Loveys, how are you? I feel like we got home from our holiday in Virginia, hit the ground running and haven't stopped. Basement finishing stuff, best friends coming to visit, birthday parties, anniversaries, and tonight, the Daddy/Daughter ball in our little community. We got the basement (mostly) finished, not entirely but close enough, right in time for my best friend from Texas and her husband and daughter to arrive for a visit. You guys know about me and Michelle. How we've been best friends since we were twelve, and I can't imagine my life without her. How so many of my best memories include her. She is just beautiful to me, and I love to hang out with her and see our kids play together.
So we decided on a girls' night while she was in town, and the above photo is the absolute deliciousness that we had. We went out for Mexican food with Nancy and Danielle and talked and laughed and talked more about everything.
And I need more of that, lovey. Maybe you do too.
Michelle and Buddy and Gillian went back to Texas, and I felt the way I always do when she leaves or I leave--sad but thankful we're still us after all these years.
Speaking of all these years, they ended up leaving the morning of my and Jeff's anniversary. And then my precious friend Sam came and babysat for us so Jeff and I could go out to dinner and celebrate fourteen years together. That sounds long to me, but in reality, we've been a couple for eighteen years now, which really is such a long time.
And we sat across from each other and talked about us and our kids that we absolutely adore to the point of obsession, and I just felt so blessed. Not because it's all been smooth sailing every year of our lives together, but because we've worked at it and have come to this place where I look at him across the table, and I love him and he loves me.
And I'm so thankful, because we're still us too.
Fourteen years of marriage. And we're holding on, and I feel excited for the next fourteen.
Here's the thing, lovey, maybe you've noticed, there's just no getting around the fact that there's a lot of negativity in the world right now. Negativity and outrage and lots of people who think that how they think and feel is the only right and acceptable way--and do you ever not want to be part of that?
I in no way want to argue opinions on everything. In fact, I'm so tired of hearing and seeing arguments and outrage everywhere. I've had to really limit the amount of news I'm reading lately.
Here's all I know: I'm thankful for every gift God gives me. Honestly, most of my days are not spent changing the world. Today I made peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches twice. I'm thankful for a husband who loves me and whom I love. Because I know marriage is hard sometimes.
I'm thankful to be a mother. Being a mom is my favorite. I can't even explain how much I love my kids. And in a messy world, I look at them, and I am so happy. Because these days are memories I will cherish forever.
Tonight was the Daddy/Daughter ball in our town. Jeff and Ashtyn got all dressed up and he took her out to dinner and to the ball, where they danced and had the best time ever. And my little girl's eyes were shining when she got home and told me all about it.
So. Very. Thankful.
So. Much. Joy.
There are serious issues in our world, and I know it, just like you do, lovey. There is no escaping that. I spend time praying over the things that weigh on my heart. There are charities we give to because we want to help in the ways that we can.
I'm not God, and there are things I don't understand. I've got lots of unanswered questions when it comes to faith and belief and life and balance and fairness and suffering.
What I do know is that the love in my house is beautiful.
This life--with friends to laugh with, a husband to talk softly with, children to cuddle with, parents and sisters and family, books to read and movies to watch and meals to cook--well, one of my resolutions this year was to focus on positive. To be more positive. To be grateful for the good in my life. To pray about anything and everything. The verse on my chalkboard right now says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, worship his holy name. And remember all he has done for you." For myself, I think I need a lot less news in my life, and more good books. I need less time reading articles, and more time in person with friends.
It's been a busy start to the year for us over here, and I have a feeling things will stay busy for a while--but that's okay.
I keep thinking of Ashtyn, climbing up on my bed and beginning with, "So, like, Hannah was there too, and Daddy and I danced to Ice, Ice Baby!" And her beaming face.
I keep thinking about hugging Michelle tight before they drove away. And the hundreds of memories we share together. And going out to dinner with Jeff and talking about how awesome our children are and how this is the life we wanted. And snuggling with Lincoln during nap time. And Lily saying, "Sorry, Mommy," constantly because she's adorable and sweet.
It's nearly Valentine's, lovey. And we're all about the love over here. Ashtyn came home from school, telling me that her teacher said that Valentine's Day is really all about friendship. And then she said, "That's at school, but at our house, it's all about love, right, Mommy?" And I squeezed her and told her she's my Valentine forever.
I'm going to tell you something special, loveys. When I was in Virginia, my mom and I went shopping before Christmas and stopped for sandwiches at lunch. And I was just eating a sandwich, and my mama said, "Bran, I could stare at you for hours."
Here's the truth. I almost cry every time I think of her saying that. (Right now included.)
Because I know just what she means. I could stare at my children for hours. I know how much my mother loves me and Sara and Laura. I know how deeply I love my own children. It's like nothing else.
I wouldn't trade anything for that moment, just eating lunch with my mom. It's in my memory for always.
I know we were never promised a perfect world. I don't expect perfection, not even close. Things have been messy in this world a really, really long time. It's not all that shocking.
But every now and then, you experience a moment that feels perfect. And that's a gift. A mother/daughter moment, anniversary flowers, girlfriends laughing over margaritas, little girls wearing corsages from their fathers, the ending to a book you loved--beautiful moments.
Like I said, lovey, we're all about the love over here.
My cup runs over.