children. And the love of a good man. The love that conquered the scars of my past and taught me to trust again.
See, I had resolved to myself that I would never again wear a ring on my left ring finger. I never believed that I would ever again trust someone enough to marry them. But within two weeks of dating LP, I knew I was wrong. I knew I trusted this man with my whole heart and that I had fallen head over heels, madly in love with my best friend. I knew that the love this remarkable man gave me had conquered all my doubts, all my fears, all my cynicism, all my ridiculous preconceived notions of what I thought “love” was about. I knew I had been blessed with a love that was far beyond anything my heart believed possible.
So on Easter Sunday, I knelt. And I prayed. And I thanked God for love. I thanked Him for blessing me in so many ways. I thanked Him for using my daughter to touch my heart and for making me take the time to understand exactly what Easter means to me. I thanked Him for giving me a man who loves me and my children so much that he would stay up into the wee hours of the night to not just put out a few Easter baskets filled with candy and toys, but to add a few personal touches that would make this an Easter they would never forget.
But little did I know, God wasn’t done with me yet. Not this Easter. He had something else planed for me.
Late on Easter Sunday, LP asked me to marry him in a proposal that was far more perfect and fitting to us as a couple than anything I ever could have imagined. And in that moment, God reminded me that He does speak to us on a personal level. He answers every prayer, even the ones we don’t dare speak aloud.
As I felt the weight of that precious metal and stone on my finger, I realized how blessed I was. And I realized that, for me, now and always, Easter means love. Of course Easter doesn’t fall on the same date every year, but that doesn’t matter to me. From this day forward, every Easter I will be reminded that God showed me on Easter 2011 that He loves me enough to show me on a very personally level that He hears my heart. He loves me enough to give me the gift of a man who truly wants to make me his wife. And that is a gift, that just like His grace, I will never be able to express my gratitude for enough.
First of all, I know this entry is LONG overdue. I apologize to my readers and promise to try to do better 🙂 So…on to the blog……….
Have you ever had one of those days when you just feel enormously grateful? Today was one of those days for me. Nothing spectacular happened. It was just “another day”. But for some reason, today was just a day of counting my blessings. As I pondered all the gifts in my life, I realized, there are things I don’t say often enough so I want to say them now………..
1) Thank you, God!
Thank You for the innumerable blessings You’ve given me. I’m not worthy, but You look down on this imperfect child of Yours and say that I am. And You continue to shower me with more blessings. You continue to cover me with Your grace. Thank You!
2) I have the most amazing boyfriend in the world!
I’ve made this statement before, and I’ve been met with arguments from some of my friends who insist that their boyfriend/fiancé/husband is the holder of that title. I’m sorry ladies. I love you dearly, but you’re mistaken 😉 I started to tell about all of the reasons why LP is the holder of that title, but decided not to. I’ll tell him. He’s the one who deserves to hear it 😉 LP, I promise to continue to tell you why no one could ever be as amazing as you for the rest of my life. I love you!
3) I have awesome children!
Yes, I know, I’m their mom so I’m supposed to say that. But you know what? Even if I wasn’t their mom, I would still honestly be able to say that they are simply awesome children. They each have such unique, sweet, wonderful personalities that it is completely impossible to not absolutely adore them! So to Miss M, Mr C and Miss C, you have owned my heart since the moment you were conceived. I am so very proud of all of you and I love you bigger than the sky!
4) I am unspeakably grateful for my parents
My parents are two of the most loving, generous, thoughtful people I have ever met, so to be raised by them was a blessing without measure. I also know how rare it is becoming for a woman of my age to be able to not only say that my parents are still married, but that they are still very happily married. That lesson in love is a gift for which I will never be able to thank them enough. Thank you, Mom and Daddy! For all that you are, and all that you do. For the millions of sacrifices you’ve made, and the support you give. Thank you for the times you’ve directed me down the road of life and for the times you’ve bit your tongues and allowed me to learn my own lessons and be my own person. I love you.
5) If they weren’t my sisters, I would still be friends with my sisters I mean that. And I most certainly know that not every one can say that about their siblings. I love you girls! You are strong, beautiful women and I am proud to call you not just sisters but friends!
6) My friends are crazy, hilarious, loyal, and just plan fantastic!
Really. I couldn’t ask for better friends. They are always here for me when I need them. They make me laugh, let me cry, make life fun and interesting and they don’t care if my house is a mess (in fact, they’ve even been known to help me clean it when I’ve been overwhelmed). Could a girl ask for more than that? I think not! Some of you I talk to every day. Some of you have been my friends nearly my whole life. Some of you have come into my life recently. Some of you I talk to once a month…or sadly less. But I love you all and I am so thankful for you!
7) I will never say that my first marriage was a mistake.
I’m sure at first glance, this may seem like an odd statement, but it’s true. That marriage resulted in my three awesome children. It also taught me so much. I learned who I am. I learned what my faults and flaws are and how to work to repair them. I also learned what I was worth. And when I learned that, I realized I was worth more than he gave. But I also learned I deserve to be loved and treated well. So when LP entered my life, I was finally ready to allow myself to be treated with love and respect. For that, I am grateful.
I hope that if you are reading this, it reminds you to take some time out to say some of the “Things You Don’t Say Often Enough”. Count your blessings. We have so many. God bless!
I have been experiencing “technical difficulties” so I have been unable to blog lately. Technology is wonderful….when it works. 🙂 But I’m up and running now and I promise a new post this week.
I was looking through some of my old Facebook notes tonight and came across one in particular that really hit me.
Wow. Funny how life can change in the blink of an eye. It was my “Thanksgiving” note from 2009. I very clearly remember writing it.
I had just returned home from my first trip up north to see family for the holiday as a “single mom” (I had made the trip “alone”… Just my children and me) and I was feeling very overcome with a thousand emotions. I singled out the most important people in my life and wrote exactly why I was so very thankful for them.
At the time, I was in a relationship. He was a good man. But he wasn’t “the one”. I struggled with writing the note. I knew I had to mention him. If I didn’t, two things would happen…..1) he would get mad 2) people would realize that all wasn’t “perfect” in our little world. (And we tried so hard to make everyone think it was. He was a politician and I had been through a very public divorce only a year prior.) So I wrote a few lines about him that would make it appear that all was well between us and moved on to everyone else.
And then I got to the part where I mentioned LP. The words flowed so easily. Too easily in fact. I had to delete some of it because I knew the man I was seeing at the time would become jealous if I gushed about my best male friend when I had only written a few lines about him. And regardless of how I felt about the man I was seeing at the time, I didn’t want to hurt him and I knew “all eyes where on us”. So I felt as though I must proceed with caution. I couldn’t risk embarrassing any of us, even though at the time LP really was just my friend.
This is what I settled with:
“LP, you’re my counselor. You always have the best advice. Even when your heart is broken, you listen to my silly little problems. You make me laugh, tell me to pull my head out of my ass and hang out with me even when I have nothing to say.”
Wow how times have changed. My “counselor” is now my partner. My best friend. My lover. My rock.
Life sure has a way of knocking the breath out of you sometimes. This past year has been the most difficult, and the most wonderful….all at once.
In the last year I’ve learned that some chances are worth taking….
About 13 months ago, I took a chance. I ended a relationship that “on paper” looked picture perfect. But in my heart, it felt wrong. It was the right move for me. And for him. We just didn’t “fit”.
I took a huge chance a year ago this weekend. I finally went on an actual date with my best male friend.
I had concerns. What if it didn’t work out and I lost my counselor…that person I could call, no matter the time, and vent to? What if it ended badly and I lost this friendship that meant so very much to me? What if we realized we were better off as friends? I’d “been there, done that” and I knew the awkwardness that follows a “break-up” between two people who want to maintain a friendship but have to figure out how to put aside their history together first. I wasn’t sure if I could face that again.
But within a month, I knew that I had made the right choice. I had fallen head over heels in love with LP. I had always loved this man. I just wouldn’t let my heart believe it. But as “someone”…*ahem LP* once told me, “When your heart and your head match, you’ll know it’s right”. And I finally knew it was right.
So after reading my “Thanksgiving note”, I decided to make an “updated comment” to it. But it spiraled into an extremely long “comment” so I decided to turn it into a blog entry.
This year I have so much to be thankful for. Most of all, LP. LP, I can’t even begin to put into words how much I love you and appreciate you. You know everything; “The good, the bad and the ugly”. You know how moody I can be, and not only do you continue to love me, but you try in every possible way to figure out why I’m stressed, or grouchy, or flat out bitchy, and you work to make it better for me.
You don’t just simply love me “despite” my faults, you actually love me FOR my faults as much as my strengths. That alone is such an amazing and priceless gift.
You are truly my best friend. You make me happier than I’ve ever been, even though at times in this past year I’ve felt as if the weight of the world was on my shoulders. With all that’s happened in the past year, at times, I almost feel wrong to feel this happy. But you’ve taught me that this is what life is about….taking the good with the bad and learning to smile when the world says you should be crumbling.
You love my children as if they were your own. I watch you with them and fall more deeply in love with you every single day. You have been a true daddy to them at a time when their biological father decided to replace them. You’re the one at every game. You’re the one helping them with their homework. You’re the one who helps them when they struggle. You’re the one who listens to them, counsels them, and tells them their opinions matter. You are the one who hugs them daily and tells them “I love you” daily. I don’t think any of us would have made it through this past year without you by our side. And I don’t think any of us could ever tell you how much we love you.
I know after everything you have been through, you sometimes ask yourself “Why me? Why did I survive? What purpose do I have to still be on this earth after literally dying for four minutes?”. Well I don’t know what plans God has for you in the future, but I can tell you this….. If you accomplish nothing else in this life, know this, you’ve saved us. You’ve saved us from ourselves. You’ve saved us from a situation that could have crushed us. But more importantly, you’ve loved us. And you’ve taught us the meaning of true, selfless, unconditional love. And that alone is a life worth living. So if you ever again question why God gave you a second chance, remember this, you have literally taught me and my children what love was meant to be.
I took another huge chance this year. I saw that my children’s father was making choices that were negatively affecting my children and I made the extremely difficult choice of petitioning the courts to limit his time with them. It’s been an excruciating battle, but I know that I made the right choice. They are thriving in the midst of chaos and I know that is because of the many wonderful people in their lives who have stepped up and made sure they know how truly loved they are.
All in all, I’ve learned this over the last year or so….life, as crazy, sad and painful as it can be….is a beautiful gift. Every breath. Every second. Every smile. Every laugh. And even every tear. It’s a gift. And we should never take it for granted. And I owe that lesson to one remarkable man. I love you, LP. Thank you for the happiest year of my life, and of my children’s lives, and thank you for the promise of many wonderful years to come. I love you, baby. Happy Anniversary 🙂
This morning, for reasons unknown to me, I have had the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music stuck in my head. I hate it when songs get stuck in my head. It’s maddening. But today, I logged into Facebook and saw a friend’s status: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they
just make the best of everything they have!” So I decided to go with it and blog about some of my favorite things. The things that make me happiest. The simple joys in life that we often take for granted. So, in no particular order of importance, these are a few of my favorite things…….
1) Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…..just kidding…..but rain is one of my favorite things 🙂
2) Inside jokes. Is there anything better than being able to look at a close friend or family member and uttering just two or three words and you’re both rolling in the floor laughing while everyone else in the room looks at you like you’re insane? I think not.
3) Falling asleep in LP’s arms. Best. Feeling. EVER!
4) Unsolicited hugs from my children. I always love getting hugs from my kids, but when one of them just suddenly hugs me for no reason at all, it’s wonderful!
5) Swinging on my back porch swing. All the troubles in the world just seem to float away with the gentle squeak of a porch swing.
6) Coffee. Coffee makes me happy. And it makes me tolerable in the mornings.
7) Playing dominos with my family. About 10 years ago, my dad got a set of “double 12” dominos and introduced us to a game called “chicken feet”. Since that day, some of our best times together as a family have been spent sitting around the table playing this crazy game. We laugh, we tease, we tell stories, we have serious discussions….it’s just family time. And I love every second of it.
8) Nights in with LP. We usually just sit around and watch a few of our favorite shows on DVR. We don’t do sitcoms or serial dramas, but rather reality shows like “Ghost Adventurers”, “Pawn Stars”, and “Hell’s Kitchen”. And we don’t just sit there and mindlessly space out in front of the magic box. Instead we talk about anything and everything, we laugh and joke, we learn more and more about each other. It often takes us two hours (or more) to watch an hour long show because we constantly have to stop and rewind because we were talking. It’s just a wonderful time together.
9) Movies from my childhood and teen years. Willy Wonka, The Labyrinth, Dirty Dancing, The Breakfast Club….this list could go on forever. There’s just something comforting about putting in a movie you practically know by heart and enjoying not only the movie, but the memories it evokes.
10) Listening to music while doing household chores. I love how cranking up some good tunes makes otherwise unpleasant and mundane chores go by faster.
I could continue with this list forever, but I’ll stop here. This blog was a good reminder for me to stop and recognize the small, simple joys in life. I hope it was for you as well. Take some time today to be thankful for the little blessings in life that make everyday a miracle.
I love Spam Sandwiches. I only have one every 3-5 years or so, but when I bite into a Spam Sandwich, I feel happy. Before you call the food police on me, let me explain…………
My mom was a stay at home mom before the term “stay at home mom” existed. My dad brought home the bacon and my mom cooked it. Mom was a traditional housewife. She did the cooking, the cleaning and the shopping. She was the primary caregiver: bathing us, doing our laundry, putting us to bed, making us do our homework and chores, wiping runny noses and healing broken hearts.
Daddy was the traditional breadwinner dad. He worked hard. He put in long hours at a respectable blue collar job, making sacrifices I’ll never know to make sure Mom could be home with us. He could fix anything and everything from a broken Barbie to that funny noise the car was making. Mom took care of the inside of the house; Daddy took care of the outside of the house. He worked until his fingers bled to provide for us.
But he did NOT cook. Ever. Sure he would grill in the summertime, but he never cooked. In fact, I think I actually believed that a man in the kitchen was a violation of some kind of Federal law and would surely result in prison time.
One day, when I was about nine years old, I walked in the back door from school, dropped my backpack on the floor and went to the kitchen expecting Mom to be there to fix me a snack. No Mom. Only Dad. He looked tired and a little worried. He sat me down at the kitchen table he had made himself and explained that Mom was sick and would be in the hospital for a few days. He had taken the afternoon off of work, but he couldn’t afford to take off more than one day so Grandma would be there in the morning to take care of us for a couple of days. But we were on our own that night.
Dad had served in the Air Force prior to marring Mom. He was stationed in the Philippines for a year. He had often talked about how the first thing he wanted when he returned Stateside was a cold glass of whole milk. (Apparently a year’s worth of room temperature coconut milk mixed with powdered skim can make a man crave whole milk like pregnancy can drive a woman to eat pickles and ice cream.) What he didn’t talk about was the other thing he got his fill of while stationed there. Spam.
With Mom in the hospital and Grandma not arriving to rescue him until the morning, Daddy went with what he knew. He scoured the pantry and emerged with a dusty can of forgotten Spam from the back corner of the top shelf. I watched with curiosity as he sliced the strange mystery loaf into 1/2 inch slices and dropped them in a cast iron skillet. After they were brown and crispy he topped them with cheese, placed them between two slices of toast slathered with mayo and declared that dinner was served. I looked at the “meal” with great caution and skepticism. Daddy said the prayer and watched while I took my first bite. Within minutes, I had devoured the entire sandwich and declared that I wanted seconds! I couldn’t believe it! My dad could COOK!
To this day, eating a Spam Sandwich takes me back to that moment. To me, that sandwich was not just a meal. That sandwich was made with love. Dad could have called Domino’s. He could have declared that we were eating out. He could have served cold cuts. But he didn’t. He cooked. He took the time to make something for us. He stepped out of his comfort zone and prepared a hot meal. Looking back I realize that with Mom away from the family for a couple of days, Daddy knew that maintaining our normal schedule was important. He knew that we needed the normalcy of a home cooked meal to ground us and ease our concerns. So even though it was far from a gourmet meal, he cooked.
So to this day, I love Spam Sandwiches. Because one night, many years ago, my Daddy told me he loved me by cooking me a Spam Sandwich.
Ok. I know I have been MIA for quite some time, but the truth is, I’ve just had nothing to write about. Life is pretty calm and dull right now, and I’m totally ok with that! The saying is true…”Silence is Golden”.
But something caught my attention this morning and I had to blog about it.
I logged on to Facebook and a friend of mine had posted a link to another blog. Please read it or the rest of this blog won’t make any sense. I’ll be here when you get back, I promise……
See. I’m still here.
I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had read. I couldn’t stop thinking, “How did this woman, whom I have never met, get inside my head?!? She’s writing about ME!!” But then I began reading the comments left by other readers. Guess what? Turns out there were several people who felt the same way.
I began wondering, “What would happen if people knew the ‘real me’?”
What if everyone knew that I’m quite possibly the world’s worst housekeeper? What if people knew that I sometimes have to wash dishes just to cook dinner? What if they knew that I often find myself scrambling at night to gather a load of laundry so my kids have clean clothes to wear to school the next day?
What if people found out that I often believe I am the world’s worst mother? I don’t participate in the PTO even though I have the time. I lose my patience with my oldest daughter’s 5th grade math homework. I say things like, “If you (commit random childhood offense) one more time, I will (insert random socially acceptable punishment here)” and I don’t always follow through with my threat. What would happen if people knew this about me?
What if people learned all my weird and unexplainable quirks? What if they knew that I love random, weird facts? Would I be forever ostracized from society if the general public knew that, even though I generally hate “chick flix”, I can almost quote “Dirty Dancing” and “The Cutting Edge” word for word? Would I be forever shunned if people found out that I love cheesy puzzle games?
What if people were to discover all my secret fears? I am considering going back to school in the Spring. What would people think if they knew that the very idea of this scares me more than anything? I have an irrational fear of being buried alive. I have nightmares about it. And really, what are the chances of that actually happening? But I still hold on to that fear. Would people think I needed to be institutionalized if they knew this? What would people think if they knew that I often feel like an awkward teenager rather than a…*ahem*….29ish mother of three?
But I think we all feel this way to some extent. Some of us hide our faults, our weaknesses, our secrets, our irrational fears, our inner weirdness better than others, but deep down, I think we all sometimes think, “I am a complete and total fraud!”
So it makes me wonder…what if we all stopped hiding our imperfections from the world? If suddenly all the closet doors were to simultaneously swing open and the skeletons hiding inside were to come tumbling out for all the world to see, would there be a rip in the space time continuum? What if, like a “Celebrities Without Make-up” tabloid article, we were all suddenly caught without our “make-up” on and exposed for all the world to see? Would the world stop turning?
But then I think about those people in my life who have broken through the heavily guarded wall I have built to hide all my secrets. I think about those friends who have seen my house at it’s messiest and don’t judge me, but rather sit with me in the midst of the chaos and have coffee and talk about everything from politics to relationships. I think about those people who know that I even…*Gasp*…yell at my children and they still tell me I’m a good mom. And I realize how much I treasure those people.
I think about the man who knows that I am often grumpy in the morning, that has seen me without makeup on, that has watched me struggle and obsess about situations that are beyond my control, that knows what a dork I can be. And I realize that a huge part of what makes our relationship so special is that he accepts every single flaw, fault, and fat roll and tells me I’m wonderful, perfect for him and beautiful. That is a blessing that cannot be measured.
Perhaps all of our posturing and all of our fronts are a sort of litmus test to help us determine who is worthy of seeing the secrets we hide from the world. Maybe we need our disguises to help us recognize what a blessing it is to love and be loved without terms, conditions and rules. Because finding those people who love you unconditionally is a priceless treasure. And maybe, just maybe, the reason we all have at least a small case of “Impostor Syndrome” is to help us truly appreciate those people who deserve our appreciation the most, the ones who have seen us at our worst, but still love us anyway.