Will you Marry Me? – Part One

How we met…

I wondered if he was EVER going to ask me to marry him… and I’d only known him four and a half months.  CRAZY!!  Let’s go back a little….

I was 20 years old, and thought I knew everything.  Well… I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I was going to continue in college and get my English degree, then I was going to go overseas and teach English as a second language.  My husband would be a missionary and I would teach English and we would live in some third-world country and be surrounded by lots of our babies and babies we had adopted from the country we were living in.  I’d be able to speak whatever language was spoken by the people there, and we would live happily ever after.  Spreading the story of Jesus and working together to improve the lives of other people.  THIS was the dream of my 20 year old self.  THIS is what I thought God had planned for me.

I was at a bible study in the beginning of the school year in 1998.  I was there with my boyfriend (Let’s call him Joe).  We had been dating only a couple of weeks, I think.  He worked at a car shop where they installed windows in cars and trucks.  My window had some scratches, so he told me I could get a new windshield and I wouldn’t have to pay anything because insurance would cover it.  I don’t know why I remember this because I’m not even sure that’s what happened, but I know I took my car there and I got a new window.  When I came to pick it up, he was introducing me to some of his co-workers.  I guess it’s safe to say it was common knowledge that I had a “type”.  I liked bald heads and goatees.  Joe and I had been friends for a while before we started dating, so I’m sure he knew this about me.  There was a large group of us who hung out quite a bit during this time, and I’m sure they all knew this about me.  So… Joe, who didn’t have a bald head or a goatee, thought it was really funny to point out bald guys to me and ask if I thought they were cute.  He wasn’t doing it out of jealousy or anything like that.  Really, I think we were just better as friends, and now that we’d added kisses into the mix, we were just friends who kissed each other.  Where was I, oh yeah… I was picking up my car from the shop and he’s showing me around.  His boss, probably in his late 50’s, was bald and had a goatee… Immediately, I suspect what’s coming as we walk up.  Joe introduces us and then says TO HIS BOSS! “She likes bald guys with goatees… don’t you?”  Gesturing to me!! I was so embarrassed, but I just laughed and didn’t really answer him.  I got over it pretty quickly I guess because I’m not even sure I said anything to him about it afterwards.  I just thought he was weird to bringing that up all the time.

So, now back to the bible study group.  Joe and I walk up and I notice immediately that there is a new car in the parking lot with an Atlanta Braves license plate (I love the braves, so this caught my attention).  I also notice there are a few new people in the buidling when we walk in.  I’m a junior now, and I assume that the new people must be Freshmen.  I also notice that one of them is bald… with a goatee… he is hot!  But I’m with Joe, so I just appreciate that he’s cute and move on.  Not Joe… he walks over to introduce himself, calls me over to introduce me, and then… he did it… he said “she likes bald guys with goatees!” I turned right around and walked over to the bible study leader to ask some random question to get away from Joe and Cute Dude!

After the bible study we were all sitting around talking and I found out he was a junior also and had been living at the Wesley Foundation (The building right next door!).  He was a business major, and that Atlanta Braves car did belong to him.  Okay… he’s got a lot going for him, but I’m with Joe.

Beginning of October 1998 (a couple of months later)… Joe and I break up, and now we are friends who no longer kiss… Neither of us are very sad about this.  I know I’m not, and I know he’s not because the day he told me he wanted to break up with me I went to a concert and he was there with another girl.  At least he told me a few hours before he went out with someone else.  Anyway… I’m not bitter at all… really….

Halloween night 1998 – I was a peanut M&M and my cousin, Carly, was a plain M&M… or I was plain and she was peanut.  It doesn’t matter… what matters is that same car was in the parking lot of the MBSF (Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship).  I was excited about doing our canned food drive that night (Food Bank-o-Ween), and excited to be hanging out with my cousin/best friend.  We were getting settled in the trailer and ready to be driven around when Cute Dude walked up.  He was dressed as Stone Cold Steve Austin (if you didn’t watch WWF/WWE during this time, you should probably google him.  He was bald… with a goatee…)  So we talked the whole time, and I had so much fun…

We will finish part two with the proposal… unless I ramble too much, then there will be a part three to this story! 🙂

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Teaching – Part One

New job… day One!

Let’s review this timeline in case we want to go back and see what music was popular during this time in my life 🙂

July 1999 – I got married and was taking summer classes to finish my degree

2000 – I had graduated from college and was living in a tiny town in Northeast Arkansas (near West Memphis) where Ron was preaching at his first church and attending seminary in Memphis.

2001 – I tried the whole “stay-at-home-wife” thing, but it just wasn’t working for either of us, we were trying to get pregnant on our own at this point (meaning, no fertility treatments), and I HAD to do something to get out of the house.  This is where today’s story begins…

I’ve always liked teaching, so that seemed like a natural thing for me to do as I found myself living about three hours from my parents with not much to occupy my time (you can only watch French Kiss so many times), so I headed to the local public school.

I didn’t care what subject I taught (although I preferred English, since that’s what I knew most about), but I just wanted to teach.  I went into the office (there was only one office for the Kindergarten through 12th grade because the whole school system was in one location — I told you it was tiny!)  I asked about a substitute position, and they told me that they had someone who was substituting now until they found someone to fill the position full time.  I asked what subject and grade and was told it was high school English.  This seemed fortuitous and maybe predestined, so I accepted it.  There was no application process, no interview except for a quick one with the superintendent of schools after I said I would take the job.  It was about lunch time when I was finished talking with him, and he told me I could join the afternoon classes and meet some of my students before I took over the class in the morning.

This is where I tell you that this was the FIRST day of school for the year.  So the kids were having their first day at the same time as me, and I had NO summer planning time or anything.  The superintendent’s secretary told me that there were books in my classroom and I could bring them home and start my planning.

I took exactly ONE education class in college.  We got to the part where we had to make lesson plans and those types of things, and I quit.  I dropped out of the only education class that I had and majored in English… not education… for this very reason.  And now I’ve stepped right into a job that requires the very thing I dropped a class because of… so I’m super excited! 🙂

Lunch is over for the students and the superintendent walks me into the high school building to meet the principal.  We’ll call him Larry because he will feature prominently in my teaching stories.  Larry seems friendly enough, and pleased to have a permanent teacher for his English class.  So he leads me down to my classroom.  We have to walk all the way through the main building and out to a smaller building at the end.  There are four rooms in this “extra” building (not counting the bathrooms), there is the band room, the high school science room, junior high English room, and my room… the last room in the last building on campus.

We walk in just as the kids are coming into class.  I quickly learn that this is my 11th graders.  They are the only class big enough to be split into two classes for English.  I will have one class of 11th graders who will come 2nd period, and then the rest of them will come right after lunch for 5th period.  If you didn’t have a school with seven periods a day, go find a history book or google is and see how things used to work! 🙂  I know they still have it in some schools today, but most of them have changed the way the day is scheduled.

Anyway, I meet the substitute teacher.  A VERY nice woman whom we will call Pinky.  I ended up growing quite close to her and her daughter (who happened to be in this class).  She tells the kids to sit down and maybe assigns them something to do, but I don’t really remember.  I remember thinking they were really loud, and feeling overwhelmed that I was going to have to get them to sit down and listen to me teach them.

Pinky sat with me at the teacher’s desk and got out all of the books I would need.  I was looking through the books and feeling even more overwhelmed as it really began to sink in that I would be in charge of teaching a lot of children every day.  My schedule looked like this…

  • 1st period – planning (this came in handy when I wanted to sleep late… I had first period off… it was a pain though that I really had NO break for the whole school day)
  • 2nd period – 11th grade English (only 9 students in this class!)
  • 3rd period – 12th grade English (the entire senior class had about 22 students)
  • 4th period – 10th grade English (the entire 10th grade came to this class… around 25 students)
  • 5th period – 11th grade English (the rest of the junior class… 28 kids… the bane of my existence)
  • 6th period – Speech (yeah… I had to teach speech… a lot of the 11th graders from 5th period just stayed for speech)
  • 7th period – Journalism (umm… really??  Again… a lot of the 11th graders from 5th and 6th just hung out)

I had about 11 or 12 of the same students from 5th through 7th periods… I enjoyed having some of them all afternoons, but some of them were just stuck with me because no one else wanted them.

What does this mean as far as planning goes?  I had FIVE different lesson plans to do for EACH DAY!!

So… I’m sitting at the teacher’s desk, next to Pinky, looking over the teacher’s guides for my classes and trying to block out the noise from the students.  It finally gets too loud and I look up to see Pinky pulling two children apart!! She’s not that big to begin with… well… she’s not that tall!  And she is pulling these children apart and yelling at them for trying to fight “on the first day of school”.

The kids were screaming and cussing at each other and still trying to fight, and I sat at the desk, uncomfortably staring at the scene in front of me… I should’ve run out right then and never looked back…

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Who am I?? – Blogger

I write… and write…

I’m a writer.  I have been a writer my whole life, but I’ve never written anything.  I mean to say, I’ve never published anything, or had anything published, or however the correct way to say it is.

I’m hoping to change all of that soon.  I’ve started taking a writing class.  One of the first suggestions was to start a blog where I can just write and write and write.  So that’s what I’ve done.

I think I want to write short stories.  I’m not sure that many people have that aspiration, but I know I don’t have the patience to write a novel (I’ve actually tried that on more than one occasion).  I have the idea, but stretching it out into 80,000 words or something is just not doable for me.  I lose the thread of the characters or I try to put too many characters in and I just get tired of it.

That may be the same reason why I only like to crochet small projects… I need to change often, so I can’t get stuck doing the same thing for too long or I can’t stand it anymore.

So… Short stories… I’ve written these my whole life.  I remember as a kid, probably around 3rd or 4th grade, that I would ask my mother to give me the title of a story, and then I would write about it.  I didn’t care what it was at all.  Part of the excitement was to make up the rest of the story around whatever title she gave me.  I wish I had some of these, as I’m sure they were pure 8-year old genius!! 🙂

Anyway… I’ve written a couple of really short pieces as an adult, and I’ll be sharing those as we go along here, but I’m also going to be sharing my new stuff that I’m writing.  And some of the exercises from my online class.  So feel free to let me know what you think.

I’ll be starting an online group of “critics” also, so if you want to be added to read my stories and give me advice/criticism about them, then I’d be happy to add you.  Or you can just comment here on the ones I share and let me know what you think.

My daughter is reading a series of books written in poetry form, but all revolving around the same story.  All the poems together tell the story of the novel.  I’m thinking about maybe doing that.  Like a series of short stories revolving around the same people or the same themes.  Then putting them all together in a book.  I’ll see as I go along, and I’ll also be submitting the stories to magazines for publication.

So… because I’m a writer, I’m now also a blogger!  And I’m very glad you joined me on this journey of mine!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Who am I?? – Teacher

I teach, therefore I…

So that English degree that I told you about in another post is used still today (although I joke that I don’t use it at all!).  I use it especially when I read Facebook posts where the grammar is horrific!! And especially memes… I don’t care what the point of the meme is, if they can’t use the correct form of your/you’re and their/there/they’re, I can’t focus on what it’s saying!  I just can’t.  I realize that sometimes people make an accidental mistake and they actually know the difference, and I can overlook it in a text or something else that is quickly written and maybe being read by one person, but if you are making a meme there are two rules you should follow:  1. Is everything spelled correctly?  2. Is my grammar correct?  That’s it… if those two things are good, then I’ll check out your meme and laugh about it… otherwise, I’ll scroll on past while I shake my head and the lack of thought that went into it… and please don’t share memes that don’t have those two rules either.

Okay… all of that sounded snobbish, and while it is actually what I think, I never say anything about it.  I just don’t tell people when they’ve made grammatical errors.  One of my favorite English professors in college said this about correcting people’s grammar.  She said, “I don’t correct grammar unless the person is my child or a student in class.  You shouldn’t do it either because it really is none of your business.  No one will talk to you after you correct them either for fear that they will say something to bring about your wrath.  So just mind your own business and don’t do it!”  I’ve followed that rule since she said it.  I hadn’t thought that maybe my friends and family members didn’t like it when I told them they should say that “the bike is BROKEN” instead of “the bike is broke”.  So now I only correct my children, and since they’ve grown up listening to me MOSTLY use correct grammar, then it isn’t as much of an issue.  I do still think it, but I can’t really help that part, and I do a great job of keeping my mouth shut about it! 🙂

One more thing about grammar, and then I promise to get on to the “teacher” part of this post! 🙂  If you think someone (usually someone online) is being stupid or acting like an idiot… please, please, please… just don’t say anything! 🙂  We all know that’s the correct response.  Just be nice to them or don’t respond to them at all.  HOWEVER, if you just HAVE to say something and tell them how dumb you think they are… don’t say “your an idiot!”  The “idiot” might not get the mistake, but the majority of the people who read this will likely think that maybe you are the idiot… BUT… just don’t say mean things period… this also applies if someone is amazing!!  “your amazing” is still incorrect… 🙂  So don’t do that either!

Okay… I graduated from college and became a stay at home wife.  I thought I’d be great at this job because I’d have all day to decide what we would eat for dinner and to clean the house and have everything perfect.  That’s when I discovered a few things about me…

  1. I don’t enjoy cooking.
  2. I HATE to clean.
  3. I like to watch movies.
  4. I like to do crafty things.

None of these things are good qualities listed in whatever job description we all hear about when talking about being  a housewife (don’t like that term!), so I sucked at this.  (I still do actually, and it’s been 16 years!)

I wanted to cross-stitch and watch movies while I did it.  I didn’t want to clean this gigantic house that I was having problems living in because all the bedrooms made me realize that I wanted babies in them and that wasn’t happening.  I just didn’t know what to do.

My husband (who is a MUCH better housewife than me!) suggested I see about substitute teaching at the local high school.  This will have to be a whole other blog series because this school was CRAZY!!! I did teach, for one year.  That’s all I could take… in that one year, I was subpoenaed to court to testify against the principal who was arrested TWO different times during that school year.  I saw children doing things that I had only just started doing since I had just gotten married.  It was just out of control, and I’ve just decided to make this my first blog series after Who am I??

After that job, we moved and I got pregnant.  Price was born and we were living so close to Hamburg (where I grew up), and my old principal when I went to school there was now the superintendent of schools and he told me there was good chance I would get a job at my old high school, if I wanted it.

I tried to do the stay-at-home-mom thing, now that I was officially a mom, but I stunk at that too.  It still involved all the same “requirements” as a housewife, only now I had a baby to deal with on top of it.  The “baby” was now 18 months old and I decided teaching again seemed like a good idea.

I LOVED being back at my old high school.  I was in the teacher’s lounge hanging out with my old teachers.  It was awesome… and surreal!  That school year was weird though because I didn’t actually have a classroom, I had a cart! 🙂  I’ll post more about that later too… I got pregnant again while I was teaching there and decided that with a toddler and now a baby on the way, I really wanted to stay home with them.  I loved being a mommy and didn’t like that I didn’t get to see Price all day while I was teaching.

We moved to Colorado Springs when Price was 3 and Wesley was 8 months old.  Ron was officially on active duty in the Air Force, and I was staying home with my babies.  I loved it.  I decided that homeschooling was going to be the best way for us to be able to do all the things we wanted to do.  I wanted to travel and we wanted to be able to go home and visit whenever we wanted to.  These things would be made easier by homeschooling, and i figured if I could teach 25-30 high schoolers, then I could teach one on one with my own kids.

I’ve been teaching them for 8 years, and it’s looked different from time to time.  I’ll write more about the ways in which we’ve home-schooled throughout the years and how it looks for us as an ever-evolving entity.  It’s the best decision for our family, but I know it’s not the best for everyone.  This is another area where I try to keep my mouth shut and answer questions when I’m asked, but not butt in when I’m not asked.

I am a teacher, and I love to teach.  Not just my children, but bible studies at our church (I’m about to start a new one), new foster parents about how the “system” works in whatever state we happen to live in.  I love giving information to people and seeing that moment when it clicks in their brains or when they connect it to something else they’ve learned.  It’s a great feeling…

Now go teach someone something… I know you know something that someone needs to know or would love to know!  And for those grammar police out there… see how many run-on sentences you can spot in this post… it’s really the only way I write because it’s the way I speak… run-on sentences and stream of consciousness!!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

 

Who am I?? – Traveler

I’ve seen things…

When we go back to my childhood (yes again!!) you might or might not be surprised to know that I didn’t go anywhere for vacations.  Our family all lived near us except for one uncle who still lived in Arkansas.  We did go see him a few times, but not really any other vacations and not anything that I would consider traveling.  My high school youth group for church provided me with more traveling in those few years than any of the years before combined.  We went to church camp at Glorietta, NM and Panama City Beach, FL.  We went on a spring break ski trip to Breckenridge, CO and another spring break trip to Disney World in Orlando, FL.  These trips were awesome, but somehow it didn’t feel like traveling.  I mean… I’m sure I was a normal, self-absorbed teenage girl who was just loving hanging out with her friends on the bus and terrified of the birds that were allowed to fly willy-nilly all over the Disney Theme Parks!! YIKES!! My senior year, our physics class went to Washington DC on a trip and got there on a train from Meridian, MS to Washington DC.  I was a great trip, and one of the ones I remember most easily.  Both of my parents went on this trip, so maybe that’s why I like it so much!  After graduation, I didn’t want to go on a “senior trip” or anything like that (I told you I had no desire to be rebelious).  My parents took me to Branson, MO for a few days.  We had a really good time, and I’m surprised by how much of that I remember too… We went to my first Ripley’s Believe it or Not?!  museum (these museums – or odditoriums – will for some weird reason continue to pop up in my life and travels!)

I went to college in Arkansas, and spent most of that time just trying to get over my freshman year and graduate.  So… no traveling then… I guess that might not be completely true.  We did a spring break mission trip to Kentucky with the MBSF to help them start a youth group.  I then went back there by myself for the summer to be their youth group leader and try to get it going.  I worked for the preacher’s parents at their hardware store, and lived with them while I was there.  It was fun, but weird being on my own… sort of!  The spring break after I met Ron (maybe I never said his name, but that’s my bald-headed man!!)  anyway, we went on an MBSF trip to Washington DC and stopped by the church in Kentucky on our way home.

I wanted to see more of the country.  I didn’t really have a desire to leave the United States, but I knew there were cool places out there that I wanted to see… eventually.  And some places I wanted to see again.

So Ron told me, when I met him, that he thought he was being called to be a United Methodist minister.  I knew some of what the methodist believed, but most of it was just what I had heard other people say.  I needed to find out more about this, and maybe my research will be in another post, but this one is about travel! 🙂

I told him that I was ready to go with him anywhere… then excitedly explained how I couldn’t wait to move all around the country with him and see new and awesome things.  He informed me that he would be in the Arkansas conference and that we would be moving quite a bit, but only around the state of Arkansas.  I pouted… I admit it.  I thought this was my chance to get out and see things.  I got over it and kept reading books so I could graduate! 😉

After we were married for a few years, and in the midst of infertility angst, He comes home from one annual conference and says he’s been approached about joining the Air Force as a chaplain and he was thinking about giving it a try in the Air Reserves.  I followed right along with him.  No griping from me about him following God’s call… Nothing really changed very much except he did have to go to training more often.

We moved churches (inside of Arkansas), I finally got pregnant the first time.  After Price was born, he went away to another training, and before it was even over he was talking about doing this for real.  Joining the Air Force on active duty.

My question “Will we move out of Arkansas?”  His answer “We will get to live all over the world!”  I was IN!!  And it’s been a great adventure…

We spent nearly 3 years in Colorado Springs, Co as our first assignment, then to Ankara, Turkey for nearly 2 years where I was pretty terrified.  Next was Fort Meade, Mayland (directly between DC and Baltimore)… I LOVED it!! And now we are in southern Spain for the next 2 years (it’s actually only about 18 months now… we’ve already been here 1/4 of our time.  It is flying by over here!!  I’ll write more about these individual places and the things we were able to do and see there, so stay tuned for more travel!!

After nearly 10 years on active duty, and now with the number of places I’ve been and places I’ve lived stacking up…. I can honestly say that every single time I drive into Hamburg, Arkansas no matter how long I’ve been gone, it feels like a warm blanket has been draped over my shoulders.  There is truly no place like home, and Arkansas is kind of a wonderful place to call home!!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Who am I?? – Reader

I. Love. Books!

Not that any of you want to know more about my childhood or anything, but I wasn’t a reader as a child.  I didn’t like to read as a pre-teen (we were NOT called Tweens back then!), and I certainly didn’t read as a teenager!!

Ready for a confession (I hope none of my teachers from high school are reading this)?? I NEVER read a single book in Jr High or High School that was assigned to me.  The reason this might be a surprise is because I graduated high school nearly with a 4.0.  I only had 2-3 B’s from 9th-12th grade.  I was good at research, even back then, and I probably spent as much time reading ABOUT the assigned book than I would’ve spent reading the actual book.  It was like a matter of principle that I wasn’t going to read the book.  I wasn’t a rebel at all as a teenager, and I still follow rules like crazy, but for some reason, I just didn’t want to read books.  Not any books… My best friend read Gone With the Wind and those types of things in school… and she definitely read everything we were assigned in class.  She DID graduate with a 4.0, so maybe that would’ve made a difference for me! 🙂

I went on to college and after a disastrous freshman year that had to be repeated by a little less disastrous SECOND freshman year, I coasted through to my Senior year… met a boy and got married.  I had one semester left after we got married before graduation.  I was a senior in college with a decent GPA, an ENGLISH major, and I had STILL never read an entire book that was assigned to me by a professor.  This is pure craziness, I know!  I had one semester left and decided to take it easy.  I took The American Story, or something like that.  It was about american literature.  I had plans to just coast on through with some highly effective research and a lot of BS on essay and anything else I had to write.  However, I found myself wanting to be home with my new husband instead of researching at the library, and I just kept staring at the assigned book.  He was studying (he was getting ready to go to seminary), and I didn’t have anything else to do, so I picked it up.  I couldn’t stop reading it, and 16 years later, it’s still on my bookshelf.  I read all the rest of the assigned books for that class, made a pretty easy A, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree! 🙂

I spent a few more years not really reading much, and then my mother said something.  She has a learning disability.  This makes it hard for her to read things and write things, and because of this she just didn’t read books.  I’m not sure when this changed for her, but one day, about 9 or 10 years ago, she and I were walking in Walmart and as we were checking out we saw a book on an end cap.  The cover of the book looked kind of like your typical romance novel, but the man on the cover looked like someone to me.  I was obsessed with a TV show about vampires (Called Moonlight, and THIS was the main character).  The main character looked a lot like the guy on the cover of this book… AND the book was about a vampire.  So we each bought a copy of it.  I didn’t live near her anymore, so we talked about the book (after we both read it very quickly) and realized there were more books in this series, and we had read them out of order.  (This is a huge pet peeve with me, but this time it worked out fine!)

Thus began the time in my life when I “learned to read”.  I started reading everything I could get my hands on.  This vampire series led me to other vampire writers and even other fantasy writers and soon I was reading all manor of paranormal romance as the genre is called.  I was reading 2-3 books a week and couldn’t go anywhere without having my book.  Something wonderful happened then… a device called a “kindle” was released about this time and I saved up my money for months to order one that was then back-ordered because so many people wanted one.  And then the obsession really escalated.  I eventually realized that emersing myself in these types of things started to effect my outlook on life.  I started thinking of things around me in terms of how one character would see this or think about this.  I might have gotten a little lost in my own paranormal world.

So, I backed off a little and added in some nonfiction reading to help me maintain balance, and to grow in different ways.  I still read 2-3 books a week, and should probably keep track of it a little better than I do, and I also constantly read more than one book at a time, and go back and re-read books I’ve read more than one time.  I will try to read almost anything, and because of that, there have been plenty of times where I’ve started a book and not been able to finish it because it was just too much… something… whether it’s too much suspense, too much violence, too much sex, too much stupidity by some of these female characters, I just haven’t finished them.  But… I will give every book a chance (if it’s first person point of view, I’ll gripe about it a lot, but I’ll still give it a chance).

So… What I’m currently reading…

  • Fiction(4-6 grade): The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
    • This is on the kids’ book shelf (I try to read all of the books that they are going to read this year)
  • Fiction(for me): Danger & Desire (an anthology of Romantic Suspense Novels)
    • This is a good way to find different authors…
  • Nonfiction (for me): Growing Great Kids
    • This is about partnering with God to raise kids to follow their calling and use their gifts to change the world!
  • Audio: Good Manners for Nice People who Sometimes say F%&k
    • I don’t say F%&k, and I don’t really like this book.  It’s supposed to be telling us how to be nice with all of this technology around us.  More like, manners for the 21st Century.  The woman just seems kind of rude, and definitely a busy-body.  She takes pictures of people who do things she doesn’t like and posts them online to “publicly embarrass them because she thinks that’s better than having a direct conversation with them because she thinks they’ll only listen when they’ve been embarrassed.  Anyway, I’m finishing it because I can’t quit a book in the middle, but I’m not happy with it.
    • My audible bookshelf probably looks like it belongs to 10 different people.  A ton of different genres represented.

That’s all for now… I just try to read a little bit of everything… and I have a huge list of “to-read” books.  I’m constantly adding to them as I listen to podcasts and read more books.  I’m always open to suggestions, so let me know your favorite book or author and I’ll add it to my list…

Also… if you’re curious about the book I FINALLY read for my college class… here it is… straight from my shelf!  And I’ll link the first “vampire” book I read also… be warned… it’s not for everyone!! 😉

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Vampire Book!! on Goodreads

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Who am I?? – List Maker

It’s what I do…

*This post needs to be lighter after the other stuff I’ve been writing! 🙂

I love to make lists… they:

  • keep me organized
    • well, they make me feel like I’m organized
  • help me stay on task
    • okay… they let me know when I’ve gotten off task
  • Let me know where our money goes
    • a budget is essentially a list of debt, right!?
      • just kidding… we are kicking this debt to the curb!!
  • Let everyone in the house know what we’re eating and when
    • This one actually does its job… most of the time!
      • “did anyone thaw out the chicken for tonight?”
  • helps us know what the cleaning schedule is for the house
    • yeah… right… this doesn’t happen… but there is a list!!
  • make me feel accomplished when I check things off
    • Finish making a list… check!

I do my best to check the lists and add to them and cross things off… they do help more than they hurt, so I’ll keep doing it.  Those who know me know that I LOVE making the lists WAY more than I like following the lists, but just writing them down makes me feel centered and maybe that’s all I need them for!  I will continue just the way I have been…

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Who am I?? – Mother

I am a mother… to many…

*I have been a mother to 13 different children… Read on!!

Being a mother has been my dream since I was a little kid.  I was a tomboy, for sure, growing up.  My only sibling, a brother, is 6 years older than me and I followed him around everywhere.  I wanted to do anything he did, and firmly believed I could do anything too.  He put up with me for the most part, but definitely got tired of his little sister following him around… I’m sure there will be more stories involving him as we go along with this thing, but this one is about being a mother.

When I wasn’t following after my brother and his friends and playing whatever sport they would let me join in on, I was carrying around a baby doll.  I didn’t have many barbies, because I didn’t like them.  I didn’t want to play with an adult doll… or even a teenager… I wanted the babies.  I had a cabbage patch kid (as did every child in the 80’s), but my favorite was a doll called a “Real Baby”.  I tried to search for this to show you what it looked like or even see if they still make them, and I couldn’t find anything about my baby.  What I did find was baby dolls that look so real it was scary.  So… just picture a doll that looked like about a 3 month old baby.  I had a boy, of course, because I didn’t want baby girls.  Anyway, I carried this baby with me everywhere.  I’m sure I threw him down somewhere when it was time to play sports of some kind, but mostly I took great care of him.  I even named him AJ (Andrew Joshua)… The story behind the name may be revealed in a story one day too!

When Ron and I got married, many years after AJ had gone away, we both had some pretty cemented thoughts about children.  I wanted to have 4, he wanted 2.  That was the only thing we disagreed about.  He wanted them to be able to do whatever they wanted with their hair because “it might not be there long” (his hair started falling out when he was 16.. this was particularly devastating to his hair-band-loving self).  I didn’t have an opinion about hair, so that one was okay (I was just praying their hair wouldn’t be as kinky, curly as mine).  I wanted to adopt children.  I didn’t care where we adopted them from, but I knew I wanted to adopt.  He didn’t seem to have an opinion about this at all.

We were married in July of 1999, and in May of that year I had gone to the gynecologist for the first time and gotten on birth control pills.  (We wanted to wait at least a year before having a baby, but not really any longer than a year).

I took those pills for exactly one year, and then I stopped.  I assumed that I would just get pregnant.  I didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t happen.  That my dream might not happen just as I had planned it.  We were living in a parsonage with 3 bedrooms, a huge formal living and dining room, and it was just too much room for us.  I wanted to fill those rooms with babies.  Instead, it was just us… the whole time.

In 2003, after fertility treatments, I got pregnant the first time.  Our son was born March 15, 2004.  We decided since we had so much trouble the first time, we wouldn’t worry with birth control and I’d probably just get pregnant again soon.

In 2006, after more fertility treatments, I got pregnant again.  Our second son was born on November 28, 2006.  That was the end of the fertility treatments for me.

I decided that I was done with all of the mess that went along with those things.  Infertility posts will definitely be coming because that defined the first years of our marriage, and even longer in my heart.

We became foster parents and have fostered 8 children.  I know each of their birthdays and have a tiny celebration inside each time one of them rolls around, but I only get to see pictures of 3 of them.  We would’ve adopted every one of them, but that’s not exactly the way the system works, so they all ended up somewhere else.  Not with me physically, but with me in every other way.

In 2015, we finally got our girl! 🙂  We didn’t adopt her, but we do have custody of her, so I claim her every chance I get.  She was 16 when she came to live with us, and we had known her since birth, so it wasn’t as hard as if we had taken someone from foster care whom we’d never met.  Not that this isn’t still one of our goals, but I know it’ll be different from what this is.

In 2015, I got pregnant again.  This time I didn’t even know it.  My body, at least the reproductive parts of it, had been messed up for so long at this point that I just thought maybe I was going through menapause early.  I had just turned 38, so maybe I was just early.  I didn’t take a pregnancy test because I didn’t think I was pregnant, and after so many years of taking test after test, month after month and really feeling like I was pregnant, and test after test, month after month seeing a negative test wasn’t something I wanted to repeat again.  So, I just didn’t do it.

When I was 12 weeks pregnant, the baby died.  No one knows why, and no one even knows exactly when.  On November 28, 2015, I started to bleed.  I was in a store (near the hospital, thankfully) and blood just started running down my legs.  I knew something was wrong, but there was no pain.  My first thought was miscarriage, but I didn’t think that could be true because I didn’t think it was possible for me to even be pregnant.

The baby died months before my body decided it needed to get it out.  The doctor thinks that the baby was dead for two months before my body let me know.  It’s rare, but it does happen that the body just hangs on.  I have the ultrasound picture of my third baby, but that’s it.  Not with me physically again… and not even a mental picture to go with a birth day.  I could figure out about when the baby would’ve been born (at least around the month), but I’m not sure I can handle it right now.  It’s been 6 weeks and I’ve not even begun to know how I feel about it.  On one hand, it seems like madness to miss something I didn’t even know I had.  On the other hand, I feel like I’ve missed something wonderful and magnificent by not knowing this baby.  There are a million what-ifs, but none of them really matter.  Nothing brings that baby back, and nothing gives me more than an ultrasound photo.  We just keep walking forward… that’s what this is about… my journey forward!

and still I say….
Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Who Am I?? – Wife

How I met my man…

** Warning… this may not be suitable for all ages!!  Preview it before letting children read it… though I’m not sure why a child would want to read about my being a wife! 🙂

 

I met my husband at a bible study.  That’s probably some kind of Christian cliché, but it’s still true.  The only catch in our story was that I was at the bible study with my boyfriend.  Uh oh!  I was dating someone who, while a pretty nice guy, wasn’t going to be my forever, and we both knew it.  Up to this point, I’ve had rather bad luck with guys.  In my mind, and maybe the truth was that I wouldn’t have sex with them so they broke up with me.  That might not be the real reason, but I had dated four or five guys over the last two years, including one I thought I would marry until he called to tell me that he had… yeah… with someone and they were “dating”.  Okay… so anyway, that’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.  So I’m dating this guy and we go to bible study.  He knows that I think bald guys are hot (not old men! 😉  Just young, bald guys!!  He also thinks it’s funny to randomly walk up to bald guys and tell them that I “like” bald guys (with goatees)… I have a type… I’m not apologizing for this.  Anyway, he thought it would be funny to introduce me to this new guy at bible study who was bald with a goatee.  I was embarrassed, of course, but couldn’t really stop looking at him that night, and certainly couldn’t stop thinking about him.  I talked to him a little that night, but I had a boyfriend, so I did my best to just stop thinking about him.

Halloween, the boyfriend had already broken up with me, again for another girl who I assume… you know… so I was with my cousin for the annual Trunk or Treat.  We would all dress up and go around to houses collecting canned goods to be given to a local food pantry.  My cousin and I show up dressed as matching M&M’s… one plain, one peanut… we were (and still are) awesome!  Guess who else was there… in all of his bald glory… dressed as… Stone Cold Steve Austin… a wrestler… I was not a fan of the costume, but the head and the goatee were still as fabulous as ever, so I was determined to talk to him more that night.

My cousin and I lived in a trailer near the university, and we always had people over for movies or just to hang out.  So I invited him.  He said yes, but later admitted that he mostly said yes because he thought my other roommate was “cute”… whatever… we will ignore this from this point forward!!

We talked on the phone a few times before the movie at my house… we watched the movie together, I walked him out to his car (he was the last one to leave), and he kissed me.  It was adorable and sweet and mostly just awesome!!  He even told me he was going to kiss me before he did.  I’m sure I was super breazy as I told him bye and he left.  I then did a huge girl freakout and ran back in the house running from room to room letting everyone know that he had kissed me!! There was much screaming happening… Hey… I was 20… 🙂

He took me to meet his parents for our second date… Talk about pressure!! He proposed to me on Easter Sunday morning… We were married on July 10, 1999.  From Halloween to marriage was 8 months and 1 week.  It’ll be 17 years this summer, and we are still riding this roller coaster… I’ll post more about our marriage and some of our dates as I go along, but this is the story of us… our beginning!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Who am I?? – Christian

The beginning of my journey…

Maybe this won’t be a long post.  This area of my life is certainly long, but hopefully it won’t take me very long to tell about it.  (Keep your fingers crossed!)

As a child (and even a baby, but I don’t remember that part), I attended the local southern baptist church in my hometown. (Really, the only choice was baptist or methodist, and after I got older there was a catholic church in the area and a non-denominational one started, but my parents and their parents before them attended this church, so there was really no choice!)  It’s a great church, and my parents still attend.  I went every Sunday morning and most Sunday evenings (until Youth Group, and then it was every Sunday evening… because they fed us! )  We didn’t do very many Wednesday night services, but sometimes we did.  When I was 8 years old, I did the whole go-down-front-and-tell-the-preacher-that-you-want-to-be-saved thing, and I felt better.  I had been worried that I wouldn’t get to “live forever” like the preacher said people who were saved got to do.  I was worried that my parents would live forever and I’d die and we wouldn’t be together anymore.  I was worried that I might even go to hell, and that place seemed awful.  So let’s just say I went to the preacher because… well… I was worried.

Fast forward to when I was 13… We were having a revival… a hell-fire and brimstone revival.  13 is a pretty… umm… volatile age, we’ll say.  Probably not the best time to make a life decision… or maybe it is.  Who knows?  Anyway, the revival preacher said these words “If you aren’t 100% sure that you’re saved, then you are 100% lost!”  I sat in that seat for 3 nights in a row wondering if I was 100% saved… then… on night four he said the words that sealed the deal for me.  “If you are only 99% sure, then you are 100% lost!”  Okay… so it was a weird math lesson, and I can see his point now, however, all I knew at 13 was that I wasn’t 100% sure.  So down to the front I went again.  I told him that maybe the first time didn’t take… or that I was just too young and didn’t really know what I was doing.  But I was sure this time! 100%!  I even talked them into baptizing me again.  I’m really not sure whose idea that was, but in any case, I was baptize again at age 13.

Now… I’m an 18 yr old freshman at college.  I had a full-ride academic scholarship to a state university, my plan to major in psychology firmly rooted in my mind, and completely naive about the way the world worked outside of my hometown.  I had applied and gotten accepted into the Honor’s program at the school, and I was excited that I wouldn’t have the take the regular old Comp classes because my honor’s class would take the place of that.  Until the first day of class.  The professor (a lutheran minister) began the year with an overview of philosophy.  To say that I knew nothing about philosophy would’ve been an understatement.  He began with existentialism, and by the second day of class I was so depressed that I didn’t know what to do.  He taught these philosophies as though they were completely correct.  As if he WANTED us to believe them.  So one week we were existentialist and the very next week we were onto something else.  I completely had my mind blown.  That’s not even an accurate description of what happened, but I was altered… and back to doubting.  During this same time period (the beginning of my freshman year), my mother was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma.  It’s basically a non-cancerous brain tumor.  Also, I was away from home (nearly 3 hours away) for the first time, and NOT playing sports, so I was gaining weight just as fast as I could.  The first time in my life I had to do some real soul-searching.

I’m not sure how to shorten this other than to say… I eventually came home to visit my parents (after brain surgery), and I really talked to them about the doubts I was having and the craziness that was my brain.  I wasn’t telling them everything, of course, but most of it.  I never went crazy, or did illegal things (I guess I did drink alcohol before I was 21), but thankfully that didn’t lead to anything or cause any issues.  So throughout that year, I withdrew from everything.  I stopped going to classes because they were early in the morning and I didn’t like them.  I ironically, passed both semesters of the Honor’s class, and college algebra (I love math!), but the science stuff (I hate!) and psychology went away quietly.  I came home that summer and my parents helped me a lot with the doubting.  I still wasn’t really doing the “christian” things… like reading my bible, or probably even praying.  But I still felt like I was searching for the truth.  I was disheartened because most of the people I knew (except my parents) claimed to be Christians, but didn’t really live their lives with the same values they shared at church.

I transferred to the state university near my home and moved back in with my parents.  I lost my scholarship and had to get a student loan.  I had to get a job (the third job I’d ever had).  I had a couple of hours in between classes for that semester, and I used to go to my car and just sleep.  I’ve never been big about sleeping at night.  I’d rather my 8 hours of sleep come from 2am-10am, but the world doesn’t agree with me, so I would go to my morning class (with a honey-bun and a dr pepper) then to the car for a nap before lunch and then my afternoon classes.  One day someone in my class asked if I wanted to go to the MBSF for lunch because they were grilling burgers.  I thought about the crappy sandwich that I was going to have and said yes.  We walked over after class to hang out before lunch and I met Rob.  He was, and still is as of 2016, the director of the MBSF (Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship) on campus.  I didn’t know it at the time, but this man (and his wife and kids) would restore my faith…. in just about everything.  When I think back on this period of how lost inside my own mind I was and how depressed I was without even knowing it.  I can’t help but cry and be so thankful for Rob and the countless number of lives he has touched.  I ate lunch there that day, and nearly everyday after that.  By my junior year (still with no career goals in mind, but a did have a major!), I was the president of the MBSF and there all the time.  I was in a bible study in 1998 when a hot, bald dude showed up for the study.  We were married about 8 months later, and the rest is history!

I would love for the revival preacher to come back and ask me again if I’m 100% sure that I’m “saved”.  I’d tell him yes, but I still have a TON of questions.  I plan to ask some of those here.  Knowing that there is no way they will ever be answered to my satisfaction.  And still… with all the unanswerable questions… I’d still stand up and say yes… I am a Christian!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda