My marriage is twelve today.
Wow. Twelve years ago today I pledged my life to a young Air Force Pilot that barely made it to the wedding. Twelve years ago I thought a white dress, a big fat diamond and a DJ meant marriage. I dreamed of no longer sneaking around, being free to see my man whenever and wherever we chose, not having to explain where I was or how I got there. It meant the end of phone bills I paid with my credit card(s) and the beginning of beautiful, blissful mornings and never having to say goodbye.
So our marriage is twelve now. And I can’t stop thinking about what twelve looks like. It’s sixth grade. It’s braces and training bras and changing voices. It’s learning when to talk and when not to. It means still making silly mistakes and hoping no one sees them. It’s awkward. And that’s where we are. We’ve moved out of our toddler/early childhood stage and we’re working into awkward pre-adolescence. We are becoming. We are moving. We are growing. And as long as we are doing this together, that’s all I care about. I know this marriage is essential to the well-being of four little girls. They depend on this marriage maturing. And it is. We are learning to adapt to our new roles, shift our perspectives to the common good, to release the safety in selfishness. And I’m so excited and thankful for what we are becoming.
And I’m so very thankful for the man my husband is becoming. And I’m really thankful that he sees my (ever annoying) shortcomings and looks past them. Especially lost ATM cards, dirty laundry, costly procrastination and disorderly conduct. And that all happened this week.
So when I think about what my dreams were for our marriage, they are just a little different now; now we have our kids sneak around, we have the best conversations oceans apart and we spend beautiful blissful mornings surrounded by four beautiful babies. We say goodbye, but we do it with smiles instead of fearful tears. And I love that. I love how this marriage has aged.
And I love you, Alex, for your commitment to this family, for your dedication to this marriage, for your patience with me, and your faith that makes all that possible. I love you so ferociously and I want to be better at letting you know that. Happy Anniversary, Big MAK! I love you!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
My marriage is twelve today.
Posted by Julie Keefe at 17:21
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Pizza Buffet. Four tired little girls. A pre-menstrual Mom. And a mean old lady.
That’s what’s got me spinning tonight.
We spent the whole day out running errands today. Mostly returning stuff to our usual places and getting a little lunch out. There’s this little Pizza Joint that ‘s a pseudo Cici’s that we love to eat at. Unlimited food seems to be a big pleaser for this family.
Some days the girls are just off. Especially after a night of not-so-good sleep or a morning of too much TV or just not enough structure or attention. These days suck. They suck the life out of me because my kids and I aren’t speaking the same language. It’s like even the subtitles are in a different language. I say “Please sit on your bottom” and they look at me as if I’d just said the Pledge of Allegiance in Mandarin. So I was NOT happy when I had to pull Edie out from underneath the thirteen HUNDRED dollar grill and tell Sophie to put down the sprinkler flags for the fifteenth time. All I kept thinking was that I needed food in my belly and everything would be ok.
White pizza, soup, salad, dessert. Unlimited cherry coke and mello yello. For real. Do you see why this place ranks high? We made our way to our tables and picked a place where we could park a stroller next to our table. We enjoyed lunch…Telemundo and Cartoon Network on the plasmas and we all just kinda vegged. Edie finished first and decided to take Lil A for a lil stroll around the table. I was at most 2 feet from her at all times and as the lady bussing tables approached, I told Edie to come back with Audrey….
We get compliments all the time when we are out in public. People always ooh and ahh at our four girls and smile and wave and gush over how cute and sweet they are. We get approached in restaurants by people all the time…people say ‘oh, how well behaved your girls are.’ And ‘oh, what sweet little girls you have’. ….
….Edie rounds the stroller in a circle and the bussing lady has to wait for me to corral her…at this time I look up at a woman sitting across the row from us. She is making eye contact with the bussing lady. Her eyes say it all. She looks with disdain and disgust at Edie. She rolls her eyes and looks to the bussing lady for confirmation. The bussing lady looks at Edie and smiles. I apologize to bussing lady.
I turn to Alex and explain what just happened. I watch the (mean old) lady get up to get more food. I am seething. Edie has done no harm.
Then I go bad.
“Edie, go take the stroller and run into that old lady.”
Oh yes I did. I told her to purposely crash the stroller into the ankles of that bitter old woman. I TOLD MY CHILD to take the stroller and use it to cause bodily harm to another human being. And I was not playing.
And she looked at me and said “What, ma?”
And I regained my composure and said
Before she left, the lady made it a point to go to the table next to us where sat a father and his two girls that were at least 10 and 12. She gushed about how well behaved they were and how kids these days have horrible manners.
Just as the estrogen in my blood stream, my temper spiked and I thought I would get loud for a minute and give this lady a piece of my mind….that I would tell her to not judge me….that I would tell her to walk a mile in my nursing bra.
But I didn’t….I left there discouraged. I left feeling like a terrible parent. I left feeling like I’d let my children disappoint me again with their behavior. I left there thinking all the thoughts of someone that was looking for favor and approval from perfect (or imperfect) strangers.
But tonight... now…? I am remembering what makes my kids so awesome and my family so different: Sophie leaving the dinner table saying her cheeks hurt from laughing so hard; Charley sharing her favorite Barbie with a sister who could so easily snap Barbie’s neck and leave her permanently disabled; Edie offering Audrey a toy she ‘can spit on’.
So it’s not all about how my kids behave in public….it’s not about how proud they can make me….it’s not about how many compliments old ladies give me…it’s not about who can get through Home Depot without jumping out of the cart.
It’s about their hearts and whether or not they know to love others as they love themselves.
Even mean old ladies.
Posted by Julie Keefe at 02:11
Monday, June 21, 2010
Monday, June 07, 2010
Yesterday was a great day at church. Even though my jeans were too tight, and Charley couldn’t find satisfaction in any of my shoe choices for her and Edie had a glob of conditioner in her hair from last night’s shower, we made our way to Journey Church at our new location at Park Vista High.
I learned a lot yesterday. I learn a lot every Sunday there….even if I don’t step foot into the Sanctuary. Just getting there teaches me patience.
Yesterday PScott talked through 1 Samuel. He challenged us all to find our Goliath. I’ve been staring down my Goliath for weeks now, slowly slipping into the armor, only to find that it’s too big and too cumbersome and way too heavy to allow my arms to cast stones. All I need is a sling and a stone.
Yesterday I got my sling.
Today I’m going after the Goliath of Perfectionism in my life.
He whispers to me every morning.
Why get up…you’re already so far behind?
You know if you start this, you’ll never finish.
You know what people will say if you don’t finish.
What will people think when they see another one of your fine messes?
It screams to me through half-hung curtains, wrinkled dresses, and dirty fingernails. It shouts to me through my unmade bed, a glob of toothpaste on the bathroom sink, and the gap between my teeth. It screeches to me in the piles of upaid medical bills and birthday cards I never send.
For me, perfectionism paralyzes me and silences me.
So this morning, I’m answering back.
Because people are depending on me.
I will finish…and I won’t take twenty years to do it.
God loves me anyway....even if you don't.
It will be my fine mess. To His Glory.
So this….THIS is one of my stones. I’m picking up this stone. And I’m chucking it.
See ya, Goliath, I’m about to hit PUBLISH.
Perfectionism isn’t a problem because it does too much, it’s a problem because in trying to do too much it causes us to do nothing at all. Dustin Wax
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thirty four years and eight months ago my parents made the decision to keep me. Though their lives were full already with two beautiful children, they decided to take a chance on one more. And today I am very grateful for that.
Their lives were already very full. They had a brilliant six year old that blessed them with her amazing perspective on life. Amy was energetic and precocious. She loved her little brother immensely and was a big help to her mom. Richie was a precious, loving little boy that was born with a genetic disorder that would have him hospitalized often for many different reasons. He was needy but happy, and Dad had his boy. And yet, they took a chance on having another baby. And they welcomed me in March.
Little did they know how that decision would affect the rest of their lives. And the rest of mine.
Six months after I was born, our lives shifted. As a result of pregnancy, my Mom got very sick. She could no longer care for my sister and brother and I. She was hospitalized on and off for the next four years. Sometimes it was for a short period to stabilize her health. Sometimes it was longer. Time was frozen and hearts were broken. I can’t imagine how it must have changed our family’s dynamic. I can’t imagine the grief she felt, handing over her six month old baby to endure hours, days, months of treatment. I can’t imagine the torture my Dad felt having to admit his beloved and leave her behind. Amy was six, and had to quickly become a little woman, while her little heart was breaking inside her. Richie had to give up his Mommy and the precious care that only she could give him. The threads of our family unraveled the day that Mom was admitted.
And yet, my Mom says this on her facebook status:
“well tomorrow at 11:51 a.m. my second oldest daughter will be 34 years old. How time flies! I am so happy and thrilled that she is mine! I love you Julie> Love and many, many kisses-Mom”
And at 7:11 this morning, my Dad sends me this email:
“Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday Dear Midget. Happy Birthday to you!!!!!!! I'm sure that the day you were born, God looked down from Heaven and said, "Am I good or what!" I just want to wish you a wonderful day and to tell you how proud I am of you. We are truly blessed.I love you.Dad”
My parents endured severe emotional and physical pain to have me. They didn’t know at the time that their lives would be affected the way they were. My Dad didn’t know he’d be shaking his fists at God for years to come. He also didn’t know that one day he would trust God with his life. My Mom didn’t know what blessings were to come in hers either, yet she trusted.
So today I am praising my God, who gave me parents that believed enough to bring me into their family, who has taught me so much about His grace and His sovereign plan through my parents, and who can restore brokenness like no other.
Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me this life, for allowing me to feel the miracle of parenthood, for blessing me with a husband that hears you and loves you, for amazing daughters that test and try and teach me. Thank you for this celebration day. The glory is all yours.
Posted by Julie Keefe at 07:21
Thursday, March 04, 2010
I started this ambitious journey of tap water about 13 days ago. I had no idea how broken it would leave me mentally or how challenged I would feel physically. Yesterday was a breaking point. The girls and I loaded up and headed to CBS in the morning and we were only about ten minutes late. This was the latest we’ve been so far, and it was mostly due to my lack of sleep. Thankfully, it was Pajama Day. No, the girls didn’t go in the jammies they’d slept in the night before. They all wore clean, matching princess jammies, of course.
I brought my glass of iced water and my Kashi bar and hoped that would get me through the morning. It did, but once I hit 12:30, I was totally exhausted. My body has needed caffeine for days and yesterday I hit the breaking point. I couldn’t think straight, my mind was racing, and I felt trapped in confusion. It was painful. I wanted to cry. I DID cry. Not only do I use caffeine to wake my tired body in the morning, but I use it as a medication. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 25 and have been on several medications since. I remember the first day I took Concerta and felt for the first time that I wasn’t limping around on half a brain. I washed my car that day, from start to finish. Then I put everything away. The vacuum, the sponges, the soap, the hose. Then I sat and cried. Multi-step tasks were never easy for me. I finally felt capable. It was wonderful.
But then I started having babies, and stimulants and pregnancy don’t go well together. I got off the meds and started drinking coffee. It wasn’t the same, but it was almost better. I could drink coffee and not worry about major side affects. It warmed by belly and my soul and helped to put the puzzle pieces together as well. I could have a cup (or 3) in the morning, and dose again in the afternoon and avoid the mental fatigue I’d suffered my whole life.
Then I heard about the blood:water mission via Anne Jackson. I heard about the 40 day challenge. Forty days of nothing to drink but water. I loved the idea from the beginning, though I was a little apprehensive of giving up my beloved fountain Dr. Pepper and my beautiful morning mug of happiness. But a fast is good for everyone, at any time and I knew that. I jumped in, registered and drank my last DP for breakfast the day before.
But then my house flooded. And my belongings were strewn about my house like a rogue wave of my lake came through. And I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point of tears, setting my timer, but never able to figure out where to start. My disorganized approaches left me exhausted and without a single sign of order. To be honest with you, I’m still sitting in a mess here. But there is hope.
I’ve been praying for help. I’ve been praying that God would help me get this place together, that I would stay focused for 15 minutes at a time and be able get this stuff back where it all belongs. I know one cup of coffee would be my jumping off point. I know one cup would allow me to focus, make a dent in the work and feel better. But I don’t wanna give up on my commitment to blood:water. And you know me, the legalist I am, I WON’T give up. So yesterday my sweet husband (who has given up soda as well) sent me in to the gas station to pick up his King Size Peanut M&m’s and I see this.
Oh, Sweetest Jesus. Seriously? Caffeinated GUM? I thought for a minute I was at the Pharmacy, picking up my prescription. Did I gobble up a piece? No. I waited. I waited until this morning, when I knew that I would need it for a shopping trip to BJ’s with four little girls. And it worked. I parked the car, got all four girls out, hooked my keys on my purse, grabbed my phone and put it in my purse, closed and locked the van, headed into BJ’s and started getting the things on my list that I did NOT leave in the car, did NOT get overwhelmed when looking for breakfast bars, did NOT freak out when one of the wheels on the shopping cart mysteriously stopped rolling, found my BJ’s card without a hitch, did NOT lose the receipt from the cash register to the receipt checker guy, got back to the locked (!) van, unloaded and drove away. Thank you, Lord, for sending AMP’d gum.
Now this fast will be what it was intended to be for me, enduring and sacrificing for the sake of others, reminding me what luxury I have in clean water, and praying for His strength and proximity as I struggle with cravings and weakness… NOT the home destroying, depression inducing, mind boggling fast that was once killing me one morning at a time.
Will you consider joining me in a forty day fast? Check here for more details and follow #40days on twitter.
Posted by Julie Keefe at 16:11