Sweet summertime

Happy weekend y’all! Today’s blog is just a quick little hello and an update on our daily life. 

Today is Saturday and it looks like after a week of rain it’s finally cleared out and the sun is shining its happy little rays on us again. β˜€οΈ


Summer, that special time of the year, when no one has to be driven to school so I can sleep later, no lunches need to be packed, we have fresh tomatoes and peaches and watermelon, and weekends filled with cookouts and lounging by the pool! (Cue all the angels singing and all the mom’s shouting hallelujah) πŸ˜‚

Speaking of lounging by the pool… my sweet and talented husband completed the tearing out and rebuilding of the deck around the pool. And it looks amazing!
But wait! There’s more!
He didn’t stop there. We needed lounge chairs, so we began searching high and low for nice, sturdy, long lasting and affordable lounge chairs. Everything we found was either affordable but not long lasting, or long lasting but not affordable. So Jeff pulled up a photo online, asked if I’d like to have some of these kind of chairs, then went to the store and bought the supplies, came home, and built them. Just like that. He built 4 solid wood, adjustable chaise lounge chairs. With his own two hands, y’all. He is most talented. 


I had him paint them white, and we added navy cushions. I wanted a crisp, clean look. 

We added a couple of navy Adirondack chairs, some potted palms and flowers, and a couple of bright yellow side tables for a nice pop of color. We strung vintage style lights on the fence, and I added a couple of bright pink Gerber daisies in cute little white planters for the finishing touch. 

I love, love, love the way it’s all turned out. I just need to find some cute outdoor throw pillows for the chairs to pull it all together. 

We still have two more sections of our deck to replace, and will hopefully be adding a covered outdoor seating area,  but for now I’m thrilled with our progress. 

Summer means the end of another school year. My youngest finished out her first year of high school with a 4.0 grade point average and several art awards. Apparently she’s been harboring a hidden talent all these years. Who knew?!! I think these are fantastic, and the one with the motorcycle is going into a frame and finding a place on one of our walls. 

She also got her learner’s license, and we’ve been letting her drive us everywhere. πŸ˜±πŸš—Jesus, take the wheel. And the tires, and the brakes. Oh and the blinkers. Just take the whole car. 😜 It’s basically terrifying. I kid. Sort of. I mean she’s only nearly killed us like twice. I’m kidding again. Sort of. Ha. She’s actually doing pretty great. She’s catching on fast. It’s more me having issues than her. I think my anxiety has just gotten worse in my old age, lol. 

My oldest finished her first year of college with a 4.0 grade point average and a spot on the Dean’s list πŸ™ŒπŸΌ, and she spent the day today touring the college she will be attending in the fall and getting registered for classes. Over the past few weeks we’ve done a little shopping for things for her new apartment. This mama isn’t quite ready for my girl to move away, but are we ever really ready for that? Probably not. Thankfully she’ll only be a couple of hours away. 

So that’s how things are in our world. 
On a personal note, as I told you in my last post, I’m digging into the subject of forgiveness. Which has somehow led me directly to a study of grace. I’m finding that the two are undeniably connected, and that maybe the better understanding you have of what grace really is, the better your understanding of true forgiveness will be. I’ll be sharing more about that in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. 

In the meantime, y’all go get you some fresh summer tomatoes and a little bit of sunshine, and enjoy this beautiful weekend! 

❀️                                                                             Amy Thurston Gordy

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Oh, sciatica.Β 

How is it April already? This year is flying by! I’ve been missing in action on the blog here for a little bit. It wasn’t really an intentional break from writing, but between house stuff and a health issue, March was a bit challenging for me. 

The next step in our home renovations was to tear out the carpet in the bedrooms and replace it with hardwood floors. So over the weekends in March, we did one room at a time, and painted the walls and trim in each room as we went. There was so much stuff piled into my living room , it looked like a hoarder lived there. SO stressful! It also involved A WHOLE LOT of moving furniture in and out of rooms, and at some point during room # 2, I woke up with intense pain and muscle cramps from my lower back all the way down my right leg to my foot. 

I think the issue really started when I helped move the old oven out and the new oven up the stairs and into the house a couple months ago. I had been having some lower back stiffness since then, but nothing I paid much attention to. I think moving all the furniture around and the painting may have pushed it over the edge. 

The pain was nearly incapacitating for the first few days. Sitting was uncomfortable. Laying down was pretty much excruciating, so sleep was not something I was getting much of, and driving would literally bring me to tears. 

Sciatica is the devil. The devil, I tell ya. 

I made a couple of trips to the chiropractor, even though the thought of all that scary sounding bone popping absolutely terrified me. Especially that neck thing they do…that gives me the heebie jeebies! But at that point I was willing to try anything that might make me feel comfortable enough to just be able to get a few minutes of sleep. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to be helping. So I made a visit to the doctor, and they gave me steroids and anti inflammatories. I had to get a shot, so Jeff insisted that I have this ice cream on the way home. 😊


The meds thankfully got me well enough that the pain was more tolerable. I had X-rays and an MRI, and the diagnosis was a bulging disc at L5-S1. 

I walked with a limp due to a mixture of the muscle soreness and the loss of sensation in a portion of my foot, and spent the majority of each day on my feet, unable to relax, because the pain sitting or laying was almost too much to bear. It was exhausting.

But despite the pain and a very serious lack of sleep, I have found so much to be thankful for over these last few weeks. 
-I didn’t have to stay out of work. 
-My sisters. They checked on me all the time, and one of them brought me her tens unit. That thing felt like a million little bees stinging me but in an oddly good way. Those things really do help with back pain. 

-I had sweet friends and family members that gave me meds and creams to help with with the muscle spasms.

-One precious friend that was a former teacher at my kids elementary school insisted on bringing us a dinner of chicken salad, fresh bread, broccoli cheese soup, and also the most delicious muffins you’ve ever had in your life.πŸ’— This was just so, so thoughtful and sweet.

-I got so many messages from friends telling me about their own experiences with sciatica, giving me tips on stretches and exercises and also giving me hope that it does go away! 

-My Mom sent over a heating pad, a back brace, and food. Really good food like fried chicken and barbecue pork. Oh and M&M’s. Let us not forget the goodness of the M&M’s! 

– My Daddy delivered the food, and said the sweetest prayer for healing over me before he left. There’s not much sweeter in this world than the heartfelt prayers of a parent for one of their children. Especially my parents. If you’ve ever met them, then you know they are precious. Just the best of the best. 

-My MRI cost me a lot less than I was expecting. 

– I’m getting better. The limp is pretty much gone. The numbness in my foot is going away. The muscle spasms are few and far between. I can sit pain free most of the time. Driving doesn’t make me want to cry anymore, and most importantly, I am able to sleep. 

– I put myself on a no bread, no sugar, no fun anti-inflammatory diet last week (ok, so maybe I still have a little caramel creamer in my coffee in the morning. Don’t judge. Ha. I gave up bread and chips y’all. That’s huge for me. So I’m cutting myself a little slack for this tiny daily cheat!) and as an added bonus, I’ve lost 6 pounds this week. 

-My floors look amazing.

Seriously, just look at them. Jeff did good!


-And last, but certainly not least, I have an amazing husband that takes care of me so, so well. 
He single-handedly finished out the floors and took over my painting of the walls and trim. He moved all the furniture back in the rooms, and cleaned up all the mess. He also has done the majority of the house cleaning. He sat with me through my Doctor’s appointments. He rubbed my leg and foot every night to help with the muscle cramps. He brought me my meds and propped pillows under my legs and drove Anna Kate wherever she needed to go whenever he could so I could rest and so I wouldn’t have to drive. He made my coffee and fixed my lunches. All of this on top of working every day and being on call. And he did every bit of it with a happy heart and a sweet smile. 
I looked at him the other day and said, “you are a good, good husband.”
I don’t take saying that lightly, given where we were two years ago. 

And neither does he. 

It’s kind of a big deal. Huge, actually. That I can look at the man that shattered my heart and our lives into a million little jagged pieces, and say that to him, and mean it. Like really mean it. 

I took him back believing for something better. Hoping for something better. In our relationship, and in him as a person, and in every aspect of our lives. And I wasn’t sure about it. I wasn’t sure it was possible. Any of it. But I chose to believe that it could be. 
And every day, I’m continually amazed at how good our life is. 
He’s a good, good God.                 And Jeff is a good, good husband. 

Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.

❀
Amy Thurston Gordy

 

Love. It’s worth celebrating.

Hey y’all! It’s been a busy few weeks. I really meant to sit down and write a post last week, but never really found a good time to sit and sort through my thoughts. So this morning, I’m making the time. It’s easy to let life and the busyness of it all take control of our time, making us feel like we just don’t have any for the things we would like to do, so sometimes, we just have to create it, and purposefully carve out time for things that are important to us. 

And in doing that, it turns out I’ve actually got two posts in me today! I wrote it as one big one, but realized the end needed to be a stand alone post, so the message doesn’t end up lost in the details of what’s been going on in our every day life. So first the fun stuff, and then, be sure to hop on over to my following post titled: “The truth. Live in that.”, if you want to hear about some life truths we’ve learned in the past few weeks. 

I’m not sure where to start. 

We’ve been busy. Emily is doing great in school and working a part time job. Kate was inducted into Beta club at school this week, and we found the most perfect prom dress that ever existed for her last weekend, so that was fun. And when I say perfect, I mean perfect. She had a specific brand that she had her heart set on. An expensive one. πŸ’° And on top of that, she attends a Christian school with fairly strict dress codes, meaning no midriffs, no cutouts, not too short. And I just happened to see a post for a dress that fit all of the above requirements , and was the brand she wanted. We went to this lovely family’s home to see it in person. And the look on her face when she saw it hanging there was priceless. Love at first sight. But would it fit? 

She slips it on, and I zip the back. She turns around,and I kid you not, she was absolute perfection in that dress. 😍 It was as if it had been made specifically for her. Not a single thing has to be altered. It’s elegant and glamorous and has just the right amount of sparkle without going overboard. And it was at a price point that her Dad and I could be in agreement with. It was as if she had said “God, I want this specific brand in a dress that fits me perfectly and is ridiculously gorgeous ,that my parents can afford to pay for”, and He said, “you got it, here ya go!” 

If you don’t believe that God wants to give you the desires of your heart, this dress is a perfect example of Him doing just that. 

I truly believe that dress was meant specifically for her. 

How is it that my baby is going to the prom? It goes by so, so fast. Here’s a little preview. We’ll wait until prom for the full reveal!


Jeff has been co-leading a class on positive thinking at our church with his mentor. Yep. Jeff. Co-leading a class. Who would have ever thought?  πŸ˜œ He really hasn’t had to do much leading with it, much to his relief, ha. But he had the opportunity to share a little at our class this week. As much as I would say that public speaking was out of my comfort zone, it is so much further out of his comfort zone than it ever came close to being for me. But he did a great job, so I’m proud of him for that. We’ve also had the opportunity to speak with some couples over the past few weeks that are just starting the process of trying to recover from their own revelations of infidelity in their marriages. Jeff actually met one on one and did a little counseling with one of the men. I love seeing how God uses our story and we are thankful for and humbled by the opportunities to help lead others down this path we’ve walked before them. Seeing them where they are and being reminded of that place of pain, and how far we’ve been able to move past that pain, it reminds us how blessed we are, and how thankful we are for the work God has done in us and our marriage. And it allows us to give these couples a little hope for their own future. 

We had a nice Valentine’s Day. We haven’t typically been big on going all out for Valentine’s Day in the past. But we view it a little differently these days. We should show our love and make each other feel special every day, sure. But there’s nothing wrong with celebrating a day set aside for that sole purpose. We try to honor Jesus in our hearts and lives every day, but still make a big deal out of Christmas. This is not really all that different from that concept. So if a day is set aside to honor love, and just do a little something extra, well, I say there’s just nothing but goodness in honoring that. I may have hinted rather heavily that I wanted some chocolate covered strawberries. πŸ˜‰ He’s a wise man and picked up the hints I was laying down. I’m not much for $100 bouquets of flowers. I love flowers, but I’m every bit as thrilled, if not more so, with the $10 bouquets from the grocery store. I mean, have you seen them lately? They have all our favorites. Tulips, lilies, dahlias, sunflowers, all the good stuff. So don’t say Valentine’s Day is too expensive. It doesn’t take much to make us girls feel special. It’s more about the effort than the product. Jeff did a great job of picking out my gifts. Beautiful lilies, (from the grocery store!), a gift card to a local boutique, and my favorite gift, a dozen chocolate covered strawberries, also bought from a local bakery. He honestly could have gotten me those and nothing else and I would have been thrilled. 


Sweet gifts from a sweet man. Celebrate love y’all. Don’t just skip it and say it’s a gimmicky holiday created to make money. You don’t have to spend any. Make a card. Anything. Don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate love. The way the effort you make will serve to make her feel loved and treasured is no gimmick. It’s a gift. πŸ’—

We decided it was time to start back on our home improvement projects. First thing on the list was painting the living room. So off I went to the store to pick out paint samples. We wanted something neutral, to replace the awful mustard/gold color that was the current color. That should be easy right? 

Wrong.

Turns out picking a neutral is so much harder than picking a color. There’s just so many. And so many undertones! My heart really loves the greys. The warm ones. And the cool ones. Pretty much all the greys. But alas, my sofa is brown. Like really, really brown. So I thought I could find a nice “greige” and make it work. 

Nope. Not happening. 

So after narrowing down from oh, about 31 samples,😳 


I finally settled on this warm stone/taupe. It’s called “Stone lion” from Sherwin Williams.


 I think it turned out nicely. After 2 days of painting, and my arms feeling like they may just fall off of my body, we were nearly done. There’s still about half of the white trim paint that I have left to finish. I really hate trim and am having a hard time willing myself to pick it up and finish it, ha. But I plan to finish that out this weekend. I think our next project will be pulling up the carpet and laying wood floor in the bedrooms and refinishing the existing wood floors in the living room. If I can figure out the logistics of when and how to do them with the dogs and such, so complicated! So that’s where we are with that. It’s coming along, slowly but surely. 
And speaking of slowly and surely, that’s probably a good way to describe how the whole healing from infidelity process works. We had a good 2-3 day argument a couple of weeks ago. Head on over to my next post later today to hear all about what we learned from that. 

❀

Amy Thurston Gordy

Not Restored

Restoration. It’s a word that is used a lot when speaking about broken marriages, and infidelity. It’s repeated over and over in discussions, articles, books, videos, you name it. It’s everywhere. It seems to be a go to word when referring to healing a broken marriage. I’ve used it myself, but for some reason I always get stuck.

Like when a record hits a scratch and starts skipping. Or when your sweater gets snagged and stuck on something. That’s what that word feels like to me when I say it. It just never feels or sounds quite right.

Because the definition of restoration is:
β€’ the action of returning something to a former condition,
β€’ the process of repairing or renovating so as to restore it to its original condition
β€’ the reinstatement of a previous practice, right, custom, or situation.

When you find yourself in a situation such as mine, it is not restoration that you seek.

Sure, in the first days, even months after discovery, you long for what was. You mourn for the life you were living before. Before EVERYTHING changed.
But one day you realize, that life never actually existed. It wasn’t what you thought it was.

Your perception was your reality but your reality was not the truth.

And when you see it clearly in the light of day, it’s not something you want back. While you definitely don’t want this turmoil and pain and uncertainty that your life has become after, you don’t want the illusion of the life you had before either.

So you come to a place of , “What now? What do I want? What do I want my life to look like?”
And honestly, in the beginning, it’s a hard question to answer.
Because there in that place, where you see that the life you had wasn’t at all what you thought it was, and the life you have now most certainly isn’t at all what you wanted it to be, the idea of what you do want it to be or how to get there, can be a difficult thing to envision.
The ONLY thing you know for certain is what you DON’T want it to be. Because now you’ve seen it. You’ve lived it. You’ve felt the pain. You’ve endured the heartache of this story that you did not want.
And so you know. You KNOW that you never want to end up there again.

So restoration is not the right word.

The goal is not to “restore” our marriage.

The goal is to REBUILD it.

We recently renovated our kitchen.
It started with a vision of what we wanted. That vision started with just a few pieces. We really didn’t have the full picture yet, but we had a pretty clear idea of where we were going with it.
So we got started.

image

It was the same when I made the decision to give our marriage a second chance. I wasn’t completely sure it would work. I wasn’t completely convinced we had the ability to do it. But I had seen enough pieces to know what it could possibly look like. And the only way to find out, the only way to see the completed vision, was to take that first step and just get started.

The first thing I picked out was the back splash.

 
Cararra marble subway tiles. You guys. 😍 Absolutely gorgeous. I knew from the moment I saw them that it was exactly what I wanted. I love,  I mean, LOVE this tile.
It was the first thing I picked out but it was also the finishing touch. The thing that pulled everything else together and made it work.

As for our marriage, I think the backsplash represents commitment. True unwavering commitment. Without it, some of the pieces might still function ok, but others just won’t work at all, and the renovation will just never appear complete. Both spouses have to be fully 100% committed to making it work. Otherwise you end up in a perpetual state of patching things up. A perpetual state of unfinished projects. Never finding the reward of seeing the beauty of this new thing you are building to completion. You can’t rebuild something with only 50% of the supplies, or 50% of the labor. If 50% is all you’ve got, the job will either never get finished or it will fall apart. You both have to commit to going all in.

Next came the paint.


Have y’all ever tried to choose a grey paint? Who knew there were sooo many different greys?! Literally drove myself and my family nuts trying to make a decision.
Walls and trim. Then the cabinets and all the handles. Before you even get started you have to take all the stuff out of the cabinets. Which leaves a nice big mess on the dining room floor.

So much work. Before you start you think, “this won’t be so bad. It’s not that big of a job.”
But after just a few hours in you find yourself exhausted. Frustrated. Downright weary.
“What was I thinking? Why did I think I could do this? How many screws are in these darn hinges and drawer pulls? I knew this was going to be hard work but I didn’t think about all these tedious details. This. Is. Hard.”
But you do it anyway. You keep going forward. And when you finish the painting and rehang the doors, you are amazed at what a difference all that hard work made. And when you refill those cabinets, you throw out the junk and the trash that you don’t need and only put back what is useful.

And that’s what it is like. The healing process. The process of forgiveness.
You know it’s going to be hard. But then you get in there and you realize that
You. Had. No. Idea.
No idea what you were getting yourself into.
No idea the tedious details you would have to work through. No idea the junk and the trash that it would expose.
No idea the strength, the determination and the sheer will it would take to push through it. But that is what it takes. You just have to make the decision to do it, then you roll up those sleeves and you get to work. And you don’t quit. Even when it’s hard. Even when you’re tired. Even when you aren’t feeling 100% sure it’s going to turn out the way you want it to. You just do it.

After that we replaced the flooring.


That required pulling up the old floor, laying down a new subfloor then tiling over that.
That’s when we hit a bit of a snag.
Jeff spent hours laying that tile, but after it dried they started popping up.
It was disastrous. How did this happen?
So we had to backtrack and try and figure out why it wasn’t working. Turns out, when we bought the bag of mortar to lay it with, we failed to notice that the label said not for use with porcelain. So we had to pull EVERY last tile up. Scrape the mortar off the back of every tile. Scrape the mortar off of the subfloor. And start all over. This time using the right materials.

Sometimes, as we are working through rebuilding our marriage, we screw it up. We do things or say things or let the wrong thoughts take precedence in our minds, and we try to lay the foundation down based on the wrong things. And when that happens, we quickly see that the floor starts cracking and we are on unsteady ground. Many times over we’ve had to tear that foundation up again. We’ve had to look back and see where we went wrong, what materials we used that didn’t belong and re install it with the right materials. A solid foundation is crucial. And sometimes it takes time to find all the right ingredients. But once it’s done right, you’ve got a firm foundation to build on. A solid place to land. Steady ground to stand on.

Next we bought a new stove top and vent hood. Jeff found it on Craigslist. I must say I am not a fan of Craigslist and was slightly terrified. But thankfully, not everyone selling on Craigslist is out to murder people and there are great deals to be had. Good to know! As we prepared to install it, I realized that the countertops that we had just were not working with the new aesthetic. Which was a bit disheartening because we had not budgeted for new countertops. The only way we were even able to do what we had done so far was based on an extremely low budget, buying materials at the lowest possible price we could find and doing ALL the work ourselves. But, it was clear that for us to achieve what we were going for, those countertops had to go.

Miracle of miracles, Jeff talked to a former employer. A cabinet maker that he worked for when we first got married. When asking about the price of new countertops, this sweet man told Jeff that he couldn’t be prouder of how he had worked hard and made something of himself, of the man he had become since he worked for him all those years ago. And then he proceeded to make him a deal on those countertops that was better than we ever could have hoped for.
God is so so good.


Countertops are a place of serving. They are also a place of presentation. The way we served each other, the way we presented ourselves to each other in our old marriage. Those things just didn’t work in this new one. We had to learn new ways of showing love. If you haven’t read the five love languages by Gary Chapman. Go get it. Read it. Read it now. Don’t wait. It will be life changing.

After that we moved on to the dining room. I hung new curtains. They provide just a bit of shade, while still letting the light in. And bring a little warmth to the room.


I guess in our marriage maybe that represents new boundaries and also new transparency and the protection and security that both of those things bring.

I refinished our dining room table. It was painted black before. Dark and uninviting. I painted it with a very pale grey chalk paint, then distressed it, and topped it off with several potted succulents. Then we replaced the light fixture hanging above it.
It’s inviting, and the plants give it a little pop of life.
Exactly the way I want my family.
Inviting, and full of life.


The painting on the wall no longer matched, so I replaced it with this. Yes, it’s a cow. And I LOVE it. It’s exactly what I wanted. Full of color and just a touch of whimsy.


In our marriage I suppose that would represent the fun. The adventure of getting to know the new people we are becoming. The unexpected blessings. The joy.


The stairs still need to be redone and the oven and kitchen light fixture still need to be replaced. There is still some work to do in our kitchen and in our marriage before it reaches completion. But with time and the right resources, we know it’s going to be better than we even imagined. We know this because we can already see it coming together. And it already is better than we could have imagined. So how wonderful it is to know we haven’t seen anything yet. There’s still so much goodness ahead.

Most recently, I added this to our shelf.

And that is the key.
The key to everything.
It’s the reason it’s working.
Because we are so, so grateful.
We know how different our lives could be today. How different they should be by the world’s standards after what happened in our marriage.
But instead we have this.
And yes it’s so incredibly hard.
Yes, it’s so incredibly messy.
But it’s also incredibly beautiful.
And nothing short of miraculous. And we are grateful.

Amy Thurston Gordy