Thursday, August 25, 2011


This doggy totally made me cry. Inspirational pets are totally my bag.

A Dog Called Faith

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An open letter to Daphne on her first birthday

Dear Daphne,

Today you are one year old, so that means it is your first birthday. Birthdays are pretty awesome affairs, and I am writing a letter to you because you won't remember it.

We celebrated you already, and I will fill you in on that more later (you had a rocking party), but I really wanted to make mention of some of the ways you have astonished me this year.

The first time I saw you, you looked at me like, "Oh! There you are! I've been looking everywhere for you!" You still look at me like that but with more food on your face.

So a year ago today, you weighed 7 lbs and 10 oz. You were 20.5 inches long. Today, after waiting two hours at the doctor's office during which you opened every drawer, pulled every poster off the wall and charmed every person there, we found out you weigh 21 lbs and 1/2 oz. You are 30.5 inches long. Doctors are real big on accuracy. The real news is that I weigh a whole lot less than I did a year ago, so I'm celebrating that too.

I don't know a lot of babies. I mean, I didn't before I met you, and so I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty sure you're brilliant and extremely advanced. You've done a lot of stuff that some of my friends from college still can't do.

Some of my friends said they cried on their baby's first birthday. I didn't cry or feel any nostalgia or melancholy. Honestly, Daphne? I feel so blessed that God let us have this year with you. You're so healthy and smart and fun, and I know that some families can't say the same of their one year old. When celebrating your birthday, I can't help but mourn for your cousin Dallas born on the same exact day and in heaven now. Why would I cry because you've grown? I'm so happy that you're here!

Your Dad and I are pretty much gobsmacked by you daily. After you go to bed, we sit around and talk about everything you did that day. We try to imitate your new phrase, "Ducka ducka ducka," to each other and we smile and laugh and love each other even more than ever because of you.

I pray that we have many more birthdays to celebrate, but even if we don't, I'm overwhelmed and grateful for this first one. You are so dear to me, Daphne.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Real romance: Part 2

After Jon read Part 1, I asked him, "What do you think I'm going to write about next?"

He said, "The first two years. Hell."


Like most new couples, we were so infatuated with each other in the beginning. We wrote love poems, marveled over how much we both loved sweet and sour chicken, and admired our differences.

Several factors led to the infatuation breakdown. First? Marriage and the stress that comes from living together. Second? Being married to someone we barely knew. Third? No money, no jobs. Four? Both of us came from homes that struggled with conflict. Neither of us really knew how to have a healthy relationship.

It seems outrageous to me to sum up the first two years of our marriage by saying we fought a lot and even talked seriously about divorce. It's outrageous because that sentence is so small compared to the enormity of what we went through. So many days I felt our relationship was like broken porcelain. I knew I could put it back together again with hard work and I would labor over it, struggling to control Jon, struggling to control circumstances beyond my control. I felt like the pieces were all at my feet and that somehow it would be reparable.

One day, I knew it wouldn't be fine. I looked at the broken pieces and found some irreparable, knew there were missing pieces. We talked to other people. We tried to make lists. We made "I feel" statements. We forgave each other and consistently brought up the issues that were 'forgiven.' I know there were good times, too, but what we both remember was being constantly at odds.

I started drinking again after over a year of sobriety. I talked to a friend who said divorce would be better than struggling all our lives. Several friends. This combination led to Jon moving out. I did not respect him, I did not respect our marriage, and I was tired of trying so hard to make it better. Certainly Jon played his own part in everything, but I'm not going to highlight his flaws. I know he would agree that we were both at fault.

I can remember thinking that I wasn't going to dwell on the fact that my marriage failed. I was going to just start over.

Then? I got the stomach flu.

Jon was staying with his brother at the time, but we still were on stilted speaking terms. I called him and asked him to bring me a Sprite, that I was in bed horribly sick. My husband, who had plenty of valid reasons not to come help me, did indeed bring me a Sprite. He came and took care of me for two days. That was the turning point.

It amazes me that God used that time to help us. The stomach flu saved our marriage!

I started going to AA after that, and Jon was very encouraging, attended meetings with me, forgave me so freely. I started dedicating myself to praying for him daily because it helped me to see things from his point of view. I also started going to therapy, which changed my life. I had learned so many incorrect ways to deal with life when I was a child and it took time for me to teach myself new and better ways.

Again, I highlight what I went through, what steps I took. This is not Jon's blog, and if he wants to share his role, he can. I can say that changing me, my thoughts and expectations, helped me tremendously when it came to overlooking his flaws and being merciful towards him.

Our relationship didn't become perfect, but it became peaceful where it had been tumultuous. We really started healing and working as a team. Team Minor, we say as we bump fists.

Part 3 of our real romance? Just this: Real romance isn't flowers and fairy tales. It's dedicating yourself to the person you vowed to be with. It doesn't matter that friends or society tells you that it would be better to give up when times are tough. GOD HONORS YOUR DEDICATION! and He will see you through. Romance is knowing where we've been and never going back there. Our romance is based on trust and mutual respect. We want better and we're willing to be selfless to get there together.

*Note* This advice is for Christian couples. I know that people who aren't Christians can stay married, but I have no idea how. God really is what kept us together.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Real romance: Part 1

When I was 25, I did not picture myself as a married woman. My mental future consisted of me being fabulous and glamorous, highly successful in my career, floating between boyfriends and overall being independent and loving it. The words "settling down" equaled "death by drowning" and the idea that one man and I would be together for life? Absurd.

This girl? Single.For.Life.
I simply thought I would prefer life if I lived it entirely for myself.

And then... I met Jon.

Actually, the first time I saw Jon, I was scanning the room of a Bible study I had joined to accompany someone else. This person's mother asked me to accompany her, and what could I say? In all honesty, I liked the idea of attending a Bible study. I liked God, but I had no concept of living in the light or living in darkness, for that matter. I was scanning the room for cute boys, boys I had a mind to corrupt. It sounds ridiculous now, but it's true. I was attracted to the idea of stealing their innocence. My life was this way. To someone who has never been there, it must seem outrageous, but all the same, this is true.

So, I see this boy, the cutest one in the room, and I think to myself, "Well, I'll be nice and save him for the girl I'm here with." Really. That's what I thought. Writing this is making me think how silly and vain I was, but, this is the real story...

We continue to go to this Bible study, but really I'm not sure why. I never talked to the cute boy, I never talked to anyone. Immediately after Bible study (and sometimes before), she and I went to the bar. Yet, I did learn from the people there and I was very attracted to God in them. I just had no intention of changing my life in any way. I was somehow comfortable going to Bible study drunk. That sentence actually describes my teenage years and early 20s.

The cute boy, of course, was Jon. He was so intense, so brutally honest. I remember one night he asked for prayer because he was struggling with lust. I was astonished that someone would be so vulnerable and so trusting. I was shocked that the group was sincere and helpful instead of deriding him. I was so attracted to him after that one admission.

He never talked to me either, though. Once, after I bleached my brown hair blond, he said, "Did you do something to your hair?" I laughed, flirted; he said, "I liked it better before."

Shortly after our one conversation, the Bible study was over. I thought about him, though. I fantasized that my car would break down and he would somehow be near and help me change the tires or whatever. I think back now and I'm not surprised. Of course I would fantasize about the boy who insulted my hair and never talked to me!

One year later. One year of careening down further and further into drugs, alcohol, sex, and other destructive lifestyle decisions. One year later, I see him again. At the library.

Checking my email on the computer terminal; he's on the opposite side. I smile. He says, "Joanne?" Ha!

"No, Joan. How are you?"

We talk. He says he's going to school for journalism. I was a journalist. At this dark stage in my life, I see hope, I see light. I have never in my life given a boy my phone number. I give him mine and say, "If you ever want to talk about journalism, call me."

I left the library, called my mother, and told her that I met the boy that I was going to marry. This is all true.

He called me the very next day and asked me to dinner. I genuinely thought he wanted to talk about journalism. When we got to the restaurant, it was so clearly a date. He was so charming, so funny, and still so intense and honest. He told me about recovering from alcoholism and addiction. He told me about how Jesus captivated him, rescued him. He told me all these things, and he listened to what became my confessions. My reality looked so dark next to his. I truly felt like he had all the answers - honestly? like he could save me.

We were engaged three months later. Married five months after that. Then? I was certain I had made the worst mistake of my life. Part 2 to follow...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A year already??

One year ago, I was five days from my due date. I constantly thought my water broke and that I would go into labor at any second. Of course, she was actually born nine days after that, so I had no reason to worry about an early arrival.

One year later? I'm stereotypically floored by how fast it all went. I look at my daughter and I think I still have a tiny baby.

Two weeks old here.
Time is so strange. My grandma turned 79 on July 29, and I asked her when she started to feel like a grown up. She had twins just months after she turned 20, so I thought surely she has felt old forever! Grandma laughed at me and said she still doesn't feel like a grown up. Her favorite memories are of going to the nickel "picture show" in Chicago. She said that whenever she has a great day or sees something hilarious, her first thought sometimes is, "Oh, I can't wait to tell mom that." Her mom died 35 years ago.

Here is my baby today.
11 months old.
It doesn't matter that I still feel like she's a newborn, that I still feel like a kid myself sometimes. Time proverbially marches on and my kid can eat a whole banana, whole avocados now.

We're so blessed that she's healthy and strong and smart. I know this but I take it for granted too. I want to hold her next to me forever, but I know that these years passing will shock me and she will be screaming at me to leave her alone before I even realize what's happening.

For now, I'm going to enjoy her peace and her need and I'm going to revel in her moments as they astonish me daily.