It’s Friday AGAIN????


Today is Friday and it seems as if just yesterday was Friday. I remember when I was around 18 and flew to my best friend’s house to go to her dad’s 50th surprise party. I remember feeling that 50 was pretty old. Now, I’m a decade older than 50 & am in a little panic. When I was a kid all of the Fridays seemed as if they took “forever” to get there. And now in the blink of an eye it is Friday AGAIN! I think that the older I get, the more I feel as if though the days and weeks and years are wooshing by me, the things that I wanted to accomplish are not. Almost two years ago, I began my journey back into my art business and though I am in the thick of it now and I have gotten a lot of my ducks in a row, I think I expected more happening by now. My daughter kind of accidentally started her mismatched china business a little over two years ago and she could definitely support herself by now. What is the difference? The thing is, I think now days the youth have mastered the art of marketing through social media, which I feel I may be a bit challenged in. She has gotten into photo shoots and Event Magazines that list her company fernandbone.com regularly. She is constantly booking events and works hard doing it. When she had her hand-made shop on Etsy, she was far surpassing me in sales and charging much more and getting it!  Though my shop had been opened longer. It is funny, when your kids are a success, you are so proud and not the very least bit jealous but at the same time, it makes me wonder what I could be doing differently by learning from her?

fernandbone.com an early glimpse of Brooke’s mismatched china business at her own wedding!

My cousin was in Marketing for most of her career and so successful that she created her own little niche in the business world, specializing in demographic research and ended up with Alaska as one of her biggest accounts! So I know that it is possible to just learn a new thing and figure it out. But I wonder if my time has come and gone? Once upon a time, I had a huge customer base, was taking orders and  was the one supporting myself. Though my husband at the time, had a very good job, I was definitely supplementing our income and for a while, I had reps and a following that I’m not sure I appreciated as much back then as I should have. Now that I am back trying to revive my art business, a few of my best customers from back in the day,  have encouraged me and been very inspiring. But the trick is zeroing in on today’s market. What are people looking for? I mean the last shows I did regularly were before this century, right before we opened our store in 2000.

Lets face it. I was spoiled by my success. It all just fell into my lap once upon a time when my friend took a painting that I painted as a gift for her to her work just to show a friend, I’d painted one of her kids in a tub,  and she came back with 40 orders for me! I have to wonder, did I rock the boat by not sticking with it? I mean the message was pretty clear with that first order. I was talking to a friend yesterday who reminded me that when things happen so easily we need to be more aware!  Though opening that little store made me have to put things on hold, it was very successful  for just the first year, which is usually unheard of.  Though an earthquake shut down our little store. Was that just a fluke or…  Am I not descearning the messages correctly? Should I have revived my art business back then instead of going to work for someone else? Is it too late? My dream has always been to write my poetry and reach people and make them smile with my art. I don’t necesarrily love working for someone else.  I love what I do. I want to succeed. Though, I know that doing shows, having a little corner in a consignment shop and selling on Etsy is not paying the bills like I thought it would…. and that the Fridays are all landing in my lap way too fast. I know I just need to figure it out. Though I realize that it is not officially a Bible verse in the Bible, I do believe that God helps those that help themselves. And yet I am not sure how much harder I can work. Some nights I don’t close up my studio doors until well after 10 PM at night after a day of creating. And yet I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. Pray for me please.

Some of my designs both old and new… DianesDesignsbyDiane on Etsy

 

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Still The One


friends two little girls with braids

“Love doesn’t keep track of wrong doings.”

It took me over a half a lifetime to understand what that one piece of wisdom that God  has tucked in HIS WORD over and over again, really means. I’m not sure  why it took me so long to truly understand just how simple this message was. For years, it seems as if I’ve been angry at something or someone. My dad used to say that I had a Forest going, with all of the leaves I turned over. I wasn’t always like that. I was a happy little girl. For the most part. But people hurt me and I let it get to me.

peaceful forest

A few years ago, I had a falling out with my childhood Best friend. We’d lasted for over a half a century without so much as a cross exchange. Well, at least on my part. She was the “alpha” in our relationship and pretty sharped tongued at times, and said it like it was. I’d accepted that part of her personality and though she hurt my feelings at times, I’d dealt with it. And then in one stupid afternoon, I used my words to retaliate and let her know that it wasn’t okay. It wasn’t that they were fighting words, or even that they ended our visit on  the spot. It was just that I’d had it and I stood up to her for the first time and it surprised us both and for the most part, changed  the future of our friendship. I am not saying that it is not good to be honest with your feelings, nor to stand up for yourself when the occasion calls. I am just saying that for me, it was not worth it. And it kind of changed the dynamics of a life long friendship. Though we’ve shared a thousand phone calls and texts and emails, and have confided and laughed and cried and laughed again since that last time, I hadn’t been back for a visit since that fateful confrontation. Until…  this last weekend, my daughter and I went to visit her. And she was still the one who I walked to kindergarten with, and failed my driver’s license test in front of… TWICE. She was still the one who was in both of my weddings and I in hers. She was still the one who let me drag her around as I searched for the perfect “first dance” song. She was still the one who ironed my wedding dress twice! We were even both pregnant with our daughters at the same time. She is two months older than me and her daughter is two months older than Brooke! And she is still the one who invested in my daughter’s dream, helping her pay for her first year of school.  She is still the one who my dad sent for when I went through a bad break up, and still the one who was my friend when I sometimes felt that I had no one else. And she was the first one I called when my dad died. She is still the one who has beat this damn cancer over and over again for the last twenty years. We’d planned a visit for her birthday this year, but then she canceled saying that her treatments were taking a toll on her and we should wait until later. But her sister (also my dear friend) called and said not to wait. So my sweet daughter piled in the car with me and we took that six-hour round trip laughing and crying both ways. door ajar The house was still the house she’d designed with loving care. The scent of her home still enveloped us as we walked through her door that I hadn’t walked through for a few years. And there she was. They’d gotten her a hospital bed. We covered her with the blanket we brought her for her birthday. She was able to get up and eat some lunch. I fed her soup. The next day she went on hospice. On the way home, my daughter begged me to get a mammogram. I got one the next day. I guess I am sharing this because I have learned that we don’t always have to make it about us. We don’t always have to be so offended. I mean after all, it worked for over fifty years the way it was. I do have regrets. I wish that I’d just “let it go” because we were best friends forever, we wrote to each other on stationery we picked out especially for the other  and used sealing wax to make it even more special.

sealing wax

Our friendship was one of the greats, the way we loved each other, and the history we shared would be hard to duplicate. But I still regret that one month where we didn’t know what to do so we did nothing. Last night, I read all of our emails since 2007 And you know what? God really has it right…. “Love doesn’t even notice when it’s done wrong.” 1 Corinthian 13:5

friends crying hugging

Behind The Door Of Yesterday


girl at a new door out in field

Behind the doors of yesterday

girl carrying huge key

we all hold that perfect key

ballerina

unlocking places in our past

ballerina sitting on floor

where shadows used to be

dancing in the wind

Dancing upon moonbeams  until all  the music dies

SONY DSC

letting go of all the pain as the broken winged one flies…

floor crying girl

Falling hard from our dreams, when we finally land

 baby in a bubble

searching for our innocence all where we first began.

finding Diane3

Diane Reed

2013

As I continue to work on my book, I feel stuck. I am in a place of pain. Of total confusion. I guess ambivalence would be the best word to describe where I have landed. I keep going backwards. I need to start moving forward. I have a story to tell. A lot has to do with my past. I have the framework sitting there for me to build upon and yet I am not sure why I need to write these silly poems that have nothing to do with me today….

Or do they?

Ironing Boards Inside My Wall


 

orange crate shelves

Orange crates beneath some wood

Ironing boards inside a wall,

ironing board cupboard

Dancing on that empty floor

back then we thought we had it all~

 moving day hug

Defrosting the fridge with a hammer

defrosting with a hammer

Glass door knobs and yellow tile

yellow tile in kitchen 2

Wooden crates and mason bricks

mason shelves

Still somehow,  make me smile

Long before Pottery Barn or Thomasville

writing a check

Before credit cards statements each month…

There was a time when we lived on dreams

And somehow that was enough.

cute romantic couple dancing

Diane Reed

Working Hard For The Money


Soooo, a while back my daughter called me when I was at work and  asked me where I was. When I told her that I was working she said; ” Oh my poor mama.” and then sang to me; “Working Hard For The Money… so hard for it honey…”  in her beautiful voice. The other day… I heard another tune humming in my own head, … Cinderlla, Cinderlla… feeling very sorry for myself as I came upon this scene.  You see where I work, there are ten of these. And the five outdoor ones all look pretty much the same every morning, this time of year.

Those “guests” have no idea what they are asking, when they ask : why the outside tubs cost $4 more an hour to rent than the indoor ones!

Sigh… Big Sigh… Feeling very sorry for myself sigh…  This job is for a young kid or a man I think to myself as I trudge up and down the hills, under the tubs, messing with the gadgets and the workings below, turning the water on, turning it off, adding chemicals, testing, and recording and covering each one of them. It’s a lot more work than anyone ever considers so when you ask why do the outside tubs cost more per hour… I want to say… I will tell you why… in a little louder voice than I do…  However I just sweetly say, “Well, sir, the outdoor tubs require just a bit more maintenance. And that usually is sufficient. I mean it is just $4. Come on!

No really, I know that I am lucky to have a job and  when all of the leaves are cleaned out, it is a very beautiful place to work, among the nature and all. And I wear my fitbit (pedometer) to show myself the exercise I am getting.  On a good day I can usually walk out of there with at least 4 miles under my belt!

I used to be the Event Coordinator there, but that job was eliminated due to the economy. All of my bosses were let go through out the years that I have been there,  so I feel pretty blessed that they have kept me on. If you follow me at all, you know that I owned a little gift shop once upon a time and then lost it due to circumstances beyond my control, and so I realize that everything is relative.  I could feel sorry for myself and spend all of my time counting all my setbacks or… I could begin counting all of my blessings. One being… that in the end, when all is said and done,  I actually have the ability to make a tub look like this…

What I have really learned through my journey is this…life happens. No, crap happens. Sometimes you feel as if you get more of your share than others. I know, I’ve been there. But it is in how you handle the hard times that matter. Charles Swindoll said it best:  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it…. I have to remind myself daily.

ATTITUDE

by

Charles Swindoll

 “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company… a church… a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Charles Swindoll

And sometimes at the end of the day, God rewards me with something much greater than any wage I could ever earn….

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes”

Scatter Rugs


We have had a box of flooring ready to be added to, for over two years. It seems as if there is always a bill to pay or something else that trumps over me getting my new carpet or wood floor. And so I have strategically laid scatter rugs to cover up all the horrid spots on our rug. Yesterday, my husband and I were moving our living room furniture around in preparation for company we were expecting. My husband told me that they wouldn’t notice. But I argued that their house was so beautiful and I was embarrassed. So we fevericiously went about our day of cleaning, focusing around those darn spots. And God forbid, finding spots on the scatter rugs!

We were actually having a good time laughing and joking as we positioned things just so. I had gone grocery shopping and was confident about the meal I had planned to serve. It was just those darn spots. My husband kept saying that they wouldn’t notice. It was our turn for our small group to come to our house for Bible Study and I was really stressing over it when my husband suggested, maybe we will get new carpet when we finally don’t care about the spots. You see, we had almost gotten new carpet several times but like I said something always got in the way of our plans.  It was the little thorn in my side.

That is when I began to really think about it. Our life has always been a little bit more of a struggle financially than I would have liked. We both were raised without really having to worry about money. And yet, in our adult lives it has always been an issue. Sometimes less than others but never really getting comfortable. And something dawned on me. I never really just let go and gave it all to God. I have always been leaning on my own values rather than HIS. I dont’ think I have ever let HIM really  carry anything if I am being honest here. And so I am leaning back and letting it all go. Everything. Financially, and every other aspect of my life.  I think that I have finally realized that I have to let go.  And…when it comes right down to it. It doesn’t really matter if spots are showing or I have a beautiful floor. For if  HE is there, my eyes won’t be on the floor.

The Scent Of Shopping


There is just something about the scent of shopping that calms me. I walk in the doors at Target and instantly my bad mood vanishes. Why is that? And I am not trying to be metaphoric when I talk about the scent of shopping, it is the kind that hits you like a rubberband and sends you right to that time in your life that makes you remember. My memory of shopping has always beeen a good thing. It seems as if I can always count on seeing something new or something that I “want” or “need” and as I drop it in my cart, a feeling of satisfaction follows it.

Maybe it is the memory of my dad and I shopping together. We always had the best times and I was dubbed his little shopping buddy. As a young child, he didn’t have a lot, though, as an adult, he quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was pretty successful.  I grew up in what you might call a privileged childhood. The window of my bedroom had an ocean view and I grew up not hearing the same discussions that my kids have had to, about money and the lack of it,  about bills, due dates and the arguments that sometimes followed…

My childhood had it’s issues but one of them was not money though I was not spoiled. I had an allowance and was taught the value of the dollar. However, I do remember oddly enough, the one thing my dad was worried about was retirement. He was always planning some new retirement investment and  even discussed his strategies with me. Unforunately, he died at 51 jogging around our beautiful neighborhood and never really got to relax and enjoy much of it , which made a big impact on me through the years.

I have never needed a lot. I always looked at price tags and would even tell my dad I didn’t like something if I thought it was too over priced. Even so…  I have an inkling that I have had lessons that I have needed to learn about the value of several differnt things in my lifetime. I am not sure what God is preparing me for but I have learned a lot by my own mistakes and the mistakes of my friends. I’ve had friends who had nothing as kids and then made it big and lost everything and have had a difficult time dealing with their lack of. Having nothing and then almost too much and then nothing again. Jesus is a story teller, he taught many lessons with metaphors. Perhaps, why I love them so much. But I figure there has got to be a lesson in here somewhere for me.

I have been reading the Prodigal God  http://eprodigals.com/the-prodigal-son/prodigal-god-tim-keller.html?gclid=CJWXqry_7LICFcV7QgodPxIAaQ And it is so timely for me! It is from such a different perspective. Not really about just forgiving the younger son. But Jesus was teaching a lesson about the older brother’s attitude more than anything. I have found myself in both places through out my life. I have been the Prodigal son, needing my Father’s forgivenss for squandering what I had foolishly and then also the Prodigal Brother, resenting what was given in what I determine as being  unearned.

I have been there a few times. Financially devestated, but by the grace of God, always having “just enough” Always working towards more and sometimes even getting it. But maybe that is the lesson.  God’s Word is like that scent, the familiarity of walking through the doors feeling the want and need rise up inside of me, always the chance to find something new. But how much do I drop in my cart? How much do I take with me out the door? I have finally realized I have been looking in all the wrong places to fill up my cart.

I don’t have to walk through the doors of a store with an empty shopping cart in anticipation of getting filled up, I can go back to that familiar place, the one that always seems to welcome me with open arms… and everyday, find something I “need” and “want.”

●The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”  (Luke 15:21) But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  (Luke 15:22) Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  (Luke 15:23) For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.  (Luke 15:24)

The Love Template


When I was nine, I wanted to write a novel. When I was twenty, I thought I was ready. I thought I knew it all. Now I am twice the age and I am sure I know even less than I thought I did, over three decades ago. I have always loved the concept of, what I know for sure…. Because the statement alone does not profess expertise of a certain subject, it only explores what I think I know about it as it relates to me.

Take love for instance. If I could go back and rewind my life and insert wisdom in different periods of it, how would I live it differently? What would I tell the younger version of me? Would I have listened? I wonder. How funny it would be if this older version of ourselves could pop in during different crisis in our life and tell us what to do. Would we even listen? I guess, maybe once we realized it was really ourselves, someone who had lived through the messes we got ourselves into and had the wisdom of hind sight, we might, I mean who argues with themselves? Well, cough, choke and sputter. I think I do, every day of my life. I reason with me every day. I berate myself for the insane choices I have made at times and want to ask myself; “Really?” in regard to half the dumb moves I have made over the years and very recently as well.

And yet, I wonder, what have I learned? I question myself all the time. Do I have good advice for myself, let alone anyone else? Do my mistakes and the lessons I have learned from them, hold any value in helping others not make the same mistakes? If I had to say what I really know for sure what would I say?

My advice right this minute is to be true to you. I am not sure that I can truly say that I have done that. But I know that I am working on it. I wish I knew then what I do now. My heart is full as I am filled with regrets. I wish that I would have been stronger and listened to my heart. I am angry now with the adults in my life that pushed their own agendas on me. I understand that they only wanted the best for me. I really do. And yet, it was their version of the best. I was not brave enough then to ask them….”And how is your version of the BEST working out for you?” Because from where I stood… my response would be “not great!” All I know now is listening to them was not being true to me, to what I wanted. It was not just me being young and not wanting to hear what they had to say, it was actually not always the right advice. Just that simple.  Just like today, my kids have to learn for themselves what is right for them. I can’t push my own agenda on them. What might be perfectly right for me, may not be for them. I can share my lessons and hopefully they will have less hard ones by what I share but we all need to learn by our own choices. God gave us that right. It was His idea. We get free choices. Sometimes I wish that He would just tell me what to do but in His wisdom, He gives us all a template, it is our choice how close we stay inside the lines of it.

I  guess it sounds kind of vague when I say that I wasn’t really allowed to love the people I loved, I was pushed and nudged and berated. And I stupidly listened to all the white noise, the voices that criticized me, as my heart was screaming to be heard. All of my life, I have let others tell me what to do. I never really ever relied on where my own heart led me or my gut instincts. I have felt things with my heart and then second guessed myself, asking others what they thought. Now I wonder why did I care so much what others thought, I mean really why? I can’t believe that I put so much weight on everyone else’s opinion but mine.

It started as far back as I can remember. I was told that I should forgive, I was told to look the other way. And then I was told to not forgive, to run as fast as I could, to shut doors, and move on. I fooled myself into thinking that shutting doors was empowering, and giving second chances was forgiving. I put up with things far too long in the name of forgiveness and not wanting to be called a quitter. I stayed in situations that I never should have and yet the time finally came when I was not just hurting me, I was hurting the ones I brought along in my crazy making and I had to save them.

My childhood was filled with uncertainty. I was always worried. I was in such a hurry to grow up so that I could control my own destiny. Mistake number one! Who in this world ever controls their own destiny? And if I was controlling mine, I was sure making a mess of it. And if my template was what I learned growing up, that was mistake #2.

The first time I fell in love, I fell hard. And I think that I have been trying to survive that love ever since. It was intense and new and exciting and terribly, terribly damaging. The abuse that I endured was not so much physical though there was some pushing and shoving and yeah a little more than that, but it was so much more than that. It was so emotionally challenging that I constantly felt as if I were at the bottom trying to reach the surface in order to come up for air.

Everyone had their opinions about that one and I finally succumbed. Between the abuse and people’s well meaning counsel I conceded. We were engaged by that time, so it didn’t mean just a break up, it meant relinquishing a dream we had built together. When it was over, I thought I had died. And I definitely thought that I wouldn’t survive the pain. But when I finally was able to let go, I felt what I thought was empowerment. As I look back, I realize that I was mistaken, what I thought was strength, when the pain seemed to subside, was more like just being numb to it. Now I think it was just part of my heart dying.

Next, there were a handful of guys who I dated, some I remember more than the other, but for the most part, the emotional pull was not there. Maybe I was just not going there again. Falling in love had once been all I ever wanted and now it was something my heart seemed to avoid. Love meant pain I conceded.

Until, I met the boy, a boy who rocked my world, different than all the others. He was quiet and yet, a leader among his friends. He commanded respect without demanding it. He was so different than anyone I had ever known and for some odd reason he loved me back. All his friends were blown away and told me so this boy could have any girl he wanted. Everyone thought he would be the last of the friends to marry. And yet he ended up becoming my husband.  He was tan with broad shoulders and very distinct features. He looked a lot like Michael Landon with a little John Wayne mixed in and he took my breath away for years. But it wasn’t just about looks with him. He was special. He had this wonderful heart that I got to see. He had views and opinions and yet he didn’t push them down your throat. He only offered them if you asked. He was perfect in my eyes and I was thrilled that somehow he had chosen me. He would walk into a room years after we were married and I would feel giddy. I loved him so much.

But what do they say? If you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you are destined to marry an alcoholic. That made me so angry when I heard that because I heard that after I had married him. This wonderful boy had one flaw, his very own pain, not to mention the little gene in his genetic makeup that caused addiction. I couldn’t believe that I had found myself in the very place I had run from. I was worrying about him coming home okay and driving drunk. I was worried about his health and safety, not to mention his job that he had worked so hard to grow in.  And I was the total textbook codependent. An enabler, trying to re-fix what had been wrong in my childhood. This time, I thought I was going to make it work. I think I tried with all my heart until I almost lost it, my heart that is. Finally I realized that I could not save him. But I could save me and I could save my kids and so I did.

Where my dad was not a raging alcoholic, my husband was. I had bitten the head off of the proverbial chocolate bunny and I was in really, really deep. There were a few times that I almost left and my mom talked me out of it. Some of my well meaning friends from church persuaded me to try, guilting me into it by reminding me about all the things I already knew about vows and loyalty and forgiveness. But this time I had my kids to think about. And it was only getting worse. I finally pulled the plug. We had tried before and he was stubborn. He was not budging and so I took my kids and walked away before it was too late. . But I always wondered if it was too late. The guilt I still carry because of my divorce is excruciating. I have read verse after verse in the Bible trying to get some relief at no avail. Intelectually, I realize that God would not have wanted me to stay in the situation that I was in and that all I need to do is put everything at the foot of the cross. I know that and have and do daily, I know, I know once is enough, but I will always second guess myself and wonder “if just perhaps,” I might have left but not been so quick to divorce, if things might have turned out differently. Like they say, hind sight is 20/20. We see things much more clearly after the fact. Yet,  in a way, I don’t. I used to be so sure that leaving was always the right answer. Abandond ship, take no prisoners, sink or swim, every man for himself. And yet with all the tools we have now days, I am not sure that not exausting all the tools is not an option before sealing the deal? It has been a thought I have wondered about since finally relenting and recently going to therapy myself. If nothing else, it has brought up a lot of questions I have begun to ask myself.

I was so in love with my husband and yet year after year, the things I had to deal with helped chip away at that love until it almost went away. I had to wonder if I had ever really been in love or if I had just loved the fantasy. My first husband was a man’s man. His friends came first. I know he loved me but he loved himself more. Years later when he was dying, he asked for me to forgive him. And now, especially after experiencing a good therapist, I have wondered if things had been different, if we had found a Therapist like I have now,  if we could have survived without divorce?

The thing is I was always so concerned about what others thought and yet was so stubborn. It was a crazy making dance I would do. Now I realize that I just wanted their support but not necesarrily their approval.  But at the time, approval seemed so huge. Now I know that it’s not what your mom or your friends or anyone else thinks. It has got to be between you and God. Even though I know I prayed and took it to God or thought I did,  I don’t really think I knew how back then. When my marriage fell apart, it was surreal, I felt as if I was in slow motion. I felt in labor again, the pain was inexplicable. The unfathomable had happened. Like the first break up, though now we owned a house and had kids together. It was so much more than a dream. It was a life, my life, dying. A nightmare except I could never go to sleep to escape.

No one ever taught me to fight. When I was growing up, I lived in this Polly Anna existence. I hardly ever saw my parents even argue and I don’t think they ever did. The handful of things I did manage to see, rocked my world and usually were related to my dad’s drinking but other than that. My mom seemed to just suck it up and take whatever my dad dished out. Don’t get me wrong. My dad was amazing but there was always this underlying piece that just didn’t fit.

I remember thinking as a young girl, I am never going to let anyone treat me like that. I am not sure why I thought that. I mean my dad really loved my mom and she adored him. There was just this perfect little world I lived in that almost teetered on the edge of abuse. Not physically, but in a much more ambiguous sense.

Now fast forward what seems like a thousand years and here I am, still struggling with another man, my wonderful husband who loves me. This time, I had learned, no alcoholics! So I did a one-eighty and found someone almost perfect. He loves the Lord, has never done drugs. He drinks a bit but I have never seen him drunk. In fact, he is always the designated driver for me! He came along when I was drowning. He was God sent, I am sure. He saved us. He loved us. Sure he has his faults but I have to wonder if they seem bigger to me because  of all the ones who came first. When is it his turn? Is my heart so numb that I forgot how to love the right way?

When I realized this it made me think. I know a woman who I prejudged. Not in the worst ways but it is something I don’t like about myself. The ones I usually don’t connect with at first, end up being lifelong friends. I know that about me and so I also know that my first knee jerk reaction toward someone isn’t always right on. After several casual conversations, we finally had a chance to really talk and I learned that she is slowly going blind. I mean at this point in my life, and considering my own weary eyesight, I guess we all are to some degree but she really is. She told me that she has chosen her profession to set herself up to be able to support herself since touch and not sight is the necessary tools she needs in her career choice. But no pun intended; this little piece of information made me see her in quite a different light.

That little ephiphanie has led me to a whole new platform, something I never considered before. Something I am very passionate about now. I think that the key is that everyone has a story. I wonder now if I had stayed with my first love and if we had gotten the necessary help, if it would have been different. I know now that he was dealing with his own childhood nightmares, much different than my own. My heart breaks for him as I have learned his story.  I wonder….what would have changed for us if someone had counseled us? An entirely differnt story might have played out for both of us. I do know that even though  it seemed like hell back in those days, I also look back now, at a lot of those days as “the good old days” and challenge anyone going through their own version of hell to not make such  hasty decisions. Because our first loves mold us in ways that never leave us. And if it is really true love, and really worth the work perhaps if you could get help, in the beginning, just perhaps you could not bring baggage to all the other places you end up that aren’t going to measure up to the good old days. And if nothing else, at least you will be satisfied that you tried. Because believe me, the baggage you bring from each relationship to the next becomes pretty heavy!

When I was struggling therapy used to be a dirty word. Oprah was not a household name and self help books told you to meet your love at the door naked, wrapped in cellophane. But when you were wondering where your husband was at 2 in the morning, that advice was about as helpful as telling me to jump off a bridge which was where I was headed when there was no one walking in the door for me to meet in celophane!

But today we have resources. We have counseling and mentors and churches that have much more to offer than they did when I was grasping at nothing but the white noise that bombarded me with the advice I didn’t ask for. In the end, hind sight is 20/20, you never know whether to really stay or go. I wish there was some life line that we could go to and really get God on the line and ask HIM what He would have us do. And in a way there is, He gives us prayer and the discernment to hear Him and yet it is a hard place to get to when you keep getting in the way of the answers. It takes patience and a listening spirit.

So what have I learned in the last three or so decades about love? I would say without a doubt that the Author of Love is God. Now that I am a parent, I understand the ultimate sacrifice of His love in giving His Son to us because He loved us so much and wanted us to SEE the Light. I mean if I know anything for sure, it is that God’s kind of love is the true template for all the others that come after;

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

What I know for sure is:

Love is patient, it puts up with a heck of a lot in it’s own name. It is kind, plain and simple, it is not mean.  Love does not want to see the other one hurt and avoids it at all costs. It is not jealous.  it is satisfied with just being loved back  It is not all puffed up and boastful, it does not brag and cares more about their loved one than themselves. They are proud of , and gives all the credit to the one receiving our love. They care more about the comfort of their loved one than themselves. Love does not lash out or belittle, it does not want to hurt back when their feelings are hurt and it is not easily offended. Love keeps no record of fights and arguments and wrongs we feel were committed against us. It remembers nothing negative. Love does not rejoice in sin or immortality. It is not malicious or violent. Love is honest and  celebrates the truth and everything about it. It protects and shelters the one they love, watching over and caring for without complaining.  Love puts aside it’s own wants and desires and puts the one they love ahead of themself. Love is loyal and true and can be trusted till the end of time because it never will fail or fall short. True love never gives up, it is forever.

And even though I am constantly working on it, and know that I will never measure up to this beautiful template of love we have been given. I am just happy that Love does not keep any record of my wrongs and the very good news is…. I can keep trying and I will because I am finally getting to know the Holy Spirit Who gives me HOPE to be better and love greater.

So I guess my advice would be to never give up. Sometimes it is not how you are loved but how you love that changes everything.