16 Years? We Have Arrived! (Not really!)

10346373_10154428523370187_2136238812045424257_nWell, well, well. Congratulations to Mr. Dixon and me. We are “celebrating” 16 years of marriage today. If by celebrating, I mean working,making and eating dinner, and taking care of life. Apparently that’s how 16 years is done. Don’t worry though. We will mark this occasion with child free wanderings at 16 years and one day. That’s just the way it’s done around here. 

If you’ve read about our marriage, or heard about our marriage here, there, or elsewhere, you may be fooled into believing that we have a perfect marriage. This is so far from the truth that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. A wonderful marriage, yes, perfect, ha! Ha! And another HA for good measure. 

No one survives 16 years of marriage without a few roadblocks, pitfalls, and forks in the road. Oh, we have had issues. Ironically, those issues have given us the marriage we have today, right this minute. It’s like I told a friend lately, you don’t show up to the gym and get in shape. You not only have to show up, you have to work out. You have to put effort into what you are doing. Without the resistance of weights, you’ll leave the gym in the same condition in which you arrived at the gym. It’s a lot less work, but you’re already paying for the membership, you may as well put some effort into your workouts and improve yourself. 

So, much like showing up at the gym, having a great marriage is not just getting married. There is some work involved and if you just show up and expect to get the same results as someone showing up and working for it, you are going to be disappointed. In our marriage, our strength has been built by the resistance we have faced. Resistance from him, from me, from us, and from every day issues that come up. I’ll tell you the truth, there are days when I wake up and he just irritates the living daylights out of me. I can choose to react based on my feelings, or I can breathe deep and show grace. Feelings are not facts. When I choose to show grace, I grow stronger and so do we. (just don’t ask how often I am actually able to put that into practice, mmmmmkay?) 

So, yeah, of course we have problems. We have disagreements and arguments. I don’t talk about these, except with a few friends. There is no profit in me blasting him on Facebook or here on my blog. I would end up with the proverbial egg on my face anyway, because somehow I am usually in the wrong. (That’s my gift to you today, Mr. Dixon! Admission of wrong doing. You’re welcome. (he’s not reading this. I know it)) Anyway, it’s just wrong. No one wants to read my negativity and I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression about him, me, or us as a couple! 

So, today is our anniversary and marriage is wonderful. I really, truly love the guy. I love who he is and I do love him more each and every day. This love and marriage thing is an amazing journey, really. I don’t know what I was thinking the day I married him, but I know I’m beyond grateful today for the past 16 years and the next 25! 

How long have you been married? Can you sum up your marriage in 5 words? I sure can not! 

I show up for marriage and put the effort in…. now I should work on that showing up and working out at the gym thing. 

The Love Letter

I nearly jumped up. I wanted to rush out and show my husband what I had found. It was a love letter. It wasn’t to me, it was in a book, but it was exactly the kind of love letter I wanted to receive for myself. It had all the right words and all the best compliments. 

Something told me that I should maybe hold off on that a bit. I was tempted, so tempted. If he could just SEE the kind of letter I wanted him to write to me, surely he could come through on it. 

It was in a book I had checked out from the library. I can’t even remember the name of the book. I didn’t finish reading it, because from the first chapter and the synopsis of the book I knew that somebody died of cancer and I can. not. handle. death right now. So I returned the book. Unfortunately I can’t even give you a glimpse of what the letter said. 

I’ll be honest, I patted myself on the back for the restraint that I showed in not sharing it with my husband. I had a feeling that sharing what somebody else had written would be like rubbing my husband’s face in the fact that he doesn’t write those words or express those emotions. The kind of words and emotions other people receive and I desire. 

I am not always good at keeping my thoughts to myself. I think they need to be said, at any expense, so I was pretty proud that I had squelched the desire to jump up and show him exactly what I had just read. I almost told him that too, but again, something told me I should not share that information either. 

I’m not completely heartless. 🙂

The more I thought about it, the more thankful I was that I resisted. You know when your soul stirs and God starts asking you questions and you know it from the bottom of your heart? Yes. That. He asked me “how would you feel if your husband shared something with you that makes YOU feel like a failure? What if he told you that he wanted something that you weren’t capable of giving? Wouldn’t YOU be disappointed? Wouldn’t you think ‘but I do all this other stuff, because I love him and he isn’t happy because I can’t do. this. one. thing.'”

That made sense. 

My husband does things for me because he loves me. One night when we were driving to the store I asked him “How do you show your love to me?” and the first thing out of his mouth was “SEX” and I said “Yeah, okay, other than that! <laugh>” and he gave me a whole list of things that he does for me, because he loves me. And then he said “and I know your love language is words of affirmation and I know I am not very good at that. I am not good with words. I’m not good about leaving you a note. I’m not good about writing you letters. I know you need that”.

I reached across and held his hand and said “no. I want that, but you are doing just fine. Thank you.”

Sometimes I am so focused on what I want that I fail to see what I already have. At that moment, I vowed to start noticing the ways he shows his love to me. The way he dances with me in the kitchen, or how he grabs my butt when he thinks the kids aren’t looking, or when he gets my  water for me after we have already laid down for the night, because I am SO THIRSTY and there is a kid on my arm and I don’t want to move. He loves me, he really does, and he shows it in a million different ways and I am so blessed and why do I complain about the one thing he doesn’t or can’t do, like EVER? 

I’m learning. 😉

I feel okay posting this. He might see it, but he hasn’t read the last 200 posts of mine, so I think I’m safe, but just in case…. I LOVE YOU, honey! 

Shut Up. Just Shut Up

The day after my brother died, I spent the day with my parents. Relatives had gathered at their house, presumably to show their support in the midst of grief. It was so normal, and it wasn’t. We gathered, we talked, we told jokes. No one ever really said or even talked about why we were there. My brother’s death was the elephant in the room. There was a point that I lost it on the inside. I wanted to stand in that crowded room and scream “SHUT UP! Just SHUT UP! This is not normal, this is not okay. Please, please shut up.”

I didn’t do it. Not because I didn’t feel like it, but because it just didn’t seem like the trait of a normal person. Even in my grief, I wanted to appear normal.

Today was another one of those days. I didn’t feel normal on the inside. I was feeling grief, but everyone around me was carrying on as we always have. The kids were laughing and joking and telling me about their day. My husband was making incredibly small talk. All the while, there was an elephant with us. He was around us, there was barely any room to move around him. Every once in a while he would crawl in my lap, lay on my chest and I could. not. breathe.

Even though most people knew he was there, no one wanted to talk about him. Once again I wanted to scream at everyone to shut up. And I can’t. It’s not normal and it’s not right.

Damn elephant. Go away. 😦 Everyone else, please shut up. I don’t feel like playing normal.

My Marriage… On line

I have been married for 14 years. In those 14 years, we have been through a lot. Isn’t that what EVERYBODY says? “We’ve been through a lot”. Well it’s true. 😉 If you looked on my facebook page, you would probably figure that it’s been 14 years of perfection. We came into marriage knowing what it’s all about, we have it figured it out, we never (EVER) argue, fight or have any issues.


We do. We have a lot of issues. I get irritated with him. Sometimes it’s justified. Many times I am just being me. There are days I want to shoot off to my blog or Facebook and let. him. have. it. Not so much because I think it will work. More because in those moments I want to be heard and understood and  what better place for this than on-line? I surround myself with people that usually like me, so I wouldn’t have a shortage of people to back me up or agree with me!

Somehow, no matter how strong the urge, I resist. Why? Why do I do this, even in my moments of insanity justified reactions?

I don’t do it, because I respect my husband, our marriage and our privacy. I recognize that there are some things that should just be between us. Many things, once they are put on-line, can  not be taken back. I think I am responsible for the image that my family and friends have of my husband. If I go online and bash him, what does that do to the image people have of him? How silly will I look when we kiss and make up and  I start gushing out lovey dovey pukey wookey things about him?

This is not to say that I don’t talk about issues with ANYONE. I always have my lovey dovey pukey wookey husband. I have a journal. I have one a few good friends, who I can tell  anything to, without the worry that it will change her their perspective of my husband. I don’t generally tell my mom, acquaintances, his friends, our mutual friends.

If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that my husband is a pretty darn good guy. He takes out the garbage, he cleans out the cat box, he loves me when I least deserve it. If there is a time he is acting HUMAN, it’s because he’s HUMAN or because my perspective of the situation is totally skewed. It’s not because he is a bad guy that needs to be kicked while he is down.

There is so much negativity on-line and in marriages, I really want to do my part to not contribute to that negativity.

How about you?


Hearing Intuition

This past Saturday was one of “those” days. I was kind of pissy with my husband, and had been for two days. He hadn’t really DONE anything, I was just feeling unloved and felt like it was ALL HIS FAULT! Unfortunately, or fortunately, we still have to converse and do things together on the weekends. 😉  

One of those things we did was take the kids to Goodwill to scope out Halloween outfits. I happen to know that my neighbor just spent $60 on outfits and I wasn’t willing to do that. Halloween isn’t even a day I particularly like, but my kids love friends and candy, so I pretty much indulge them… on my budget. 

When we got there, I directed the kids and the husband, who I was mad at, to the Halloween outfits and I bee-lined it for maternity. My 13 year old joined me shortly after, said two of the kids were fighting and she had just decided to wear something from home. I glanced over and saw my husband with the other kids and went back to perusing maternity.

When  my 7 year old joined me in maternity and said she didn’t know where daddy went, I took her back over to the Halloween outfits and helped her find a few things to try on. We tried those on and then I said “We have to find your dad, NOW”. 

I knew that something wasn’t right. Call it intuition, a sixth sense, something in the air… it was time to find him. 

The store was really busy. The two girls and I started looking up and down the aisles. Finally, a few aisles in, I saw him walking towards me. He was stumbling and looked seconds from passing out. I said “Omigosh. You are NOT okay”. I rummaged through my purse, thankful we had just been at Walgreens and I had asked him to pick up an orange juice for me. I was even more thankful that I had only taken a sip out of it and then stuck it in my purse. I handed him the OJ and said “drink this now”, but he was beyond comprehension. 

I remembered seeing chairs by the shoe department and my daughter dragged one over for him. He finally drank the OJ, but I could tell it wasn’t enough. I had my older daughter grab a juice out of the cooler in the front that I had just seen 5 minutes before finding him. 

He sat for a while, we got his blood sugar back to normal and then I thanked God that I had listened to my intuition. My intuition to find him, my intuition to have him purchase an orange juice that I didn’t drink. I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t listened. 

In retrospect, he said the store was much less confusing when he didn’t have double vision, and I said that people probably thought he was just another drunk in Goodwill. 😉 

And that anger I harbored towards him? It went away with the low blood sugar. Suddenly, it didn’t matter anymore. 

Thank God. 

Repost: Love Letter

Jessica’s post today at Bohemian Bowmans reminded me of this post I wrote when I still used blogger. It was originally published 6/6/11. Sometimes I still need to hear it.

I received a card and a letter over the weekend that said what I most needed to hear, from the person I most needed to hear it from.

The card says:

Because you refuse to give up when times are tough or follow the easier path…….
Because you stand up for what you believe in and aren’t afraid of what people think……..
Because you’re brave even when you’re unsure of what will happen next and you learn from your mistakes….
Because of all this and more, you’re an inspiration and I know in my heart you can do anything you want to

The letter included is 3 pages long, handwritten:

“Dear Amy, I saw this card and it made me think of you….all day long I have been thinking about the words I want to say. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are giving. You are a great mother. You are a great wife. I watch you and I can see that you don’t always believe these things yourself…..I want you to know you are not a failure. I have seen you succeed, when other people said you wouldn’t…..You have a heart for people that are hurting. If I had one wish for you, it would be that you have that same heart for yourself….. Recently I have watched as self doubt and fear has stopped you from doing things you want to do….. You have an amazing faith in God. Lean on Him. Then put one foot forward. You can do this. You are inspiring and a leader. You show people that you believe in them.

I want you to believe in yourself.

I’m sorry for all the times I was hard on you. I’m sorry for the times I didn’t believe in you. I’m sorry that I missed so many opportunities to be your biggest cheerleader…I love you”.
I quoted a lot from the letter, but I did not quote it all. There is no need to. All of the above is very important, very uplifting and very encouraging, however I think the most important part is who signed the card and the letter:


Yes, me.

I was waiting for my husband’s prescriptions to be filled on Friday. I had already perused the shoes and the clothes and the make up and yeah, you get the idea. I checked back in at the pharmacy and had to wait another 10 minutes. I walked over to the card department. I am always looking for another card to send to my Compassion kids, give to my husband, send to my mom, etc. I picked up this card and I. liked. it. I said “I wish someone would see this card and buy it for me. It makes me feel good”. I put it back, hoping. This voice inside whispered “Buy it for yourself”. At first thought, it was kind of a crazy idea, but I picked it up and put it in my basket.

The more I thought about it, the more crazy it didn’t seem. I am harder on myself than I am on any other person. I doubt, I self criticize and I don’t believe in myself. I do not see what other people tell me they see. I don’t love myself the way other people love me.

All the people in the world can love me, but it doesn’t mean a thing unless I love myself.

What do you need to tell yourself? I want to challenge you to write yourself a letter. See in yourself what other people see in you. Write it and believe it. It will make a world of difference in how you feel about yourself.

I pick up the card and I start to cry. I can’t help it.

I didn’t even know I liked myself until I told me.

A Moment of Clarity

I have no problem admitting that I am a bit of a procrastinator. I think my aunt had a little bit of heart failure and learned a whole lot of patience and grace when we threw my parents a 25th wedding anniversary party. I see nothing wrong with waiting until the last minute to send out invitations. Apparently this is not the norm? I might even be the exact same way with birthday parties. Just the other day, I was at the store 10 minutes before my son’s birthday party to buy the cookies he requested.

Just roll with it! It turned out fine.

So, it should come as no surprise that there are unfinished projects around my house. Sometimes it takes me forever to get around to them. After our dishwasher incident, it took a year to get flooring in. It honestly didn’t bother me.

Procrastination can rear its ugly head in the form of beating myself up though. It’s hard not to worry what people are going to think if they come over and see that I STILL haven’t put the trim back up. Or that the kitchen cabinets still haven’t been painted. (I’ve about given up and started putting the doors back on)

This is where I was at yesterday. Beating myself up for everything that wasn’t getting done and everything else I had been putting off. As I walked down the hallway and took note (again!) of unfinished projects, I had one of those aha moments. A moment of clarity. There are some things I never put off. Spending time with my family. Loving on my kids. Playing with and talking to my kids. Doing a last minute favor for a friend. I instantly felt better.

Honestly, when my kids are grown, when I am old, none of us are going to look back and think I should have gotten that trim up. The trim will remain the same…. ALWAYS. But in another year, my kids are going to be different, older, changed. I don’t want to waste time missing the here and now with them. My husband and I aren’t going to treasure all of our home improving memories. We are going to be thinking about how we took the family camping or about our first ever vacation as a family of 6.

As long as we continue to value what is important (family, kids, relationships,memories) I am going to quit beating myself up over stuff that’s not. (trim, cabinet doors, washing the car) I’ll have plenty of time to work on that to do list someday, I may never have another opportunity to work on what’s important.

So, if you come over and see all I haven’t done, smile, because now you know what I have been doing instead. 🙂

In love, in friendship, in Him,

Dear God

Dear God,

I… feel like a failure. Sad, isn’t it? I know you tell me I’m not. I know how valuable I am to you, but honestly, sometimes I don’t think it’s enough.

I hate balancing the checkbook. We have minimalized so much and it doesn’t seem like it’s helping. Oh, I know, it’s only by your grace that we have even made it through the last 4 months. There is absolutely no other way to explain it. But there is still some stuff I’ve had to let go. Some medical bills. Not too big of a deal, right? They usually wait. Usually. I hate that it’s come to this though. After Chad’s last job, we were doing well, now it seems we are right back where we were before then.

I know that this isn’t even the hardest times we will go through. Our house isn’t much. It’s small. Much too small by American standards for a family of 7, yet I do fear that we won’t be able to keep up and we will lose it. Sometimes, by faith, I want to finish our “renovations”. Put the trim up, repaint, replace the flooring where needed, but then I think “what’s the point, if we just lose it later?”.

Then let’s get to that whole family of 7 thing. Really? Why now? When I should be rejoicing over new life, I am gripped by the fear of “how?”, “why?” and “what do people think of me? Us?”. Sometimes I am so ashamed of my pregnancy. I truly want people to think my weight gain is from a bad diet. I see and hear what people say about people like us, not realizing they are talking about us too. It hurts. A lot. It causes me to retreat in my shame. Even when people are positive and excited, my insecurities wonder if they are saying one thing to me, and whispering behind their hands when I am not looking. I am having a hard time believing in the sincerity of people right now.

And, God, sometimes I hear you. Yep, I hear the whispers, I feel the nudge… And I flat out ignore you. “Pray for her”, “ask him if you can pray for him”, “step forward, ask for prayer”, “call her, tell her you need to talk”. I don’t do it. I hear it all, and I just turn my back. I say no.

I feel like I should be doing something. I know you told me to serve my family, but I wonder if it’s enough. Should I be doing more? Is this really where you want me? My service to my family, sponsoring Compasson kids… Is that what you want from me right now? I want to help bring in a income, but do people hire pregnant ladies? Am I worrying about things that aren’t supposed to be MY worries?

I feel like I am skating through life right now. I don’t know WHAT to do. I want things to be easy (hey, I’m being honest), but I also want things to be blessed. Like Laura Story sings:

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I’m thankful, so thankful, for so much. We have had a good summer. We have been blessed enough to go to the beach (came back to no job), go camping, spend time together as a family… And during those days I felt so sick from pregnancy, I could barely function, I was grateful that my husband WAS here to help.

Sometimes blessings come at a great great cost. And it’s not the blessings I am worried about, I know those will come. It’s the cost that causes me to sleep restlessly, wake too early, nap too much, and grump at people.

I know in my head that you are there, but sometimes I feel in my heart, that I am gone. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Just being honest.


P.S. I’m sure I have forgotten a lot of things in my heart and on my mind. Can I reserve the right to come back and talk about it some more?

P.P.S. I am going to hit publish before I doubt myself. Sometimes people think I have it all together and I surely don’t.

P.P.P.S. thank you for listening, God. I love you.

I Choose

Life hasn’t gone according to (my) plans this year.

Chad lost his job. Twice. In 6 weeks.

I’m pregnant. 16 weeks.

Our dishwasher started leaking all over.

My computer up and died.

Our house is too small. (according to some people)

There’s too much month at the end of our money.

And on and on and on. Nobody chooses this kind of life, right?

I’ve been angry, ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, sad, jealous, envious and on and on and on.

I could be choosing joy, but I’m not. I’m choosing to respond to life with every negative emotion you can imagine. I may not choose what happens in life, but I sure as heck have been choosing how I respond.

This realization hit me square in the heart today. It was an email that a friend forwarded to me. A blog post from Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience. I only made it halfway through her post when I noticed her name. Sara. And I remembered her. I only discovered her blog shortly before she passed away, but I saw the indelible impression she left on many people. I read through many of her blog posts. I was mesmerized with her story. With her. Because in the midst of pain, in the moments of death… She chose joy. Always. It’s what people remember her for. Her joy. Her ability to love, to serve and to give, in the midst of an illness that she did. not. choose. She couldn’t choose her circumstances, but she chose how she would respond. Over and over, SHE CHOSE JOY.

I can too. Even when life is not going my way. Especially when life is not going my way.

Chad and I sat and watched a video about Sara, made for InCourage’s Irl conference. Afterwards, I said “wow. I feel like a whiner”. He said “you too, huh?”. Even after death, she is touching the hearts of people. I want to be like Sara.

Grab your tissues, and friends, choose joy. I’m going to.

Sara’s Story Final on YouTube