Friday, August 4, 2017

Hills and Valleys

Today I celebrate five years of marriage with Jeff. I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately and in the words of Melanie Shankle,

 “I know that every marriage is more complicated than it appears to be on the surface. It can be a delicate dance of romance, hurt feelings, love, driving carpool, cooking dinner, dreams and a lot of work. It’s hard to know why some marriages survive and others don’t, other than by some combination of pure stubbornness, grit and a lot of prayer.”  Church of the Small Things


I think about all of the long standing marriages that have woven a web of love and stability around me my entire life. My parents, both sets of grandparents, Mema and Deedad, aunts, uncles and friends whose marriages have stood the test of time. I think about the marriages that have failed and why- my first one included. I've come to this conclusion. Hills and valleys. It’s all about going through the hills and valleys of life and marriage. Going through it together and trusting that the person beside you will always be there. It's about TRUST. Period. There will be days when you think your spouse hung the moon and you thank God for allowing you to share your life with this amazing person. Then let’s just be real, there are days when you just want to smack him and for the life of you it’s impossible to see why he can’t look at one of the many calendars (dry erase in the hall, Google Shared on the computer, Google calendar on his phone, etc. ) to know what is going on for the week and yet he continues to look at you like a deer in headlights when you say “we have to be at the school in 30 minutes for such and such. Didn’t you check the schedule”. Hills and valleys. But what I am most thankful for are all of the times in between when he sees the real me - the one no one else really ever sees and he doesn’t run screaming for the hills. You know, the one with PMSing “I’d just as soon smack you as look at you“ type of moods, the one who comes in from work and needs to share every excruciating detail about her day with 25,000 words or more, the panicked woman on the inside when the medical test come out questionable and the one who really has no idea what she’s going to make for dinner pretty much every single night. Yes, that one- he loves her just as much as he loves the one everyone else sees. That is just one of the many things I’m thankful for. There are days when it’s sweet and romantic and we gross our kids out by holding hands and smooching in the kitchen. There are days when it’s not so pretty and a commitment we made five years ago, no really more like eight, to stick it out to the end is all that is holding it together. Well, that and God working behind the scenes to soften stubborn hearts. So today, I am thankful for my partner through the hills and valleys. I am thankful to have him go through the messiness of life with me. Because while neither of us are perfect, the one thing we know is that neither of us is going anywhere. He is my rock. We are in it for the long haul. Through kids, job loss, illness, aging parents, and all of the other things life throws at us along the way. Side by side, trudging up those hills out of the valleys. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Enough

I have a confession. I am broken and I am flawed. By the world’s standards I am lacking in so many ways and far too often I let that idea control WAY too much of my thought life. I do not have the body I had at nineteen or heck even at thirty and probably never will again. Yet I allow the world to make me feel like I am less valuable because I can’t fit into a pair of size two jeans. Oh who am I kidding, I haven’t worn a size two since I was a toddler. I see so many of my beautiful friends fighting this same battle every day as well. They feel defeated and depleted because they don’t look like the world has convinced us we should look. We run ourselves ragged trying to have it all. By today’s standards the modern woman should have a lucrative career, be a perfect mother carefully balancing between being the overly protective helicopter mom and the laid back free-range mother and that’s just to keep DHR off of your doorstep. We should be carefully nipped, injected and tucked so no one really knows how old we really are and we should have a beach body that would rival Jillian Michael’s. Thanks Gloria Steinem, high five on the feminist movement. On top of all of these “standards”, we should all be “Pinterest perfect”. Come on, you know what I mean. Your house should look like it just appeared in the latest edition of Southern Living complete with a new farmhouse table you built with your bare hands in your spare time and your children’s birthday parties should rival most weddings. Because seriously, what kind of mother just orders pizza and grabs a cake from Publix?


Well I am fed up. I am tired of having my joy robbed and seeing my precious friends’ spirits diminished by this pursuit of ridiculous perfection, especially when it comes to body image. Now before I go ruffling the feathers of you fitness gurus & goddesses, please understand this is in no way a criticism of you. I truly admire my friends who have never battled weight issues because they have always remained active- kudos to you. I have two friends who every year when we have a girl’s weekend CHOOSE to go for a run while the rest of us veg in the spa.  Yes, this is mind boggling to me- sweaty run vs. mimosas in the whirlpool. However, fitness is an integral part of who they are and I am proud of them. And a thumbs ups (or it might be another finger depending on the peri-menopausal mood swing of the day) to those of you not in your forties or fifties fighting thyroid, hormone and hereditary issues that make this battle feel impossible. That’s a whole other topic for discussion. I’m fairly certain an exorcism is needed on some days. LOL! This is more of a letter of encouragement and declaration of a reality check to those seriously struggling to feel like they are enough because of a damn number on a scale or size of their pants. ENOUGH girlfriends! Do you hear me when I say- ENOUGH! You are enough JUST THE WAY YOU ARE! Fleshy thighs, chunky butt, flabby arms and all!


A friend of mine once said something to me I try to recall whenever I am feeling less than fabulous. We were talking about the struggle with weight and she said “you know my grandmother had these arms. But when I recall memories of her, her arms are not what I remember”. Friends, this is SO true. When we are dead and gone, no one (well except maybe a few superficial friends we really shouldn’t care about in the first place) will remember the size of your rear or your flabby arms. What they will remember is the way you made them feel, the compassionate things you did for them and how you blessed their lives. Both of my grandmothers conjure images more consistent with Cinderella’s fairy godmother than Goldie Hawn. You know what, that didn’t make me love them less. I don’t look back and think “gosh, I would’ve enjoyed being around her more if she had just had a smaller waist”. My memories of them have more to do with who they were as women and the time they spent with me. The shape of their figure is NEVER what I remember. 
  
Samuel 16:7 says “…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.  How often is this drowned out by the flood of messages telling us we have to be all of these things- mainly possess a supermodel’s physique?  How many of us have known people who on the outside seemed to have it all yet inside have truly ugly spirits? How do those people make you feel? Somehow I doubt it’s full of joy and happiness. So here’s what I have figured out in my 42 short years on this earth. We are all just doing our best. Most of us are balancing a career, carting children from one activity to the next, and volunteering our time at church or in our community or at our children’s schools. On top of that we are trying to find time to squeeze in a date night with our spouse and if we are really lucky we can carve out time with our friends here and there. If you’re like me you feel like a hero if you actually feed your family a home cooked meal a couple of nights a week, much less be sure it’s all organic or considered gourmet.  So I say all of this to say, give yourself a break. Keep fighting the healthy fight of trying to make good food choices and squeeze in that Tribe class before you zoom off to take your kid to football practice and I’ll do the same. But be kind to yourself. Worry more about what is on the inside. Heck, if we all obsessed as much about the state of our hearts as we do about the state of our thighs, we’d live in a very different world. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

My Mom is Better Than Yours

My mom is better than yours. No seriously there have been few to walk the earth who are better mothers than the woman who raised me. When I think about my mother selfless is the first word that pops into my head. She has always put others first. It's reflected in everything she does. In her marriage to my dad, she happily goes along with whatever his latest love is-another boat, a fishing cabin, another fishing trip- you name it. And here's the thing that has always amazed me, she truly is happy for him to have and do whatever his heart desires. She's the same with my brother and I. She will drop everything to help us with whatever whenever we need her to without question. With my children, there is NEVER EVER a doubt on whether or not Dear is going to show up at their latest sports endeavors, school functions or church events. They have grown up knowing that no matter what, they can always count on her. This is a truth her family knows all too well. 

She taught us morals and values. She laid the foundation of our faith by not only making sure we were always in church but also in how she lived out her faith. This woman doesn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk. Now please don't get the impression she was just some pushover mom. She was tough on us and held us to high standards. We didn't have much drama growing up because drama wasn't allowed. We weren't allowed to act like brats. We were taught to have self respect. We were taught to have respect for others. Plain and simple. 

She has the patience of a saint. She truly gets the concept of "don't sweat the small stuff". We joke she will never have to worry about high blood pressure because she doesn't stress about much if anything. We could learn a thing or two from her in that area. She would rather spend her time caring for the people she loves and doing for others than worrying about her house being perfect or materialistic things that bog the rest of us down. And here's the thing- she never asks for much if anything in return. She doesn't expect expensive gifts or need the spotlight. She just quietly goes about the business of taking care of her family and trying to make sure everyone is happy. The best gift to her- her family spending time together. I could go on and on. So while many will post pictures and sentiments this Mother's Day of how great their mother is, I will know that I was blessed to have the best one. ;) 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

People Have Lost Their Minds

Ok, let me preface this by saying I am not a perfect parent nor do I pretend to know all of the answers and this is simply my opinion but I have been holding this in for a long time now and just have to say it...people have lost their minds. Between the news and social media I just want to move out to the middle of nowhere, grow my own food and home school my children (and not because I think public education is failing)- except I really don't like to get dirty and I'm pretty sure my children have surpassed my educational expertise. But let me get back to the point.

Today I was reading a post on Facebook complete with filmed evidence of a fight at a local high school. People were losing their minds over this. "OMG, I'd pull my kid out of that school so fast" and yada yada yada wrote several commentators. Seriously people, get a grip. Fights have been happening in high schools and middle schools since our grandparents attended school. It's not the end of the world or a sign of the end times. Now don't get me wrong, I do not condone solving issues with violence and there is a difference between weapons being involved or serious battery that would've warranted a call to the police 40 years ago much less today. But come on- hormonal teenagers have been duking it out for ages. The difference is little Suzy couldn't video it on her $300 iPhone and post it for all to see. Back in the day when your mom asked if anything interesting happened at school you simply said "yea, so-in-so got in a fight and has after school detention for a week"- end of story. Today, it's posted within seconds on five different social media sites and CNN if it's a real dinger. Then little Bobby's or Billy’s parents threaten to sue and/or little Bobby ends up with assault and battery charges because he punched little Billy in the eye for messing around with his girlfriend. Kids can’t be kids and parents sure don’t seem to know how to be parents and society has just lost its collective mind.  

Our future generations are a mess. Kids are on anti-depressants at twelve, are disrespectful to teachers, church volunteers, their parents and people in general.  We are already seeing the effects of this entitled narcissistic generation coming out of high schools and colleges today. Yet cowardly parents are so afraid of upsetting little Suzy because she might get mad and "never" speak to them again. Or heaven forbid they check little Suzy's social media accounts regularly because that would be violating her privacy.  Of course little Suzy refuses to add mom or dad anyway to her real social media accounts so they are clueless that she's posting a weekly trashy selfie or dating a 28 year old she met online. Nonetheless these same parents seem genuinely shocked when little Suzy ends up being a total train wreck by the time she's sixteen. Again, get a grip people. It's called parenting. It's supposed to be hard. I can tell you I thought my parents were the meanest, strictest people on the face of the earth when I was a teen. And guess what? I didn't grow up to hate them and "never" speak to them. And I didn't grow up to be a train wreck. Why? Because the two people who raised me actually had common sense and a backbone.  I pray I am resilient enough to have that same level of common sense and backbone. Some days are better than others but I keep on fighting the good fight and certainly have no intentions of backing down because one of my kids might get mad at me.


My point to this whole blog post is as a society we have things so backwards. We freak out over relatively normal kid or teen behavior yet fail to get upset over the things we should. It just seems like common sense is becoming a rarity in society. We live our lives by whatever moral compass we like for that week and yet wonder why our lives are a mess. It’s like everyone has lost their mind.  So I guess this post is really more to say to the fellow parents who still try to hold onto their “I’m the boss” card to press on people. Stay strong. And maybe some of the ones who have lost their minds will find it along the way. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Little Reading Material...

So at Bunko last month, a couple of friends suggested I write a blog about books I've read or am reading that I would recommend. Let me preface this by saying most things I've read come through recommendations from others. But I will pass along a few books I enjoyed or that impacted me in some significant way. I'll provide a little blurb about each but understand I certainly can not articulate in a brief sentence or two what these amazing authors have put together. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Parenting:
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch- this is a great short read filled with life lessons from a dying man. What I loved most about this book was his discussion on the impact the way his mother parented had on him fulfilling his dreams.
Five Conversations to Have with Your Son by Vicki Courtney- I'm 2/3 into this but I really love it. It hits home with how society has slowly turned boys into men who don't know how to be men and how mom's effect that. It gives lots of practical advice on raising your son to be a responsible husband, father and member of society.
Praying the Scriptures for Your Children/Teenagers by Jodie Berndt was a recommendation by my friend Deborah. These books offer advice on parenting struggles and struggles your children will face and how to pray for them.

Marriage:
Every Woman's Marriage by Shannon Etheridge- this is one of the best christian marriage books I have ever read but not for the faint of heart. She speaks very plainly about woman and how we typically "deal" with our husbands and even goes into bedroom issues.

Just because I personally thing EVERYONE should read these...
Night by Elie Wiesel
What's So Amazing About Grace by Phillip Yancy
The Shack by William P. Young

So there's a few recommendations for now. I'll add more as I think of them. Usually it's through conversations with my friends that these come up and I think of them.

Good Reading,
Brandy


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lots of Changes...

It's been a while since I've blogged. I barely remembered how to log in to the site- lol! There are a lot of changes headed our way. It's amazing to me how life just has a way of working out. I guess that's why I am learning to stress a lot less the older I get. God continues to show me He's in charge and already has everything all worked out. We are in the process of building our new home. It's wonderful and the fact that Jeff basically designed it (working from several sets of plans) is even better. It truly is a home built for a family. I can't wait to hear the voices and laughter of my family filling the rooms. I foresee days of watching Alabama football on the back porch and many great meals being enjoyed in our kitchen (Jeff cooking them of course, lol!). As of this Tuesday, everything will be decided and we can sit back and watch it all come together. I can't wait!!!


It's only two months until our wedding. It's going to be such a wonderful & special day. The kids are excited about their roles. The boys can't wait to wear their tuxedos and ride in a limo. The girls are ready to pick out shoes and try on their dresses. My dress should be in next week and invitations will go out soon. I couldn't have done it without my dear friend, Leslie. She has taken care of so much and helped me create the look I wanted, not to mention helped me maintain sanity. Now it's time to enjoy the weeks ahead and the celebrations planned leading up to the BIG DAY! It's times like these when you really come to see how blessed you are. Someone pinch me because I don't think I could get much happier!

Friday, December 23, 2011

More Baker boys funnisms...

So tonight we were sitting at my parents & Grant looks at me and says "momma (which he has decided to now call me because he thinks mommy is too babyish), Cooper (my mom's Elf on a Shelf) must REALLY be an elf on the shelf because the only place he has hooded (plural for hide-lol) is on a shelf!

Now Mason's new thing that cracks me up is he's decided if you kiss under the mistletoe you've been "mistletoed"! So he keeps asking me if I am going to "mistletoe" Jeff when he gets here. Haha!

Hills and Valleys

Today I celebrate five years of marriage with Jeff. I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately and in the words of Melanie Shankle, ...