the story.

14. Write about your first love – whether a person, place, or thing

I don’t have a lot of cousins, 6 first cousins, in total. I’m not particularly close to any of them now except for one- Will. He’s got an amazing sense of humor and we always have a laugh when we’re together. But there was another cousin, Will’s half brother, and we used to be very close.

He’s roughly ten years older than I am, so when I was a baby he would hold me and play with me, there are tons of pictures of it, and as I grew older, he was my favorite person. I remember he would bring me gifts: one time he gave me a blue jump rope, another time it was a little clown doll (not creepy) with a lovely silk orange and pink outfit. I don’t remember much, but the pictures show me that Jeff had great affection for me, and in my eyes, he was the best. Jeff was cool, and funny, and he adored me. I have an older brother, but Jeff loved me in a way my actual brother never did. I looked up to him- he was totally my hero. For a school assignment in middle school, we had to write about someone who was our hero. I wrote about Jeff.

By calling it a “first” we are usually implying that there were more loves to follow. And our first love is often the love that breaks our hearts.  That this was the love that captured us before any other love. Perhaps not all of our first loves break our hearts, but this was how I decided that Jeff was my first love, because he was also my first heartbreak.

I remember being in church one day, during some weekday event, when I heard from my mom that Jeff had run away from home. He was doing drugs, and he wasn’t speaking to anyone in the family. I honestly felt like instead of just running away from my Aunt’s house, he had run away from me. I felt like he personally abandoned me. I felt, for the first time that I can remember, rejected.

I’ve spent many years fighting a ‘rejection’ lie. That I’m not enough, that when someone says or does a certain thing that they are rejecting me. And for a long time, I believed the root of this rejection to be from a high school boyfriend. I had an incredible father and I could never recall an instance that he, or my mom really, ever brought about a feeling of rejection in my life. My earliest memory of rejection was that boyfriend. Until just a few days ago, when I received a Facebook message from Jeff. Apparently he’d been in jail the last few months so he messaged me when he got out to congratulate me on getting married. I felt a little angry when he messaged me and I couldn’t figure out why. And then I started thinking about your first love. And I put all the pieces together.

I’m certain Jeff has no idea the effect that his life choices had on me. I’m not sure any of my family realizes how his choices broke my heart. I doubt I’ll ever tell them. What’s important is not the hurt, but the growth that came from the brokenness.

This is what I know about first loves: your first is not your last, and forgiveness will let you tell the story.

Advertisements

What had happened was…

10. Discuss something you planned that ended up not being what you expected

My life.

I really wanted the post to just be those two words, but I guess that’s not really a discussion and I’ve had 27 years of things I’ve planned not quite turning out, so I guess I’ll just pick one. Mostly the biggest thing in my life: Marriage.

Plan: Find a guy in college, get engaged by our senior year or the end of… married at 23.
What actually happened: Find a guy in college, get my heart stomped on. Single from age 22 until 26. Go on a couple of eHarmony dates. The 3rd guy I met on eHarmony ends up being my husband. Get married at 26.

But let me break that down a little more….

Plan: Meet someone “the normal way” – blind date by a mutual friend, a random encounter at a store, through friends at a party we’re both at, a friend’s wedding, etc…
What actually happened: Take parents suggestion/offer to sign up for eHarmony after being super offended and kind of feeling like a loser setting up my profile. Go on a date. Go on a second date with the same guy. Never want to talk to him again because although he is nice, you can tell there’s no chemistry and he’s kind of annoying. Silence and disappointment for a few months. Go on another date with a guy who talks about himself the whole time and then at the end says, “let’s do this again” and since you’re nice you say to yourself, “yeah! everyone deserves a second chance!” and then never hear from him again. More silence and a lot more disappointment which turns into anger at the site. Get automatically renewed because you didn’t realize your subscription was ending. Cuss and scream at eHarmony people until they give you your money back. When they only give you half your money back and tell you that you have three months left, swear not to use the program because you hate them. Use it anyway because oh well it was paid for. One month before it expires, a cute police officer messages you.

Plan: Message with him until he gets bored with you because that’s what happened with a bunch of other guys.
What actually happened: We messaged a lot and made it through each messaging step and he still didn’t stop messaging me. Then he asked me for coffee.

Plan: We meet at a hip local coffee shop, but he realizes I’m ugly or weird and decides not to ask me out again. Have to wait in between dates for him to ask to see me again.
What actually happened: We meet at a Dunkin Doughnuts and talk for almost 3 hours and it turns out he is super cute and I’m really excited to see him again, and we planned our second date before our first one ends.

Plan: Go on a second date and realize this just isn’t working.
What actually happened: The second date was fun, even though he told weird police officer stories about decaying bodies and he kicked your ass at putt putt, which you are not good at AT ALL, and you eventually stop keeping score cause it’s embarrassing and then you go out for wings and he doesn’t even care that you look like a weirdo when you eat wings and you find out later that he had no idea that eating wings was a terrible date idea. But he hugs you awkwardly and tells you he wants to see you again, and you can’t wait either.

Plan: You stop planning for the third date and keep an open mind cause clearly this is not going how you thought it was so you give it a damn rest for once.
What actually happened: You realize this could be something kind of serious. Also he tries to kiss you but your PLAN is to wait until you are married or engaged. He doesn’t know that.

Plan: Just let things take their course, but expect to be his girlfriend in another 2 months or so. Also don’t let him kiss you until engagement…. if it’s going there…
What actually happened: You cannot resist his adorable face and attempts to make out with you, so 1 month after your first date, you kiss his adorable face. 2 weeks later he asks you to be his girlfriend.

Plan: Talk about maybe getting engaged in December.
What actually happened: Buy a ring a month after you become bf/gf. Get engaged a month after that. Get married in December.

SO! Moral of the story kids…. make all the plans you want. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go your way. My only thought on this… I’m so glad it turned out the way it did. I love my love story, and it’s much better than all the things I planned!

Elizabeth Rose

6. Write about your best friend (not significant other) and what makes them special.

Moving around a lot is not the best lifestyle to learn how to develop deep and meaningful friendships. Sure, I had “best friends” growing up, but when you’re eight, all a best friend was was a girl who would come over for sleepovers. You don’t really have baggage when you’re eight and the darkest secret you have to share is you stole a stick of gum out of your mom’s purse.

I learned that friendships come and go and that’s just the way it is. They don’t last a long time and that was okay with me. I never knew any different, and I didn’t really desire to have anything else.

When my family moved to the northeast, I was expecting the same routine: move here, stay for a year or two, and then leave. My parents, however, had a much different idea. Apparently the northeast was where we were going to call home now. For good.

Since moving here, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever come across. People who have challenged me, trusted me, listened to me and help me become a better person. Liz is one of those people. In fact, she’s very near the top.

I’m going to do my best in the next several paragraphs to put words to one of the truest, kindest people I’ve ever been friends with. I have a feeling that no matter what I say, I won’t be able to quite do her justice, but I’m going to try.

Liz is honest. In every sense of the word. She isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and ask you questions that cut straight to your soul. She’s the one I go to when I want someone to tell me the things I don’t necessarily want to hear, but need to hear. Not only is this a rare trait in and of itself, but she does it with so much grace, she would make Princess Diana look bad. There’s a beauty to her words that is unparalleled and truth you know only comes from Jesus.

Liz is funny as crap. You can even ask her- she’s the funniest person she knows. She’s the type of funny that makes you cry and your belly ache from laughing so hard. Her wit is a hard one to match and keeps me on my toes, despite the fact the only language I know is sarcasm. There have been multiple occasions in which we’ve talked about putting together a Buzzfeed list of all our thoughts on a particular subject just because we know we can crack other people up as much as we crack ourselves up.

Finally, Liz is brave. She doesn’t let all the junk that comes up in life stop her from doing what she feels like she’s supposed to do. I have seen her wrestle with wanting a husband for herself and finding said husband, then deciding to get married just a few months later. I personally thought she was crazy, but Liz didn’t care. She knew that was what she was supposed to do, and she was brave enough to stick to it. I’ve seen her be brave when she’s had to let go of old friendships, make new ones, and struggle through learning to be vulnerable. She lives her life with a conviction you rarely get to see.

There aren’t many people I’ve met that are quite like Liz. She is one of the good ones.

Alyssa.

6. Write about your best friend (not significant other) and what makes them special.

I do not have a sparkling history with female friendships. Most of them have disintegrated over time, some of them had abrupt endings I wasn’t ready for, one ended in basically every girls nightmare, but mostly they’ve just quietly faded like jeans that have been washed many times.

At this point in my life, I only have so much energy to invest in friendships anyway. I feel like I have a core group of ladies, all over the U.S. really, that I would consider my closest friends. ‘Best’ implies one, but I really have at least 4 or 5 ‘best’ friends, so that’s kind of my middle finger to the English language and I don’t care. For the focus of this blog, Alyssa is my best friend.

There are roughly 8 people that I can truly be myself with. 4 of those are immediate family. 1 is my husband. 1 is Alyssa. [The others are irrelevant for this post.] I do not filter my thoughts or feelings when I talk to Alyssa. I’m never embarrassed by my words or actions or questions or thoughts when I share with her. I am truly my 100% unfiltered self with her. I don’t feel a need to please, and I’m not worried I’ll disappoint her. I don’t wonder if she’s judging me (usually she tells me if she is) or if she’ll hate me if I do a certain thing, and I don’t usually have to explain myself to her because she gets me.

That, among all the things that make her special, is what makes her the most special. Because I believe that this isn’t just true for me and our friendship, but for all people who know and are close to Alyssa. In her presence, we’ve found someone we can be our true selves with. Our conversations with her are raw and filled with the awkward beauty that only shows itself when a person can share all the things hiding in the cracks of our souls. Something about Alyssa beckons you to pour out the things you stuffed inside those cracks, and without judgment, she listens. And then she accepts you. For exactly who you are in the moment that you are. I know so few people who, when you’ve put yourself on the line, she takes it and says, “you are enough.” I have gone most of my life believing I was not enough, particularly in my female friendships. But I have never felt less with Alyssa, nor has she ever done anything to make me feel less.

I have more to write, because although that is my #1 reason Alyssa is one of my favorite people alive today, it is not my only reason.

This sentence will never truly capture how intensely I mean this, but Alyssa is thoughtful. Which is the most understated sentence on this blog. Tangible examples? The presents she buys/makes for people. A gift should say, “I understand you and everything you are” and all the gifts she’s given to others and the ones I receive they are just that. It honestly floors me, because I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who understands her ‘people’ the way she does. One of a kind is another giant understatement.

Alyssa is honest. And honesty is all I ask of people. Seriously. I learned a long time ago it is THE thing for me. It’s a deal breaker in a relationship. Dishonesty boils my blood. So Alyssa’s blunt honesty is one of my favorite things about her. I can always count on her to give it to me straight, even, and especially if it’s something I don’t want to hear. Again, she’s like that with the people she loves. She’s strikingly honest and says what needs to be said to the people who need to hear it.

Alyssa is funny and a joy to be around. You might be like, okay yeah but there are a lot of people who are funny and a joy to be around. But Alyssa has my kind of humor. Her sarcasm is top of the line, her wit is off the charts, and I often want to screen shot our banter texting and show the world that we’re basically Fey and Poehler but not as famous. Yet. To say that Alyssa “gets me” is cliche, but so true. I’m circling back around to my other point, sometimes my humor can be a little dark or extreme, but there’s no need to filter, because Alyssa comes back with the perfect response. Every. Time.

There are a million things I love about Alyssa.
But this is what makes her special.

 

channel zero

3. Something that is part of your routine that you enjoy

Some time when I was in middle or high school, I stopped watching television. I realized that every time I sat down in front of the TV, I would eat. I would want something salty and crunchy and I would want to mindlessly munch while I zeroed in on the screen. So at some point I decided to cut off the bad habit by cutting off the source.

I didn’t miss it much, which some TV addicts might find surprising, but I was pretty busy with other things and my preferred activity post-school was reading anyway. (Not homework. Just fiction novels.) And if I did want to watch TV, my small bedroom TV had a DVD player in it, so I’d just pop in one of my seasons of Will and Grace and binge watch that for a while. (This was before Netflix and Hulu, so binge-watching was a little more hands on. You had to change the disc every 4 episodes… I know, it’s complicated and exhausting just thinking about.)

When I went to college not only did I not get a new TV, I didn’t even take my little one with me. I watched a lot of Hulu (before it was a paid subscription) or went to someone elses room and watched stuff if I wanted to. As a theater major at a liberal arts school, it’s not like I had a lot of time to devote to TV anyway. The same applied when I went to Highlands College. My first year I lived with a sweet family, and any TV watching was done with them or the occasional movie while babysitting. Netflix and Hulu, again, if I really wanted to zone out. And my second year, I shared an apartment with 5 other girls so how would I have watched cable even if I wanted to? If the TV was on, it was probably a movie, and between school, ministry interning, and two jobs, I usually didn’t devote my little free time to TV watching.

When I moved to Delaware, well you probably see where this going. No TV in my room, and I opted out of watching any cable and paying the cable bill. Now it was economical. Plus, I had Netflix and Hulu…. so… yeah. I guess you get my point.

So when I married someone who loves to watch TV and moved in with him, you can imagine the culture shock of suddenly having access to cable. Let’s just say I binge-watched HGTV like the newly married woman I was.. but less because of the ring and new last name and more because I hadn’t had cable in years! And we have On Demand! It’s pretty magical.

And most evenings, Allen and I eat dinner at the table or in front of the TV (I’m a table eater, he’s a couch/TV eater, so we compromise by doing both) and usually watch TV for the rest of our evening. But around 9:00p we turn off the TV and go to bed. Since he works at 11:30, he’ll sleep for an hour and a half or so, and I read for about an hour. Sometimes I journal. Sometimes we chat and catch up. Sometimes we snuggle, sometimes we don’t. This happens at least 5 or 6 nights of the week. Sometimes this various, but mostly it looks like that. But that’s it. That’s my favorite part of the routine. Turning off the TV. 

I like TV. I don’t love it. I love activities you do with people that inspire conversation and eye contact. To me, TV watching is a distant activity. It’s mindless. And that’s okay, because sometimes I need mindless. And sometimes I’m all ‘talked-out’ from my day, and I just want to zone out. But my favorite part is always when the screen goes off, and the apartment is quiet. I get my husband’s attention all to myself, and I get to pick up a book. Sleep is imminent at that point, and is there anything better than the prospect of a comfy pillow and a good night’s sleep?

“you’re never fully dressed without a smile.”

2. Thirty things that make you smile

  1. Hearing the door unlock after 7:00a because it means my husband is home.
  2. Opening the blinds and filling my apartment with sunshine.
  3. Organizing my bookcase and seeing the beautiful end result.
  4. Picking out a new book to read after finishing my last one.
  5. When my husband smiles out of the pure joy of getting to see me.
  6. When someone buys me a doughnut.
  7. When someone offers to brings me Starbucks or surprises me with it.
  8. Drinking Starbucks.
  9. Hearing the words “thank you”
  10. When someone holds the door for me.
  11. Presents.
  12. Looking at pictures of the day Allen proposed
  13. The first weekend in November in Delaware/PA when the fall colors are at their peak
  14. My mother’s witty comments
  15. Soft serve ice cream cones
  16. Satirical articles and videos mocking Donald J. Trump
  17. Coloring.
  18. Hot mug of coffee that I get to enjoy sitting at my table.
  19. When someone I love texts me and says, “Let’s hang out.”
  20. The Office / Parks and Rec / Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  21. A clean house/apartment
  22. This:
    4e62e0313a3df8aff31529db0cca7517
  23. Proper use of sarcasm and wit.
  24. Finding a note that my husband wrote and hid for me to find as a surprise (i.e. lunch box note)
  25. Hearing the song I walked down the isle to.
  26. Knowing I can go to sleep and I do not have to set an alarm
  27. My own clever tweets
  28. When people comment on my social media posts
  29. When I’m having an amazing hair day
  30. The thought and reality of vacation/traveling.

The struggle is real

  1. Something with which you struggle.

One thing that has always amazed me about little kids is their honesty. They are a people  not afraid to say it like it is! You promised someone earlier that day you would pick them up at the airport and are now trying to get out of it? They will call you on it faster than you can tell them to shut up. They have no qualms about telling you that shirt doesn’t look nice, you look older than you did yesterday, or on the flip side- how much they love you, what funny thing their friend did earlier… It doesn’t matter for kids. They just say what’s on their mind.

Being honest is not something I struggle with. Ask any of my friends- I don’t shy away from telling the truth (good or bad) even if it’s at the expense of someone’s feelings. I am so willing to tell the truth that I’ve had to learn to ask people if they’re telling me stuff to get my opinion or if they just want me to listen.

But in the spirit of honesty, here’s where I struggle: I have a tendency to use my honesty as a scape goat to being vulnerable. I think a lot of people wrongfully link the two, but they are actually very different. Honesty is defined as “truthfulness or frankness;” whereas vulnerability is “capable or susceptible to being wounded or hurt.” Continue reading “The struggle is real”