19 People to Thank 

Hey-o! Today is July 30, 2016, and that makes me 19 years old at 14:13 central time! (My family is weird, we know the times, whatever.) 

And in honor of 19 years of incredibly blessed life, here are my top 19 heroes in the life I’ve been living: 

1: my parents. You made me and all, so thanks for that. I learned that nothing is free, hard work will get you farther than anything else, and Jesus is my savior. Y’all taught me how to stick up for myself, fight back when fighting was necessary, and how to forgive when forgiveness wasn’t comin’ easy. I love y’all more than my luggage. 

2: my stepparents. Love is a choice. You have to continue to choose to make it every single day, and thank y’all for showing me that just because life gets a little whompyjawed, it can always get better. Thank you for teaching me how to make the choice to love someone unconditionally. 

3: my grandparents, biological and otherwise. The lessons I’ve learned from past generations will be taught to your eventual great grandchildren, I promise. Thank you for always being examples of followers in Christ, for letting me stay up late to play dominoes, for never letting me get too big to sit in your lap, for teaching me how to fill deer feeders, for being my shoulder to cry on, for always being there, whether I think I need you or not. (I always do.❤️) 

4: my siblings. Y’all drive me nuts. I think most of the time y’all were born to annoy me. But you’ve taught me how to love when I’m irritated, how to speak softly to the little people, how to argue quietly in bedrooms so mom doesn’t make us hold hands…thanks for being my built in best friends. 

5: my inlaws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, the works. I’ve been blessed with a family who can argue like no other, but loves even harder. Every moment spent with y’all is full of laughter, jokes, love and more. Thank you for accepting me as I am and welcoming me into the fold. 

6: Ms. Lewis. In the 6th grade I didn’t know much, and thought I knew more. Thank you for saying, “you’re too smart for this”, and pushing me to apply myself in literature. Without you, who knows if I’d be here? Much love, always. 

7: Mr. Licon. You drove me nuts. For three years, we argued, we joked, we took AcaDec trips that took RIDICULOUS time to get back home. But for all the joking around, you were there when I didn’t think I had anyone. You showed me God’s love when I had forgotten, you pushed me when I was giving up, and you picked me up when I had fallen down. You were a good teacher, a great mentor, and an even better example of Christ. You are a rare bird, and the youth of La Porte is lucky to have you. 

8: my Gra. Grace Amelia, I don’t know what to say. You have laughed with me, let me cry, let me yell and be angry. You rap with me, and have stuck up for me when I was too busy crying in the bathroom to stick up for myself. You are a light to the world, and never let it go out. 

9: Mary. Thank you, darling friend. You answer my 11 o’clock phone calls and listen to me cry when the day has kicked me while I was down. You have been 1,700 miles away, and closer than people down the street. God put you in my life to hold my hand, and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

10: my dog. He can’t read, but whatever. Almost exactly five years ago, through a somewhat hilarious chain of events, I was coming home from the beach with this little bundle of black in my lap. He doesn’t play, except in the first five minutes when I walk in the door. He isn’t necessarily other dog friendly, but he loves me. He sleeps all the time, but he makes the best cuddler. He has been the best listener, the best shoulder to cry on without judgment (because he can’t talk), and the best constant in this life of recent change. Without those big ol’ ears to listen all through high school, who knows who would’ve had to listen to me? 

11: band. This isn’t really a person, but more a collective family. For seven years, I grew as a musician with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. Band gave me a family away from family, introduced me to the love of my life, and gave a girl a place to go when she didn’t know where else. 

12: McKenna. 2 years ago, you were huge pregnant with Brex, we were both emotional messes, and I don’t know how we’ve made it so far. Thank you for always checking on me, potato. Happy birthday, twin! 

13: Katelyn. New friends, old souls. Thank you for always being down to drive clear across base with me, just because. Thank you for knowing the lyrics to all the country music and more in my car. Thanks for being you. You can semi live with me when Noah leaves, and I promise to try and make sure he and Sasha don’t starve when you leave. 

14: all the people who left. There’s a whole separate post for you, already written. But without y’all, I know I wouldn’t be who I am. You taught me heartbreak. You taught me that people aren’t always good. You taught me that sometimes, the best people aren’t meant to stay. 

15: Carrie Gore. Thank you for being mom #2 and emergency contact #3. Thank you for the school night sleep overs and the home away from home. Thank you for being there even when I didn’t know you were there. Thank you for picking us up and dusting us off sometimes. 

16: Yenette & Spencer. Y’all come as a package deal, so whatever. Yenette, thank you for always answering my phone calls. Thank you for talking to me at 3 am because I’m sad and just need a friend. Spencer, thank you for sitting in parking lots and letting me just talk, because sometimes I forget how homesick feels until hometown friends get together. Thanks for bringing a teeny tiny piece of home into the terrible place of California. 

17: Texas. Let’s be honest: greatest state in the nation. Full of sweet tea, rich history, and good people. I don’t know how it would feel to say, “I’m from North Dakota,” and have nothing to be proud of, and frankly, my dear, I don’t want to find out. Texas is part of who I am, and I’ll always bring a little bit of the Lonestar everywhere I go. 

18: my husband. A little more than 5 years ago, I met this boy, right? And we made fun of each other and I knew right then, he looked at me the way I wanted to be looked at for the rest of my life. You’ve held my hand and led me through the dark, fought with me, told me when I was wrong (I think this has happened like twice), and loved me when I forgot how to love myself. Thank you for being my best friend. 

19: Jesus Christ. Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with all these people and more. Thank you for giving me the trials I have already faced in this short life, and providing me a way through them. Thank you for being there always, even when I didn’t know I needed You. 

19 years is a short time in the face of forever, but I’ve already learned and loved and lost so much. I can’t wait to see where the next 19 take me. Thank you everyone for all the love! 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

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I’m Down, and I Can’t Get Up. 

The past few days, I can’t even begin to explain. I haven’t been able to sleep well in 4 nights. I can’t eat more than a little bit without feeling sick. I got out of bed yesterday and decided, “I’ve got this. I will be productive. I’m going to clean, or cook, or do something.” What did I do all day? 

Took the dog for a few walks. Put my phone on do not disturb, sat on my couch and basically just cried all day. Why? Multiple reasons I suppose, not all of which I can go into, because it’s no ones business. But mostly because I’m lonely, and I’m nervous, and I’m scared. Homecoming is closer than it was before, and it makes you wonder: am I going to know the person who’s coming home? 

The person I’ve grown up with, have celebrated holidays and birthdays with, the person who has held my hand on the dark days; is that the person who’s coming back? Or is he someone else entirely, now? When someone is gone, you notice all the little things they stop doing, the things they’ve always done. And there’s a lot. Am I going to just fall back into the swing of things, or am I going to have to fall in love with someone new? 

I wonder about the what ifs. What if the new person in my best friend’s body isn’t as in love with me as my best friend used to be? What if all the things he used to like about me drive him nuts now? What if I can’t stand him? People change and love prevails, blah blah blah, I know. But just because I know that if those things happened, we would make it work, doesn’t mean that they aren’t scary. 

I turned my phone off because I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to hear “don’t be silly” or “it’ll be fine”. What do you know? Have you done this? Have you laid in bed and said, “Dear God, please, don’t have him be someone entirely new.” And even if you have done this, honestly, I don’t want to hear it right now. I want to cry and be miserable for a while. 

That’s another prop of having your own house. Crying quietly isn’t a thing anymore. If I want to cry loudly and have hiccuping sobs, I can. And it’s so great. Very cathartic. 

To all the people calling and texting that I’m not answering: I’m fine. Just please leave me alone. I’m sad and I’m over deployment and I just want to have quiet for a little while. That’s all. 

I’m down, and I can’t get up, but then again, I don’t really want to. 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

California Living, Texas Roots. 

Well, it’s been two weeks since moving in as of yesterday! I can’t believe I’ve been on my own and independent and living in my own house for two weeks. I won’t lie, it’s different. 

Everything is different here. People don’t understand what I mean when I say, “no, you’ve never had good Mexican food” or “no, really, I promise, your barbecue is not good.” I mean, they don’t even cook the same. I had to order my spices! I also got told that eating red meat would kill me. My response? “If I die, give me a good steak first.” 

I’ve ordered Bluebonnet seeds to plant in my flowerbeds, because I miss home, and who doesn’t like the flower of the greatest state in the nation? Thank goodness, in the midst of all the California strangeness, I found Katelyn (and also a Raising Cane’s). She lives down the street, and she’s from Texas, too. She understands what I mean when I say y’all, and I swear she got just as excited as me when I gave her a bottle of Nature’s Seasoning. I’m an awkward person. No, really. Making friends is a daunting task in this state of unfriendliness. But I’m glad I found a woman who misses Tex-Mex as much as I do, who also likes to make pot roast in the crock pot all day, who goes to the gym with me and blogs and loves history and is down for driving around wherever because #housewifelife. 

The best part is the fact that she loves Jesus, too. I will always believe that God puts people in my life for a reason, and I’m so terribly lucky He brought a friend into my life that will go explore new churches with me. 

My person, Mary ❤️, is now only 2 hours away instead of 21, and I get to see her for my birthday next Saturday and we’re going to San Diego, for which I am very excited. 

All in all, I’m enjoying California. The weather is gorgeous, except I miss the rain. The traffic is terrible, it’s true, but it’s bearable when you’ve got a fun shotgun rider (I also really appreciate the fact that she knows the lyrics to the old school Miranda Lambert that’s in my car). My house is only a semi mess right now, but I promise I’m slowly cleaning it. 

Also, another great thing is having hometown friends down the road. So glad Spencer is still in Pendleton for at least the rest of summer! I didn’t realize how much I missed home until he was over at the house, but even then, having someone you went to school with right down the road makes the homesick hurt less. 

I’m loving making my house my home. I love putting up pictures and making it look as though we’ve been here a while (this is achieved by my clothes on the floor). We’re in the homestretch of deployment, we’re in the double digits, and it somehow feels like each day is passing more slowly than the last. But my Nana is coming to visit in a little bit, and then my friend Yenette is also coming to visit. I’m forcing myself to get back in the gym. I’m forcing myself to clean my house. I am almost finished. I am almost at the finish line. I am almost there. 

I will not let deployment beat me, in the last few months. I will not let the loneliness cripple me. I will not allow myself to be defeated in spirit, when I have such a wonderful support group. I will come through this trial simply a better version of myself, and you will all be shocked at how you will not hear from me for two weeks once he comes home. #sorrynotsorry. 

California is different, it’s true. 

Blame it all on my roots, I’ve showed up in boots. 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

The Things They Don’t Tell You About Growing Up

There will come a morning when you wake up and realize a few things. And you will wonder why no one told you. 

1. Not everyone has your best interest at heart. There will be people who offer their help, but only if there’s something in it for them. If it becomes an inconvenience for them, there will always be a super good reason that plans change and suddenly they’re unavailable. 

2. Knowing people doesn’t make them your friends. At the end of the day, your friends are the people who answer the phone when you call at 11 at night crying because you’re lonely. Your friends are the people who come over when they haven’t heard from you in a week because they’re worried about you. I know a lot of people. I have like 5 friends. And I’m okay with that. 

3. Blood isn’t thicker than water. There will be times that water is there and blood isn’t, and that’s when you find out that sometimes, friends mean more than the family you were born into. Friends are family you choose. 

4. You aren’t someone else’s opinion of you. Maybe your mom thinks your hair looks better a different color. Maybe your sister thinks you’d be so cute if you’d just dress a certain way. Maybe you feel like you just don’t measure up. But that’s not true. As long as you can look on the mirror and be comfortable with who you are, that’s all that matters. If you’re most comfortable in sweat pants, wear those sweats. If you feel best with a full face of makeup, put on the war paint. You are you, and that’s all that matters, because you are the best and only version of you. 

5. The biggest lesson in growing up? You grow out. The people who you thought you’d always talk to, you don’t even know where they live anymore. Remember when you were so worried about what so and so thought of you? They don’t matter. Being liked by everyone doesn’t mean anything if you’re not loved by a few. 

Be kind. Be humble. Be loud. Be fearless. Be loving. Be unapologetic about who you are. 

Growing up doesn’t suck. It just means learning some things and and deciding that you don’t mind what other people think. Grow up, grow out, and be yourself. 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

Moving In, Military Style

Well, the day finally got here, and now I’m sitting in my new home about 1,700 miles away from Smalltown, U.S.A. We drove 1,700 miles and across 4 different states in 2 days with a dog in the backseat, and with the help of family and a good friend, the moving trailer was emptied and now that everyone is back in their respective homes, instead of unpacking the tons of boxes or washing laundry, I’m writing this blog post on tips and tricks for moving in the military and on base housing.

Happy Reading!

  1. The Housing Application: This thing is a BEAST. I met a woman at the dog park yesterday who had her husband here to help with the paperwork (unlike mine…grrr), and they were still just as confused as I was! Don’t be afraid to call the housing office for help; that’s what they’re there for! Tip though, when you turn it in, make sure you tell them to contact you if you’ve done something incorrectly. Leave your phone number, your email, all that good jazz, even though it’s also on the application. If you don’t take control of the application process, the housing people don’t have any qualms about throwing it out if there’s something you’ve missed.
  2. The Housing Office: these guys are, once again, here to help you. But there’s a lot of families trying to move and there’s a lot of paperwork for your application to get lost in. So take control of your application process and call them. Ask questions if you’re confused. Take down all the names, numbers, emails, addresses and whatnot that they give you, because it will come in handy when Jessica answers the phone when you’ve called for the fourth time and she asks who you spoke with yesterday. Now that I’m here and right around the corner from the housing office, it’s a lot easier to deal with than trying to figure everything out alone from 4 states and 1,700 miles away.
  3. DitY move or let the military move you: if you and your spouse were married before they received their orders, you rate either being reimbursed by the military for your move, or letting the military hire movers for you and getting it done that way. If you weren’t married before they were assigned to their unit and got orders though, you’re out of luck and will be paying out of pocket, like we did. Pros of a DitY (do it yourself) move is that you pick the movers, you pick the dates, you are in total control of your move. You keep the receipts from gas stations and hotels and the military will reimburse you for all of your moving expenses. I haven’t heard anything good about letting the military move you, however. The same woman at the dog park moved in 3 weeks before me and she is STILL waiting on half of their belongings since they let the Marine Corps move them. So of course, it comes down to your personal preference, but those are the tips and tidbits I’ve picked up the past month or so.
  4. On base or off: my husband and I decided on living on base, for which rent is the equivalent of our total allotted monthly BAH. Why? Well, the major reason being that we have a 100 pound Lab/Dane mix, and no apartment will look the other way due to his size. Even if they did, what apartment complex would have enough space for his long legs? More reasons being that 1) Camp Pendleton is like a gated community. I personally feel much safer living in this neighborhood full of Marines than living out in OSide or San Clemente. 2) The amount of space we have and the amenities included in our rent is way better than what we could afford in town. California isn’t like Smalltown, where $1,500 a month put you in a decent apartment in a decent neighborhood. 3) everything I need is right here. The commissary and PX are right down the road, the gym and pool are here, there’s a privatized military beach, the library (the most important, obviously) is super close.

People will tell you horror stories about onbase housing. When I asked for help on my application, I got told not to bother with it because onbase housing was terrible. They told me about rat problems, lazy maintenance, lack of space, etc. But I ignored the negativity directed at me and signed my lease anyway, and I am LOVING my new home. It’s not huge, but it’s only 2 people and a dog, so more than enough room for my little family. I don’t have a backyard, but there’s a dog park right up the hill. I haven’t seen a single rat, I put a work order in yesterday and maintenance was here this morning and fixed the problems I pointed out. Different strokes for different folks, of course.

I am loving my house, and I am loving turning it into my own home. I hope this post helped anybody who was confused or debating how to go about it. Until next time!

XOXO,

Em.

My Greatest Adventure

Life is a crazy roller coaster. There are bumps and turns, twists and loops. And sometimes you don’t see any of them coming. If someone had told me my life would turn out the way it’s turning out, I don’t know if I would have believed them. 

Life is full of adventures. For some, the great adventure of their life is their career. For some it’s traveling, or finding their soul mate, or moving to a new place 1,346 miles away. I thought that would be my greatest adventure. And tonight, sitting at a movie theater with my sister, I realized I was wrong. 

What’s my greatest adventure? 

Being a sister. Paul and Zack, it may not be officially official yet, but I’ve never had older brothers, and I’m diggin’ it. I like having a brother to text when the finale of Game of Thrones is CRAZY, and I like having a brother who calls and asks if I want to go to lunch (even if lunch ends up with me having a pierced nose). Thanks for letting me be your sister. 

Preslie: oh, where do I begin? The 13 year age gap is expansive. But do you know why that’s so good? Because I get to enjoy watching you grow. I love how excited you get to see me. I love how you’re almost always up to cuddle with me. I love how absolutely enthralled you become when you learn something new. You are precious, sweet girl. You are destined for beautiful and glorious things, and I thank God He saw fit to bless me with a little sister like you. 

Haleigh Bug, you are a mess. You speak more languages than me at 10 years old, and you have a spirit hard to contend with. I love that even as you’re getting older, you still want to cuddle with me. You’re always up for anything. I adore that you want to ride in the car with me, and that radio sing along sessions are a thing. You have no idea that you created a family when you came along, but you did. I remember dressing you up like a doll, because at 9 years old, that’s what you were to me and Nat. There is so much life ahead of you, Bug. And I have no doubt that you will wring all the life out of it that you can. God gave you a spirit of love, and always remember that. 

Lance, my little brother…words cannot express. Our relationship has a special place in my heart, and always will. I love you to the moon and back, and I will always be here for you to talk to, even when I’m 1,346 miles away from home. I will miss the way your hugs are so tight it’s hard to breathe, and I will miss late night talks. I will miss every hair on your head, and my home is always open to you. 

And to the girl I grew up with, the girl I’ve played with and cried with and done almost everything with: you are my built in best friend. I cannot express to you how much I will miss you, Nat. I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye. We have argued the way only sisters can, you have been annoyed because I have a tendency to “mom” you. We slam doors and call each other names and talk about each other to our friends. But at the end of the day, when in 20 years we don’t have those friends, we will have each other. We’ve been through so much together. We have parented each other, we have cleared the tears from the others face, and I have felt like you were the only person I had in this world. Nothing will ever change that for me. I would go to the ends of the earth to protect you, and I will do anything for you. You are so smart, and hilarious. You are fun to be around and your laugh is contagious. I will miss sitting in silence next to you, watching Netflix. I will miss how you are always up for Chick-fil-A, even if you just ate two hours ago. I will miss everything about you. You know me in a way no one else will ever know me, and I know that I am blessed to have a sister like you in my life. I pray that you will accomplish all God has in store for you, and may your EP always be on the up. 

Being a sister is hard work. Especially to 6 siblings. It requires being 6 different people, rolled into one. 

To my sisters: wait for the man who makes you feel not only butterflies, but also safe. Wait for the man who holds open doors, and prays for and with you, and tells you all the things that he loves about you. That guy will make you laugh throughout the years, and will hold your hand when I can’t. 

To my brothers: is there anything I could say you wouldn’t roll your eyes at? I doubt it. So keep doing you. All of you are fun to be around, and I love each of you. Zack, make sure you keep saving the bad dates numbers, so you don’t accidentally answer when she calls. Lance, I will run off your first few girlfriends. It’s my job as big sister. This is your warning. 

Being a sister to all of you is, and I think will always be, my greatest adventure. Thank you for teaching me how to love, how to fight, how to forgive, and how to pretend. Thank you for discussing GoT theories and going when I get my nose pierced and thank you for movie dates and thank you for being yourselves. You’re irreplaceable. 

My greatest adventure is being your sister, and thank you for that. I may be a lot of things. A wife, a daughter, a blogger…but only you guys could make me a sister. 

“Siblings are a piece of your childhood that can never be lost.” 

I love you, guys. 

XOXO, 

Em.