#RelationshipGoals

This morning I walked into my kitchen to find my husband singing along to Smokey Robinsons- Cruisen. Now who doesn’t want to have a hot guy singing “Baby, if you want it you got it forever” while making you breakfast? I am not sure a morning gets much better than that!

There is a trending hashtag that says #RelationshipGoals that is usually accompanied by a romantic photo. I believe I have found the secret to achieving this “goal”. I realized if I wanted to have the relationship of my dreams, I was going to have to let God choose.

I have a Girlfriend that often quotes Dr Charles Stanley saying. “God gives His very best to those that leave the choice to Him.” I know I spent most of my life trying to make my own relationship goals happen the way I wanted them to. The truth is my own goals were way too small. God had so much more for me than I could ever imagine. When I finally surrendered my own desires, focused on God, and walked in obedience to Him, He gave me His very best.

“Delight yourself in The Lord and he can give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4

This is not easy! It requires faith. It can be painful to be molded into the person God made you to be. It might look and feel impossible at times, but Gods word tells us, nothing is impossible through Christ.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…Nothing will be impossible for you.” Mathew 17:20

My prayer for you is that you will stop comparing to the snapshots of someone else’s relationship and look to the one that created relationships. The one who loves you and wants to bless you in ways you never imagined.

It's the most wonderful time of the year

monkey bread

Today it is raining, there is finally a chill in the air, and there is pumpkin flavored everything! It is officially my favorite time of the year! I love tradition and I have always had an exact idea of what I think each holiday should look like. I love having all of my family together, drinking hot chocolate, and decorating the Christmas tree. Many of my traditions came crashing down when I got divorced. Suddenly holidays with my kids happen every other year. I learned why this time of year can be so hard for some of us. I have also learned to let go. I have had to let go of my own expectations, open my heart to what God has for me, and give up control.

I am now able to experience the joy God has for us. Now when November arrives I am excited and expectant for what will come. I can praise God when I have all the kids together on December 26th and that's okay. I can be grateful that my children have so many people that love them and that want to spend time with them. I can also celebrate when it is my turn regardless of the date on the calendar. 

It is funny when we realize that as hard as we might try to give our kids memories, they remember something else. I would work so hard on all the gifts and a big meal, but what all three boys remember is the breakfast. For something easy in the morning, I would make "monkey bread". My kids refer to it as Christmas morning bread. What I did to keep things simple became a special memory for my family.

My prayer for you is that you embrace the moments as they come and find the joy that only comes from the Love of God. Today I will be grateful for the cool breeze, my boots, and a pumpkin spice latte in the new red cups!

We are Family

Richard and Mark My beautiful step-daughter Dakota has been nominated to represent her sophomore class in the Miss Mary Hardin Baylor Pageant. Richard and  I are so excited for her! She is absolutely beautiful inside and out so I think she has a great shot! This awesome event will bring much of her family together this weekend. The nuclear family of today does not look the same as the ones of the past. Today there are many beautiful blended families, and we are certainly one of them. This weekend Dakota will have her Dad, Step-mom, 2 step-brothers, 2 aunts, 2 uncles, 2 cousins, her Mom, step-dad, half sister, and another aunt. What do we all have in common? We all love Dakota and look forward to celebrating her. I am so grateful for Richard and the way he leads out in making this an easy process. After his divorce from Dakotas’s mom, about 15 years ago, he spent a lot of time putting aside his personal feelings and humbling himself in order to spend time with his daughter. Because of this he has an amazing relationship with her. She is without a doubt Daddy's Girl. Through this time Richard also became friends with Dakotas’s new step-dad. (Pictured above visiting her at school) I have to admit when I first came in the picture I didn't quite get it. I had never seen a potentially tough situation done so well. "You go to birthday parties with you ex-wife and her husband?" What made this work for them? It was Richards’s willingness to be selfless and put God in the center of his relationships.

Gods Grace, Mercy, and Redemptive Love can bring beauty to our mess and allows us to set aside bitterness and to extend forgiveness. By our own strength we aren't capable, but through Christ all things are possible. When we have God in our lives we receive the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

I love to see the special bond between Daddy and daughter because of the choices he made. I am Blessed to have Richard now leading our family with the same love and care.My boys are getting an amazing example of how to be a Godly man. I have much anticipation for what God will do this weekend in and through Dakota as well as in the lives of all who are present.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phil 4:13

All You need is Love

love is all you need Do You ever just feel overwhelmed by the Amazing Love of God? I know I do! It makes me wonder why my faith can be so small and why I doubt when I know He has his best for me. I find myself walking around trying to figure it all out. I work out the ending in my head that I think will be best and then I try to make that happen. I will control, sometimes unconsciously, to get the outcome I think I want.

There were many times in my relationship with Richard that I wanted my way. I hope I'm not the only one that can say that! I often thought if he ever proposes it will likely be over a nice dinner,maybe candle light, and that would have been fabulous. But God said, Really? You think that is all I have for you? I can do better than that. When Richard proposed in front of over 200 women during a talk on purity, I was overwhelmed! Not only did Go show me how much Richard loved me, God showed me how He loved me.

I continue to see events like this play out in my life. I had a dream for more than 10 years to attend Carol Kent's speak up conference in Michigan. As only God does, I not only have attended the conference twice, Carol Kent is now a friend and mentor in my life. She has encouraged Richard and I  to write a book sharing our story. We have begun writing and have had a request from a large publisher for a proposal. This happens only through Gods Love, His plan, and His timing.

With a book proposal in front of us, I knew that I would need to find a job that allowed me more time to write, but I was going to be sad to leave my current job that I loved. I was certain I would not be happy at my new one, it was just going to fill a need. I put out a few resumes and nothing happened. A few weeks went by and I received a phone call from someone I hadn't seen in five years asking if I would be interested in interviewing at a spa in Dallas. Having spent most of my life in salon and spas and being @SpaBarbie, of course I was interested! She had no idea of the timing or her obedience. Only through Gods love did I get a job with such amazing people, doing what I love, and feeling like I make a difference. I also get to spend all day Tuesdays writing. Overwhelmed!

Gods Love is amazing! His ways are not our ways. He has so much more for us than we can imagine. I kept saying "The stars would have to align for this to happen", it turns out God is in the business of aligning the stars. When we walk with Him and we make ourselves available, God can use us in ways we never thought possible.

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine." Isaiah 55:8 nlt

First Day of School

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Today I have loved seeing my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram full of pictures of children headed out for the first day of school. I have to admit that my 14 and 18 year old boys were not exactly posing on the way out the door, but my beautiful stepdaughter did snap a pic before the first day of class at college. As I was scrolling through, the picture above caught my attention. "Do Epic Stuff"! I love it! This is certainly my prayer for all my kids. I pray that they will each follow their passion and become all that God has made them to be.

I began to wonder, as I looked at this fantastic shot of a boy in his cape, when do we stop shooting for Epic? Is there a certain age or a point in our lives that we decide that this is it, this is all God has for me? A time where we stop dreaming and become content with the status quo. Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being happy where you are and grateful for the blessings you have already received, I am saying, what if there is more? You are never too young and never too old to be used by God. We only need to be available and obedient. It might be something like climbing Mt Everest, starting your own business, or moving to a new city. For some of us it is as easy as calling a friend for a cup of coffee when they might just need an ear to listen. You never know how an act of obedience or a step of faith might change your life or the life of someone else. I say Dream Big and step out in Faith. God still has something Epic designed for you!

"The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that you may have life and have it to the Full" John 10:10

Lessons Learned...

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This week my husband turned Fifty. In honor of this milestone I wanted to share some things I have learned from him and through our relationship.

Patience: I had to start with this one. We dated 4 years! Now that is patience. It was not always easy, but in hind sight it was so worth it! I am so grateful for Gods perfect timing. It takes time to build a solid foundation. I think all too often we quit right before the breakthrough. Enjoy the process: Where typically men might be goal oriented, Richard has always reminded me to slow down and appreciate what God is showing us today. He shared a story with me about a time he and a buddy were taking a bus ride to a casino on an Indian reservation. He said after driving for some time they went right past the casino. They started asking why they passed it up and where they were headed. They were told that this bus was going to a Pow Wow. A Pow Wow? They had no idea what to expect. When they arrived they got to see a traditional Indian Pow Wow with traditional dress and dance. I loved his attitude in that they could have been upset when they passed their destination, but instead they went along for the journey and got a “bonus” in their trip. It is amazing what you miss when you become too focused on the destination. God also often uses this time in between to prepare us for what He has prepared for us. Laugh: Richard loves to laugh! He laughs loud and he laughs often! Laughter really is the best medicine. He has taught me to enjoy everyday and to be adventurous. In my past we did not have a lot of that, so today nothing makes me happier than the sound of laughter in our home. Focus on God: This is by far the most important thing I have learned. This is a principle I knew but I love watching him live it out. He is a spiritual leader in our home. We pray over our decisions in faith that we already know God has it worked out and that He has His very best for us. I watched Richard in church on Sunday when he noticed a couple in front of us that the wife is suffering from cancer. He lowered his head and prayed over them right then, not because anyone was looking but because his heart breaks for what breaks Gods. I am a blessed woman to have Richards’s example for myself and my kids, but this really isn't about him. This is God’s story. God has His very best for each of us. When we follow Him we will be blessed and people will see Jesus in us. He gives us the Holy Spirit to be able to live out the things that I am learning. We can accomplish through Him what we could never do by our own strength.

“But the Fruit of The Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.” Gal 5:22-23

 

I want it now…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ksWKOy665o

I heard this song this week and couldn’t help but think how right she is; we want things “automatic”. Our technology must be the fastest, the latest, and the greatest. We want to be thin and fit, but we want to eat what we want and find a magic pill or potion to make the weight come off. We have become an instant and impatient society looking for shortcuts to the things we want the most. We are actually called to wait patiently on Gods perfect timing. This is especially true with relationships. Today we get married fast and get divorced even faster. Many of us repeat that process a time or two. I know I was guilty! When I met Richard he took things very slowly. He let me know quickly that he was only dating Gods way. I would love to say that this made me feel respected and so happy to have found such an amazing Godly man. It did in some ways and then impatience and doubt set in. In a hurried world even many of my friends would say “your just friends”, “he is just stringing you along”, “how long are you going to wait?” It was tough to listen to the loud voices of the world.

One day about 4 or 5 months into dating I was whining to a girlfriend about him not committing to our relationship and what she said to me hit me hard; “what I hear is pride” she said. “What?” I thought, “How can you say that?” She went on to say “You want what you want when you want it and you don’t even know how God is working on him.” Holy cow, she was so right! I was not having any regard for what God was doing behind the scenes. We both had a lot of baggage to work through and a solid foundation to build. Like me, most of us don’t want to take the time to be patient, trust the process, and wait for Gods perfect timing.

I now have the benefit of being on the other side (4 years later). I would not trade the time we spent building our relationship. It was not always easy but nothing worth having comes without work and sacrifice. What I know now is that because of the foundation we laid, we have built strong communication to get us through the tough times. God will redeem your time. On our wedding day everything was new. I wasn’t thinking about the wait, I was only looking forward. God has His very best for us! Surrender to Him and allow Him to write a story for you greater than anything you can dream of.

“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Eph 3:20

Where it all began...

Where it all began... "Padlock looking for the right combination". This was the headline on Richards online dating profile. I had recently given up on online dating, but when a 7 day free trial came up I decided to give it one more shot. His message said simply "I have no idea where Aubrey is (the town I lived in) but maybe we should meet." It wasn't the most romantic email, but why not. After several bad first dates I wasn't that optimistic and agreed to meet early for happy hour, just in case I wanted to meet my friends later. I didn't even dress very cute! As soon as I saw him I knew THAT was a mistake! This date should have been my best outfit! He was gorgeous! Tall, dark, handsome, and wears flip-flops with jeans. Check, check, and check! I have never felt that kind of instant attraction and I was instantly nervous. While he was telling me about himself I am thinking things like; "I hope he calls again and why did I wear THIS shirt?!" We had the typical first date conversation like where are you from, what do you do, but it was great! I loved how full of life he is. Richard is loud, really loud. He talks loud and laughs even louder. I still tell him today that he "brings color to my world" with the way he lives life. I never met up with my friends that night, we went from there to a club down the street and danced all night. He is an amazing dancer! He attracts a lot of attention on the dance floor but that night he was focused on me. When we got ready to leave he said " I am just not ready for the night to end." We headed to Ihop and talked over pancakes until almost 4am. When we got ready to leave he kissed me good night. Easily one of the best nights of my life!

Little did I know the path my life was about to take. Everything I knew about relationships, God, church, and love was about to change...for the better. Sometimes it is in our ordinary days that God steps in, shakes things up, and adds His extraordinary. The whole trajectory of your life can change in an instant. When we are open and available God can take you places you never imagine.

And then this happened...

And then this happened...

“I got the results of the biopsy, it is cancer.” This was what I heard Richard say when I answered the phone while I was working. It was September 20th; we had only been married 19 days. I don’t remember what I said before I hung up the phone. I barely remember anything that happened the remainder of that day. We were only weeks into our marriage when he had to go for a biopsy for potential prostate cancer. This would be the second biopsy after one earlier in the year was inconclusive; we never thought it would actually come back this way. Why God? Why now God? We had finally gotten married after 4 ½ years of dating and waiting. Was this really how the story goes? Cancer? Potential impotence? Incontinence? These were all things going through our minds, but not for long as Richard kept saying “that is not the God we serve.” He had faith enough for both of us that he would be healed. During this time we were so grateful for the foundation that we had laid in our relationship. We had taken the time to become best friends and to have a solid emotional and spiritual connection. If our relationship had been based on the physical this diagnosis could have torn us apart. We could see Gods hand in every part of the process. After much prayer and research we chose to have robotic surgery to remove his prostate. The day of the surgery I was overwhelmed with many emotions. It meant so much to me to have a dear friend drive over at 5am to sit with me. God gives us what we need even when we don’t know we need it. Richard had unwavering faith throughout the surgery and recovery. He was so right! Of course, the process of having the surgery and post-surgery had its ups and downs. We were so grateful for the friends and family that God placed in our lives to walk through this time with us. God’s favor was with us through people visiting at the hospital, bringing food, or even financial blessings to help pay the bills. We were overwhelmed by the love we were shown. For so many people this diagnosis can be a long and sometimes tragic road. That is why we are beyond grateful for God’s intervention in our story. Each month that passed Richard had fewer and fewer symptoms. Time goes by so quickly. This week we went back for his one year checkup. I am so happy to report that Richard is cancer free and symptom free! God is our Healer and we are so grateful!

Worth The Wait

http://vimeo.com/37633231

Two years ago this week God Blessed me with the man of my dreams. This did not happen over night but in Gods perfect timing and His perfect way. Only God could orchestrate what happened that night. I wish my reaction was more fitting for the moment, but it is an example of what shock looks like! On a Tuesday night I had been asked to be interviewed during a talk on purity at Flavour, our womens event at my church. There were around 200-300 of my closest Flavour sisters in attendance. I was so excited to get to share mine and Richards story. We dated for about 4 1/2 years and dated Gods way. No sex outside of marriage. Having been married before and 3 kids later I thought it was too late for me. What I leaned is it's never too late. God gives you the strength and the patience to do His perfect will and He blesses you for your obedience. No physical relationship can compare to the emotional and spiritual connection we have made. God gives His very best to those that leave the choice to Him. I don't remember a thing I said that night. I just remember after we were done one of the ladies introduced Richard and invited him to the stage. I had so many thoughts going through my head, not one of them was that he might propose. The video speaks for itself at this point. I recieved the most perfect proposal, in the most perfect way, and in the perfect setting. I was in shock and completley blown away. That night I not only learned how much Richard loved me, I learned how much God loved me. That anything I could have asked for would not be as good as what God has for us when we allow Him to lead our lives.

Say What You Want To Say

 

God often uses music in our lives to speak to us, to remind us, or to create emotion. A few days ago I heard a song by Sara Bareilles called “Brave.” Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do When they settle ‘neath your skin. Kept on the inside and no sunlight sometimes a shadow wins, but I wonder what would happen if you Say what you wanna say”. These lyrics really took me back. During my twelve year marriage I spent a lot of time trying to prevent what I knew would come. My husband would call and say he was on his way home and I would hop into action looking for things that might set him off. Are there any toys left in the yard, dishes in the sink, anything out of the ordinary. There didn’t necessarily need a catalyst, but I always tried. Then it would happen, one of the boys bikes were in the drive way so he had to get out and move it to pull in, and here we go. The hardest times were when the boys went to bed. I spent many sleepless nights on my bed half behind a pillow waiting for the word to stop. I think I was trying to hide the feelings of shame, guilt, and unworthiness I was feeling. “I can’t believe you___, you always___, your___, when are you___.” I knew if I so much as said “That’s not true.” It would only escalate and prolong what would likely go on for hours already. The next day, exhausted, we would both pretend in front of the kids and others that it didn’t happen, but kids always know. I did not grow up in church, but one night I attended a prayer evening that I had been invited to. A woman there spoke of Jesus walking on water and how if we focus on Him we can do anything. At least that is what I heard. From that point on I could not get enough of learning about God and His love for us. How we are made perfectly in His image and how much He loves us right as we are. He loves me? How could He? The more I learned the more my eyes were open to what was happening in my home and the more courage I gained. I only made a decision to get out of my situation through Gods strength; I had lost hope in my own. “What we cover God will uncover and cover with His grace.” God had shone His light on what was happening in the dark and I am forever grateful. I want to encourage you to be brave, to find your own voice. Divorce is not always the solution, but getting the help you need is. Verbal and emotional abuse IS abuse. “Show me how big your Brave is!” “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalms 139:14

Swimming for my life

 

ImageLast year I had and amazing honeymoon in St Croix. Crystal clear water, gorgeous beaches, and an incredible new husband. I was ready for new adventures. One morning we rented a jeep to go to the other side of the island to a beach called Cane Bay for snorkeling. This was my first real snorkeling adventure and I was excited and nervous. We got on our fins, mask and snorkel and started off from the shore. It was beautiful! We saw sea turtles, beautiful fish, squid, and barracuda (thats another story!)

The day was going perfect. At one point I looked back towards the shore and realized we had drifted pretty far from our starting point and it made me a little nervous. I asked my husband if we could start cutting back across to be more even with the beach. As we began swimming back the current was strong and it was harder and harder to swim. I looked at my husband and he is calmly snorkeling so I put my mask in the water and try to keep going. I look up again and realize I am not getting anywhere and I start to panic. I was now struggling and trying to swim as fast as I could with thoughts of drifting out to sea going through my head. Again I look at my husband who is still just snorkeling. I wait for him to look up and I start yelling “You are just snorkeling and I am swimming for my life here!” Seeing the panic on my face he tried not to laugh. He quietly says “calm down, calm down, it’s going to be ok” and asked me to sit on my swim noodle. Yes...I had a swim noodle. My husband then rationally talked me through what we would do next, that he was here with me and he would help get me through the current. Soon we were safe on the shore.

Reflecting back I wonder how many times God has looked at me and you the same way. “What are you doing, calm down, I am here with you and I will get you through this current that you're in.” I am so grateful for a God that never leaves us and never gives up on us even when we forget and try to do it all my our own strength.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for The Lord your God is with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Playing Ball In The House

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I am the mom of three amazing boys ages 13, 17, and 23. there is nothing I like more than having all of them all at home. The energy level rises quite a bit and the sound of laughter fills our home. On one particular night they were playing basketball in the house. The boys were standing in the downstairs dining room trying to make a shot that was up the stairs on the back of a door using a small ball. There were many attempts made and lots of yelling going on as I was witnessing this from the family room. After many failed attempts and lots of close rim shots, my oldest son made it! He began running thought the house yelling "Nothing is impossible"! I was inspired! I also love a good competition, so it was my turn. With my youngest son rebounding for me I made shot after shot missing the basket. My husband was heckling me from the other room about how I was going to have to ice my arm, this just pushed me more. Finally after a few rim shots one finally went in, I had made the "nothing is impossible" shot!
This has sense become the theme of my life, not because of my own abilities, but because it is what scripture tells us. Mathew 17:20 says "Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” I have been making it a point to try to step out when I feel God leading me, having faith that through Christ, even when I can't see it, He will make a way. What are you facing? What is God calling you to today? When we do what we can do God will do what only He can do. "I can do ALL things through Christ that strengthens me". Phil 4:13

Tis The Season

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Eight years ago , just 2 weeks before Christmas, I walked around my house with one medium size box packing items you might take in a fire. I collected family photos, baby books for my 3 sons, and anything else I thought they might want. The boys and I were leaving my twelve year marriage, I had lost Hope. I had been in a very verbally and emotionally abusive relationship that would later become physical. I was leaving behind all of my hopes and dreams of large family gatherings and growing old with somone. My life as I always dreamed it would be was over. I would now begin spending every other Christmas and Thanksgiving alone. 

That is until now. This year I sat looking at the eight stockings on my fireplace that represent my new beautiful blended family. I see a picture of a restored life. God loves us so much and is so faithful. When we walk with Him and follow His word He wants to Renew us, Love us, and do exceedingly more than we can ever ask or imagine. God is always at work behind the scenes. Even in our darkest moments have faith that He is orchestrating His very best for you.

Ephesians 3:20

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us.