Thursday, January 28, 2010
Read if you please. Here is the link to her blog as well. I encourage you to follow her as she has so much inspiration and wisdom to offer through her posts.
She can't remember that first day I met her... but I will never forget.
When I heard her little voice, I cried.
All the months of dreaming, planning and wondering,
And here she was, tiny, perfect, naked and loud.
Angrily protesting her birth and curiously alert.
Screaming for all she was worth,
then they placed her in my arms and she looked at me
then settled down and sighed a tiny perfect sigh.
She was perfect, beautiful and so alive!
We counted her toes and fingers, marveled at her beauty.
And I fell hopelessly in love and was forever changed.
No one had prepared me for the torrent of emotions
fierce, protective, overwhelming love for this tiny demanding little creature.
who cared only for her own needs of comfort and hunger.
She captured me so completely with one sigh,
I knew I would move heaven and earth for her happiness.
I would give up sleep and life as I had known it.
Her wish was my command and her every move and sound was celebrated.
I was so proud, as if I had created a masterpiece.
I dressed her like a princess and beamed when anyone stopped to look at her.
I spent hours watching her sleep, and lived for holding her.
When she first smiled at me I melted, I hung onto her every coo and interaction.
And she grew, into an independent and brilliant toddler,
inquisitive and imaginative, full of joy and wonder....
We were amazed at her vocabulary and ability to communicate with anyone.
she was precocious and lovable, our home was filled with love and laughter.
Then when I thought I could never love another soul with such passion....
Along came her little sister,
So tiny, perfection in 5 pounds, sweet and silent, so beautiful and lovable.
And my heart was captured once again.
and then we watched her become the perfect big sister.
watching over, loving and playing with the new baby.
Four years later came sister number three and we all were stretched beyond belief
as we fought and prayed for our little angels life, she was born too soon and was so fragile and sickly, it was weeks before we could even hold her, One of our happiest moments was the day we brought her home and only then did we know we were complete with our three beautiful treasures.
That's when she started becoming so independent, "I can do it myself became her battle cry."
She didn't need me as much and sometimes that hurt.....
Soon she was reading on her own and making her own bed without my assistance.
She was so excited to start school, so small but so brave and excited,
and so in love with school supplies. She didn't even cry that first day,
She had been so excited she had barely slept the night before.
When we left the school she didn't cry like the other children.
She wanted us to leave so she could get on with it, learning and reading and making new friends.
She loved school and she thrived and grew, smarter and more confident.
And I suspected she loved having this world that was hers alone without my assistance.
wisdom and intelligence beyond her years always marked her,
This often led to frustrations and power struggles.
She was strong and stubborn and sometimes unmanageable.
But always a joy and a marvel as I wondered what she was becoming.
Then the tumultuous teen years, headstrong, questioning everything
yet in a crazy unexplainable way so obedient and pure in her questioning.
So committed to excellence and perfection it scared me. So responsible, so young.
And sadly so hard on herself with standards so high no one could reach.
Yet she tried and was so disappointed when there was any failure.
I realized then that I could love her perfectly but would never attain her standard.
That was my most painful realization that I had failed this prodigy child, I could not catch up with her she had outgrown me......
The day she turned 15 she already had made her own appointment, determined to drive.
determined to be independent, to grow, soar and leave the nest.
She had a job from the day she was old enough to and resented us trying to help her.
She insisted on paying her own cell phone bill and buying her own gas. Some parents said we were lucky but I felt a little cheated, I wanted to be needed, to keep taking care of my baby.
College and internships and now a real career,
Today she's looking for her first place alone, she's determined to grow up completely
and I'm proud, I really am but I feel sad, lonely and so empty,
I go into her empty room and look at all the pictures of her with her friends, I hold her pillow and I cry...I don't know how to let go of my precious baby girl yet I know it's not my decision it's hers and I remember the day this relationship started and she started warning me then, not to hold on so tightly...
Written By: Darla Collins aka MOM
Thank you, Mom. I love and miss more you every day!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Our story is definitely not your typical love story. Goodness. It's quite crazy, in fact and definitely one that would take way too long to tell if no details were left out as it covers a near 5 year period. Yes, 5 years.
I believe it was circa 2004. Our home church at the time hosted a summer program for all the youth on Tuesday's called "Lazy Haze Tuesdays" where we would all gather up at the church and hang out, play dodge ball, eat pizza and hang out with the youth staff and interns. One Tuesday in particular I happened to be in the balcony with a former youth intern (I was 16 at the time) as all of the others were playing dodge ball downstairs and we were watching from above and choosing the music in the sound booth. Ben and his friend, Rafi had come in earlier and began playing and they were annihilating everyone in the game, naturally. Former intern began asking me "who I liked" to which I firmly replied "absolutely no one". This was always my response. I was never the typical swooning teenager. I didn't have time for that and was far more concerned with much more "important" things, whatever that may be. I had never dated anyone before.
She started naming different names and pointing out guys in the crowd while I just laughed and rolled my eyes. She then pointed her finger at Ben and said, "Amber, HIM, he's cute!" and then yelled "Hey Ben! This is Amber!" as she pointed to me. I was hot faced and could feel my cheeks turning red as I fell to the ground as to not be seen by anyone. How could she?! I was extremely upset. I felt really embarrassed especially since I had shown no interest and thought, "he must think I'm an idiot!" Little did I know, he was instantly intrigued and began asking questions about me to certain friends of mine. It's funny because now when we talk about that day, he literally remembers what I was wearing! So cute.
I went on about my business and kind of forgot about the whole ordeal- didn't really think much more about the situation except for maybe the fact at how stupid said intern made me feel and look. I was and still am easily embarrassed.
Not too long after, I was at cell group and a friend called one of my friends and asked for my cell phone number to which she replied "why?" and he said, "I have a good friend who needs it". She gave my number to him and I honestly didn't really know who it was that wanted my number. I was of course, flattered but a little suspicious.
The next week, I went to Panama City Beach to stay with my grandparents in their condo on the beach for the weekend. One night I received a phone call and the number was unknown and looked like it was maybe an international call. It certainly was.
I answered and said "Hello" and heard a nervous voice on the other end say "hey".
"Ummm, hey." was my reply. "who is this?"
I started putting all the pieces together. He was the one who was wanting my number after all!
He called me from Barbados with a few of his friends and I think it was a dare thing. We talked for a bit and yes, it was a little awkward but a good conversation nonetheless.
I told my sister, Ashton about the whole thing and we just laughed about it and went to bed.
He got my AIM screen name. Remember those, anyone? I remember an unknown screen name notifying me of a conversation someone was trying to have with me and I accepted. It was of course, Ben. We chatted for nearly 2 hours.
He started hanging around all of my friends and the first time we really hung out, we went and saw Napoleon Dynamite with my friend, Meagan and our friend, Sam. We texted a lot and hung out in groups A LOT, yet never alone. I was really scared of going there, honestly. I didn't want to give false hope or anything like that and was really unsure of what my feelings were. The attention was great, the attraction was there and the mystery intrigued me but I was terrified.
I ran. He chased.
We got to a point where we developed a substantial friendship and made emotional attachments but I still was not ready to commit after months and months of him pursuing me. he did the sweetest things in the world- brought me thousands of flowers, took me on a candle-lit picnic in the park downtown, would leave my favorite candy on my doorstep along with a sweet card, would bring me my favorite soup when I was sick and was always there to talk and laugh with. He truly treated me like the most important person in the world and pursued me for months only for me to say "I'm not ready". I've never in my life seen so much persistence. It blew my mind. I really put him through the ringer =/
As time progressed, he worked up the courage to talk to my parents and let them know that he wanted their permission to continue pursuing me and we had our first "real talk" at star bucks the very next day. I'll NEVER forget how nervous and antsy I was. I felt sick the night before from the nerves. I knew what was coming and was so scared of what to say and do. He was so cute and nervous too and pretty much just told me how he felt and how he would like to begin a relationship with me. I, of course was scared and so I said something along the lines of "Not right now but I definitely see potential there." Goodness, I can't believe he didn't give up right then and there. He didn't.
We remained friends but talked every.single.day and of course there were feelings there so we were kind of dating without dating.
I remember being so confused by what others were telling me to do and I subconsciously allowed their opinions and advice to sway and cloud my thinking. I've always cared way too much about what other people think but I've come a LONG way since I was 17, I tell you.
Sweet Ben remained as patient as ever and did not give up after nearly 9 months of this chaos. There are many, many details that would take much too long to convey here but my goodness, he wins the award for being the most patient guy in the world. No one had ever gone to the lengths for me that he did and sadly, I didn't know how to show my true appreciation and left him feeling pretty bummed. I feel horrible about this.
Finally, the day arrived where I made the decision to "go with it". What did I have to lose? If anything, he had proved how much he cared about me and I cared deeply for him. We were basically together anyway, why not put the title on it? So, we made it official after nearly a year.
We (or I...haha) had an extremely moral approach going in to the relationship in the physical aspect. We had never been physical with each other and after making it official, I wouldn't even hold his hand for the first 3 months. Horrible. I'm so cruel. I didn't mean to be, I just wasn't ready. Again, I had never explored this territory before and just didn't want to rush things. He was so sweet about it and never complained about it (not to me at least...haha).
The first time we held hands was precious and something I will never ever forget. He was so cute.
Things were going good and then began going downhill. Mainly because of me. I've always had a hard time communicating verbally. I internalize my feelings and don't open up enough about really important issues and this became a huge roadblock in our relationship as well as some other things. We were so young and while I loved him to pieces, I was still so unsure and scared of everything.
I think we went through quite a few "breaks" and then in May of 2006, officially ended things.
Goodness. So hard.
He wanted to work things out but I just couldn't. I had to do it and I knew that I did. I had A LOT of growing up to do. We both did, really.
So, we were apart for 3 1/2 years. I always cared about him and wanted the best for him but never saw us getting back together in the future. Although, I compared every guy to him. No one ever treated me with so much respect and admiration as he did and has. He was my first everything. Everything. And I still had deep emotional attachments to him.
We both happened to move to Louisiana in the fall of 2006 as the Bible college we attended relocated there. It was weird. We did not talk and in a class of only 60, we saw each other nearly every day. No communication whatsoever. I thought he hated me, quite honestly. Now I know that this wasn't the case...at all. We've talked about it since we've been back together and it's crazy to see where we both were with everything during the last 3 1/2 years. We really missed each others lives as we didn't stay in close contact but we remained civil toward one another and were up to date on what each of us were doing.
So, how did we get here? After 3 1/2 years?
Well it all kind of began with my family's big move to Charlotte, NC late last year. He always stayed close with my family. They loved him and vice versa. He helped us move on the big day along with many other dear friends. That very day, my friends, Beth, Alex and Danielle were helping me pack up a few remaining items in my bedroom and we came across my "box". This box contained every single letter he had ever written me along with pictures and special things I kept to remember certain events. (I keep EVERYTHING). They freaked out and started rumaging through it without my consent and I freaked out because I knew he was right down the hall!! I quickly shut my door and locked it and demanded that they be quiet! I was so scared of the possibility of him hearing the ruckus. Alex (my sweet, beautiful, sentimental, hopeless romantic Cuban friend) began crying as she read and look through pictures. She looked up at my with tears streaming from her eyes and said "Sweet Amber, what happened?!". It was at that every moment that I began to feel something inside of my heart and it FREAKED me out. I quickly gathered everything together and tucked them back into the box and continued packing and going about my business.
Later on that day, Ben, Beth, Matt, Jesse and I had to make a few trips to a storage unit down the road as moving day was hectic as ever and not everything fit into the truck. I was delighted to be around Ben and went on each occasion.
The day my family moved was extremely difficult for me. Extremely. I was a complete basket case as I had to say goodbye to them and my dear home of many years. Beth and Ben were my saving grace. They spent the entire day with me and every day after that for weeks. I could not have done it without them by my side.
Of course there was some communication between Beth and Ben about me and vice versa. She was kind of like the man in the middle. I wasn't sure what was taking place and I was afraid of allowing my vulnerability to take me to a place that I didn't need to go so I refrained without really refraining. We continued hanging out and he did the sweetest things for me. He would drive all the way over to where my work was just to meet me for lunch and then one day asked to trade cars with me and took mine to clean it and detail it. So, so sweet.
I was thoroughly enjoying his company and loved that we were back in each others lives but I wasn't sure what was happening. We talked on the phone for nearly 3 hours one night and caught each other up on what all had occurred during the past 3 and 1/2 years.
I was freaking out. Seriously. Freaking out.
Poor Beth got earful after earful of my craziness but I couldn't have had a better person to listen and give me advice.
We went out to Fish House one night (my favorite restaurant) and had a really good conversation. I think it was then that I told him that no one had ever treated me with as much respect as he did. He has told me since how much that stood out to him and meant to him.
I mentioned in this post and this post about the most beautiful gift that he made me. He basically comprised hundreds of pictures from my entire lifespan and collaborated them into the most gorgeous (and massive) collage ever set in a beautiful custom made frame. I have never been given anything more precious and thoughtful in all of my life. It will always be a most prized possession. He said he did it because he knew how badly I was missing my family and the nature of the gift was geared toward my family, as well as my friends and things that were important to me in my life. Little did I know, I would find a hidden message just a few weeks later that he had etched on the back. Basically him telling me about how he has felt towards me after all these years as well as the lyrics to a song that best described our situation and story- "All We'd Ever Need" by Lady Antebellum...
"I should've been chasing you
I should've been trying to prove
That you were all that mattered to me
I should've said all the things that I kept inside of me
And maybe I could've made you believe
That what we had was all we'd ever need"
I cried my eyes out upon discovering the letter and lyrics. Such a sweet and romantic thing for him to do.I knew from past experience that he wasn't going to initiate and address the situation as early as I wanted him to as he knew how slow I was in taking things such as this. So, one night I brought it up. It's funny to talk about it now because he tells me that he was absolutely SHOCKED that night. I brought it up though, I did. I knew we needed to talk about it and I had learned a lot about communication and being up front and honest about things. I knew we had to talk about it. So, we did. He took me to what one of our regular date spots used to be. He took me there the night we had our very first kiss so many years ago. The Yacht Club. A beautiful piece of land overlooking the bay and a dock that we used to walk out on. We sat under the moonlight on a swing from a tree and looked out onto the glossy water as we had one of the most wonderful and open conversations I have ever had with anyone. I will always treasure that moment. It was the beginning of something...
A few days later we drove up to Charlotte together to see my family for Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful time. His family was close by and they came and met up with all of us that weekend. Our familes get along so well and they've always loved the idea of us two together. Before we got back together, our moms were already scheming. Shame. ;)
We became "official" for the second times in our lives on December 14, 2009 and have entered into a more mature relationship than before. We've both grown so much since the last go round and this time is just different. Are there flaws? Absolutely. You find that with every relationship though, right? The difference now is, we're open about it (well, I am- he always has been). and we're working toward improvement. It's a growing process. Things are progressing and its as if no time has passed. We're so happy and excited about the future.
I really believe that God allowed everything to happen for a distinct reason and though we both went through heartache, confusion and pain- it has brought us to the place that we are now and it couldn't be more beautiful and perfect.
Ben is the sweetest, most caring, loving and precious man to ever enter my life (other than my Dad ;) ) and I can't say it enough. I've never been treated better or felt more respected in all of my life. I am so blessed.
There are so many more details that were left out but there is just absolutely noway that I could add any more to this and I'll be shocked if you even made it this far!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I am very much looking forward to not having to make a daily 30 minute+ drive to get into town and then back to my current residence. I've been living in the middle of nowehere-ville and it's getting old. It's been a true blessing having a place to stay and I do not take it for granted but I am SO ready to have a place of my own along with Meagan as well as being in a more centralized location. So exciting.
We are in need of quite a few things. Ben is so sweet and is letting us use a lot of his stuff from when he shared a house with some of his friends. We have a 62 in flat screen television (NOT complaining) that he's letting us use as well as an entertainment center, kitchen table and chairs, living room chair, bed etc. Such a blessing. He is the absolute sweetest!
Unfortunately, most of my stuff is in Charlotte with my parents so until i can make a trip up there to get it, I will have to make due with what I've got.
We still need a couch, dishes, shower curtains, towels, silverware, a trash can, cooking utensils, pots and pans, microwave, coffee pot, bedspread, sheets, pillows etc. Lots of stuff as you can see. Yikes. In time, it will all come together. Its a bit overwhelming thinking about it all though. Slow strides. Some good friends of ours are letting us use their washer and dryer for however long we need to. I can't tell you how much of a relief that is!
I'm the kinda girl who likes to have a plan as well as an execution method rather than "flying by the seat of my pants" when it comes to things such as this and even things much more diminutive. I am well aware that it will not take an entire day to move the little bit of belongings that we have but for some reason I'm finding myself kinda freaking out that when Sunday afternoon rolls around, we won't have everything ready to go. So silly, I know. Ben has to keep reassuring me to chill and that everything will be fine.
It's all coming together and we're very eager to get this going and have a place to entertain and just call our own.
Sunday just can't get here quite soon enough!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Apparently my corneas are severely scarred and if not treated properly now, could require surgery in the future. I have to apply medicated drops 4 times a day to both eyes in hopes that they will be on the mend. According to my doctor, my corneas look like "skinned up knees". Awesome. Not good news. Glasses suddenly didn't sound half as bad anymore. My vanity is just going to have to subside for now as the main objective is for my eyes to be healthy again. So, I'm wearing spectacles and I feel as nerdy and insecure as can be but Ben happens to love them (so he says), so that definitely helps.
I would absolutely love to have lasik surgery. I've done some research and it's definitely something I would invest into in the future should these problems and complications persist. I don't understand why I was born with such horrible vision but it really is a huge inconvenience. My mom has a disease of the cornea called keratoconus. It basically means her cornea is cone shaped as opposed to rounded and creates a plethora of complications impairing depth perception and negating peripheral vision. My grandmother also had this disease. So unfortunate. Thank God that I show no signs of it. However, my eyes are not as heathly as they should be and for me being so young, that is not cool.
So, glasses it is. I feel like I did when I was 9 and got my first pair of glasses. I was so embarrassed to go to school and sure enough, the cruel kids poked fun and made the rudest of comments. I tucked them gently into my backpack for the remainder of the day until my teacher (who noted my squinting and had seen me previously wearing them) demanded that i wear them. It really was amazing how clear my world and surroundings had become by placing these frames upon my nose but being the shy, insecure and very self conscious child that i was, I simply could not stand the fact that my appearance had drastically changed to that of a "nerd". It was a crisis to me. Once I turned 13, I acquired my first pair of contact lenses and swore I would never go back to glasses and I haven't- until now, that is.
I have another appointment on Friday afternoon, so she can check them and maybe try some softer lenses (hopefully).
I suppose this is good for me. I just want my eyes to get better. =/
Sunday, January 24, 2010
We were more than pleased with the location, safety, space, landlord etc. It's literally in one of the most central locations in town. Ben came along as well- he wanted to make sure he approved (for safety and practical reasons) and he did! Absolutely perfect. We love it and we're SO excited to move in next week! Another big girl step for me. SO ready, though.
I will post pictures as everything comes together but here is one of the outside. We're in the upstairs unit. :)
Friday, January 22, 2010
I'm going to concoct a list of "wants" and "needs" for you (okay, mainly for myself) to decipher and perhaps counsel me? If not, this could very well be therapeutic for me. I like to make lists.
-Canon EOS 40D
-An iphone although I am somewhat biased to my blackberry
-Home decor (for my imaginary apartment/house that WILL someday become a reality)
-To find a decent, safe and reasonably priced place to live ASAP
-Used furniture (bedroom, living etc.)
-A visit to Charlotte to see my family
-A workout/gym routine
-A flat stomach in time for summer
-New glasses that I won't be so insecure about wearing. Maybe some designer lenses? ;)
-A tan (yes, I consider this a necessity)
-every.single.thing from anthropologie.com yes. need.
-An oil change for my car
Is that too much to ask?
I sound like such a brat.
Happy Friday! :)
*Going to look at an apartment later on today. Wish me luck!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I had to take Monday and Tuesday off work. My right eye was enflamed, pulsating, extremely sensitive to light and so sore. Not fun.
I stayed at Ben's with he and his Mom and they took tremendous care of me. So so sweet. I'm so blessed.
Still unable to wear my contact in my right eye and because I'm much too insecure to wear my glasses, I've been walking around only able to see half of the world clearly. Tomorrow I go back to the Doctor for a check up and hopefully by then, I can wear my contact again. Hopefully.
I'm still anticipating getting my own place. I've looked around only to be somewhat disappointed in what I've found. It's going to take some time and will be worth it once we find the perfect place. I'm eager to settle somewhere, finally unpack boxes that have been packed since mid October and have a place to call my own.
I did want to mention some tragic news that I got word of just yesterday. Remember this? Yes, the infamous Mexico trip that inevitably changed my heart and life. You can go back and read all of my documentation from the trip if you'd like. I think there are 3 posts and they are all a bit lengthy as I did not want to leave one detail out due to the amount of work that God had done inside of me. I wanted to be able to go back, re-read and remember. I'm so glad that I recorded all of it. Anyway, I received an email yesterday from the missionary there (Chacko) who has worked and built this unique ministry for years informing us that someone had set fire to their church/compound. They believe it was intentional due to criticism and persecution that they have recently suffered. So sad. In his e-mail, though he was his usual positive self giving God the glory in all things. So inspiring. If only we could all walk in this faith. Here I am finding myself all frustrated about petty little things when really, I have absolutely nothing to be concerned about in comparison to what so many others are experiencing. This example alone strengthened my faith and really put things into perspective.
The last couple of days I have been somewhat introspective as I've watched vast coverage from the quake that devastated Haiti. Millions affected by this horrific nightmare- losing loved ones, homes, any sense of safety and even, sanity. My heart has been heavy and burdened. While I know I am not in a place where I can physically go and lend a hand, hold a child, rebuild walls or feed the hungry like I would so love to do, I can very well do my part here by caring, praying and even sending what little that I can toward the relief efforts. It really is heartbreaking in so many aspects. I can only imagine what those poor people are experiencing at this time. My mind can't fathom the intensity of what they're going through. May God bless them and be with them as well as every team that has gone in to bring relief and help.
My prayer today is for those who are suffering, lonely, hurting, lost, afraid and aimless. My desire is to be used in whatever way that I can be to bring life and show light. My heart is to remain simple-hearted and grateful in all things. I am so blessed. We are so blessed. I never want to take all of the luxuries that I am afforded every single day for granted. Sadly, I do.
Friday, January 15, 2010
The day we said goodbye to our beloved home of 11 years and each other. Rough. We look absolutely pitiful. We were pitiful.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
In all of his thoughtfulness, Ben surprised me with a picture frame filled with pictures of Beth and I. He was with me as I cried the night she left and he thought to do this soon after. He's SO sweet!
Friday, January 8, 2010
Life has been utterly crazy in every aspect. Two new people were hired on at the office this month and a lot is changing, I'm looking to get my own place as soon as possible, I've been spending nearly all of my time with Ben when I'm not working. I just haven't been as prone to stay online long enough to update this thing.
Hope you're all staying warm. It's FREEZING here in Pensacola. We have temps in the 20's with wind chills in the single digits. In Florida?! That is just not even right.
Without further adieu...