Sweet Sixteen

I’ve started this post about a dozen times. It’s odd, as a writer, to not be able to find the words I’m looking for. Words that can tell of the past, sweet, sixteen years. You see, on this date sixteen years ago, I became a mother for the first time. At 4:32 pm my baby girl came into the world and breathed her first breath. She was 7 pounds, 9.6 ounces, and 19 1/2 inches long. She had blue eyes and a whole head full of jet-black hair. She was healthy and perfect in every way and I was completely in love!

She is about 2 or 3 weeks old and she’s being held by her Popeye (my dad)

Truth be told, Dear Ones, I’ve been in love with this child since even before that moment. This child was prayed for, wanted, and loved from before we even knew we were pregnant. Daddy prayed over and talked to my belly, every day, long before the positive pregnancy test. I joke and say that if I didn’t know how babies are made, I would have thought he spoke her into existence. Lol!

During these past sixteen years, she has grown into a great many wonderful roles. She is a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, and an aunt. She is an amazing friend, a smart, capable student, a hard-working employee, and a dependable co-worker who isn’t afraid to share the load.

These years, that I have been blessed to be Priss’ mom, have been the best, and yes, most challenging of my life. She is all of the things that we’ve prayed she would be; kind, generous, driven, brave, smart, creative, and witty (just to name a few). She has a heart to serve others and loves people, but would much rather be hanging out with animals of all kinds.

Her and her horse from riding lessons

This child of mine has not ever met a stranger. Ever. From the time she was a toddler and made “friends” with every person in the Wal-Mart bathroom, to her climbing up in a booth across from someone at a restaurant and beginning to chat their ears off, to now when she strikes up a conversation with someone and proceeds to divulge her entire life story in the first few minutes. It matters little to her what your skin color, background, sexual orientation, etc. are. She is kind and she is kind to everyone. It never crosses her mind NOT to include someone. Honestly, in this area, I strive to be more like her.

Being silly at the store with Daddy

She is generous. She is a “gift giver.” She is always thinking about other people and she has an uncanny ability to pick exactly the “right” gift for people. She pays attention to people and their little details and gives extremely thoughtful gifts. Often, she buys gifts for people, just because she can and she wants to. It doesn’t have to be a “special occasion.” One day recently she said “Mom, I’m expecting some packages from Amazon in the next couple of days. Don’t open them, ok?” Turns out, she had bought sweet little individualized gifts for each of the other four of us. No reason. She just wanted to.

She is driven. Last year, when she turned fifteen, she decided to get a part-time job. She wanted a year to save money towards her own first car. She has this goal of going to a wildlife rescue program when she is 17-18 years old; so she is working and saving now. She makes it hard to argue with her logic…because it is perfectly sound logic. She wants to get a job where she actually gets to work with animals in some capacity; because “If I’m going to work, I might as well work somewhere that will help me towards my goals, Mom.” she said.

She is smart, creative, and witty. She loves to draw and paint and write. She has a knack for cooking/baking and enjoys exploring in the kitchen and trying new recipes. Her wit is unmatched by almost every other teenager I’ve ever met. She has some of the most epic “one-liners” and can “talk smack” with the best of them. Have I mentioned that she is also HILARIOUS?!?

Dancing with Daddy at her Aunt’s wedding reception

This daughter of mine is brave and bold. Oh, so much more so than I was at her age. Or heck, even now! She has always marched to the beat of her own drum and really could not care less what most people’s opinions of her are. I had to become very aware and very careful not to project MY own experiences and MY insecurities onto her when she was still pretty young. We used to have these battles about what she was going to wear to school. I wanted her to look “cute” and put together and have nice things to wear. She wanted to wear the rattiest, most mismatched stuff she could find. I would be thinking “If you wear that, you are going to be made fun of/bullied.” I wanted so much to protect her from that. Ya’ll; she just didn’t care. The other kids could say whatever they wanted. She was brave enough to be comfortable in her own skin. It is one of the MANY, MANY lessons that SHE has taught ME over the years.

When she was 12-13 years old some of her friends’ parents let them get social media accounts. Priss came home desperately wanting them too. We had a conversation with her and told her that if she continued to do well in school, help around the house, etc., basically keep growing into the responsible young adult she was on the way to being, we would revisit the idea when she was 16.

Well, she’s 16. The other night at dinner I asked her “Sister, we said that we would revisit the idea of you having social media accounts when you turned 16. Do you feel like you want them? Do you feel like you are missing out in some way by not having them?” Ya’ll, she said “Nah, I’m good! That’s just too much drama and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not having it!” Oh! I wanted to jump up and kiss her all over her face! This child of mine is wise; wise beyond her years.

Sweet 16 Party!

It has taken me a full month past her birthday to get these thoughts out of my head and in written form. I still don’t feel like I’ve done any justice at all to my girl. I love her beyond what any words would ever be able to describe. As I watch her grow and handle different stages of life with such maturity and grace, I am blown away.

Don’t misunderstand me, she has her faults, just like every single other person on the planet. She’s stubborn and hard-headed, she’s overly emotional sometimes, and I really wish she was just a little bit more like me in the “keeping things clean and organized” portion of life. She has exponentially more positive things about her than negative. They say you are supposed to “pay for your raising,” but I really don’t feel like I have with her. I’ve gotten stupid, crazy, blessed, and been able to really develop a friendship with her. Again, don’t misunderstand; I am MOM first and foremost. She’s also one of my most favorite people to hang out and do things with. We have a blast together more often than we butt heads or have conflict.

My girl and I.  Not sure where we were or what we were doing, but we were together.

Baby Girl,

I pray that you continue to let God lead your steps. He will never lead you astray. God has great plans for your life. Be still, listen for His voice, and KNOW. You are turning into one of the most amazing humans I have ever met. You are absolutely, positively, one of my most favorite people on the whole dang planet! I thank God, literally, every day for entrusting me with you to raise for Him. Love, Mom

Ya’ll, the world is going crazy and there is much uncertainty. Please take the time to slow down, enjoy some rest, really LOOK at your kids, and spend time with them. Get to know the amazing people they are becoming, right before your eyes. It happens so much faster than any of us want to admit or believe. We are not promised tomorrow, not even for our babies. Don’t take their presence for granted. Choose love. Choose grace. Choose mercy.

Sincerely,

LB

Full Circle

I graduated high school just a few months before the bombing/attacks on 9/11. After graduation, I began looking into joining the Navy. I wanted to join for many of the same reasons that most people do…to serve, to travel, to learn, to have a steady paycheck after having become an “adult.” 🙂 I was just trying to figure out where in this world my “place” was. The typical things that most, if not all, graduates deal with; “What do I want to BE when I grow up? Where am I going with my life? What kind of “life” is it that I desire to create for myself?”

Just a couple of weeks after graduation, I joined; and my “ship date” was set for mid-July. For what remained of my time at home that summer, you could find me working my part time job or preparing for the Navy. Great Lakes, IL was to be my destination for the next several months for Basic Training and training school.

Fun fact about me: I am a “Daddy’s Girl” through and through. From the time he came into my life, it has been my goal, all my life, to make him proud of me. We had a special bond that not many people understand. We had so many similarities that people often questioned me when they found out that he was not my biological father. The number of people that have told me that I had his smile or eyes is just ridiculous. And, of course, I would just smile, knowing that we didn’t share the DNA that would make that scientifically possible.

Let me say here that we did not always have a great relationship. There were many mistakes made over the years, damage done, healing that had to take place. Dad and I came along way over the years. At this point in my life (18 years old and fresh out of high school) our relationship was still strained, but my goal was still to make him proud. In hind sight, I really do think that I joined the Navy more because HE did. You see, my dad was a “Navy Man” and served our country during the Vietnam War. I thought that by joining the Navy, it would make me even more like him and he would be proud of me. Right?!

Dad’s “official” Navy picture from when he was in boot-camp.

I don’t have any pictures of the day I left for the Navy, but this is one of my favorite pictures of us together.

The day I left for basic was probably one of the more emotional days I have had in my life. We got up early, loaded my things from our home into the care and drove the 15 miles from where we lived, to the recruiting office in a near by town. We unloaded everything from our car, to the recruiter’s car and started the “goodbyes.” I was really proud of myself! I made it through the goodbyes with my mom, my sister, and my boyfriend without crying. I had pushed the time too far and my recruiter was hurrying us along, so my goodbye with my dad was the shortest (are most with dad’s?). He hugged me tighter than I think he has ever hugged me and quickly whispered something in my ear. It wasn’t what I was expecting; it caught me off guard and the tears immediately started to flow. I cried and cried and cried. I ugly cried all the way to Dallas. My poor recruiter! Lol! He was probably thinking “IS this girl going to stop crying?! Like, EVER?!?” It was only he and I in the car for the drive, so it was a little awkward, to say the least.

The thing that he said to me that day, shifted everything for me, although I didn’t realize it at the time. It has resurfaced over the years; like now. It has been close to 20 years now, and I can’t tell this story or say the phrase aloud without crying. He said “I love you, Sis. Do yourself proud.”

“Do yourself proud.” At 18 years old, though, I barely knew what that meant, much less how to execute it. It shifted, however, from wanting to make him proud, to knowing that he was already proud of me. Now it was time to step into MY life that I wanted to create and do something that I could be proud of myself for doing. It wasn’t anything that someone else could do for me; if I was going to succeed in the Navy, or in life, I was going to have to live my life in a way that I would be proud of. Those three words have stopped me in my tracks, they have made me cry at least 100 times, and they have made me pause…think…contemplate, even. Am I living my life in a way that lives up to those words?… Do. Yourself. Proud

In March of 2011 our family decided it was time to transition from our home town to Lubbock, TX to serve with a ministry there called Malta Farms. (You can visit their website, maltafarms.net, to learn more about the amazing work that they do in Lubbock County.)

The annual pumpkin patch for Malta Farm’s fall fundraiser. This was such an amazing thing to be a part of and WHO KNEW that there were so many different types and colors of pumpkins?!?!

I was SO excited to be going to serve the ministry that changed Brian’s life and we knew that we knew that it was supposed to be our next step. Once again, however, anxiety showed its ugly face and made the move extremely difficult for me. It took me months to pack our house because every time I started to pack, I started to have an anxiety attack. Even though I KNEW God’s hand was in it and even though I was genuinely excited, I literally could not do it.

July came, we celebrated Baby Girl’s 8th birthday and the 4th of July with family and friends, and then on July 10th, we loaded the U-Haul and left our hometown for Lubbock. Once again Dad’s “goodbye” was short and sweet; he hugged me tight, told me he loved me and handed me a card. I read it and immediately started crying. Ugly crying, ya’ll. Sobbing. I’m sure that he intended it to mean that I could do the move to Lubbock and be okay (which I did, mostly), but there have been many times since then that I’ve read those words and felt peace wash over me.

I’ve come to realize that it was exactly 10 years (July of 2001 to July of 2011) from the time he first said “Do yourself proud” to when he gave me the card. I have it hung on the wall in my bedroom. It seems to catch my eye at EXACTLY the perfect point in time every now and then. I often find myself saying “I know, Dad. I know I can face this.”

I still need these reminders every so often. “Do yourself proud” and “Keep going! You can do it! I know that you have what it takes to do this!” While I have come a long way, and I do want to live my life in a way that I can be proud of; and even though he has since passed away, I hope I am making him proud, too.

I pray that any one reading this finds hope and truth in these words. “Keep going!” “You CAN do this!” “I KNOW that you have what it takes to do this!!”

Forever In His Grip

LB

She’s in therapy?!?

This is my third blog post, so if you’ve made it to this one, Thank You! I hope you have enjoyed being here thus far.

Let’s talk about irony, shall we?! I am one of the most introverted, anxious, people pleasers I have ever met. A few months ago I said to myself “Self, we should start a blog.” Self, of course, said “UMMM…Let’s not!! People will read it (or will they?!?!). people will ridicule, people will FIND something negative to say,” and on, and on, and on it went. (I can’t be the only one who has inner conversations with “self,” right? Lol! ) It was at that point that I created a little snippet of a blog on Blogger, through Google. I wrote several blogs, but I never published them. I still wasn’t ready to put myself out there.

Fast forward a couple of months and I had the worst anxiety attack experience of. my. life. Brian and I were going to the grocery store to grab 5 things that we needed for dinner. Literally, 5 things. If I wanted to think hard, I could probably tell you what they were. I was already having some of what I call “middle level” symptoms of anxiety; feeling short of breath and tingling in my hands/forearms. But we only needed FIVE things, so I decided to “push through.” I kept telling myself “You are fine. You have zero reasons to feel anxious right now. You are fine.”

Here is the thing about anxiety, though: IT IS NOT LOGICAL

Even though I didn’t feel threatened in anyway, I wasn’t scared, I had my husband with me, and I KNEW that I was ok, my body did not seem to care. The shortness of breath got so bad that by the time I reached the front door, I had to get a handicapped cart because I could not catch my breath. But, again, we only needed 5 things and I was FRUSTRATED beyond belief with anxiety and it’s nonsense. I got on the cart and off we went to get our 5 things.

By the time we got to the first item on the list, the tingling in my hands and arms had spread to my chest and face. By the time we got to the third item, the muscles in my hands clinched up and I could barely control the cart. We got the last two items and got to the checkout. Every muscle in my body was clinched; including my jaw muscles (I could not open my mouth, no matter how hard I tried). I could no longer control the cart at all. My hands were clinched so tight that I could not open them, even enough to grasp the control. Brian did the checkout and he controlled the cart to get us out to the truck. Everything was clinched (Think labor contraction, long and HARD, all over your body, and IT. WILL. NOT. LET. GO.). The way my face looked, with my tight jaw, yet drooping face, Brian thought I might be having a stroke. (Maybe some day I can get him to tell his side of this experience??)

When we arrived at the truck, there happened to be an ambulance blocking us from getting out of our parking spot. Brian picked me up and put me in the truck and then went to get the EMTs. They checked all my vitals. Ya’ll, my blood pressure was perfect. My O2 level was perfect. My heart-rate was perfect. Yet, every muscle was STILL clinched and wouldn’t let go. The EMTs called another ambulance to come get me. I was taken to TMC, checked over by the doctor and nurses, given a strong anti-anxiety medication intravenously, and observed for a time. Once the anxiety attack had passed, and everything else came back perfect, Brian brought me home.

I spent the next week in the bed. Unable to function. Exhausted. Sore. At my wits end. On the verge of suicidal, not knowing what to do next, but knowing that SOMETHING had to be done. I knew that I just couldn’t live like that. I followed up with my family doctor, after the emergency room visit, who sent me to a psychiatrist. I made the appointment with them immediately. This doctor referred me to a therapist, who I actually didn’t make an appoinment with right away. It was close to three weeks later that I went to see her for the first time. Turns out, this lady probably saved my life…No, she really saved my life.

Therapy is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I highly recommend it. Literally. Every. One. should go to therapy because Every. One. has LIFE on them and LIFE is hard sometimes. Let’s lean on each other instead of stepping on each other, shall we?

Forever In His Grip

LB

Like a Boss

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

What does that mean, anyway?! “Like a Boss”?? This phrase started being pretty widely used a few years ago. Everyone was doing everything “like a boss.” There are memes for days that have the phrase, accompanied by pictures of everything from reading books while doing a handstand to sleeping at work; all being done “like a boss.” To everyone else, it probably means something to the effect of “like a pro.” Maybe?! I don’t know.

I can only assume, that like most things, it means something different to different people. In my little corner of the world, the family I married into has Boss as their surname. This particular family of Bosses have not always taken the “easy way” in life. We have made poor choices in life, we have struggled with all kinds of “bang ups and hang ups,” we have let ourselves and each other down. BUT, we have always pushed through and came out on the other side better than when we started. We have always been able to count on each other and we are all striving to do things differently; better, for the young ones we are now raising. Bosses don’t quit, sometimes to a fault.

I have officially decided that my “Like a Boss” means that I will not let anxiety (or the other host of issues I deal with) control my life. It is a part of my life, maybe forever, but it will not control me or keep me from living my life to the fullest. My “Like a Boss” means that I will invest my time, effort, energy, resources, in the people and the causes that are nearest and dearest to my heart. I will do my best to live this life in a way that empowers my children to grow into THEIR calling, their future, their own life.

So, I guess that means that “Living This Life Like a Boss” means never quitting, recognizing how far you’ve come, overcoming your “bang ups and hang ups,” doing better for the next generation, and not letting LIFE make you quit.

Forever In His Grip,

LB