Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guest Speaker!!!

***I have a friend who's blog I love to read. She is funny, she is real, and she agreed to make a "guest appearance" on my blog. Her name is Jamilla Walker. She is a nurse and a midwife, a lactation coach, and a ROCK STAR mommy. And now, without further ado, I am pleased to give you Mrs. Jamilla Walker!!!***

**Warning, the following post is hilarious, and also full of references to breastfeeding...just FYI!***

I’ve wanted to write about attachment parenting since Time Magazine threw us under the bus with that “Are You Mom Enough?” article on the subject (eye roll).  I’m an attachment parent. Seems that according to the always sensationalizing media – as an attachment parent I must breastfeed with my boob hanging out for all to see as often as possible, sleep curled around my son while ignoring my husband, carry my son constantly and never allow him to cry which will turn him into an indulgent brat who won’t be able to handle the “real world”.  Clearly, I must be one of those granola crunching, tree hugger types that will probably start him on solid foods by pre-chewing it mama-bird style.  Truthfully, I’m a science nerd and I think the science behind physical and psychosocial human development backs attachment parenting.  Plus it’s easy.  So really, I’m just a lazy nerd…
I breastfeed because it’s easy. Now.  At five months.  I’m on a mission to support other moms because getting through the first couple months was downright tortuous. Books (and most breastfeeding advocates) make it sound like it’s the easiest, most natural thing in the world to do.  Right. Because one of the most sensitive parts of the female body LOVES being sucked on for 30 minutes every hour by a tiny little mouth that you’re convinced has sharp retractable teeth.  Every fellow breastfeeding mom I talked to commiserated with me on the toe-curling need to punch something during the initial latching-on by the aforementioned shark.  I had my lactation consultant mother holding the space for me, often hourly reminding me it would get better, would prove worth the effort.  I also had friends who assured me it’s normal, and the routinely made me laugh.  Without that kind of support, we might not have made it.  Now that it has gotten easy, I can’t fathom the work it would take to carry around bottles, formula, extra burp clothes, etc.  I love that all we need is each other and some kind of cover up (which often doubles as a drool catcher).  Plus breastmilk is awesome.  It doubles as a topical antibiotic, protects against all manner of gut bugs by coating his innards with a special kind of sugar that blocks ickies, provides him all the immunity I have, and even protects him against future chronic health problems.  See? I really am a nerd.
On to co-sleeping.  Again, it’s easiest and I like my sleep. Before we tried it, our son slept in fitful two hour increments. I thought I was going to go crazy, and felt terrible for my poor bleary-eyed husband who tried so hard to stay up with us and then go to work all day.  My sweet mother gently suggested we tuck him in to sleep with us and reminded me about side-lying nursing.  The kid slept six hours straight that first night and I cried with relief. (I’m pretty sure my husband did too, but he would never admit it.) We’ve since figured out how to nurse without sitting up, so we rarely spend much time blinking at each other in the middle of the night.  Roll over toward each other, insert boob, nurse for fifteen minutes and drift happily back to sleep.  Life is good.  As a nurse, I know what the hospitals teach about co-sleeping.  But I did my research; there ARE ways to do it safely.  We don’t drink alcohol before bed, we never take anything that causes drowsiness or sedation, we don’t cover G with our blankets (although he likes to scoot down in the bed until he’s under them up to his neck), and he sleeps in between us at the top of the bed.  We also enjoy the side effects of the parenting hormones that help you wake up at the slightest little peep.  It works for us.  Everyone sleeps and we do manage to work in “other” activities.  Let’s just say there are plenty of other places for mommy and daddy time. Wink wink.
Ok so about not letting babies cry. Here’s where a lot of the science comes into play.  Erik Erikson is a well-known and respected psychologist whose theories center on human development.  Anyone who’s ever taken a basic human development course knows of this guy.  From birth to around age two, children are learning about trust – they don’t have the ability to be manipulative.  As newborns, crying is the last thing they do in an effort to get us to give them what they need.  They have body language that says “I’m hungry, I’m wet, I’m tired, I need to be held, I’m hot/cold, I’m bored, etc”.  If we ignore it because we either don’t know what those signs are (as many new parents don’t and spend the first few weeks learning) or are too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed, too whatever to see them, the baby cries -whimpering at first and progressing to a full on purple-faced blood curdling scream (that is often heard at diaper changing time).  So MY version of not letting my kid cry is more about prevention. I try to watch his signs and help him transition from sleep-awake-play-quiet time-sleep.  Of course, there are times where crying is inevitable. I can’t help that he’s bored to tears (literally) in his car seat after about 20 minutes.  We sing, he has hanging toys, he has a blankey, he has the traveling Sleep Sheep and STILL there are times of crying. Now that he’s not a brand newborn, we don’t pull over the car every time this happens, we just get home. He’s fine as soon as the car stops. I don’t let him cry himself to sleep because at this point, it’s unnecessary.  He nurses himself to sleep and we’re all ok with that.  There’s no such thing as “spoiling” an infant with “too much” attention.  Babywearing is along the same lines.  New people need to be held. It makes them feel secure and loved and they are better able to deal with being outside of the womb.  I don’t hold him all the time, if that were the case I’d never shower, eat, blog, etc.  But when the kid’s having a hard day and all he wants is to snuggle me – the ring sling is our best friend. On to my hip he goes, he sticks his thumb in his mouth (yes, I let him suck his thumb, I know he’ll be doing it until he’s 30 for sure), and he’s happy while I cook, clean, vacuum, grocery shop, stand chatting with people, or sometimes just bounce around until he falls asleep. Whining and crying stop and we all preserve our sanity.
Bottom line, what makes us “mom enough” is that we do our own research and make the decision that best fits into our family dynamics.  Regardless of the choice, someone will be judgmental, but their opinion really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we make educated choices based in love.  If everything we do for our kids comes from a place of love, they’ll be just fine. That’s what I choose to believe.  If I’m wrong, my son will have something to tell his therapist when he finds out that not everyone sucks their thumb at 30 years old.

***If you enjoyed this post, here are the links to Jamilla's blogs so you can follow her. The first one is her nursing/labor info blog. GREAT STUFF! The other is her personal blog, where she write about the joys and challenges of motherhood in a wonderfully relatable way!

Thanks, Jamilla, for making a guest appearance!!!***

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Friends Forever - the finale!

It’s time for the wrap up!!!! Well…almost. First I have to tell you about one more friend. I have saved the best for last. I will be brief…maybe.
I met Heath in the summer of 1998. I married him in the summer of 1999. Over the last 13 years he has been the constant and the chaos in my life, and both of those have been wonderful. We have lived in 5 homes in 4 states, walked through him going back to school for his bachelor’s and then his masters, me giving birth to our 4 children, both of us losing people we love, and so many dirty socks and budget busting shopping trips that I can’t even count them all. He never, ever yells at me, even when I am yelling at him. (He does, however, have a face that I have dubbed his ‘yelling face’ When he makes that face, I immediately know he is hollering, even though his volume never increases) He tells me I am beautiful every single day. He thinks I am a wonderful cook and he doesn’t care if I am a wonderful housekeeper or not. He laughs at me, he cheers me on, he believes in me.
He is my best friend.
My favorite thing about Heath (besides his beautiful smile and his talent on the piano and his smart mind and his quick wit) is how he is the strong, steady person in every situation. Not just in our marriage, but at his job, and in both our families, and with our kids, and among our friends. He is the steady WITHIN the crazy. He does so many things…SO MANY THINGS…and keeps doing them without getting half the recognition he deserves. You know how there are just some people who keep life moving forward? Heath is one of those people. He won’t tell you that about himself…those people never do. But you just know, if you spend more than 5 minutes talking to him, that Heath can stay calm and take charge even if there is a nuclear crisis. He will know what to do. And if he doesn’t, he will just smile, and remain calm, and tell you it’s all going to be okay. It’s one of my favorite things about him.

What, you may ask, is the point of this whole exercise in friend descriptions???? Well, I promised you there would be a point, and there is. After careful re-reading of these lists, I have put together a snapshot review of my favorite qualities about each. Here they are, in no particular order.
1.      Thoughtful
2.      Joyful
3.      Real
4.      Accepts without judgment
5.      Speaks words of kindness
6.      Strong when I am weak
7.      Takes time to KNOW me
8.      Shows that they love me
9.      Servant-hearted
10.  Loves the Word
11.  Steady
12.  Down to earth
13.  Protective
14.  Giving
15.  Honest
16.  Good listener
17.  Willing to laugh
18.  Open
19.  Courageous
20.  A ROCK
So, take a look, ladies and gentlemen. I am 31 years old, and so far in my life I can boast some pretty remarkable friends. Each of them, at one time or another, has impacted my life greatly. And this isn’t even all my friends!! I am blessed.
What I want you to see, though, isn’t the people I have mentioned, but the QUALITIES about them. When put together in a list like the one above, they make up a pretty good template for the kind of friend I WANT TO BECOME!!!!! No two friends are alike, and I find I love different things about all the fabulous people in my life, but more importantly, I find I want to be more like them!!!! I want to be thoughtful, and giving, and accepting, and strong when a friend is weak, and honest, and REAL, and a good listener, and all the rest!
I look at the friends I have, and I see the friend I want to BE! Here is my challenge to you and to me. Take a look at the people in your life who you treasure. Take note of something you really admire about them, and then ask yourself if you are extending this trait to the rest of the people around you. You LOVE IT about someone, so don’t you want someone to love it about you?
Let’s BE the kind of friends we want to HAVE!!!
 Thanks for sticking with me through this whole mini-series. Its kind and thoughtful of you, so you can check off those friendship trait for the day. :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Friends forever - part three

Okay, we are almost done!!! Just a few more ‘friends’ to mention before the grand finale!!!
This group is the most precious to me, because they are not only my friends, they are also my family. I know that it’s rare for family to also be friends, and I don’t take it for granted how blessed I am.
My parents didn’t always like me, I’m sure. Likewise, I wanted to kill them on a few occasions. But they were intentional about spending time with us when we were young, talking to us, laughing with us, playing games, reading books, watching movies. (none of the movies had curse words in them if Mom was watching…Daddy was a little more relaxed.) I remember I was 17 before I realized that not all parents were like mine…and I was shocked. I then started to really appreciate them, and all the time and energy they had put into developing a relationship with me and my siblings. Now, today, I am so very blessed to say that my parents are my friends. I call my mom almost every day, for one silly thing or another, and we often have lunch together…just because. My dad is still my “go to” guy if I have a medical question, not because he is a doctor, but because I really do think he knows everything. As a kid, I can remember so many times that they prayed for me, laying their hands on me and seeking the Lord on my behalf…and they do it for me as an adult too. I could call them up right now and they would pray. They give me advice, and counsel, and admonish me to walk in the way of righteousness. They are my biggest fans. Even though they have SEEN my worst they still choose to think I am cool. You could argue eloquently to the contrary, but I would still believe I have the most wonderful parents on the planet…so save your breath. The fact that they are also my friends is a bigger blessing than I can explain.
I am pretty sure it is thanks to my wonderful parents that I can also consider my siblings as my friends. They took great care to instill in us this truth; friends come and go, but you will always have your brothers and sisters, so cherish those bonds. Being homeschooled helped, because we spent the whole school year in a ‘classroom’ together. I could spend all day telling you why my siblings are my friends, but I won’t. Just allow me a second to tell you about each one.
Daniel was my first friend in life, because I was only 22 months old when he was born. He was the first ‘man’ I ever walked down an aisle in a wedding dress with (we were 4 and 2) he was my protector (even though he was younger, we were basically the same size until he was round 10, and since then I have always been smaller than him) he was the voice in my head saying “mom and dad will kill you if you do this.” Now our kids are friends, and they play together happily for hours. Occasionally I will catch Daniel’s eye, and we will smile at each other, remembering the years we spent playing together and a few of the times we spent disliking each other (because we are brother and sister, after all) That shared smile communicates we are both grateful our childhood friendship has transformed into camaraderie as adults. When he puts his arm around me now, my ear lays against his heart. He’s really tall, but he’s still my little brother, my very first friend.
Since I was older than all my siblings, it took a while to form ‘friendships’ with my sisters. Joy was 4 years younger than me, Sarah was 6 years younger, and Rachel was 8 years younger. I spent a good deal of my childhood helping them with things, or being annoyed with them for always wanting to be wherever I was. Oh my, how that has changed. Now I WANT to be with them…every day wouldn’t be a stretch. Sisters are the only people who will ACTUALLY tell you when an outfit doesn’t look good on you.
Joy was my roommate my whole life. Sometimes Sarah and Rachel were also in the room with us, but it was ALWAYS me and Joy. We had a queen size bed that we shared. When company came, Joy and I were kicked to the couches. I loved to lie in bed at night and read, sometimes till the wee hours of the morning, and Joy would be snoring softly beside me. She never complained that she had to go to sleep with the light on. Lots of times I would be reading Frank Peretti books, and I would be SCARED. I remember sliding closer to my sleeping LITTLE sister, because if she could sleep peacefully then I probably wasn’t about to be eaten by monsters. She was the best one to call and tell stories about my kids, because she loved my kids so much. She was the sister who was a servant, washing dishes for me, folding laundry, taking the kids for walks. She loved to have deep spiritual discussions and would ask really hard questions just to see what I would say. She was the most fun to say shocking things to, because she never failed to BE shocked. There is a hole in my life where her friendship used to be. I miss her.
For some reason, even though she was 6 years younger than me, Sarah was my confidante. She is the one I told about all my sneaky disobedience. For a long time, she was the only one who knew I had ever kissed a boy. You know what’s funny? She is still the one I tell about stuff. When there is no way I can admit something to ANYONE else, I call Sarah. I have witnessed her doing some of the WILDEST things, and she has seen me doing the same. She laughs at all my attempts to be funny, and I have laughed till I couldn’t breathe at some of her antics. People ask us if we are twins, and I always feel honored when they do.
Rachel is my baby sister. If you have a baby sister…I don’t even need to say anything else, right? Sometimes I scold her for her actions, sometimes I DESPERATERLY want her to think I’m cool instead of old. But most of the time I just want to sit beside her and watch movies and eat twizzlers, or lay out in the back yard in our tube tops and cut off shorts, or go shopping and let her try everything on because nothing ever looks bad on her. When she was little, if she got scared in the night, she would climb in bed with me and I would tell her about the angels we had protecting our house. Now we are friends, and I am so glad.
While I know it’s not that common to be friends with your family, I have another set of people who it’s even more unusual to call friends…my in-laws. I have been a Martin for 13 years now, and I am blessed to consider them friends. Kathy Martin, my mother-in-law, is one of the most wonderful people I know. She gives, and gives, and never stops giving even when she can barely keep her eyes open. She opened her arms to me when she barely knew me, she called me her daughter, and she let me be her friend. We have commiserated about being married to ‘those Martin men’ together, and even though the one I married is her son, she takes my side when he is acting like a dork. She loves me, and I know it. That kind of mother-in-law isn’t rare…she’s PRICELESS. When my sister died, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my kids during the funeral, she is the one who came and helped me. She asked what I needed, I told her, and she came. (All the way from Indiana, a 10 hour drive) Michelle, my sister-in-law, came with her. They cleaned my house while I was gone, they cared for my children when I couldn’t, and they gave me space to all but ignore them, even though they had driven an entire day to get here.  I can’t remember another time when I ever felt so loved by them.
Michelle is the one who I commiserate with about having THREE SONS. She is my ‘nurse on speed dial.’ She laughs with me at the antics of our husbands…or scowls, depending on the situation. Melissa, my other sister-in-law, is the same way. We laugh at ‘the boys’ (our husbands) a lot. She calls me just to chat, and to ask me cooking questions, and to remind me of stuff I would otherwise forget. Spending 13 years becoming a ‘sister’ to these two has been fun, and wild, and worth it. I love them both very much.
Man, I thought this would be a short post, but it is getting long and I still haven’t talked about my favorite things…
My mom has a love of and intimacy with the Word. She instilled in me, just by her actions, the truth that THE WORD OF THE LORD WILL SUSTAIN!! I saw her reading her Bible my whole life. I HEARD her reading it to us. She is my concordance. Who needs ‘Strongs?’ I have Patty Bausum. Its one of my favorite things about her.
My dad thinks he is always right…and he usually is. He is the voice of reason in my head, the calm logic to combat my wild thoughts and emotions. He is ALWAYS willing to let me talkif I need someone to listen. He is steady, he is a ROCK. Its one of my favorite things about him.
Daniel would fight to the death to protect me…literally. I think he grew so tall because he knew he would have to be the protector of FOUR wild sisters. He protected us well when we were young. He would still do it now if we needed him. I KNOW he would take care of me. It’s one of my favorite things about him.
Sarah is wide open, wild, and wonderful. She doesn’t even blink when I spill the ugliest things in my heart. She usually laughs. She is laid back and she is high strung. She is one of my very favorite people, so I can’t think of just one thing I like about her. I like it ALL!!!
Rachel is honest…sometimes to a fault. “Your butt looks as big as Kansas” is a sentence that has actually come out of her mouth. But I love that about her. I KNOW I will get the truth from her. I NEED the truth. She will always tell it like it is, and that’s one of my favorite things about her.
Kathy will do, and has done, anything for me. And she isn’t just like that with me. She will bend over backwards to help EVERYONE she can. It’s just who she is, and it’s one of my favorite things about her.
Michelle can laugh at the craziest of moments. Even when all of our boys are running around screaming, she laughs. She stays relaxed even if the situation calls for CRAZY! It’s one of my favorite things about her.
Melissa is still a kid at heart. Maybe it’s because she stopped growing when she was the size of a 12 years old…I don’t know, but I think it’s so funny. She wears cartoon apparel and brightly colored tennis shoes, she plays video games, she loves Dr. Seuss and Veggie Tales. She is willing to play with kids all day, and she enjoys it. Its one of my favorite things about her.
JOY is my hero. I never knew anyone so brave in all my life. Reading her journals I see she was nervous, and sometimes afraid, and often felt lonely…but she kept on doing God’ work, she kept on walking out His will for her life. I think she still would have gone to Malaysia even if she had known she would die there. She was a regular girl, shy, a homebody, thin and always sneezing…and I wish I could be HALF as brave as her. She just lifted her chin and kept moving forward…right into the presence of Jesus. I’m not surprised she got there first. She always liked blazing the trail. Her courage is one of my favorite things about her.
Alright, those of you who have stuck with me through this series…hang in there!!! The next post will wrap it up, I promise!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Friends Forever - Part Two

When Heath and I got married (I was 18) and I moved to Indiana, I left all my friends behind in SC. We set up house in a little apartment while we built a beautiful southern style home with a wrap around front porch. Every day Heath would go to work on the house, driving our one and only vehicle, and I would sit in the apartment alone…all day.

Then we moved into the house, and we got a second vehicle, and we had Faith, and life continued to move forward, but I still didn’t have any REAL friends. I had church acquaintances, but no one I could call when I was so mad at Heath that I needed to say a few ugly words, no one who would tell me which pair of jeans made my butt look smaller (I still don’t have anyone to tell me that…because no jeans on this planet can do anything to help), no one to laugh with over the antics of our kids. I can remember crying and praying and asking God to PLEASE give me a best friend, just one, please, please, please. I was so lonely.
And then, after 5 years, the Lord sent me an angel. Her name is Beth Ann Crouse. She had a daughter the exact same age as Faith (they are 2 weeks apart) and she was pregnant with baby number two…as was I!! The girls were fast friends from the start. Faith would ask for Kate before she could even really say “kate.” So we started having play dates and slowly she became the friend I was looking for. When I had a terrible week, she would come over and watch the kids so I could clean my house. When I got a package in the mail that excited me, she jumped up and down too. When I cried, she cried with me, and when I tried to be funny…she always laughed. She is the one who gave me the idea of doing “favorite things” about people, because she did that with me. If I need someone to pray for me, even if I haven’t talked to her in weeks, I can call her. I don’t have to spend time on pleasantries. I can say “I only have 5 minutes, but I am losing it, will you pray for me?” and she will. Every time. She talks quietly, and when she prays she gets even quieter, so I usually have to hide in my closet to be able to hear her prayers…but even if I can’t, just knowing she is praying sooths my heart. We both have 4 kids now, and she lives MANY states away…but I called her up to pray for me in a crisis just a few weeks ago. Faith still has a picture of Kate on her dresser. I prayed a long time for a true friend in Indiana…and it was worth the wait.

I met Rachel Culver when we did a SHORT stint in Georgia for Heath’s job. She became my friend in a very unexpected way. One day I was feeling especially cooped up in the house with the kids, and so we loaded into the car and went to the park. My daughter, being the outgoing child that she is, struck up a conversation with a little girl she met on the swings, and the girls decided they should be friends…and so Faith dragged me to meet Adison’s mom. Isn’t it funny how the Lord is working even when it seems like a regular day? We only lived in Georgia for 10 months, but Rachel and I seemed to have a friendship on ‘fast-forward.’ We became close quickly. She brought me a care package when I had the flu (she left it on the steps and called me to tell me she’d brought it, but still…friendship only goes so far, right?) we did ‘school’ with our kids together, we laughed…oh my how we laughed. I think I have laughed harder with her than with any other friend I can think of…and that’s saying something, because I laugh a lot with all my friends.

Ellie Strenk started out as a leader in the Bible study I began attending 2 weeks after my sister died. She called me to introduce herself…and she got more than she bargained for. She never complained about having to listen to my sobbing story about why I was such a mess every week. She THANKED me for sharing with her. I thought “wow, she is too good to be true.” Over the last almost 2 years I have come to realize that she is a regular girl, and I still think she’s wonderful. Gabe has clogged up her toilet with too much toilet paper, she has given her kid a bath because of an accident at my house, we have shared a glass of wine at 3 in the afternoon thanks to a stressful phone call, we have been on our knees together, we have been rolling with laughter together. When Ellie first agreed to come over for a play date, I am pretty sure she did it because I was in her study group, and it’s the obligation of the leader to get to know all the gals. But now she is my dear friend. She offered to keep my kids for a WEEK if I wanted to go on a missions trip…I’m pretty sure leader courtesy doesn’t extend that far.

Sarah Stahl…J She’s another gal l am pretty sure agreed to hang out with me because of her role as a leader. She is the wife of our pastor. She has 4 kids too, and we were pregnant with our 4th at the same time. (She was much more adorable pregnant, which almost made me not want to be friends with her.) She brought me supper when Gabe was born, she offered to keep the other kids, even with her BUSY life. We meet at the park for play dates (better known as ‘home school moms VENT day’) and whenever I need to say something slightly inappropriate…she is the one I text. I am pretty sure she deletes all our text conversations after we have them, because if anyone else in the church picked up her phone they would be shocked and horrified. For some reason (and I don’t know what the reason is) she just laughs at all my antics. She is the ‘good girl’ pastor’s kid, and I am the ‘wild child’ pastor’s kid…and somehow we are friends.

Okay, so this is once again NOT all inclusive, but just a snapshot overview of my adult friends. Here is my favorite thing about each:

Beth Ann: she is really good at encouraging words (duh, she is the one who first introduced me to the ‘favorite thing’ game) She tells me she loves me, she tells me she thinks I’m funny. She gives affirmation better than almost anyone else I know. I feel GOOD about myself when I am around her, and that is because she lets me know that I am important to her. And she isn’t just like that with me. She’s that way with everyone. It makes her someone everyone wants to be friends with…and somehow she still likes to hang out with me. (I feel special) Her gift of kindness through her words is one of my favorite things about her.

Rachel Culver calls me to tell me funny things. Once she called me because she was laughing REALLY HARD and she had to share the story. She told me “If you don’t think this is as funny as I do, lie, okay? Because I need someone to laugh really hard.” But I always think she’s funny. I can FEEL her joy, in the Lord, in her family, in her life, and it’s CONTAGIOUS! It’s one of my favorite things about her.

Ellie Strenk is ridiculously beautiful, and amazingly down to earth at the same time. She is willing to show up at my house at 1 p.m. and inform me that she hasn’t fed her kids lunch yet and needs to borrow some bread…and peanut butter…and jelly…and chips and fruit. She LIKES that my house is messy when she comes over. She says it makes her feel at home. She sees each play date disaster as growth in our friendship. She cherishes the things about people that seem like flaws. She sees them as rare, and precious. She makes everyone around her feel at ease, because she accepts them without judgment, and is willing for the REAL side of her to be seen. It’s one of my favorite things about her.

Sarah Stahl is sassy and tough…and TINY. You don’t expect someone who is 5 feet tall and weighs 91 pounds to be able to hold her own…but she can. She has 4 kids, and she keeps them in line. Her husband is a little on the wild side (like me) and somehow she just rolls with it, looking fabulous and at ease, even though I know she hasn’t sat down for more than 5 minutes all day and probably still has hours of stuff left to get done after she puts the kids to bed. When we first became friends I wasn’t sure I could ever be my real self with her, because she was either 1) as fragile as she looked or 2) so conservative she would judge me for my um…outgoing side. I have come to realize she in very gracious, very caring and thoughtful, very sweet and loving…and can also give as good as she gets. Somehow in her busy life, she made space for me. I know it’s a stretch for her day to hang out with me sometimes, but she still does it. She’s very giving, she’s a servant, and she is a strong shoulder I can lean on…not literally, because I would crush her. She continues to accept me even when I am the WORST version of myself. It’s one of my favorite things about her.

Okay, I have several other friends who are new, who I am just beginning to form those lasting bonds with. It seems after 5 years of NO friends when I first got married, and only one for a long time, that the Lord is now blessing me with more friends than I could have imagined. Dana Howerton, Brandy Collins, Christy Meindel, Lindsay Kidd, I love you all. I am grateful for you.

I have one more list of friends to share with you before the grand finale that will have a point, I PROMISE!!!!