I love Love!  I always have.  My parents were a wonderful example to me growing up.  I was surrounded by family who loved me and each other.  Even while going through my divorce, I wasn’t angry or disheartened with Love.  I was angry with myself; I was angry with my soon to be ex-husband.  But Love was still this beautiful, attainable idea.  We had the pleasure witnessing Love at not one but TWO weddings two weekends ago.  One a second marriage between two “grown-ups” and the second a first between two “kiddos”.  The overwhelming feel of love and devotion at both was beyond description!

The “young ‘uns”.  Miss Sarah went to school with my kids.  I’ve known her since she was about 12 and played softball with Kendall (that one season K wanted to be athletic!).  She was one of my “band kids” at IHS.  Watching her grow into a beautiful, strong, warm, loving, compassionate young woman has been an honor and a blessing.  I did not know her now husband until meeting him at the wedding, but the look on his face as she started down the aisle was all I needed to be assured that he was indeed totally in love with my young friend!  The weather was perfect, the Bride beautiful!  It was sweet and genuine. And so much fun! What a joy to watch young love unfold!

And Shelly.  What Jimmy and I were able to witness Saturday morning, in a beautiful little rock chapel, was nothing short of God’s abundant blessing and answer to prayer.  I had many friends who walked beside me as I tried to navigate divorce and life after, and I am more thankful and grateful than can be put into words.  But this dear sweet friend, was walking WITH me, truly.  She was doing the same in her own life, at the same time.  We have cried and fussed and screamed and laughed and cried some more.  Eaten and not eaten; slept and not slept; and cried some more!  And prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed!  What we asked God for was His timing, if we were to find love again.  Then for His peace as we waited (which neither of us does very well!) and healed and started over.  She absolutely GLOWED as she looked into the eyes of the wonderful man God provided and they vowed to love each other until they are parted by death.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so beautiful!

I know how she felt.  When God opened the door, and my heart, to the possibility of an “adjustment” (as Jimmy says) of our friendship, my whole world changed.  I remember thinking, as we stood looking at each other during our ceremony, “This is how Love should feel.  I just want to remember this feeling right here.  No one else matters, absorb this moment.”  And I did.  Every single word, the look on his face, the love in his beautiful blue eyes.  I am married to the kindest man I’ve ever known.  I’ve always felt that way, since we were 14.  Now I just get to see it in different ways.  He is gentle, sweet, loving – there aren’t enough adjectives!  He is also strong and fiercely loyal, and I have not a single doubt that he has my back whatever comes our way.  I know that I know that God did this.  He allowed us to become friends all those years ago.  That is the very best foundation for a marriage.  And I think we have the best marriage ever!

As I’ve prayed for these new couples this week, I’ve asked God to bless them; to teach them to be best friends.  If I have any advice, it’s this – do not take one single moment for granted.  Show/tell your spouse how much you appreciate them and every little thing they do for you.  And laugh – a lot!  Even when you get irritated, step back and see the situation for what it really is, not what it’s blowing up to be in your own head (hmmmm – listen to my own advice maybe?!).  Most conflicts are just white noise.  Don’t let that drown out the beautiful song you are writing together!

The weekend was filled with beautiful weather and beautiful people.  Sunshine and joy and FOOD and fun!  And was just confirmation that in the end, Love wins!!

I Am Blessed

I seem to be spending a great deal of time reflecting lately.  Maybe due to the start of this blog, maybe because of so many changes for so many of my family and friends, maybe I’m just getting old(er)!

I am blessed.  That statement is probably over used, but it is the simple, absolute truth.

As a child I remember my Daddy waking us up at 0-dark-thiry on Saturday with “get up girls!  We’re going to Chattanooga for lunch!”  I played in mountain streams cold enough to chill our watermelon while camping.  My Mother skipped lunch every Thursday during football season while Sandi and I were in Jr. High, so she could get to the games and see us in the band – just sitting in the stands playing!  We drove across the country in a Ford Falcon to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico because Daddy was an Explorer leader. We spent hours and hours at the lake skiing, and taking whomever wanted to go with us.  I had parents who were involved – probably more than I wanted at times!  I am blessed.

And while getting up at ungodly hours to wash band T-shirts before competition trips, or spending hours painting sets and applying mountains of glitter to anything and everything may not be your cup of tea, to me those things are priceless.  I worked concessions during hockey games and special events at what was then the Sommet Center in Nashville for four years to pay band fees at my children’s high school.  While that was frustrating and extremely tiring (especially weekday games!), the friendships, the bonds, that were formed are beyond explaining.  I have a “paint shirt and jeans” with every color of every set of every play during my daughter’s high school career.  I am STILL vacuuming glitter out of my living room rug (K graduated in 2013)!  There were car washes and yard sales – fund raising for theater.  I was TIRED!  But hearing my kids and my “other kids” call me mom, and hug my neck – far outweighs any lack of rest.  I am blessed.

I have been divorced.  It’s ugly and it’s painful, and one of the worst experiences of my life.  But I had family and friends come around me, and love me, and encourage me – and jerk a knot in my tail when I needed that too!  True friends give you the hard stuff too. I have some of those!  While I was hurting and walking through that awful moment in time, one of my very best friends was too – at almost the exact same pace.  And now – this weekend – I get to be there as she marries a man who loves and adores her, as she deserves.  I am blessed!

In May of 2016, we moved my parents into our home, two doors down from my sister and brother-in-love.  She had stage 4 ovarian cancer.  It was our turn – our parents needed us. For 3 months we were able to help where we could, talk to her, love on her.  In spite of the frustration and struggle to watch the Mother I knew disappear, I am glad we were able to be there when she needed us.  The morning Mother traded up to her mansion, she was at home, surrounded by her family.  I am blessed.

And now Daddy lives with us.  I’m a Daddy’s girl – always have been, always will be.  I help with his laundry – he’s pretty self-sufficient!  I do his medicines.  Sandi handles the bills (THANK GOD!  Money is NOT my strong suit!).  We watch Wheel and Jeopardy and NCIS; he answers our questions about his childhood and school years with funny stories and thoughtful moments.  Sandi and I take turns cooking dinners; it’s sort of a little Harris commune!  But I was gone from Georgia for almost 30 years.  The time I’ve been able to spend with my Daddy in the last 2 years is priceless.  I am blessed.

The children.  I have two by birth, and one bonus daughter by marriage (I’ve known her since she was born so there was no learning to love her – I already did!).  They are fun and entertaining!  “Never a dull moment” does not even BEGIN to cover it!  They are all growing to be strong, independent young adults, contributing members of society.  They are good people.  All three are talented and intelligent with good heads on their shoulders, good hearts, and a passion for life.  I am proud to be their mom – birth or step!  I am blessed.

Jimmy.  This man was created by God, for me.  He has been my best “guy friend” since the 10th grade.  He still is.  We got married in October 2015, while he was still working in Charlotte, NC.  He got a job in Atlanta and started in January 2016.  We moved my parents in to our home in May.  4 months.  We had 4 months alone.  And he just takes it all in stride (except that thermostat thing!  Just kidding sweetie!!).  I have asked more of him than anyone should have to handle.  He is kind and gentle and strong and smart and funny and loving and honest and trustworthy and just fun to be around.  He KNOWS me – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  He has my back, no matter what.  He loves my family – and it’s a big one!  He loves my kids.  He treats me like a queen. We are “those people”.   You know, the ones always hugging or holding hands or a little smooch here and there.  And I love it!  I am blessed.

Deuteronomy 30:3 says “God, your God, will restore everything you lost; He’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.”  God has picked up my pieces; He has restored me; He has restored my family; He has restored my faith.  He has healed my heart and shown me how to love, really love.  He has taught me to appreciate and not take anything for granted.  I am grateful.  I am thankful.  I am blessed.

Finding Sarah

Since this whole blog idea came from my “40 Days to 50” journey, I went back to my Facebook page and read some of those posts.  When I turned 50 in 2014, I was newly divorced after nearly 25 years of marriage, my children were either in college or out on their own, and I was living alone for the first time in my life.  I had spent half of my life thus far trying to be what I considered the best wife, and a good, involved parent.   I have no regrets, please understand that.  But I did kind of lose, forget, who I was as an individual.  That journey to 50 came from counseling and realizing I needed to find me.

My quest to find Sarah was 40 days of self-examination, very painful at times, and a HUGE amount of prayer.  Ripping off the scabs that had begun to form over the wounds from the divorce was not pleasant.  At all.  But in every relationship, both parties play a part in the good and the bad.  Admitting to myself my part was ugly, but necessary.  It is also necessary to forgive – everyone involved.  Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you.  Let that sink in a minute. I read somewhere that holding on to anger is letting someone live in your head rent free.  I control that.  With God’s help I forgave my ex-husband, and myself. Then I was free!  Wanna see some of what I learned?  Here are some nuggets from a few of those posts:

April 10, 2014:  I am -even in the midst of all life is throwing at me – having the time of my life!  I am going to be 50 and Fabulous!!

April 25, 2014:  15 days left!  So what have I learned thus far?  1- Be Still means Be Still.  He’s not kidding.  If you think you’re being told that, you probably are.  Listen.  Trust me on this. 2- Emotional health is equally, if not more, important than physical health.  Talk it out, pray, go to counseling.  Do whatever it takes to get yourself back to that “good place”. 3- Any exercise really is better than no exercise.  Get up, go outside, walk, run, move.  You’ll feel better, and you’ll feel better because you are doing SOMETHING!

May 10, 2014:  So, where did my 40 Days Till 50 take me?  I could write a book, but here’s the Readers Digest condensed version.

Life is choices.  There are few things that we go through that we haven’t caused by our choices, good or bad.  How we deal with them is a choice.  Finding joy is a choice, happiness is a choice, loving and being lovable are choices.  Eating better, being more active are choices.  Spending more time alone with God is a choice.  Not reacting to other’s actions and letting that define you is a choice.  From here on out, those are my choices.

Life is – or should be – intentional.  Do you intend to be happy?  Most of us don’t intend to be unhappy, but we roll through life unintentionally, letting what happens to us define us.  I think I posted this from my Pastor last week but it’s worth saying again: we go through life thinking we will drift into the best version of ourselves – we won’t. I’m not drifting anymore.  I’m not defined by anything that’s happened to me.  I am worthy.  Not because of me, but because God says I am.  I am not the smartest, wisest, thinnest, most beautiful or most spiritual person – even in my own group of family and friends.  But no one else is or can be me either.  God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and His opinion is what counts.

So, what next?  I love others, I love myself, I do my best to be the best mom, sister, daughter, friend I can be.  It’s all a journey and I’ll keep learning along the way.  It’s a little daunting and a lot exciting!!!  I’m so ready for this next chapter – life is to be lived, and that’s exactly what I INTEND to do!!  I AM 50 and fabulous!!

I have read and re-read those posts as I put this together about 10 times.  Being intentional with life changed my life.  There is still much to be done, but I am a better me than I was before my 40 days.  I am stronger, more confident, more accepting of myself.  I am more compassionate toward others, trying hard to always believe the best. I like me, just like I am. I have a husband who adores me (that’s a post all by itself!), a great relationship with our kids, and that circle of family and friends I talked about before. I am blessed beyond measure and grateful beyond words.  Turning 50 was daunting.  That number was scary – I won’t lie!  But I truly believe the best is yet to come.

Welcome to my Blog

I’ve thought about starting a blog for a very long time.  During and after my divorce, I had many friends who followed my journey and encouraged me to blog and share the insights I had gained through that process.  I don’t know that there is any real “wisdom” or anything new here, but it was new and sometimes earth-shattering to me.

Before I share what I went through and where I am now, some background might be a bit helpful.  I grew up in Mayberry.  Well, not ACTUAL Mayberry, but something very similar.  Fayetteville, GA in the mid-60’s and 70’s was the quintessential small town.  Families who had been there for generations, lots of farmland and the farmers to go with it, little town square with a beautiful, majestic, white Courthouse right in the middle – clock tower and all!  My family has been there forever – my Daddy’s Daddy went to my high school, as did both my parents, numerous cousins and some of their children.  I was born a FCHS Tiger, and I will die one!

My childhood was filled with football and camping trips, square dancing at the Post House (American Legion Hall) and hours and hours of bike riding, weekly visits to both sets of grandparents and family reunions in Uncle Jake’s front yard, complete with sweet tea and lemonade in big galvanized washtubs with metal dippers, block ice, and leaves from the pecan trees we used for shade.  I had 5 sets of ACTUAL Aunts and Uncles (including my Mother’s brother), then you start with the “Greats” and the cousins and those friends of my parents who became Aunts and Uncles.  When you’re talking about the Harris family “there’s a whole lot of ‘em”!  More than once in my life I’ve heard “You’re a Harris; I don’t know which one, but you are one!”  And I am.  Hook, line and sinker.   Irrefutably, undeniably, unashamedly.  I am proud of my family.  I am proud of my heritage, of the Harris clan (Whites, Banks, Steeles, Fields, Allisons, and on and on) before me who were hard workers, dependable, honest, trustworthy, loving, caring, giving.  I am proud of my sister and cousins – our generation – who are carrying on these traits and doing all we can to instill them in the next generation.

I tell you all of this so if you choose to read what I write, you will know the perspective from which I see things.  It’s probably different from yours – it is a lot of people I’ve encountered.  I was blessed, and I know it.  I grew up with parents who loved me and were active in my life, a sister who kicked my butt, but would lay you out for messing with me, and more extended family than pretty much anyone I know.  Our circle is big, and tight!  I am a Southern girl from a small town with a big family!  I am not naïve, but I am generally positive and try to see the best in people and situations.  So, that’s my background in a nutshell.  Those who know me would tell you to hang on!  You just never know where my crazy mind is going next!  We’ll talk soon.  J