6 Phrases More Important Than "I Love You"

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"I love you."

It's one of the most sought after phrases in the world. The things people will do to hear someone say, "I love you," have surprised us in countless stories, movies, and songs. The things people will do for someone who loves them are equally as astounding.

Why do we love hearing, "I love you" so much? Maybe its the promise of holding a place in someones heart, or the awakening knowledge of a new significance you hold in someones life. Often its the phrase expressed before a relationship takes its next step, the expression that one is loved for all their silly quirks, for their looks, for their heart, or for who they are (the good, the bad, and the imperfection). People thrive off that idea, that they are enough, that they are someone's everything.

We love to be loved.

So why then is love such a complicated thing? Why do people who say they love each other split? Why do marriages end? Why are love songs sometimes sad? Why do broken hearts exist? How can a person who was once your everything, become a stranger... or even an enemy?

Is it because love is ultimately bad? Or even a fleeting feeling, that only some people are lucky enough to experience forever?

This week I will share my 4th Valentines Day with Ashton. In these past 4 years, we have had our ups and downs, good times and bad; and along with a lot of heartache, we have shared a lot of love.

I believe in love. I believe in its strength and significance in relationships. But I have also learned, that love isn't always enough. You need more than love to make a relationship work. Love starts many great romances, but love alone won't make a relationship last forever. 

There are six phrases that I think are as important, and possibly more important than, "I love you." Phrases that I think we should all desire to hear from those we want to be close too. Phrases that should be as important to us as a declaration of love.   

6 Phrases More Important than, "I Love You"

1. "I forgive you."
I forgive you for all the things have done, or will do, that may hurt me. I forgive the way you may lash out when you are hungry, I forgive the things you may say, when you're tired after a long day. I forgive the times you didn't even know you upset me. I forgive your big mistakes and the small ones. I forgive you for not knowing what I needed, when I thought you would, or even expected you to know. I forgive you when you fall short, because I see how hard you are trying. I forgive you the way I hope you'll forgive me, because I know neither of us our perfect.  

2. "I'll sacrifice for you."
I'll sacrifice my time for you. I'll be selfless for you. I'll stay up late with you as you learn to care for our new baby, even though I have work in the morning. I'll hold you when your sick. When you are weak, I will be your strength. I'll be there for you at 3am as readily as I would at 7pm. I'll be there when no one else is, and I'll be there 100%. In sickness and in health, my willingness to be there won't change. My sacrifice is not dependent on your state of being, but rather it is there because you exist and you are someone worth sacrificing for. 

3. "I respect you."
I respect you for who you are, and not for what I feel you deserve. I respect you because you deserve my respect, not because you earned it. I'll respect your opinions, and consider your feelings. I'll treat you like a person with your own thoughts, hopes, dreams, and desires. And, those thoughts, hopes, dreams, and desires will matter to me the way they matter to you. 

4. "I'll support you."
I'll support your hopes and your dreams. I will always have your back. You can rely on me. I'll raise you up, and never tear you down. I'll always make sure you have what you need, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I'll lift you back up when you fall.  

5. "I'll protect you." 
I'll protect you from harm. I'll protect your heart from pain. I'll protect the idea of us. I won't demean you. I'll treasure you and shield you from that evil, bad, and ugly. I won't let others put you down. You will be safe in my arms, safe in my hands, and safe in my heart. I'll be your safe haven, your safety net, and someone you can always trust. 

6. "I'm committed to you"
 I won't leave you. I will be here for you again and again. I'll make, making this work a priority in my life. I'll look back on our beginning, I'll work on our now, and I'll look forward to our future, because we are something that I want to last forever.  

Some may argue that if you 'love' someone, all these things will be part of that love. That someone who loves you automatically sacrifices for you, respects you, forgives you, supports you, protects you, and is committed to you. 

In an ideal, perfect world, I truly believe that all these attributes come together as one and are expressed through pure and unconditional charity. It is a trait we should all strive to develop. But from my experience, we are human, and we fall short of this perfection... even towards those we love.

If it was true that love was all we needed, love wouldn't be so hard, and relationships wouldn't fall apart so easy. 

The truth is there are lot of people you can love, but very few relationships that you can make last forever. That's why a person is capable of loving someone more than life, but knowing deep inside that it would never work. That is why people are capable of walking away from those they love. That is why someone can give up a life full of love for a single moment of weak and selfish pleasure. That is why people lie, steal, and cheat, to, from, and on those they love.  

I have loved a lot of people, but I am not with those people. I am with the man who gave me more than love. I am with the man who looked past my mistakes. I am with the man who sacrificed for me. I am with a man who honors and respects me. I am with a man who takes care of me in more ways than one. I am with someone who makes me feel safe and secure. I am with someone who I know will love me through the thick and the thin, who hasn't left nor will leave me when time are tough.

I am with the man who was more than an, "I love you."

I should have divorced my husband a long time ago.

Sunday, August 24, 2014
I should have divorced my husband a long time ago.

The odds were never in my favor really. I am a high risk case for early divorce, and bad marital satisfaction.

The moment I said "I do" at the age of 19 I was asking for it. I read I should wait until I was 25 if I wanted this love of mine to last. Well I didn't, I shaved 6 years off 25 without a second thought because I was in love. I was pretty much doomed the moment I put that wedding dress on my teenage body.

Neither of us had much money. He spent what he had on a ring, and all I owned went towards an old car to help us get around. We were pretty much broke before we even started our life together. I heard that will cause you to fail pretty fast too.

We didn't attend any premarital classes like the therapists would recommend, we just dove into this thing head on. We heard it was hard but we were not worried because we were crazy about each other.

We married 6 months after meeting. This is what some experts would call "marriage suicide." Because there is no way you can know someone well enough to commit your life to them in a year... let alone 6 months.

9/10 of the things statistics would say will raise, double, triple... or pretty much ensure your chances of divorce... we did.

Technically our divorce papers should have been signed *at least* a year ago.

I should have divorced my husband a long time ago.

I'm serious.

I really should have.

I could come up with a pretty good list of reasons why, and honestly, I don't think anyone would blame me. Most would see me as just another percentage point on the divorce statistical board.

I think its fair to say I was slightly naive when I got married. Naive in the sense that I thought since I had found the right person, someone that I got along with, and who made me laugh, that marriage would be easy... Even when it was hard. Meaning that if we ever struggled the struggle would be easy to combat and we would tackle it together and be happy because when you are in love, everything is easy.

I was wrong.

Being in love does not automatically make things easy.

Just because you tied the knot does not ensure you will be happy all the time.

Having someone love you does not mean you will be treated like gold all the time.

The person you love can hurt you pretty bad at times, in ways you didn't expect, and they did not necessarily intend.

Because the fact is that marriage is as much (if not more) of a roller coaster as dating.

It is tough.

I never expected to be faced with many of the trials, pain and heartache I have been faced with.

I never expected that sometimes I would cry myself to sleep.

I never expected that love would push me to my very limits sometimes.

I never expected to go through things that I truly didn't deserve.

But all these things have happened. Sometimes more than once, because guess what?

He makes mistakes.

Lots of them.

But so do I.

The truth is, neither of us is perfect. We are both pretty far from perfect and our relationship is still growing. It is a process, and it always will be a process.

Happily ever after isn't instantaneous.

Its something that takes time, effort and endless work and dedication.

But it does happen.

I should have divorced my husband a long time ago, but I didn't. It's a good thing because I have grown so much more than I ever thought was possible.

WE have grown.

Both of us.

And we are better for it.

If I threw in the towel the moment we hit our first bump in the road I would have missed out on all the beauty and hope we have experienced together.

If I quit when it got hard and I felt like I deserved so much more, I would never have learned how much I truly did have, the love you don't get until you learn to love someone for all their strengths and for their weaknesses as well.

If I opted out when I was hurt, I would have not learned how wonderful it is to forgive, and then have the favor returned to me when I fell short of what he deserved.

If I let myself believe that it wasn't a good marriage unless it was perfect, I would have never developed the gift of finding perfect satisfaction in my relationship despite all my reasons to not be satisfied.

I have learned that a happy marriage is made up of two imperfect people who realize that despite their struggles and mistakes, they are perfect for each other.

When we hit 50 years I have no doubt that we will be in more love than ever despite all the grief we have put each other through, the trials we have endured, the pain we have dealt each other, and all the countless reasons that we really should not have made it so long.

True love defies all the odds and then some. I am learning that a little more each day. I will continue to learn it in the future. And the truth is, I look forward to learning it over and over again with the imperfectly wonderful man who I "should" have divorced a long time ago... that I am forever and eternally glad I didn't.

Modest is NOT Hottest:

Sunday, June 1, 2014
Growing up in a materialistic world is a challenge, I won't sugar coat it. Pretty much all of my self esteem issues can stem back to those moments I unwisely compared myself to some unrealistic expectation found on a magazine or makeup add, of what I should look like.

The fashion industry called for shorter shorts, and lower necklines; a bigger chest and thinner legs; perfectly shaped eyebrows, and a pencil thin waist. I was told constantly exactly what I needed to look like to be hot, to be desired, and to be sexy to my male counterparts.    

Well, there was one problem. I, being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, believed in modesty. And pretty much 9 out of 10 outfits on the ads around me were anything but modest. This being considered, you can imagine my happiness when I first heard the phrase "Modest Is Hottest" at my Young Women church meeting. The idea that I could be modest AND hot was pretty appealing.

Or so it seemed.

It's been many years since I first heard that phrase, and I would like to share something I have learned after a combination of mistakes along with a whole chunk of trial and error on my part:

Modest Is NOT Hottest.

I'm coming out and telling you something I was never told, because it is something that needs to be understood.

If you want to be "hot" if you want to be "sexy" if you want to be "eye candy" you will not find that while keeping your shorts long, and necklines high.
Seductive eyes and enhanced body parts are "hot". 
Exposed stomachs and push up bras are "hot".
The teeny tiny bikini your mom would not let you buy is "hot". 
Unblemished, soft, hairless, skin showing bodies are "hot".

The idea that we can be virtuous and walk around looking "hot" at the same time does not add up. 

It does not happen.

We as women want to be loved, we want to be valued, we want someone to surprise us with roses, and write us cute love songs on their guitar, we want to be in love with a man we can call our best friend. But somewhere along the way we have been falsely led to believe that in order to be loved... in order to be valued, we need to be sexually appealing and that if we are appealing, that love we seek will come to us.

I've searched countless websites that defined the word "hot" in relation to women. Adjectives like "very good looking," "sexy," "easy on the eyes," "sexy clothes," "enticing," "intense sexual desire," came up. Not once did anyone connect "hot" with the desire to take a girl on a long walk, or to take her out just to get to know her asking nothing in return at the end of the date.

So, to the girls who inch up your skirt just a little higher than you should... To the girls who pull that shirt down a little too low... To the girls who give a little more than you should be giving, thinking you will get that love you so desperately desire, only to be told "it's not you, it's me" and left wanting what you gave back, feeling confused and broken...

Please listen to me.

I was once you.

I know what it is like to enjoy the attention I would get from the boys I knew. To hear my name be whispered among them, and feel set apart from other girls.

But I also know what its like to want to know deep inside if anyone would love me for "me" and not just how I look or the shape of my body.

I once found pleasure in being wanted, in being told I was hot. I once was willing to lower my standards a little bit every now and then to get approval from a cute boy.

I regret those moments. . . with my whole soul.

Because I know something now that I did not understand then. Something that if I did understand then... Would have prevented me from even the faintest desire to be that girl everyone wanted in that way.

I know what its like to be in love with my best friend. I know what it is like to have someone love every silly little part of me, even the ones that may annoy him at times. I know how good it feels to be told I am beautiful--even if I don't think I am. I know what it is like to laugh every day, even the bad ones, because he knows how to make me smile even when I'm hurting. I know how special it is to look at the man I love and see him looking back... every time.

But do you know what else I know? I know how hard it is to watch him live in a world full of sexual pollution and immodesty. I know how frustrating it is to be a wife in a world were girls seem to dress with less each year. Because as much as I hate to admit it, I know that every single guy is going to be affected in some way by the exposure around him.

Some will embrace it, seek it, and enjoy it. They will give you attention, they will make you feel special, and they will tell you how much they want you. And they will continue to tell you everything you want to hear, making you believe that they really care. But, once they get what they came for they will be content because they did not want anymore than that.  

But girls, I can promise you one thing. The guy you are going to want to be with, the guy who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated, is not going to be found with that mini skirt and low cut neckline. Because a guy like that will be saving his eyes only for you and because he is saving his eyes only for you, he will avoid people who make that very hard for him.

Don't be one of those people.

If you aren't congratulations--you are much wiser than I was sometimes. And, if you are please change.

Please change for yourself: you are worth much more than that. Do not think for one second that your value lays in the amount of guys who find you physically attractive.

Please change for the wives: the wives around you who you frustrate greatly (trust me, you do). Change for the wife who you eventually will be... Who if you don't understand what I'm saying now, will when you get married.

Please change for him: the man you will marry. Because to catch that guy I know and hope you want to catch and the guy you truly deserve, you need to be much more than a pretty face.

Maybe the problem is that we are trying to hard to be hot when we need to work on being beautiful.

Because a beautiful girl, one that is physically a mystery is much more appealing in the long run than the girl who bares it all.

There is a time and place to be hot, to be desired and to be sexy. And its not in the grocery store, at work, or at school. A truly wonderful man, who will treat you well, and love you forever, will want you to be beautiful for the whole world to see!

But... he will want you to be hot... only for him.

Save it for him.

10 Things Your Mom Never Told You

Friday, May 9, 2014


There it was, clear as day, two blue lines staring back at me from the small pregnancy test I had just purchased. 

I double checked...

One line = not pregnant.
Two lines = pregnant.

Yup, I was definitely pregnant. 

My heart was pounding.
My head was spinning.
My stomach was churning.

I was nervous, excited, scared, and ecstatic all at the same time.

This was actually happening! After years of dreaming, preparing and anticipating this day, it was finally here. I was going to be a mother. 

Little did I know that in nine short months I would begin the most exhausting, life changing, heart wrenching, by indescribably rewarding journey of my life. 

In nine months I would learn the price of motherhood first hand. I would know exactly what it takes to be a mother. I would gain a whole new understanding of, and gratitude for, the beautiful woman I call mother. 

I would learn about things mothers experience, that we often are unaware occur. 

Those things your mom never told you. 

1. You made her cry... a lot. She cried when she found out she was pregnant. She cried as she gave birth to you. She cried when she first held you. She cried with happiness. She cried with fear. She cried with worry. She cried because she feels so deeply for you. She felt your pain and your happiness and she shared it with you, weather you realized it or not. 

2. She wanted that last piece of pie. But when she saw you look at it with those big eyes, and lick your mouth with that tiny tongue, she couldn't eat it. She knew it would make her much more happy to see your little tummy be filled than hers. 

3. It hurt. When you pulled her hair, it hurt. When you grabbed her with those sharp fingernails that were impossible to cut, it hurt. When you bit her while drinking milk, that hurt too. You bruised her ribs when you kicked her from inside her belly, you stretched her stomach out for nine months, you made her body contract in agonizing pain as you entered this world, and it hurt. 

4. She was always afraid. From the moment you were conceived she did all in her power to protect you. She became your mama bear. She was that lady that wanted to say no when the little girl next door asked to hold you, and who cringed when she did because in her mind no one could keep you as safe as her. Her heart skipped two beats with your first steps. She stayed up late to make sure you got home safe, and woke up early to see you off to school. With every stubbed toe and little stumble, she was close by, ready to snatch you up. With every bad dream or late night fever, she was there to make sure you were okay.

5. She knows she's not perfect. She is her own worse critic. She knows all her flaws and sometimes hates herself for them. She is hardest on herself when it comes to you though. She wanted to be the perfect mom, to do nothing wrong, but because she is human, she made mistakes. She is probably still trying to forgive herself for them. She wishes with her whole heart that she could go back in time and do things differently, but she can't, so be kind to her and know that she did the best she knew how to do.  

6. She watched you as you slept. There were nights when she was up until 3 am praying that you would finally fall asleep. She could hardly keep her eyes open as she sang to you, and she would beg you to "please, please, please fall asleep!" Then when you would finally fall asleep, she would lay you down and all her tiredness would disappear for a short second as she sat by your bedside looking down at your perfect cherub face, experiencing more love that she knew was possible, despite her worn out arms and aching eyes. 

7. She carried you a lot longer than nine months. You needed her too. So she did. She would learn to hold you while she cleaned, she would learn to hold you while she ate, she would even hold you while she slept sometimes, because it was the only way she could. Her arms would get tired, her back would hurt, but she help you still because you wanted to be close to her. She snuggled you, loved you, kissing you and played with you. You felt safe in her arms, you were happy in her arms, you knew you were loved in her arms, so she held you, as often and as long as you needed. 

8. It broke her hear every time you cried. There was no sound as sad as your cries, or sight as horrible as the tears streaming down your perfect face. She did all in her power to stop you from crying, and when she couldn't stop your tears, her heart would shatter into a million little pieces. 

9. She put you first. She went without food, without showers, and without sleep. She always put your needs before her own. She would spend all day meeting your needs, and by the end of the day, she would have no energy left for herself. But the next day she would wake up and do it all over again because you meant that much to her. 

10. She would do it all again. Being a mo is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do, and it will take you to your very limits sometimes. You cry, you hurt, you try, you fail, you work, and you learn. But, you also experience more joy than you thought was possible and feel more love than your heart can contain. Despite all the pain, grief, late nights, and early mornings you put your mom through, she would do it all again for you because you are worth it to her. So this Mother's Day, tell your mom thank you, let her know on her special day that you love her, she can never hear it too many times. 

When Happily Ever After Is Not Happy

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
As a young girl, I was convinced that the most beautiful sentence in the English language was "and they lived happily ever after." Every worthwhile fairytale had to end with this key phrase, it's was not a suggestion, it was a requirement.

Belle lived happily ever after.

Cinderella lived happily ever after. 

Sleeping beauty, Snow White, and Repunzel did too. 

So would I. 

Like them I would set out to find my prince... a bit of drama, and a couple frogs later... I would finally be swept off my feet by "the one" and we would get married. I would look flawless, feel flawless, and everything would fall into place perfectly. Then we would ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Because like the princesses in the stories, as soon as I was wed, life would be bliss and happiness from that time forward. 

Then I got married. 

And I realized that happily ever after isn't always happy.

When the wedding bells die down and the honeymoon is over, life will happen. You'll have to get up for work. You might find yourself hungry cuz you or your spouse will forget to pack lunch. You'll spend mornings leaning over the toliet, sick as a dog because of the young life you carry.  You'll say something, or be told something that just comes out so wrong... and hurts. You'll disagree on what room is the office or where to put the TV. You'll hurt each other because you are human and imperfect. 
But that's not all, some of you will lose a child or a spouse. Others will be lied too by people they trust. Many will find out their wife has cancer, or their husband was just in a horrible car accident. You might be betrayed. Your child might get involved in drugs. You may lose your job. You may lose your home. 
You may lose all your hope. 

And when these things happen the last thing you will describe your life as being is "happily ever after." 

I know because I've spend countless nights crying in ultimate pain, asking God why, after I had done everything right, my life felt so wrong. 

Life has thrown me trials so bitter and painful that I thought my heart would literally break into a million pieces. 

Then I realized I had skewed the true meaning of happily ever after. 

You'll never be happy if you expect everything to fall into place perfectly. 

You'll never be happy if you expect to be treated like gold 24/7. 

You'll never be happy if you think God will never send you a trial. 

So expect things to fall apart. 

Expect to sometimes be hurt by the people you love. 

And expect trials that push you to your very limits. 

But also expect to be happy. Because living happily ever after means that despite what life throws at you, despite the hurt you cause each other, despite living in an imperfect world, you have made a choice to smile, because you know that happiness can be found in the darkest corners, and that in the end God truly will make everything right. 

Happily ever after is not an event, it's a choice.  

So choose to be happy. 

Newflash: Mirrors Lie

Friday, April 4, 2014
Here I am.

It's 8:00 am on a Friday and I have done absolutely NOTHING. 

I have been standing in front of my bathroom mirror for the past hour... 

Originally I came in here to brush my teeth, but that was before I was met by the not so lovely reflection of myself in the mirror. You know what? Strike that..."not so lovely" is a serious understatement this morning. Maybe hideous is a better word to use. 


My hair is falling out of the very messy bun I put it in last night. Just when I though a messy bun couldn't get messier, it just did. Plus I have strands of fuzzy lose ends heading east, west, north, and south. And don't mention the fact that I seriously need to shower... nasty greasy roots. 

My eyes... Well, if you can somehow see past the seemingly chronic purple bags under my eyes, you'll notice that I still haven't figured out how to cover up the section on my lower right eyelid where no eyelashes grow (stupid chicken pox). Or the fact that until I curl them, my eyelashes are straighter than a yardstick... And look especially thin today, why do they look so thin? 

My teeth are definitely not white... More like a yellowish-white... Or I guess I could say cream... That sounds more "elegant" right? And wowzy...my lips sure look dry...I gotta do something about that. 

My forehead is red from the allergic reaction I got from the cream I was using to get rid of the zits that I'm NOT supposed to be getting anymore (hello, I'm 21!!).

My right eye is a bit higher than my left. 

My nose is too big. 

My cheeks are too round. 

My chin is too pointy. 

My eyebrows need plucked.

I need a tan.

Or two...

Or three...

Except I can't tan because I don't want to add to my growing collection of freckles. 


The mirror has been leading me to believe, for the past hour, that I am not beautiful. 

And I was starting to believe it.

Until I remembered that mirrors lie. 

Billboards lie.

Television lies. 

The magazines lie. 

The internet lies. 

Ever beauty isle in every grocery store is lying too. 

Because lipsticks and perfectly smooth golden skin does not define beauty. 

The mirror doesn't know that the bags under my eyes came from staying up all night with a sick baby. 

The mirror doesn't know that I chose to read stories to my daughter, rather than take a shower. 

The mirror doesn't tell me that the wrinkles by my eyes come from laughing over and over again because life is good.  

The mirror doesn't tell me that my smile may not be perfectly white, but it's real. 

The mirror doesn't tell me that my hair is messy because giggling under the blanket with my child was more important that perfect locks.

The mirror doesn't tell me I'm beautiful. 

It tells me I'm flawed. It tells me I'm not good enough. It tells me I need work.

It lies to me. 

Because on a good hair day or not, make up or none, dress or sweats, I am beautiful.

Because being beautiful is more than having a pretty face, its more than wearing gorgeous clothes, and its more than looking like an airbrushed, photo-shopped, 5' 11 super model.

I am surrounded in very very beautiful people.

Like the lady who showed up at my door with freshly baked bread, for no other reason than because she wanted me to know she cared. Or the man who ran for a good 2 blocks to catch up to me when I dropped 20 dollars from my pocket. Then there was the boy who searched the store to find me and let me know I left the lights on in my car. And the girl who complimented me on my voice after she caught me singing in the bathroom at church.

Being attractive is merely an accumulation of good genetics.

But being beautiful... now that is something to be proud of... it is someone you become deep down in your soul.

So Mr. Mirror, who are you to tell me I am not beautiful?

You Can't Put An Age Limit On Your Life

Friday, March 21, 2014
When I was in high school, I used to map out my life. I had a little list of what I believed to be the perfect pattern for my life.

Age 18: I would graduate high school. 
Age 19: I would start college. 
Age 21: I would complete my bachelors degree.
Age 22-24: I would obtain a master and consider a doctorate. 

Then I would marry. 

Then I would enjoy my hubby for a couple years. 

Then I would have a baby. 

It was perfect. 

So perfect in fact that I knew the stars would align for me. 

Everything would fall in my lap, just as I planned it. 

I would live my custom designed life perfectly. And when I was old and gray I would look back and celebrate the picture perfect life I had lived. 

Lovely plan, wasn't it? 

Well guess what? 

Here I am, a couple months into my 21st year and I have a list of things I didn't get done by the time I planned, and a list of things I ended up doing waaaayyyy before I was "supposed" to. 

So I guess you could say I really messed up my life...  

But you know what's funny? 

I don't feel like I messed up anything.

In fact I think I'll go as far as saying that if I had followed my list perfectly, then... yes then, I may have messed up my life.

Because you can't put an age limit on your life.

The fact of the matter is that things don't always go exactly as we plan. And, a lot of the time we don't really know what we need to shape us, and grow us. I have found that most of the time, God changes my plans into something I wasn't ever expecting. Yet, as I head down the life he designed for me, I find myself chasing dreams I never even realized I had, surrounded in blessings that I honestly don't deserve.

So what I got married at 19 instead of 23?
So what I had a baby before I finished college?

My dreams are not over because I didn't reach them by a predetermined age. That's the beauty of life, there is not only one route to happiness, or one shot at getting it right. There is something beautiful about the fact that the picture I mentally paint of my life can be revised and changed into something much more glorious and divine than I could ever envision on my own.  My dreams are not erased, they've just been revised, swapped, changed and edited.

My life isn't over.

It's just began.

I am 21 years old, nearing my second year of marriage, with a six month old baby.

I have no bachelors,
I have no masters,
I have no doctorate.

I've accomplished so much, yet I still have so many things I want to do.

And that's just awesome, because I am not finished.

Not yet.

Ladies: your husband is not a dog.

Monday, March 17, 2014
I don't know what is more frustrating, trying to train a dog...
... Or your husband. 

Which is why I choose to opt out. 

When I got married I was given various pieces of wonderful advice. However, among the loads of good advice, I found myself occasionally cringing as a frequent phrase escaped the mouths of many women: "make sure and train him while he's young." Followed by a classy, but serious-toned chuckle.  

I don't know what disturbed me more, what they said, or the fact that they actually meant it! 

Okay, okay, I get it. It's no secret that women want and deserve to be treated well, especially by the man they marry. I mean let's not get carried away here but... We dote on you... Feed you... Clothe you... Shut your toliet lid (over and over again I might add)... Clean up after you... Smell you... Sleep with you... Carry your children... Bare your children... Among a bunch of other things. So the LEAST we deserve is for you to kiss the ground we walk on right?? AND if you're not going to man up and do just that... Then it's our job to MAKE you. And if we have to drag you by a leash to do it, then that's exactly what we'll do!!!

Okay calm down and take a deep breath.

Here's where I'm going to stop you. 

Ladies: your husband is NOT a dog. 

He's a person, just like you. He wants to be loved, just like you. And if I've learned one thing in my almost 2 years of marriage, it's this: he wants to make you so very happy, as much, if not more than you desire. 

But... There's a much better way to go about it than making sure he "knows his place" and "how to treat you" while he's still "young and dumb."

I call it the: it's not all about you complex. 

I vowed that when I got married I would never look at my husband as someone who needed training, but rather as someone who needed my love. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all enter marriage as a flawed single about to merge our life path with another flawed single. 

Neither of us is perfect, and both of us have a LOT to learn. 

I think somewhere along this path of learning many people get caught up in the idea that you must train your spouse to be who you envision them being, and you both start pointing out exactly what each other is doing wrong and soon both parties feel unloved. 

I'm sorry to break it to you, but try as you might, you cannot force someone to change. You can teach them through experience that acting a certain way around you is not a good idea and will most likely be met with wrath... but they will silently and forever resent you for it. 

And a life filled with silent resentment, doesn't sound like a life I wanted to live. So I decided to do things differently. 

Have you ever heard the biblical phrase, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I believe this 11 word sentence has become known as The Golden Rule. 

Well I've got a little secret ladies... 


If you want validated, validate your husband. 

If you want a cute, no reason, surprise on a Wednesday, give one to him. 

If you need help with your to do list, help him with his. 

If you need a foot massage after a long day, ask him if you can give him one first. 

If you feel the need to be appreciated, let him know that you appreciate him! 

When it comes down to it, if you need to feel loved, show him you love him

Because there's one universal truth I can't stress enough: you cannot train someone to love. Love has to be given from the heart, and if it's not given from deep within the heart, it's merely just a meaningless act and that's exactly what it will feel like. 

Ladies: your husband is not a dog.

So don't treat him like one.

Respect him, love him, and adore him. If you do this I promise that he will reciprocate that same love to you, and he will do it with his whole heart, because he truly wants to, not because you told him to. 

What I Gave Up The Day I Got Married

Friday, February 14, 2014
I was married at the young age of 19. Yup, I know... besides possibly setting a new record... I am also "crazy." But, don't worry, you don't need to tell me that, I already know. In fact, I've heard it all:

"Didn't you just get out of high school?"

"It was just yesterday that you were in diapers!! You're just a baby!"

"Don't you think you should date more before making such a big decision?" 

"Are you sure about this? It's a lot of responsibility."

"Oh wow, engaged? Wait... Really? But you're only 19." 

"Are you even old enough to sign marriage certificate?"

"Are you pregnant or something?!"

"How do you know he's what you want? You haven't even tested the waters!" 

"You're too young to know what real love is."

And perhaps the most common statement of all: 

"Don't you think you'll regret not living up your single years?"

Followed by: 

I wish I waited a bit longer to get married and just let myself have fun. You can't take back these years, you're giving them up to get married, you can wait you know." 

To all those people who doubted my decision and told me I was "giving it up".

You were absolutely right.

I gave up my heart. The moment I said "I Do" my love was no longer my own. I gave another imperfect human being the ability to take me higher than I've ever been... But also the power too crush me to a million little pieces. 

I gave up my privacy. I went home on June 8th in someone else's car, to sleep in someone else's bed, and breath someone else's air. It would never, from that moment on, be just "me" anymore. It was now me and him, him and me. It was now our family, our home, our decisions. It's funny though, because the moment "I" became a "we" I realized what it really meant to be happy. 

I gave up my name. The name I was known for my whole life, didn't define me anymore. I would be known by his name now. I was his: to cherish, love, hold, laugh with, cry with,  provide for, and protect. 

I gave up my secrets: my weaknesses, my thoughts, my mistakes, the things I hid from the world, someone now would know. But, someone would also know exactly how to help me, love me, and comfort me. Someone would know me so well that they would know what I needed without me ever asking. I would lose all the hidden parts of me, and gain a perfect understanding and love from someone else. 

I gave up my agenda. I would have to cancel plans, rearrange my schedule, work longer hours, go to the grocery store when the car was available, and cook dinner instead of taking a nap. And as the clock was ticking I would come to understand the reason I was given time in the first place.

I would give up dating different people. I no longer was available for anyone to take out. I was done meeting "new people" and "potential spouses" because I had found mine. Yes, I could have dated more, yes, there's lots of great people out there that I didn't meet, but no, there's no one else as perfect for me as my Ash. And yes, I can know that even though I dated less years than most people and yes I did know that when I picked him, which was WHY I picked him. 

I gave up awkward dinner conversations and replaced them with evenings laying in my hubby's arms, with a round belly and no make up... sporting his sweats and an oversized T-shirt I won at some jazz game, eating microwave popcorn and watching netflix and feeling more beautiful than a celebrity on the red carpet. 

I gave up my money, my time, my need to be right, my stubbornness, my life, my whole self. 

And yes I did give up YEARS of my life that I can NEVER get back or change. 

BUT the difference between me and you is I don't regret one day, minute or second of those years. 

If anything... I wish I had began this incredible journey called marriage sooner, because nothing I have ever done, or could ever do, has filled me with as much love, happiness and peace as this. Yes it can be harder than I ever imagined it would be and I am challenged every day to be a better more selfless person that I am, but my life has taken on more meaning than I knew it could and I have become more complete than I thought was possible. 

And if given the choice... I would do it all over again. 

I would "give it all up" in a heartbeat. 

What being married has taught me about love.

Thursday, June 20, 2013
    I grew up in a society that taught me that one day I would fall in love. And as a little girl, the word love, and its association with princesses, castles, and princes, couldn't be more appealing. Growing up was full of acting out love as I knew it. What started as doll weddings, progressed to anticipated dates and dances, which led to writing my name in front of someone else's last, with the idea that "this feeling" I got around a guy must be what love feels like. I was convinced that butterflies, nerves, and a date I was especially excited to go on, meant that I was at last "falling in love."

    I soon found myself in the teenage cycle of "falling in love"... getting my "heart broken"... falling "out of love..." only to find myself "falling back in love" again. All these emotions did not make sense.

    The movies and stories had always painted a picture that when you "fell in love" it was for always and forever...  So then why, everywhere I looked, did I see families falling apart, people claiming they "fell out of love," or their mate, "didn't treat them right."

    The movies and stories taught me that there was no monster so large, or fight so strenuous that could not be won for love...  but if that was true, how was it possible that the only fights I saw were couples fighting, not for each other, but against.

    The movies and stories taught me the magical phrase "happily ever after..." however half the happily "just married"s became "fortunately done forever"s, another percentage point on the growing divorce statistic board.

    It took me getting married to realize that society taught me a lie.

    You don't fall in love.

    Love is a choice you make every day, it is not a state of being suddenly thrust upon you when you meet someones gaze. That is attraction. And while I am a firm believer that attraction can lead to love, it is not the same thing as love. Because while attraction can be sudden, love cannot, it must be built. While attraction can suddenly end when someone no longer meets the "eyes" expectation, love will never end, we just decide to stop loving.

    There are many different ways people have described true love. But in my opinion, and through my experience, I think there is no better description of love than the one we find in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13.  

    Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; 
charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things
Charity Never Faileth.
    Love was never meant to be easy, its not easy because its worth it, and things that are worth it are never made easy. But one thing I know is that nothing can get in the way of true love. I know I have only been married a year, but in that year I have learned in very hard, but worthwhile ways, what it means to love someone. People always comment on how perfect me and Ash are together, and I couldn't agree more. I attribute this to more than our just chemistry. I attribute it to love.

    That love that leads him to get up with me in the middle of the night, with no complaint, because I am scared. The love that makes it easy to get up early every morning to make him breakfast, so he can get 15 more minutes of sleep. The love that says "when you mess up, I will help you, not condemn you."  The love that sees the best in someone, when society would tell you they did you wrong. The love that makes every day a chance to serve each other, not asking anything for ourselves.

    Love is selflessness. It is the ability to do good to someone, no matter how they treat you. I think the goal in a marriage is for both people to develop complete selflessness for each other. Which is hard, but I believe it is harder to live selfishly, because their is no joy in that life, and there is only pain in those types of marriages. To love you have to see beyond yourself.

      I believe I have a long way to go before I can say I love perfectly. But each day I sure do try. I am completely in love with Ash. But I didn't just fall there. I made a choice the day I married him to love him no matter what, unconditionally, and forever. And that choice has made my life more wonderful and beautiful than anything I could have imagined, despite any bad that life has thrown our direction. True love, while not easy, is possible, and worth it.

    Society taught me wrong, yes. Happily Ever After doesn't just get handed to you, but it is possible because whether or not you get a happily ever after isn't determined by fate, it is determined by you.

Click this link for a video that does a better job describing what I'm trying to say in 4 minutes, then I have done in a thousand words...