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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beachin' with my Babes & Friends

Every year for... a while -- I'm sketchy on details that don't include me -- Brian, Rocky, and friends have had a beach trip. This year, I was lucky enough to be invited along. They have a friend whose grandparents have generously allowed Cory and his friends to use the beach house on Hilton Head Island.

I actually went to Lenoir on Wednesday and was able to spend all day Thursday with Brian and Rachael. Thursday morning, the three of us hung out. We played a little and then we went to the duck park and watched Brian play basketball. Rachael and I cheered for Daddy!! Gooooo Daddy! Actually... it was more like I talked to Betty Jo and Rachael ran around with Kylee and Zachery, but those are minor details. Even when I'm doing other things, I'm always cheering for Brian. I'm his biggest fan!

After Brian played basketball, we went to Taco Bell and took Rachael to the library. She did a summer reading program there and after so many books she completed a block and could pick out a prize. So she completed her final block and we took her to the library to pick a prize -- she picked out the book Fidgety Fish and Friends. It's a cute little book... and of course, it's about fish so Rachael loves it.

We had dinner at Dennis and Mary's house. Dennis made the most delicious steaks ever. They were soooo GOOD. I really like Brian's parents a lot. I like his whole family a lot. Brian and I left to go pack his and Rachael's stuff for the beach and then we picked Rachael up from her mom's house, picked Brian's friend Jared up from his house, and met up with Rocky and Betty Jo. Betty Jo, being the awesome friend that she is, had me a Frappe from McDonald's. Brian, who claims to not like coffee, seemed to like it a lot since he drank at least half of it. I'm beginning to think I should dispute his claims of not liking coffee since he always drinks mine!!!

On the drive down to Hilton Head, we stopped and picked Cory up at the airport and we sang along to one of Rachael's CDs in the car. It was late. Really late. I think it kept Brian awake. I fell asleep in the car.

Brian's friends seem pretty great. Jared used to be Adventist and actually graduated from Southern the same year as my dad, so we talked about Southern a little. Cory is really nice and lives out in Texas, unfortunately. But hey ladies! He's single and great with kids and a nice guy and a lot of fun and has a job... so... maybe someone in the Carolinas could fall in love with him and he with them and then he can move back so Brian and Rocky and the guys can all have their friend close? Yes? Ok great.

Our first day at the beach was Friday. The rest of us were running on very little sleep, but the kids were ready to go! The weather was threatening rain, so we tried to get down to the beach to enjoy it while we could. We were there for a little while and it started to rain. There was a funnel cloud that we could see also. While it rained the guys played frisbee. The rain wasn't really bad enough to go inside and it's good that we stuck around for a while, because when it stopped we got to go out into the water and enjoy it. That evening, we went out to eat and then played putt-putt. We had a lot of fun even though Rocky made fun of me for hitting every rock on the course. Ok, maybe that was fun too. If he didn't pick on me, then I'd think he didn't like me. The kids were really cute trying to get their balls into the holes. They would chase it around the course (much like I did, actually), and then pick it up and put it closer to the hole (like I might have been tempted to do) and FINALLY get it in. Things are so much more entertaining with kids around.

After a quick trip to the grocery store, we went back to the house and hung out. Brian and I talked for a while and then he and took me to my hotel room. It was sad to have to leave them, but that's ok. That's how it is right now and it's what's best for Rachael and it won't be that way forever. :) Saturday morning, Betty Jo came and picked me up since my two lazybone loves were still in bed when she left. When I got there Rachael bounced out of bed and Brian and I played with Rachael and Kylee for a while... Zachery didn't really get in on the action. Probably smart of him since there was a lot of tickling going on.

I prepared a meal for everyone so we could eat when we got back from the beach. Brian helped me in the kitchen. He's seriously actually HELPFUL in the kitchen and doesn't get in the way. I really enjoy that he likes to help. I made baked ziti, green beans, corn, and garlic bread. We all went to the beach and had a great time. We played in the water a lot -- most of the time Kylee was out there with Brian and I and Rachael was playing in the sand. When we got back and all got showers, I put the finishing touches on dinner and we ate.

After supper, a few of us played scrabble and then after sunset, Betty Jo, Kylee, and I went shopping while the guys stayed at the house and played a game. We we got back, I spent some time with Rachael. Brian, Rachael, and I were going to go walk on the beach, but it was raining so we missed out on that. However, Brian and I did have one of the best conversations that we've ever had and then he took me back to the hotel. Rachael was very sad to see me go. The next morning she said to me, "Where was you, Amber? I've been missing you." Cutie pie!

Sunday, we packed up, headed home, and then I had to go back to Tennessee. I cried lots when I had to leave my Love and my Little. One day we'll all be together.

I am already looking forward to next year's beach trip!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Girl's Day Out

Sometime last week, I realized that while Brian would be flying out for China really early Sunday morning and I wouldn't get to see him on Sunday, that didn't necessarily mean that I couldn't see Rachael. I debated about whether or not to ask if I could have Rachael for a few hours, but finally my desire to spend time with Rachael overruled my hesitancy to ask. I think I knew Brian would say yes, but it was kind of a big deal! So I texted Brian and asked if I could have Rachael for a few hours on Sunday to do something special with her... and he said yes!

Sunday morning, I went over to Rocky and Betty Jo's for breakfast and had breakfast with their family and Dennis and Mary (Brian's parents, aka Maw Maw and Paw Paw). When I got there Rachael was playing, but then she came over to me and climbed into my lap and loved on me. Then we took a picture to send to Daddy.

Rachael is seriously the sweetest little girl I've ever known. She's is extremely affectionate and funny and smart and adorable... and while all of that is certainly true, I'm also beginning to realize that I have a strongly biased opinion regarding Rachael's wonderfulness. She is a very special little girl and I love her very very very much.

I hung around for a few minutes and talked to Mary and Betty Jo while Rachael played, then took her home (to Brian's) and waited for Daddy to call us before he got on the plane to China. Rachael got to talk to Daddy for a minute and then I gave her a bath and let her play while I tried to keep myself occupied so I wouldn't cry about the fact that our favorite guy was on his way around the world. So, while Rachael played, I picked up her toys and did a load of laundry. Then I got Rachael out of the bathtub, put lotion on her, got her dressed, etc. You know, all the normal stuff. Rachael is a girly girl and I brought nail polish to paint her nails for her, so I did that... and like me, she can't seem to keep it on her fingers very long... except she has the excuse of being 3. I don't know what my excuse is. :) But she enjoyed it and that's what matters.

Next, we went to Barnes & Noble. Mine and Rachael's "thing" is reading. I have always read books to her and she LOVES being read to, so I decided to take her to Barnes & Noble to pick out a new book. We read lots and lots and lots of books. She wanted to read them in the Hundred Acre Woods, so we sat down, and read a few such as: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny, Charlie the Ranch Dog, The Day the Crayons Quit, The Pout-Pout Fish... and many more. She kept saying, "Aw! Poor Piglet. He's up in the tree!"

Finally, I selected a few and let her pick from among those and she chose my favorite book by my favorite children's author! Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems. I was very surprised that she didn't choose The Pout-Pout Fish. I thought it was a really cute book. I was excited that she chose Knuffle Bunny.

Rachael was so sweet and thoughtful. She kept seeing things that K or Z would like. I told her that next time, we would get a surprise for K and Z to take back to them.

She was hungry and requested macaroni and cheese, so when we left B&N I saw the Jason's Deli in the parking lot so I decided that a salad sounded great to me and that she could have her mac & cheese. Rachael chatted with me while we ate and it was so fun to be with her and have people walk by and comment on how cute she is. :) I think I'm going to have to work on saying "thank you" instead of "I know, right?!" While we were sitting there, I noticed that she had her little legs crossed under the table. Cutest. EVER.

The waiter walked by and asked me something and ended the question with "maybe". Rachael thought he called me "baby" so we had the following conversation.

Rachael: Why did he call you "baby"? (or maybe it was "he called you baby.")
Me: He didn't. He said, "Would you like another salad plate, maybe?" Only Daddy calls me "baby."
Rachael: Why?
Me: Because I'm his girlfriend.
Rachael: No you're not. (Said in a "silly girl... no you're not" kind of way.)
[Rachael starts talking about Batman and his girlfriend again.]
Me: If I'm not Daddy's girlfriend, what am I?
Rachael: You're Daddy's little big girl. And I'm Daddy's little baby fishy.

I had her repeat it for me on video for Brian. I've been upgraded from "normal peoples" to "Daddy's little big girl." She has probably heard Brian call me his "big baby" and her his "little baby" or refer to us as his girls, little girl and big girl, etc, because he often says that. More than calling me his girlfriend. We're thinking that "girlfriend" is a cartoon character to Rachael and that her only point of reference is batman. Rachael doesn't realize yet that "girlfriend" is a relationship. I love that she's so sweet and innocent.

I let Rachael get a little ice cream after we finished eating. She thoroughly enjoyed her treat. Sadly, I had to take her back to Jo's house because I had to head back to Tennessee. We had a really great ride back in the car though!! She sang zipadeedoodah, which was ADORABLE! We chatted about Daddy and China.  We sang Apples and Bananas and giggled over the silly ways of saying "apples" and "bananas" and made up our own words.

We got back home and I was in Rachael's room getting a few of her things together to take to Jo's house and I was going to re-braid her hair. She sat down in my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck and wouldn't let go. She just wanted me to hold her and hug her; I was MORE than happy to oblige. When I took her over to Jo's she hugged me and kissed me and told me she would miss me and that she didn't want me to go. I didn't want to go either! I was glad when she started playing so I could leave without having to pull her off of me first. Leaving was hard enough as it was! I almost cried.

I think Rachael is trying to figure out exactly what my role in her life is and what place she wants me to hold. She's is extremely well-behaved, but I could tell at times that she was testing the boundaries a little to find where they stood. She didn't misbehave AT ALL, it was just obvious that she was figuring out where the lines are and what my response would be.

Rachael is such a gift. I am so thankful that God chose me, not just to be in Brian's life, but to play a part in Rachael's life as well. Rachael is one of the greatest blessings that God has ever given me. To have the privilege of taking care of her, loving her, being responsible for her, being loved by her... and helping to guide her through life and prepare her for eternal life... it's a gift.

I am so thankful that her mom gave birth to her. I think the mom/ step-mom/ ex-wife/girlfriend(eventually wife) relationship can be a complicated one and I hope to avoid some of those complications... or at least ill-feelings on my side of things by always maintaining the perspective that one of the greatest gifts in my life came from H. Without her, I wouldn't have the joy of Rachael in my life. Loving Rachael warms my heart toward H. I can't and do not want to ever replace Rachael's mom; she is special. But I am very much looking forward to our relationship (mine and Rachael's, and growing as a family with Brian) continuing to grow so that one day Rachael will feel like she has been blessed with, not just one, but two mommies who both love her very much. I don't ever want this to be a competition for Rachael's love and affection -- she has plenty to go around. I just want Rachael to be the happiest and most secure little girl in the world knowing that she has the love of a VERY wonderful Daddy and double mommy-love.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Meeting Rachael.. and other important people

This past weekend, I met Rachael for the first time. Leading up to the visit, Brian and I were talking about it and it just hit me... I would be meeting my daughter/ future daughter. I already think of her as mine.

Friday, when I got to Brian's house, he had the garage door open for me, so I pulled in... He and Rachael were waiting for me on the steps and I took her right out of his arms to hug her and hold her and kiss her sweet cheeks. She hugged me back. She wasn't even shy!! It was an amazing moment of finally getting to hold her in my arms. Eventually, I gave Brian a hug. :)

Brian took me inside and gave me a tour of the house while we stopped to play with Rachael and be entertained by her. She's adorable. We had worship with Rachael and she and I picked out her church dress and hairbow. Then we went over to Rocky and Betty Jo's (his brother and sister-in-law and neighbors) to hang out. They had some of Rocky and Brian's friends over so I got to meet lots of people. I was really excited to finally get to meet Betty Jo in person. We had skyped a little and texted some so I felt like we were already friends. We played Catch Phrase, which is a favorite of mine.

I put Rachael to bed over there and kissed her goodnight. She and K and Z said their prayers and Betty Jo and I listened. For the first time ever, Rachael prayed about me. She thanked Jesus for ME! :) I actually teared up. To me, that was the mark that I had made it into her inner circle. I told a friend a couple of weeks ago that when Rachael included me in her bedtime prayers I would know that I had arrived. Well, y'all... I have arrived. K and Z also thanked Jesus for me. Z said, "Thank you Jesus for Amburger... amburger... amburger... noooo..." :) it was ADORABLE. He's my buddy.

Sabbath morning, I got to church just a couple of minutes before Brian, so I went in the direction that I assumed his mom's classroom would be and found Mary and gave her a hug. I was really happy to see his family in person. Then Brian and Rachael and Rocky and Betty Jo and the kids got to church. Rachael was wearing her cute little dress that she and I had picked out and I fixed her hair and put her hairbow in. She was so pretty!

I went to Sabbath School with Brian and then picked Rachael up from her class when it was over. I took her potty and then took her into church and gave her the Sabbath bag I had made for her. It had puzzles, coloring books and crayons, and stickers in it. I also have been working on making some felt dress up doll people for her to play with. Rachael sat in my lap for most of church and colored. She wanted me to take her down for the children's story, so I did. The kids were sent back to their seats before praying and Rachael went back to her seat and was called back... which embarrassed her. But instead of staying back with Brian, she came back up front and climbed into my lap and buried her face in my neck. She's my baby!

After church we had potluck. I sat beside Rachael and took care of her. Then we all went to the nursing home to sing to the residents. Brian and I were squatting down and Rachael wrapped her arms around both of our necks and squeezed the three of us together and said, "I love you both." We went back home and put Rachael down for a nap and Brian and I ended up taking a nap too. Rachael didn't sleep long, but stayed in her room talking to herself and singing songs for a while... After a while, we let Rachael get out of bed and we all played together.

Brian started packing for China and I helped him... and snuck a few things into his bag. In the meantime, Rachael played in his room and on the bed and played with me while we worked. She also wrote her name on a card for Daddy that told him how much we miss him.

Later, we headed over to Rocky and Betty Jo's. On the way over, Brian was holding my hand, so Rachael asked why he was holding my hand.

Brian: Because she's my girlfriend.
Rachael: She's not your girlfriend.
Rachael: [talks about batman's girlfriend]
Brian: Well, if she's not my girlfriend then what is she?
Rachael: She is just a normal people. And you are a normal people. We are all just normal peoples.

We think that Rachael's only point of reference for a girlfriend/ boyfriend is batman. Therefore, a girlfriend is a pretend character, not a relationship. More later on what Rachael says I am to her daddy...

I talked to Betty Jo for a long time on Saturday night. I think we're going to be good friends. It'll be so nice to have a friend who lives right next door. I love that I didn't just get Brian and Rachael, but a whole family AND an instafriend. :)

Brian and I left Rachael with Betty Jo and went home and spend some time together then I headed back to my friend's house really late while he got a little sleep before getting on a plane to China. :( It's terrible when my Love is on the other side of the world and my Little is 5 hours away. I miss my "normal peoples"!

I'll post later about Sunday... girls day out with Rachael.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our First Weekend Together

Brian came to visit me last weekend! After counting down the days for 22 days, he finally arrived. I wasn't nervous until I left work. I had the busiest day of work that I've had in a long time, so it was good to have that as a distraction. When I got off work around 3:30, I rushed home and jumped in the shower, fixed my hair, put on makeup, etc. Then I waited... and waited... and waited. Really, I only waited about 30-45 minutes from the time that I finished getting ready until I saw Brian, but it felt like an eternity.

Brian and I met at the Southern Adventist University Student Park. We wanted a place where we could just hang out and talk and it was the perfect place. As soon as we got out of our cars, we hugged... and hugged... and hugged. Finally, it was like he was a REAL PERSON!! I was a little nervous when I was sitting in my car waiting for him to arrive, but as soon as I hugged him, the nervousness went away... and the giddiness hit! I was soooo giddy. :) We walked to the Goliath Wall and spread a blanket on the ground and just enjoyed each other's company for a few hours. We also had an audience of groundhogs who eyed us suspiciously on several occasions. We decided to leave and go back to my house so he could meet my parents. When we walked back to our cars, he took my keys out of my hand, unlocked and opened my car door and then handed me my keys and closed my door. That was a definite first for me!! It was very sweet. I would soon discover that I will rarely ever have to touch my car door, in or out, with Brian around. I've dated guys who open doors, but I've never had someone who opens EVERY door, EVERY time like it just comes naturally. It's not forced with Brian and it's not like he's trying to put on a display for me... he just treats me that well naturally.

Friday, Brian came over for breakfast; I made him blueberry muffins. After we ate, we headed up to Lookout Mountain to do the touristy thing. I was wearing wedge sandals, but had taken my flip flops with me just in case we decided to do a lot of walking. Brian is so sweet and thoughtful... he's always thinking of my comfort or what's best for me or my health or whatever, because he encouraged me to wear my flip flops instead because we'd probably be doing a lot of walking. Then, out of habit, I grabbed my purse, and about halfway through the parking lot, he asked me if I wanted to leave it in the car. I was so thankful that he suggested both of those things. He is so attentive. I love that about him.

We toured Ruby Falls and then went to Taco Bell for lunch. (Friday is Brian's TBD, a.k.a. Taco Bell Day.) After we ate, we sat side by side looking at pictures of Rachael on his phone. We must have been sitting there with our heads together for a long time, because another patron came up to us and commented that whatever we were looking at must be really good because we hadn't moved from that position in a while! And of course it was good; it was pictures of our little girl!

After Taco Bell, we headed back up the mountain to the Incline Railway. When we got to the top, we sat on the lookout and enjoyed the view and the cool breeze in the nice shade. Brian is so easy to be with and to talk to and to just sit quietly with. He is my favorite person to hang out with. W
e rode back down the Incline and then headed to our favorite place of the day -- Rock City.

I had been to Ruby Falls as a child and while the view at the top of the Incline was wonderful, the Incline Railway itself was somewhat anticlimactic. It was really neat to see the view of Chattanooga as we rode up though. :) Rock City is gorgeous! You can supposedly see 7 states from a peak that is located in Rock City. There are also little garden gnomes in one area. It's just a very pretty place. There, Brian and I, toward the end of our walk, sat down on a swing and talked some more... and were eaten by mosquitoes. Totally worth the thousand bites.

When we finished on Lookout Mountain, Brian took me to dinner at a Mexican place not too far away. I'm so glad we both like Mexican food. Our food was really good. He got some kind of burrito... it was HUGE. And I got a vegetable quesadilla that was delicious. We both ended up taking leftovers home.

We left Cancun and went to my office, which is right down the street, so I could show him where I work. From there, we went downtown. Chattanooga has a really great downtown. It's kind of artsy. They have a walking bridge, so we walked down the bridge and then sat on a bridge and looked out over the Tennessee River for a long time and watched the moonrise and the sunset while we talked. The bridge goes over the Tennessee River and Coolidge Park, so I took Brian down to the park to see the carousel where I want to take Rachael and the interactive play fountain that I want to take her to. Then we walked down the sidewalk and they have bronze footprints in the sidewalk showing the steps for different dances: a waltz, a tango, the cha-cha... and my favorite, the kiss. So we danced on the sidewalk in the middle of downtown Chattanooga. And well... when we came to the footprints labeled "The Kiss"... we may or may not have done that too.

We finally left and went back to my house where we just hung out for a little while before Brian went back to his hotel room. It was a really wonderful day.

Sabbath morning, Brian came over for breakfast before church and I made him some eggs while I was preparing our Sabbath lunch. Then we went to church. It was sooooo nice to spend Sabbath with Brian. After church, my friend Brooke came over for lunch and to meet Brian. I made pasta with whole wheat angel hair pasta, julienned vegetables lightly sauteed with a smoky balsamic marinade, tossed with pesto, topped with pine nuts and parmesan and romano cheese. We also had bruschetta, broccoli, and banana pudding for dessert.

We visited with Brooke for a while, and when she left, Brian and I went to Signal Mountain to go to Falling Water Falls. We never really found the falls that we went for, but we didn't look very hard either. We enjoyed the view and each other's company. We had a really great conversation there and on our way back to my house. When we got to my house, the air conditioner was not working so we sat out on the front porch for a long time and eventually fell asleep out there.

Sunday, Brian came back over and took me out for breakfast somewhere with air conditioning. :) We went to Cracker Barrel, which is always delicious. Then we decided to go to the Ocoee for the day and swim to stay cool. We stopped at a few places along the way, but ended up at Goforth Creek. We sat on a rock for a long time and on a rock in the water. It was a really pretty place. After that, we went back to my house and showered then went out for dinner at China Kitchen.

Before we left for dinner at China Kitchen, my dad talked to Brian and I and basically said that they're really impressed with Brian and my dad really complimented me. It was so sweet it made me cry. My parents really like Brian... but then again, what's not to like?! He's amazing.

Our weekend came to a close... and Brian held me close in the car for a long time while I cried over how much I would miss him and how much I love him. Then we finally had to say goodbye when he took me back to my house.

It was the best weekend of my life. Brian was everything and so much more than I ever dreamed he would be... I am the luckiest girl ever.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Words are inadequate...

I love words. I tend to be loquacious and verbose. I have a much larger vocabulary than I utilize on a daily basis. You would think that due to my large vocabulary, being a logophile, and using an abundance of words, that words would not often fail me. But when it comes to Brian... I am often left grasping for the right words to use.

I write about Rachael a lot; in part, because she's Rachael and she's adorable, but also because I want to remember all of these little things about her. I tend to not write about Brian as much... not because I don't have plenty to say, but because I don't know how to say it. It is difficult to put into words what Brian means to me.

For you to really understand how wonderful Brian is, you would not only have to know him personally, but you would also have to understand what I've had in the past... and quite honestly, I don't really want to rehash some of the terrible relationships I've had. They aren't worthy of the words or the time required to share.

I have never had a guy send me flowers at work... until Brian. Brian listens to me and really wants to know me. He truly doesn't care about things I've done in the past except that it helps him to know and understand who I am today. He treats me so well. He wants my input and perspective and truly values it. He's considerate of my time... He is more than happy to tell me to go have fun with a friend and he does it without making me feel guilty for being away from him or like he doesn't care that I'm not talking to him. He's not possessive. He's not jealous. He's not insecure. I like that. Then again, he has no need to be any of those things because I'm all his. Brian has a way of making me feel secure. I think it's that he's consistent and I know that I can trust him. While he is consistent, he is not predictable... and that's nice because he's able to surprise me all the time.

I know that this is odd, because we haven't even met in person yet... but I miss him. I feel like I've known him forever, until I realize that I've never even held his hand. (1 full day until I do!) My friend, Brooke, pointed out that this is the first relationship that I've had that's conflict-free. When I talk about Brian to her, it's all good... not "He's great, but there's this one thing..." There is nothing about Brian that I'm uncomfortable with or that needs to be fixed or changed. I love him just the way he is.

I do love Brian just the way he is, but I also love that I see changes that are taking place. I can see the Holy Spirit working in his life, and that's amazing to me. If God's going to work on him, I'm ok with that... we all have room for improvement when we use God as our measuring stick.

Brian makes me so happy. Each day is a gift with him and each day is one that I want to enjoy and to live in the moment of. I want a future with Brian... a very long one... but I want today right now.

Brian speaks my love language... and he does it effortlessly. He appreciates me and the little things I do to show him I care and they make him feel really loved. He doesn't take me for granted. He tries to make me happy everyday (and succeeds!). Brian does the planning... he takes the lead in things, but without dragging me along... and instead it's more like having me by his side to make decisions with him. He doesn't make me plan all of our upcoming dates, but he listens to what I want.

There is so much about Brian that I could say... but completely inadequate words with which to say it. I am so thankful that God brought Brian into my life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Getting attached...

Brian and Rachael are in Florida this week on a family vacation with Brian's brother and sister-in-law and their two kids and his parents and uncle and... I think that's it. I haven't been reading to Rachael since they've been there since they're either getting home really late or she's playing with her cousins or I'm out shopping, which is what I was doing last night.

Brian asked me if I wanted to read to Rachael last night, and of course I did, but I wasn't at home. He said he'd keep her up for me if I wanted him to. While I would have LOVED that more than anything, Rachael was going to have a big day of Disney today and needed her sleep.

A little earlier that evening, I was Skyping with Brian, and Rachael came into the room, so I started talking with her. She started showing me her shoes. She is a girl after my own heart! I love talking to Rachael and listening to her chat about the things that are important to her or hearing her ask me questions. I like seeing that little glimpse inside her brain.

Last night, while I was at Target, Brian said that Rachael was wanting to Skype with me and that she was sending me smilies on Skype. I told him that she could call my phone, so they called me and I got to talk to my sweet girl before she went to bed. She asked me what I was shopping for... further evidence that she is my kind of girl! We talked about her playing in the pool and going to Disney tomorrow.

I told her goodnight and wished her sweet dreams and then told her that I love her, like I do pretty much every night. She doesn't always say it back, but that's ok. I don't expect her to. I love her and she should know that. But tonight, when I said "I love you" she said "I love you too." It's so special to be loved by that little girl and to get to be part of her life.

Brian said that he's attached to me and that she's becoming that way. He said that when she sees the tablet, she asks if they can call me or if I'm on there or if he's talking to me. I love that she asks for me and thinks about me and that I am becoming part of her life and not just her being part of mine. I can't wait to meet her and finally get to kiss her myself instead of having Brian do it for me. :)

Tonight, Brian called me while they were still at Disney. Rachael wanted to talk to me, I guess, because he put her on the phone and she just started chatting away and telling me all about her day... and the "one that wears the blue shirt" (Donald Duck). She always wants to know where I am. I look forward to the day when she doesn't have to ask that question, because I'm right there with her.

I can't wait to make memories together.

I really love that little redhead. She is so sweet and affectionate. She is such a precious and special little girl. I can't wait to be able to introduce her to my parents and my grandparents and my brother and Amanda and Allison, Brooke, and Beth-Anne. I can't wait to have her come visit in Tennessee and to take her to ride the carousel in Coolidge Park and to play in the interactive fountains. I want to take her to the Tennessee Aquarium and see her oooh and ahhh over everything. I can't wait to snuggle her close and read her favorite books to her. I can't wait to play with her and braid her hair and paint her nails. I can't wait to take her to the Imagination Station and see her playing on the same playground that I loved as a child. I can't wait to be with Rachael and spend time doing things just for her. I can't wait to see her face light up over things that delight her and I can't wait to stare at her peacefully sleeping self without the vastness of cyberspace between us. Loving a child is one thing... I've done that plenty of times in my life. But being able to love Rachael and factor her into the decisions that Brian and I make and to really have her be IN my life and to affect how I live it... that's incredible. I pray every day that God will give me love for her as if she's my own and to help me to think of her needs before my own and to make decisions with Brian for our relationship that are also best for her.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Before the Creation of the World, Part 2

...continued from this post...

If this story stopped where it ended yesterday, it would still be an amazing story of how God has plans for us and sets them in motion long before we ever have a clue. But it doesn't stop there...  I learned today that this story goes all the way back to May 19, 2012.

The Lenoir church was having an evangelistic series at that time, and my parents decided to go one Saturday night (I think it may have been the last night) just as a show of support for Eric (their pastor) and Haskell (the one preaching the series). Eric had done the same for my dad's evangelistic meetings (my dad is a pastor as well). I really wasn't friends with Christin yet. I knew her, but she was more my mom's friend. I decided to go with my parents because I had nothing better to do. I remember the church, and the gentleman that I spent a very long time talking to that evening. He was an older gentleman, and we talked about his deceased wife and his son or daughter. He orders pens in bulk and gives them to people; it's his little ministry/ witnessing tool. Until today, that was all I really remembered, but this morning as I was thinking about that day, I realized that I think I may have seen Rachael there. I think that I may have even seen Brian's mom. It's a very vague memory, but present. then I started thinking a little harder and remembered a guy... Ok, so I'm going to put a hold on this part of the story and skip to Brian and I this morning.

This morning, I told Brian that I'm looking forward to the day that I'm back in a smaller church and can minister through music. He teased me about what church that might be (Lenoir, duh!). I asked him who the man is who gives away pens and he told me. Brian said that he didn't remember seeing me at his church, so I told him when it was and that it was for an evangelistic meeting. About 10 minutes later, I got the following texts:

B: You are on my list!
B: 5/19
B: I was there....
B: [link to dropbox file]
B: Look at the bottom

Sure enough! My name, address, and phone number was on his list from that night. I didn't think that I remembered him, but told him that I have a very vague memory of Rachael and his mom, perhaps because I was probably hanging out with Christin and Eastan.

Brian teased that he doesn't remember me flirting with him. And I was thinking that if he was there, then I was definitely would have noticed and remembered, so the fact that I didn't have a very clear memory of him told me that for some reason, I wrote him off and dismissed him from my mind. So I asked if he was still married then, and he said he was. Immediately I realized why he didn't remain in my mind... I would have looked at him, liked what I saw, realized that he was married and in that realization, removed him from my mind. I would have thought, "Oh. Bummer. Of course he's married... they all are. Oh well."

So, let's go back to the actual story of me being at the Lenoir church. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the possible reason for why I didn't remember Brian was actually pretty accurate. I do remember there being a guy close to my age that I was checking out (and it wasn't Rocky, because Brian said he wasn't there that night), and then realized that he was married. I was disappointed, but got over it quickly I'm sure. I never talked to him because I would have been wayyyyyy too shy to do that, plus... he was married, so what was the point? I don't typically just strike up a random conversation with a married man. Conversations that I have with married men always have a reason for happening... and I had no need to talk to Brian. Thinking that maybe my memory was just playing tricks on me, I asked my mom if she remembered that night. We were always scoping out the options for me, so if he had been there and I had noticed, she and I would have had a conversation about it, nudged each other back and forth, etc. So I asked, "Do you remember me checking anyone out that night that we were at Lenoir?" Well, she confirmed that she remembered there being someone... she thinks maybe it was in the fellowship hall.

Who would have thought that the handsome married guy with the cute little girl that I was checking out would later be the handsome guy that I'm dating who still has a bigger, cute little girl?

God thought it, that's who. I wonder what God was thinking that night... I wonder if He leaned over to His angels and redneck-style said, "Hey y'all... watch this." And then just told them to wait for it.

Brian was married and God was already beginning to unfold His plans for us. I checked him out way back then, on the internet this year (and I think before I started dating J), and then we were introduced. Everything happens for a reason... and today, I began to see some of God's plans.

I hate that things didn't work out for Brian and H despite what I have gained from it. And I do hate it;  no one should have to experience the pain of divorce, especially when there is a child involved. Marriage is supposed to be forever. I'm very sorry that each of them have had to go through this experience. He was married and I know that there were happy times. What they had was real... but it's also history. I have no jealousy or resentment when it comes to his ex-wife. His marriage and she are both part of what has made Brian who he is today, and that is someone that I feel very blessed to know and to love. Together, they had a beautiful little girl that I adore and who has completely stolen my heart. I don't just get Brian, I get the bonus gift of knowing and loving Rachael... which wouldn't be possible if not for Brian and H. I wouldn't want to erase what they had and I don't want to discount their marriage and relationship... because it's part of the reason for what I have today. I am saying all of this because I don't want you to misunderstand my next statement, and take it as one of resentment or jealousy... instead, what I'm about to share leaves me in awe of a God who creates beauty from ashes and makes the broken beautiful.  The very first experience I had with Brian (though it was just seeing each other and a realization of the others' existence) was May 19... his and H's anniversary.

I think it's awesome that God took a day that has memories attached to it and the pain associated with those memories... and assigned it another memory. God took a time that was a difficult time in Brian's life and has softened it a little when you can look back and realize that while it was an end... it was our beginning.

More importantly, I see that God's plans are not altered by anything that I can ever do. Just life God's love for me is not changed by my actions, neither are God's plans for my life.

1 Peter 1:17-20 tells us that before the foundation of the world was laid, God had worked out the plan of salvation.
Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things, such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him, you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
A God who loves me so much that He created the plan of redemption because He knew that when He created the earth and the people on it we would sin and need that plan... the same God who still created me despite what He knew would happen... That God is not moved by my choices and my mistakes. The plan that God has for me is not altered, is not ruined, and is not erased by anything that I can ever do. When I was in the depths of my sin, God knew. God knew the mistakes I would make, God knew the good choices I would make... God knew the heartache I would experience and all of that was woven into His plan for my life.

Ellen White writes in Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, "The Father's presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission, and 'all things' that are permitted 'work together for good to them that love God.' Romans 8:28 (Page 71)." If there is nothing that touches me that has not first passed through the hand of God, then He has woven those things into His plan for my life and has used those things to work together for my good. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite verses, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

And what that means, my friends, is that God is still on the throne, He is still in control, and his plans for me are amazing. I simply have to sit back and let Him do His thing. I can rest knowing that not only am I forgiven for stupid choices I've made, but I am also not knocked off track by them. When God forgives, He also restores if we'll let Him. His plan is still in place and I do believe it's all starting to make sense. And I do love it when a plan comes together. ;)

Before the Creation of the World, Part 1

I really struggled with being single. It wasn't so much that I couldn't be alone, because I actually enjoy being alone. I am capable of being independent and doing things for myself. I'm very thankful for and proud of my ability to get through life and get things done on my own without someone always having to come to my rescue. Don't get me wrong, just because I am capable and have the ability to be independent, doesn't mean that I prefer it that way. I prefer to have someone who takes care of me and that I take care of... someone to have an inter-dependent relationship with where you have support and companionship and don't have to do everything on your own. I am, in no way, the kind of girl that insists that "I can do it myself!" I grew out of the do-it-myself phase somewhere around kindergarten. :) Sometimes life just requires that you suck it up and do it yourself. My married girlfriends always say that they admire me because I just do what needs to be done and do it by myself... from moving out and renting a house and living there alone, paying all my bills and knowing what my finances look like, to the things like using a grill or checking my own oil. I just do what needs to be done, because as a single girl, I had no one else to handle my finances or to move with me so I wouldn't be alone. And I didn't ALWAYS see my dad to ask him to check my oil... and sometimes I just couldn't sweet talk him into it, no matter how hard I tried.

So, clearly, it's not that part of being single that was a struggle for me to come to terms with... instead it's that I wrestled with the whys and what-ifs.

What if my poor choices ruined God's plans for me?
What if I unalterably changed the course of my life and have forced God to settle for Plan F? (I was pretty sure I was far beyond just Plan B).
Why would God place such a strong desire to be a wife and mother in my heart, but then leave it unfulfilled?
Why did God choose to allow me to continue being single and lonely while all of my friends weren't? How will the pain that He has allowed me to go through benefit me? What is His purpose? What is He preparing me for?

It's not that I was blaming God with my whys and what-ifs. I genuinely wanted to know what God was thinking and if I ruined it.

Today, I realized that God's plan for my life is not changed by my choices. What He desires for me is not ruined or made impossible by my sinfulness. God is bigger than that. God's plan for me does not change. The same God who knows the end from the beginning has a plan for my life that does not change; He has simply been waiting on me to allow Him to fulfill that plan in my life. How arrogant of me to think that my decisions could actually rock the God of the universe. To think that my choices could shake God or mess up His plans... Really, Amber? I can just hear God saying to me as He did to Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?"

Over the past month, God has been showing me that His plans for me were laid and set into motion long before I ever had a clue.

My first realization of this was that God placed the idea in Eric and Christin's minds that they should introduce Brian and I long before they did it. That thought was there when I was dating and engaged to someone else, when I was busy planning... and later unplanning... my wedding. That thought was there before Brian's divorce was even final. It was present when the timing was all wrong, and looked like it would be an impossible match. I mean, I was marrying someone else! When the time was right, God really began to nudge Eric and Christin until they decided to introduce us. Right around the time I started dating J, I remember Christin mentioning to me that she had someone in mind, but that it wasn't necessary now. I was with J so I didn't really think anything of it. I was happy. Then, when I called off my wedding and ended the relationship, Christin mentioned again that she had someone in mind, but just wasn't sure about the timing. She told me she'd need to think about it and pray about it some more before telling me anything more. Everyone always tells you that they're going to introduce you to someone and no one ever does, so I didn't put much thought into it... besides, I wasn't ready to try again quite yet.

Interestingly, during that same conversation with Christin, I was sharing with her that I was so tired of dating boys. I really just wanted someone who knew what it meant to be a man, to be responsible, mature, and to know what life is like. I told her that I really wanted someone who had experienced pain in their life and could relate to me. I said that I wanted someone older, because I've seen and experienced more than most people at my age and needed someone who would be on more even footing with me. Even more specifically, I told her that I would be totally ok with, perhaps even prefer, someone who was divorced. I had been through so many bad relationships, that I needed someone who could relate to me and who could understand what it is like to struggle with trust and/ or vulnerability. Someone who understood what it's like to be afraid of getting hurt again. I told her that I knew that in that sort of situation that there may be a child involved, but that I was really ok with that. Of all the things that I could potentially have to deal with in a relationship, being a stepparent and loving a child that I didn't give birth to really wasn't something that concerned me as long as my husband and I were on the same page regarding the role that I play and made decisions together for things that affect our home and our family. Obviously, it does add an extra person to consider. (Well, two really, because the ex-wife will always be in the picture with a child involved and we would be co-parenting, so that person has to be considered too.) A child comes with challenges that wouldn't be present otherwise (like having to interact with the ex-wife... let's be honest, no girl dreams of getting married and having to deal with her husband's ex-wife for the rest of her life, no matter how wonderful of a person she may be), but that those were things that I could handle. There are a lot of "bad" relationship things that I do not have the fortitude or personality to deal with, but that is certainly not one of them.

I had no idea that I was describing Brian. Sometimes I wonder what Christin was thinking as I talked. Long before I even knew Eric and Christin, before I knew Brian or Rachael existed, I had decided that I could handle the unique set of challenges that come with having an ex-wife and a child.

Just knowing this background information of how God was working on Eric and Christin long before they mentioned anything to Brian or me, left me in awe of how God works out His plans. Interestingly, this was not the first I had heard of Brian. It goes beyond Eric and Christin's first mention of Brian. Brian and I both had profiles on a dating site and I had been checking him out for a few months, but just hadn't contacted him because... I just don't do that. Funny, but he had been checking me out too.

To be continued...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A solid foundation

From the very beginning of our relationship, I told Brian that I wanted to build a solid foundation. I have often rushed into relationships and been 100% absolutely, positively sure that I was going to marry the person... and then started making plans. That didn't work out so well. With Brian, I wanted to make sure that we had a solid foundation before we started making plans.

Brian and I are both looking for marriage and we both are aware that it is the goal here... We're approaching this like we're in it for the long-haul and if you want something that lasts, whether it's a house, your teeth, or a marriage, you have to make sure the foundation is healthy and strong. That means being intentional. I like that word -- intentional. It implies that you do things with a purpose. To be intentional when building a house, means pouring a concrete foundation before framing the house. It means putting in the plumbing and electricity before putting up the drywall. To roof it before carpeting it. When being intentional about maintaining the foundation of your teeth (I talk about this all day, everyday to patients!) it means to practice oral hygiene habits that will build, maintain, or even restore the solid foundation of the periodontium so that your teeth will not become mobile and be lost.

To be intentional about building a foundation of a relationship it means to do things with purpose. To talk, not just to have a good time, but to get to know each other and your experiences, fears, hopes, and dreams so that you are able to relate to one another. Understanding each other requires knowing each other... and when you can understand one another, it becomes easier to see things from the others' point of view to work things out when things aren't easy.

We spend a lot of time talking. A LOT. I don't think I've gone to bed before 2 AM since we started talking. We talk about all kinds of things... memories, hopes, dreams, secrets, experiences, ideas, funny stories, Rachael, work, etc. I love talking to Brian. He's easy to talk to and I enjoy listening to him and getting to know him.

I think talking just to get to know each other is so vital to a relationship. A long-distance relationship does make building that strong foundation a little easier, because it necessitates talking. Whereas other couples are able to be together and do things together, we haven't had that yet (14 days!) and won't have it as frequently as many people do by nature of long-distance. And that's the only benefit to a long-distance relationship that I can come up with. :) The thing is, when you're doing things together, you're doing. You might know how good a person is at playing a game or socializing, but not necessarily know them. As much as I would love to be with Brian and just do day-to-day life with him, I really value the time that we are able to spend talking. I value the conversation and the sharing of his heart with me and mine with him.

We do try to do a little bit of just normal life stuff together... include each other in our day by texting all throughout it or by skyping when Rachael is around. Maybe not even necessarily talking as much as just the three of us interacting and being present "together". I might be cleaning the kitchen or Brian might be getting Rachael ready for bed, but we're together.

I value all of the ways that we are working to build a strong foundation, but most of all I value the leadership role that Brian has taken in ensuring that we build a solid relationship with Christ as our foundation. A few nights ago (last week? It all runs together.), Brian suggested that we read a devotion together every night. Since then we have been reading from Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by George Knight, and we have prayed together. I love that Brian didn't wait until months from now to begin laying the spiritual foundation of our relationship, but started it right in the beginning when the rest of the foundation was being built. Christ is not just the foundation, but He is the nails and the plaster and the glue... He is not only the One who will build this relationship on, but the One who permeates it, sustains it, and holds it together. This relationship is not between Brian and I. It is Brian, me, and Christ.

Matthew 7:24-27 says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

Please pray for and with us as we build a strong foundation on the Rock.

I love Chonda Pierce's retelling of the Three Little Pigs... it's related to this and you will never read the story the same way again!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Boat Song

I really like JJ Heller. I discovered her music a few years ago and have liked her ever since. She recently put out a lullaby album ("I Dream of You") with songs that she wrote for her daughters, Lucy and Nora. While I like JJ Heller, I haven't really paid much attention to her music... at least I haven't been intentional about seeking it out recently. Two of my friends, Beth-Anne and Kristin and their husbands are big JJ Heller fans, so they are always sharing her stuff on Facebook. The other day, I discovered this song... And I thought of Brian. I love the word pictures that JJ paints in her music, and this song is no exception. I have been walking around singing it all day. I shared it with Brian a few days ago, and yesterday he told me he was listening to it, so I guess I'm not the only mushy one!

Monday, June 23, 2014

How sweet it is...

Yesterday, Brian and Rachael were eating supper and Brian called me on Skype to talk to me. I'm pretty sure that he and I didn't really talk much during that conversation, because Rachael and I were chatting. She told me about the birthday party she went to and the two cakes -- one was pink and one was green with a green fish. Rachael loves fish and pink is her favorite color. I went to McKay's (a used book store) today to buy some more books to read to Rachael since she enjoys it so much.

Rachael asked me where I was, and I told her that I was at my house. "Is it very far away?" She asked.
"Yes, it is very far away."
"Can you get in your car and come see me?"
"Not today, but I promise that I will one day."
"Why do you live there?"
"Because it's where my house is." I said.
"You don't want to live close to us?" Oooh, that question just broke my heart.
"I would love nothing more than to live close to you, baby."
"I want you to live close to us." Man, she knows how to tug at those heart strings!
"I want that too. Then we could play and I could read to you at your house."

Later, they called me back and Rachael asked me to read the mouse book to her, so I read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Then she asked me to read Olivia and then got distracted talking to me and then ran off. :) Brian was cleaning the house and folding laundry and just in and out of the room while Rachael was talking to me... so Rachael was laying on his bed and playing with a laundry basket while we were chatting. I could hear that Brian was in the room and Rachael said, "I love you, Daddy." He probably responded that he loves her too. I couldn't really hear his part of the conversation. Then she said it again. Brian said something that I didn't hear. Then Rachael said, "I'm talking to Amber, Daddy."
"You're talking to me?" I said. Did I really hear that right?
"Yes. I love you." I was still stunned.
"I love you, Amber." Oh my. Melt. I almost cried.
"I love you too, Sweetheart. I love you so much."

How did I get so lucky?

Rachael doesn't tell people she loves them. She is very affectionate, but Brian said that he can count on two hands the number of people that she has said "I love you" to. For her to spontaneously tell me that she loves me without prompting is apparently a big deal. For her to sit and engage in conversation with me, especially without Brian in the room, is significant. I love that little girl... and it's apparently mutual!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair!

Rachael is three. She'll be 4 in September. She has long, red hair... so she's my redheaded Rapunzel. She has beautiful blue eyes, and the sweetest little face. She still has pudgy baby hands. She is a girly girl... loves dresses, nail polish, pink, and all things girl. Sweet, sweet girl!

Thursday I met Rachael for the first time on Skype. She was a little shy at first, but she was curious. She said to Brian, "Who is she?"
Brian said, "That's Amber. Can you say 'hey'?"
"Where is she, Daddy?"
"On the computer screen." Then she went back to ignoring me/ being shy.

Brian took Rachael into the living room to brush her hair (she had just gotten a bath) and she continued to cast curious glances my way. I talked to her a little bit. Then she looked at Brian and said, "Where is she?"
"She's at her house."
"Where does she live?"
"In Tennessee. It's another state. It's up the mountain..."
"...and down the mountain?"
"Yes." And then the words that completely melted my heart.
"How do we get her, Daddy?"
"Would you like to meet Amber and see her one day?"

Rachael started to interact with me a tiny bit more. My dog, Kirby, started barking, which gave me something with which to engage Rachael. Then Brian left her watching a movie for a few minutes. He stayed where she could hear me talking and come check me out if she wanted. So she would go over to Brian and give him hugs and kisses and sneak glances at me.

Brian got a phone call, and while he was on the phone, my mom came into my room and I was showing her some children's books that I bought. Brian came back and Rachael was with him. She wanted to know what book I had, so he told her to ask me. I asked her if she wanted me to read it to her, and so began the first book of several that I would read over the next few minutes. We read The Fish with the Deep Sea Smile by Margaret Wise Brown and then If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff and we read Otis by Loren Long. The first meeting went well.

The next night, Brian picked Rachael up from her mom's house and he asked her if she liked it when I read books to her. She was quiet for a minute, thinking about it, and remembering and then answered that she did like it. Then, according to Brian, she said, "Are we going to Amber's house?"
"Not tonight. It's too far."
"But you can drive really fast!" I agreed with Rachael, but I guess we'll both have to wait. :)

Yesterday, I was on the phone with Brian and he was getting Rachael dressed in her swimsuit so she could go outside and play with her cousins. I told him I wanted to say hello, so he told Rachael, "Someone wants to talk to you."
"Is it Amber?" Love love love her. <3 Then she told me about her octopus swimsuit (it's adorable!) before running out the door to play.

Last night, when I got on Skype and Brian called me, he was sitting in Rachael's bed with her... So she popped up and said, "Will you read me the book about the fish with the deep sea smile?" How could I refuse?! So I read her a few books, and she and I chatted about her rubber duck and a few other bath toys and what color they were and whether they were at Mommy's house or Daddy's house. Brian tucked her in and said prayers with her. Then she got in bed and wanted to know what my bed looked like (she's so good at those stall tactics!) so I showed her my room and then told her goodnight.

I'm so honored that Brian has chosen not only to share himself with me, but to share with me the very best part of himself... his little girl. I'm also thankful that she likes me! Pretty sure I fell in love with her the moment I heard her little voice. I can't wait to meet her one day and make memories with her.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

When you least expect it

I used to blog a lot more than I do these days. When I was in highschool, I wrote all the time because I had of that teenage angst that just needed to be poured out on a page. That, and when you have teenage angst it just begs to be shared with the world. Then I became lest angst-y and interesting, my blogging went to the wayside as I had less to write about. I always thought that I would start blogging again when I had people in my life to tell stories about and interesting things to say.

If you had asked me 3 weeks ago if I would have something to blog about soon, I would have told you no... but as we all know, life can change in an instant, when you least expect it. And this time, mine changed for the better. Life is not always easy, but looking back, I can see how God allowed me to go through each experience in order to prepare me for today. For something great. For something better than I could ever have imagined. For more.

After 27 years of failed relationships, loneliness, yearning, and praying... I lost hope. I believe that God is faithful and that He will do what He says He will do. I believe that God has a plan for my life and that it's a good one (Jeremiah 29:11). I just lost hope in believing that His plan for me looked anything like I wanted it to look for me. After so many years of praying for God to send me a mate, I changed my prayer to God, do your will in my life. If marriage is not in your plan for me, then take away my desire to be married. Take away this longing and show me what you have for me. I want what You want for me... but I really want to be married and have kids... so if that's not it, pleeeeeease make me stop wanting it. I didn't stop wanting it. I just quit believing I would get it and decided to move forward with my life as though marriage and children were not in my future.

I know that Sunday, June 1, will be remembered as a significant day in my life. After driving a few hours, I met friends and my parents for breakfast at Joey's Pancake House in Maggie Valley, NC. When I got to the table, I hugged my friend Christin and her husband Eric. When I hugged Eric, he said, "I have something I need to talk to you about." So, I sat down beside him and he said the words that would completely change my life as I knew it. I don't remember his exact words, but in my head I remember them as I would have said them... so there's this guy. I was hoping that's what he had to talk to me about... so maybe I hadn't lost hope afterall.

Eric went on to tell me about this guy... 32, good job, mature, in good shape, plays basketball, good family, etc. Christin kept saying, "He's so sweet." So Eric asked if they could give him my name and phone number and talk to him about me. Well, YEAH!

Then Eric said, "There's just one thing." Uh oh. "He has a little girl."

I said, "Oh? Is that all?! GIVE HIM MY NUMBER!"

As we were sitting there talking about Brian, I started thinking that a few things sounded familiar and pulled up a dating website on my phone and went to the profile of a guy that I've been checking out for many, many months. It was him.

So later that afternoon, Eric called Brian and gave him my number. Brian thought about calling me that day, but didn't. And he didn't call me the next day either. In fact, I waited 10 days for him to call me. I'd like to say that I played it cool and waited patiently, but I didn't. My phone never left my side, I checked out his profile at least 15 times, I googled him to get every bit of info on him that I could find. Creepy? Maybe. While I was busy waiting, Brian was busy praying. (I was praying too.) God spoke to Brian like He had to Eric and Christin and told him to call me.

Finally, on Wednesday, June 11, 2013 at 7:51 pm, my phone rang.... it was him.

Almost an hour later, we ended the phone call with a promise from him to call again the next day, or possibly later that evening. He did call the next day, just like he said he would. Over an hour later, we got off the phone and I was positive that there was something wonderful about this one.

He didn't play games with me. He let me know what to expect from him, and then he followed through on that. He adores his little girl, Rachael. He has had his fair share of heartache and yet demonstrates so much grace to those who don't deserve it. Instead of bitterness and hurt and anger, he speaks of his ex with compassion and grace that only comes from knowing the God of compassion and grace and having a relationship with Him. I knew that this one was different. And that was only after the second phone call.

Maybe it's too soon to really know, but what I do know is that I have some blogging material now and that if today turns into forever, I don't want to forget these days. I want them recorded for posterity and to remember that God keeps His promises. I want these memories written down. There has been a lot of prayer that has gone into this match that has been made between us, so I have a good feeling about it. :)

Saturday night we spent almost 5 hours on the phone with each other. I have never had any guy that I could talk to for 5 hours and not feel the need to confess every bad thing I've ever done, set a wedding date, and name our children. It's not like that with Brian. With him, I can just talk... about life, ideas, happy stuff, sad stuff. I knew that something was special and different when with him, I didn't need to share it all in the first conversation...

Somehow with Brian, I've found that balance between being content in what I/ we have today while having an awareness of and looking forward to what we will share in the future. And the future will come... but today is precious and you can never get it back. With Brian, I can enjoy the present. With Brian, what they say is true: The past is history, the future is a mystery, and today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.

Brian and I have spent countless hours on the phone, on Skype, texting... losing plenty of sleep. Never in my life has a guy made me completely lose my appetite, but it took me over a week to start having any desire to even look at food. Who needs food when you're busy falling in love?

Things I love about Brian in no particular order:

  • He tells me what to expect, and then does it
  • He's responsible
  • He loves Rachael with all his heart; he's such a good daddy
  • He is sweet! Oh my, he is sweet!
  • He's a man! He pursues me and takes the lead and does things right
  • He provides spiritual leadership in our relationship even at this level
  • He prays about decisions that he has to make and waits for God to answer
  • He's handsome
  • He affirms me daily
  • He demonstrates grace and compassion to his ex, so I know that he will give me grace and compassion when I need it
  • He understands that life isn't just sunshine and butterflies and doesn't expect me to act like it is all the time