Since Jonathan swore an oath and joined the United Sates Marines the day before Thanksgiving, I have been living intentionally. The intention was to make the most memories, accomplish what really mattered to each of us, and to feel like we had properly closed this chapter in our lives.
We had the best time! I cooked the things he requested, planned the parties, the baptism and whatever else any of us wanted to do “one more time” before he shipped out and the schedule was not our own.
We hung out on the couch and watched our favorite movies or shows. This might be considered by some to be a waste of time. Not for us, this is how we bond. We pile up on one couch and laugh together then later we communicate in movie quotes. Movie quotes for us is like a secret language. This was an intentional waste of time and it was the best use of that time. I got to feel him resting his head on me one more time just like he did when he was little.
The last two weeks were especially perfect. It all happened because we were intentional about how we spent our time and what we did.
I came away from this time with a renewed desire to live intentionally. This is not new for me or us, but life got really intense for a couple of years and the intention of the day was to survive. That, my friend, is not living.
All of our married life we have asked ourselves what we wanted to have in 20 years or 50 years. What did we want our kids to look back and remember about home? What kind of marriage did we want? Then, every action or decision we made was based on those answers. Dose what we are doing move us toward that end goal? We haven’t been as intentional as I would like us to be.
So, Tony and I are having conversations about how we want to schedule our time and what memories we want to create. We are now living with intentionality again. You do have to schedule the important things or at least schedule time that gives enough space that the important things can happen.
Time goes by quickly. I want to look back as see a full life with the best memories.
Some of the things we are intentionally scheduling:
full moon gazing on the beach
day trips with the grands
emails to family friends
texts to friends and family
dinner with new friends
monthly hiking trips
weekly business meetings for us
and whatever else we think of.
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This last Saturday, my family celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I am 48 and I still have my grandmother. Not only is she still alive, but she is LIVING. She works in her garden, goes to church, mows her yard- she is still living. We share a lot of interests- gardening, reading, and cooking. I am her oldest grandchild.
She has a sister who also lives around the corner from her. We call her Auntie (said Ain-tee). She makes the best cakes and pies of anyone I know. She also loves to read and for several decades was the librarian at the Junior High School in our small town.
I am her oldest great-niece. I have learned a lot from these two ladies. Mostly, I learned what it looks like to be strong. Both have suffered loss and faced difficulties in their lives. They both raised a large family and loved hard. My Auntie had four boys and my grandmother had 3 girls, 1 boy, and 1 more girl. I had 3 girls and 1 boy- had I had one more I am certain it would have been a girl. My mother and all my aunts showed me what strong looked like, as well. We are all Texan born and raised.
Not only did they live examples of strength but they told stories of the women in our family that handled their stuff. One great-aunt got tired of a drunk and abusive husband. She waited till he passed out, sewed him in a sheet, and took a broom handle to him. Things greatly improved in their marriage. As a kid I thought, “Oh, this is how you handle that situation.” Another great-aunt got tired of her husband running around on her. He woke up with this petite lady sitting on his chest and a .45 aimed at his face. He straightened up. Again, I was taking notes.
Now, I have never had to use any of these particular lessons. I married a great guy who is a faithful man. However, I have tools in my toolbox and this is empowering. As a matter of fact, Tony worked with a guy who didn’t see anything wrong with a little “extra” on the side. He had a very sweet wife who just kept paying for all his toys and putting up with his behavior. One day while they were on duty at the fire station this guy looks at Tony and says, “You mean you would never sleep around on your wife. Why?”
Tony replied, ” Because its wrong. AND because my wife isn’t as nice as your wife.”
Guy, “What do you mean?”
Tony “I mean my wife isn’t a nice as yours. She’ll take a sledge hammer to my knees while I sleep.”
He was not wrong, I am not that kind of “nice”. I come from a long line of women who don’t put up with that kind of mess. Boundaries matter, it’s also good to understand what happens when lines are crossed.
Now, some of you are having issues with my words. I mean how can a decent person advocate such violence. I am a God-fearing Christian, how can I advocate such violence? All I can say is that sometimes, violence is the answer. I know this just seems wrong, but how many times have people needed to get out of an abusive situation and had no help from law enforcement because a crime had not been committed or there was a crime and the abuser paid bail and was back on the doorstep within hours?
Sometimes you have to be your own hero.
Here’s the thing- I have never had to get physical in defense of myself or my family. I even tried once and the girl wouldn’t engage. Some punk beat up my younger sister on the bus. I wasn’t there and the girl, who was close to my age, jumped my sister who was 4 years younger. That would not stand. I chose to ride the bus to school the next morning. We exchanged nothing but words, however she did not hit on my sister again. Bullies know who to target. They target those they can attack without any repercussions. I am not one of those people. I may wear an orange jumpsuit for a time, but there will be repercussions if you mess with one of mine.
This cute little lady in the pictures above drove a school bus for a couple of decades. She drove a bus in the more “questionable” parts of Dallas. When my grandmother married my granddad, she was 5’4″ and weighed 105 lbs. By the time I was riding along on her bus routes, she weighed a little more but was still a small woman. This particular day, she was running a route that was predominately high school kids from a rough part of town. One boy mouthed off at her and I was like “uh-oh”, where I come from you do NOT mouth off to the women. I was also scared because she was going to need back-up and at around 10 years old (when I married I also weighed 105 lbs. and was 5’4″), I wasn’t going to be much help. So she looks up in her mirror at this kid and says, “You think you’re bad? You ain’t bad. I’m bad, now turn around and shut up.” I was in awe. He did it, too. The whole ride was calm and no-one gave her any trouble. Again, I was taking notes in my head and I thought “That is how you handle your stuff.”
So, now here I am at 48 and I write books with strong lead females. I don’t know how to write anything else. The women handle their stuff, they love hard and value their husbands and their families.
I am so grateful to have had my grandmother in my life this long. I am grateful to have been raised by a strong woman and been in the company of strong women my whole life. I am also grateful to have raised strong women, as well. Pictured below is five generations of the oldest daughter having an oldest daughter. The line goes back for seven generations.
As I was talking with my therapist the other day, we were discussing how I, as an individual, and we, Tony & I, are in a really good place. I agreed and mentioned that we were a little anxious in moments that the “other shoe was going to drop.” She stated that we can never know what the future will bring. The only thing we can do is be resilient.
Now, having been through a tornado destroying our home and business, I understand the need to be resilient. But I hadn’t really thought of it in this tense. So, that night I was pondering (an old fashioned southern word for deep thought) this as I was going to sleep it hit me. The only way to live, like really LIVE to embrace. it. all.
To do this is to accept that:
The shoe will drop.
The rug will be pulled out from under you.
Life will happen and some of it WILL hurt.
But what you WILL NOT accept is the fear of the future or fear’s ugly cousin, dread of what might happen to steal your JOY from this happy moment.
I will not let dread or fear of what is coming or not coming steal my joy in the really good place. I will let my joy run FREE. I will soak up every nuance of this season. I will be grateful for every walk on the beach, every stroll down our historic neighborhood, every kiss from my grand-babies, every smile from my husband. I will gobble it all up like a sumo wrestler at an all you can eat buffet.
Then, when the bumps come- even if the bump in the road is filled with heartache- I will have no regrets. These moments I am enjoying right now will be what sustain me when the road is hard.
I will be so busy being grateful that there is no room for fear.
I will be so busy being happy that dread cannot steal a bit of joy.
Today is our Anniversary! 27 years ago I made the best decision of my life!
As I sit here and think about what had transpired over these years, I am in awe.
There is a phrase I like to use about Tony when people are talking about marriage and so forth-
“Just as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, Tony Ross is a faithful man.”
It is the plain truth. A few months ago, I was on my balcony watching the sunrise and reflecting on the past two years (this has been the most difficult season of life we have ever walked) and I said to God, “Just as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, you are a faithful God.” It struck me then, I see God better because of the way my husband loves me. THIS is what marriage was meant to be.
Big romantic gestures, long strings of words expressing his undying love are not his style. He speaks love by his day in and day out small acts of kindness, grace, and faithfulness to me.
There have been those that have said Tony was too laid back for them or too boring. But here’s the thing- when the proverbial sh@# hits the fan- I don’t have to wonder where he is or what he will do. I know- he will be by my side, leading the way, and telling me that it will all be okay. Life is “exciting” enough, I’ll take a Mr. Steady over Mr. Excitement any day.
There are not adequate words to express what he means to me, to describe what 27 years of being one means, but I don’t want this day to go by without telling you how GRATEFUL I am at being Mrs. Tony Ross for 27 years!
What better way to spend a snowy day than curled up with you dad napping. I don’t guess you ever get too old. I hope not. Cheyenne is 17 and Savannah is 15. There aren’t that many years left with these two at home. Good thing there are two more behind them.