Merry Christmas, internet. 

‘Twas the night before Thursday, and all through the house, only one creature was stirring, clicking the mouse. The stocking were hung on a wall with great care, in hopes the wife would fill them with more than just air. The {fur}children were nestled snug in their beds, while visions of rawhides and catnip pranced through their heads.

I know, I know. Be amazed at my poetry prowess. (Insert sleepy eye roll here) In truth, though, it’s Wednesday night, just a mere 11 days from Christmas, and while the husband and dog and kitty are snoring, I’m making sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch because it’s range week (PBJs if anyone was curious), wrapping a few more presents, and am generally just doing things I should’ve done during the day, but didn’t, because….well, because I didn’t want to, that’s why. 

I love Christmas. Everyone who knows me knows that Christmas has always thrown up in my house just days after Thanksgiving, and maybe a few days earlier this year ☺️, and Christmas music has been playing for several months now. #sorrynotsorry 

But as I’m doing busy tasks around the house while my little family sleeps, I’m struck a little dumb. It’s my first Christmas away from all my family. And I know I should be real melancholy about it, right? Don’t take this the wrong way, fam…but I’m still very happy. 
I miss having tons of people eat the bajillions of cookies I bake, and having gazillions of people to give them to, because you know I can’t eat them all. (Or shouldn’t.) I miss my parents, and my siblings. I miss my best friend. I keep looking back and reminiscing on all the Christmas traditions my families have had. 

At my grandparents, we always read the Christmas story out of the Bible on Christmas morning. We assigned a “Santa” who passed out all the presents. At my mama’s, we picked out a new Christmas book every year, and read it on Christmas Eve. (Every year or so, my sister and I convinced my mom to let us open one present on Christmas Eve, too.) 

It’s funny how my mom won’t read my Christmas story this year. I won’t get to be Santa at my Mom and Big Dad’s. I don’t get to traipse through the Festival of Lights in Hopkins Park, sisters in tow, Texas flags made out of Christmas lights shining bright and independent. 

Sure, husband and I drove through neighborhoods to look at other people’s Christmas lights. I’m going to buy a Christmas book to read to Luke and Eastwood on Christmas Eve because that’s what good {fur}mamas do. I’ll read the Christmas story from the Bible Christmas morning, to remind my little family what Christmas is really about. But I’ll be doing it without my mama, without my siblings and the horde of cousins I have, without my dad and my grandparents. 

It’s been a little over half a year since I struck out on my own, waiting on deployment to end. And that half a year has been tumultuous. It has seen tears of infinite joy, & infinite sadness. It has heard slammed doors and angry hangups. It has seen tearful phone calls with my best friend at 2 am because I miss home, and I miss her so much. It has seen laugher and happiness, and our first home has been filled with love and light, sadness and anger, too. 

We added to our little family a cat who is more dog than feline. He’s a jolly little guy who follows me around, mewling pathetically until I sit down to snuggle him. Our spare room has plans to not be a spare, God willing. We have made this place that isn’t our favorite, still the place we end the day with joyous hearts. 

And just 11 days before Christmas, 6 days from our 1 year anniversary as a married couple, I am reminded of what Christmas is about: not just Jesus and the salvation of us crappy humans, but also the love and joy we can bring each other. I’m not perfect. Some days, I lay in bed all day, too emotionally tired to move. I don’t cook dinner every night, and I forget to turn the Keurig off when I’m done with it. My husband isn’t perfect. He forgets the tasks I’ve asked him to do. He never replaces the bag in the trash can unless I hand it to him. He doesn’t like to eat the vegetables I make (when I cook dinner).

But you know what? 

I am smart. I know how to budget groceries and make sure the bills get paid. I can cook, and attempt to at least 4 nights a week. My house stays relatively clean (at least the downstairs). And my husband? Not perfect, but still probably better than I deserve. He takes care of me on the days I find I couldn’t get out of bed. He switches the laundry over whenever he sees it needs to be. He cleans the entire kitchen while I shower just so I don’t have to. 

We are two imperfect beings trying to make our way in the world, without leaving too dark a stain, with God lighting a path unto our feet. Sometimes I trip, and he rights me. Sometimes he stumbles, but I help him back up. 

This Christmas, I am graced with a wonderful husband, a moody old man of a dog, a sweet kitty who likes to use knife fingers and his little shark mouth to show his love, and a Savior who never falters in His love for all of us. 

This Christmas, far away from all I’ve ever known, I am graced with the opportunity to carry on and create traditions that will last my family for many more generations. 

This Christmas, like every other Christmas, is not about what is under the tree. It isn’t about the money that was spent on stocking stuffers. It’s not even about us. It’s about something bigger than us. It’s about love, and joy, and peace. It’s about knowing that the Great I Am has my family in His hands, and knowing that He isn’t letting go anytime soon. 

This Christmas is about growth and change, and about roots and endurance. 

What’s this Christmas about for you? 

Merry Christmas from us to y’all. 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

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Why I Always Say “I’m Sorry” 

My marriage isn’t perfect. Before we were married, our relationship wasn’t perfect. There have been some incredibly rough patches, that included screaming matches, nasty comments, and I think I’ve thrown a few things at him. 

If you’ve met us, there is rarely a conversation we have where I don’t make a snarky comment, or he doesn’t make a joke out of something serious. It’s just who we are. We argue playfully 90% of the time, I would like to think. And the other 10% of the time, we’re being childish and ignoring each other on opposite couches in the living room. But at the end of the night, we still go to bed together. We still kiss each other goodnight, say we’re sorry for whatever we said 20 minutes ago, and know that the other loves us. 

I’ve heard lots of “advice” on getting married young, like we have. (I use sarcasm here, because some advice is really just people wanting to put their 2 cents in.) Some people said “don’t go to bed angry”. Others said “don’t be afraid to go to bed angry”. I’ve heard “don’t start something at the beginning of your marriage you don’t want to do for the rest of it”. “Compromise.” “Work together.” 

But I’ve never been given the piece of advice I use the most: always say you’re sorry. 

Here’s the thing: we could be arguing about something silly, and I’ll say I’m sorry. We could be arguing about something like money, and I’ll say I’m sorry. Even if it’s not my fault. Even if I don’t think I’m in the wrong. Why? 

I’m not apologizing for disagreeing with my husband. I’m not even apologizing for something I’m not sorry about. What I’m saying sorry for is I’m sorry that we’re arguing. I’m sorry I’ve hurt your feelings. I’m sorry you don’t agree with me. I’m sorry I don’t agree with you. I’m sorry for the thing I said, even though I know you know I didn’t mean it. 

The way I see it is, even if we still don’t agree about something, I have apologized for my part in our argument. I have put on my big girl panties, saddled up my pony, and said, “I love you, and I’m sorry for my part in this.” I don’t care who you are: it takes two to argue. You’re just as guilty as your partner at the end of the day, when you’ve both said nasty things to each other and y’all haven’t reached an agreement. 

Saying you’re sorry doesn’t mean you’re conceding on an issue you feel strongly about. It simply means you know that your relationship is more important than being right, or forcing someone to accept your opinion. Sometimes, we fight about such little things. We’re human. It happens. Just yesterday we argued over the fact he yelled at me because I moved his hand while working on a craft project 🙄. And at the end of the night, I still turned and said, “I’m sorry we were mean to each other today,” and he said, “I am too.” 

I always say I’m sorry, because in this life, you don’t know what comes next. He could leave for work and get recalled for a deployment, and I’m going to remember that I sent him out the door while I was angry. He could fall down a mountain during a field op and break his neck, and the last thing we did was argue. I could get into a car wreck on the way home from Target (let’s be real, y’all know I’m there 6 days a week), and we didn’t even tell each other that we loved one another that morning because we were arguing. 

Always say you’re sorry, but only for what you’re sorry for. Don’t just say it because you think you should. If we’re arguing over the way his actions made me feel, I don’t apologize for feeling the way I do. My emotions are valid, even if they’re PMS induced emotions. I simply say that I’m sorry we’re arguing. Because I am. I would much rather be curled up on the couch eating chocolate and watching classic movies than be arguing. 

Getting married at 18 and 20 wasn’t a bad idea. We had known we were going to get married since we were 14 and 16. It was just one of those things where our souls went, “OH MY GOSH, there you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” We don’t argue any more or less than my mom and stepdad who got married and older, undisclosed ages. (Love you, mama.) I don’t poison his food and he doesn’t crush my eyeshadow palettes. How do we make it work? 

We always say we’re sorry. We pray for each other. We pray for ourselves. We pray for our marriage. We don’t go to bed angry, just because he knows I’ll flick his throat while he snores if we do. (JK…kinda) We don’t expect the other to always agree. 

But we always say we’re sorry for not agreeing, because it led to a (sometimes) nasty argument. 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

Unplugging Your Relationships 

Does this sound familiar? 

You’re out to dinner. You haven’t seen each other all day, or maybe it’s your friend in from out of town, or your mom who lives across the city. You sit down, order drinks, and look across the table…and your dinner partner is so busy with their phone, they haven’t noticed you staring for 3 minutes. 

Don’t lie, you’re guilty of it, too. I know I am. It happens all the time. The world nowadays revolves around who’s retweeting who, or who liked your Instagram selfie, who viewed your story on Snapchat, or whether that status on Facebook is getting enough likes. 

But you’re missing out on the tangible world around you, too. My husband is recently home from deployment, as basically everyone knows. (If you didn’t, now you do.) He broke his phone about a month before he came home, and we got a new one soon after his homecoming. 

I tried to be understanding. I tried not to say much, because he’d been gone for 7 months, and with limited access to Facebook or unable to talk to his friends back home. But every time we went to dinner, he seemed more interested in whatever video someone had shared on Facebook. All I wanted was for him to put the phone away and talk to me. I made jokes about grounding him from the phone and I finally told him how much it annoyed me, that we couldn’t even sit down to dinner without his phone stuck to his hand. I thought it was rude and just a way of telling me that whatever he was looking at was more important than a comversation with me. So now dinner doesn’t include phones. 

Just yesterday, he came home from work, and was glued to the phone while I cooked dinner, put it down to eat and say a few words about the episode of Shark Tank we were watching, and then picked it right back up. I put dinner away and let the dog out. Leftovers in the fridge and went to bed, with husband in tow. In bed with the TV on for white noise, occasionally chuckling at something the Property Brothers had to say, still glued to Facebook, or a game. I’m pretty sure I was asleep before he got off that phone. (I’m also sure he’ll read this, glued to the phone as he is.)  

Don’t misunderstand me. My husband is pretty great. He walks the dog, and puts the cat to bed (we got a cat), and he does dishes and helps me with housework. He’s sweet and dresses me probably better than I dress myself. Even so, sometimes it feels like I’m in competition with a silly thing such as Facebook. 

There’s something so important in human relationships. That Facebook status won’t tell you that they appreciated the work you did today, and that selfie won’t thank your partner for dinner. Those Snapchat stories don’t provide relevant conversation. I realize and understand that one of the greatest things about today is how we can stay connected with family and friends across the country, across the world. But you can’t ignore the people in front of you, either. 

It makes people feel unworthy of your time, unimportant, and undervalued. No one deserves to feel that way, especially when all you have to do to alleviate that is put the phone in your pocket for an hour and a half. 

Unplug your relationships: 

  • No phones at dinner 
  • Have one night a week where the phones stay by the door all night
  • Turn off all your electronics and do something worthwhile together: walk the dog, play with the cat, read a book or do a devotional together 

It might be hard at first. Someone might call, or text. But are those people who might call or text more important than the person you’re physically with? Maybe you’re an avid blogger and you’re dying to know what your stats are reading…*ahem*. Like I said, I’m guilty of it, too. But putting the phones away is so worth it, really. You bring back meaningful conversation and the respect the person you’re with deserves when you put your phone, iPad, and computer away. 

Cook dinner together. Read a book. Just sit quietly with each other. Go for a walk, or to the gym, or to a pumpkin patch this time of year. Go to a theme park. Make out. Play hide and seek. Chase each other. Walk around Walmart. Go to Hobby Lobby and craft something together. 

Just put your phone down, and show the person you’re with that they are most important.

Xoxo, 

Em.  

(And when you’re plugged in, check out our new Twitter and Instagram @thewaylifewent !)

It Didn’t Work Out, and It’s Not the Corps’ Fault. 

All MilSO groups have one. The one who rushed into marriage against everyone’s advice, the one who thought her significant other’s bad behavior would change if she married him, because then she’d be with him 24/7 and know what he was up to. 

She’s always the center of drama in your group. But no one really says anything against her because you feel bad for her, right? She got married on a whim, packed up her life, probably moved hours and miles away from her friends and family. Maybe now she’s stuck where she is. Or maybe she left him and went back home and got greeted with “I told you so”s from everyone she knew. All the “friends” she thought she had. So you just kind of let her stick around, even though she doesn’t fit into the sisterhood anymore. 

Well, darlin’, I’ve got some choice words for the you in our group: 

Knock off your pity party. Honey, deployment is hard. But we all knew that going in. Infidelity is a punch in the gut. His emotionless attitude is a symptom of the Corps. Divorce hurts, and I won’t ever argue that there’s no reason for it. Some people are just not meant to be together, and that’s okay. You had to do what was best for you, and I’m always an advocate for that. But on the one hand, you should’ve listened when your mama said, “I think it’s a bad idea.” 

So good on you, though, for getting out of an allegedly toxic situation. Protect your heart and protect your peace of mind. But from one military wife to another former one, even as short a stint as yours: shut up. 

There’s some unspoken rules when you marry into this life. 

  1. You don’t air your dirty laundry. Why? Because you, E-3’s wife, are in a group with an E-9’s wife, and what she hears, her husband hears. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want everyone knowing. 
  2. Suck it up. Baby, it’s hard. You spend your nights alone sometimes, maybe you can’t find a job at the new duty station, laundry piles up because you’re busy with everything else. It’s 1930, he’s not home yet even though he promised to be home by 1800, and dinner is getting cold. This life isn’t normal. You knew that going in. Be sad, be angry, be whatever you need to be for 5 minutes. And then pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and get over it. 
  3. The wives? Not all of them are your friends. Some are meaner than a bucket of nails, and they’ll bless your heart up and down the sidewalk while snickering “dependa” behind your back. Take everything with a grain of salt. People are mean. 
  4. It’s not about you. What? What do you mean, Em? Shouldn’t it be about me, too? Well, yeah. But if you made the choice to leave college and get married, or give up your dream job to move around with a military man, you acknowledged that it was no longer about you. For me, I have no problem supporting my husband in his dream. Seeing him come home from deployment full of stories, or come home from work excited about the workup, it makes me happy. I love listening to him love what he does. I knew, when I married him, that I was coming second. He loves me most, but when the Corps calls, he answers. And I don’t resent him for that. My dream is our life together, and it just so happens that right now, the military plays an integral part in our dream. 

So please, shut up. All we see from you is “marriage is terrible”, “19 & divorced because of the military”, and trash talking your ex, who is still serving our country. It didn’t work out for you, and you blamed the lifestyle. You’re the type of woman we all get compared to. That nasty “dependa”taunt that we all hear and it kind of digs, because “hey, that’s not me”? People take all your nasty bitterness and project it onto us wives who are still living the life. We hear your story everywhere, because at least one person from each Facebook group is in someone else’s group who’s in a group with you. 

And we’re constantly hearing things like, “Oh, well I heard from so-and-so that your husbands all cheat on deployment and so it’s okay if y’all do”, “she told me that all military men are abusive, and I just want you to know you can talk to me”. I really did get told that last one. 

And that’s what prompted this angry post, because I was offended. Have you met my husband? He is literally the epitome of love. He’s the type of man who does the dishes after dinner because I cooked, or comes downstairs to tell me he drew a bath, and he brushes my hair and holds my hand and tells me I’m beautiful and finds my Midol when I’m being what he calls “Moody Moose Buttons”. To have anyone think that he’s emotionally, mentally, verbally, or physically abusive because of your big mouth makes me angry. 

It didn’t work out for you and your husband. And that’s okay. You weren’t meant for each other. But stop trash talking, name calling, bad mouthing the military and blaming it for your failed marriage. Because no matter how y’all feel about each other, he’s still putting his life on the line for our country, and I think that’s more honorable than what you’re doing. 

So instead of running all military men into the ground because it didn’t work out for you, next time you see your ex, thank him for his service for me. 

May God grant you the peace you seek, and I pray nothing but good fortune in your future endeavors. Just leave us out of it. 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

{I mean, just look how sweet he is} ❤️

The “No Kid” Adventures of the Teepes

I woke up at 08:34 this Sunday morning. Nothing particular woke me up, unless you count the dog wiggling his way over to bury his nose in my hair. 

It’s 08:40 and I’m downstairs cooking breakfast while the dog and Rick are still in bed. It’s 0900 and we’re walking the dog and just enjoying each other’s company. We had a plan for today, you know. We were just going to clean up and do laundry and hang out around the house. 

It’s now 10:11 and we’re speeding down Interstate 5, towards the San Diego Zoo. On Friday we went to SeaWorld and to go see a movie in the middle of the day. Yesterday, we went out with the intention of just going to lunch, and instead ended up going to lunch and buying new home decor, because hello! Fall is here, our house needs to smell like pumpkins in order for me to be happy, and thanksgiving themed placemats needed to be on our table. 

Tomorrow, we have tickets to DisneyLand and after next payday, you know we’re going to Universal Studios in Hollywood, because Harry Potter world and the Walking Dead and all that fun stuff. 

And more than once the past few days, we’ve made the comment, “we couldn’t do this if we had kids.” And it’s so true. If we had an infant, you know we wouldn’t have woken up at almost 9 am this morning. We couldn’t just decide “hey, let’s go to the zoo!” 

We’re young, and married, and just enjoying life as it comes. We’re waking up whenever and going to theme parks and zoos and walking the dog and cooking dinner and going shopping. And I love it. A lot of people seem to think that marriage=kids. And that’s not true, at least not for us. Maybe someday. But if this is how life went for the two of us for the rest of forever, that would be okay, too. Lunch dates don’t happen when John has a dentist appointment at 2 and Becky had to be picked up early from school because she had a fever. (FYI I’m not naming my future children Becky and John. There will also not be a IV, sorry in laws.) Packing up and spending the day on the beach doesn’t happen in the middle of the week because we don’t have a babysitter. DisneyLand will lose all its charm because I do not want to ride Dumbo with the 2 year old. 

We’re 19 and 20, and we’re totally rocking this adventure God gave us. And we’re doing it without worry and without wondering. We’re waking up at 9 am and cooking dinner at 8 pm. We’re spending less than $200 to go to DisneyLand, and nothing to go to SeaWorld. 

This is our life, and stay tuned for more of the “no kid adventures of the Teepes.” 😘

Xoxo,

Em. 

I Fell in Love at 14…so what? 

It’s 4:30 in the morning, and I’m downstairs on the couch because I couldn’t sleep. The dog and the husband are currently snoring loudly in bed upstairs, and I’m going to wake him up for work in an hour. 

Sitting here has me thinking about all the things that have gone on the past few years. 

I met my husband when I was 13 years old. And at 14, he told me he wanted to marry me, and since then, that had been the goal. He proposed when I was 17, we were married 6 months later, and now at 19 and 20 years old, we’re 1,700 miles away from Smalltown, USA, and the beginning of our love story. 

A lot of people said we wouldn’t make it. We were too young. We’re still too young. We didn’t know what love was. But so what? I think we’ve proved them wrong for the most part. Is it hard? I mean, yeah. Name one relationship you don’t have to work on. Does he annoy me? Oh, goodness. Yes, of course. And I know for a fact I annoy him when I guess very loudly at all the endings of our TV shows. Do we make each other angry? Uh…is this even a question? He gets mad that I like plans for everything. And I get mad that he’s mentally 12 years old almost 24/7. But so what? 

Love isn’t a feeling, I don’t think. It’s more like a mix of feelings and choices. I choose to love my husband, everyday, and that’s what makes our marriage work. Every day, since we were silly kids in high school, he has been my favorite choice. Not always the easiest. But my favorite, and I will always choose him over and over again.  

Love isn’t easy. It’s arguing over breakfast and being annoyed with each other. It’s getting frustrated with his driving skills when he hasn’t driven your car in 7 months and thinks he’s a NASCAR driver. It’s locking the bathroom door so your partner will leave you alone for 20 minutes. 

But love is fun. It’s playing with the dog together. It’s going on late night trips to get food even after you’ve decided to go to bed, and now you look terrible in mismatched pajamas and wet hair. It’s making breakfast and waking up next to the person you love most in the world. 

And right now, it’s my husband trudging downstairs and plopping on the couch, his head in my lap, because he’s decided he can’t go back to sleep without me. I fell in love at 14 years old…but so what? I think it’s worked out pretty well so far. 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

Homecoming Happiness! 

Well, after 211 LONG days, deployment is O-V-E-R! Rest assured, I didn’t sleep at all the night before. I flipflopped between frantically cleaning the house and plopping on the couch for Glee and SAMCRO marathons. But in the end, it didn’t matter that I had cleaned out the fridge or scrubbed the sinks in the bathroom. What mattered was that my other half is back home, and I no longer feel like half a person. I got the best nights sleep I’ve had in 7 months. 

People say a lot of things during deployment. And you know what? None of it matters. People said, “Oh wow, it went by so fast!” HA. HA. HA.That’s hilarious. No, it didn’t. Every single day was really, really long. Is it finally over? Yes. But was it easy? NO. 

People said, “I don’t know how you could do it, I’d go crazy.” Lol at y’all, because I did go crazy. But I didn’t really have a choice. It’s not like I knew I could do this. I only did it because it was the only thing I could do. 

People said lots of things. But you want to know why none of it mattered? Because it’s 10:45 in the morning, my husband is asleep in our bed again, and I’m happier than I’ve been since we got married.

Leftovers don’t last as long. I have to buy FrostedFlakes when I go grocery shopping. My fridge has Dr. Pepper in it now, and at 2230, he’s eating a second dinner because midrats. But there’s a warm body on the other side of the bed, with the dog in between us. There’s someone to eat dinner with. There’s the comfort that comes with knowing that I’m not all alone in the middle of the night. 

I couldn’t be happier than I am right now. And I’m sure I’ll say that multiple times. But it’s true, right now. Thank goodness deployment is over. Now let’s get started on the work up for deployment #2. 

Xoxo, 

Em.  

Motivation Mo-Thursday? 

I know, I know! It’s been almost a month since my last blog post and I sincerely apologize. I’ve been lacking in the inspiration department, and also the effort department, and not to exclude the time department…just in all the departments, really. 

Since my last post, I’ve had my Nana visit, my friends Yenette and Spencer visit, hit my 5 year anniversary with the weirdo I call husband, had bad days, good days, and the funky days in between. 

If I’m being 110% honest, this move has killed me. The motivation I had back home sputtered to a halt at the California line, and it shows. So as of yesterday, I decided to get my butt back in gear and get back in the gym, back in my books, and back to blogging. 

So for anyone needing a little motivation, here’s the tips I got from various friends and the ever-helpful Pinterest. 

  1. Don’t wait until Monday. (Obviously I didn’t, I started on Wednesday.) 
  2. Don’t stop until you’re proud. (But always be proud of who you are. You’re you.) 
  3. It’s a slow process. Don’t make it slower by quitting. (Mama didn’t raise no quitter, so…) 
  4. Water is the new wine. Drink it. (Use your imagination.) 
  5. Wake up with determination. Go to bed with satisfaction. 
  6. You have to be in shape to kick your husband’s butt. (Thanks, Mary. Definitely the most motivational.) 

Now, everyone has a different goal. Mine currently is to lose the weight I gained all back during this move. But maybe for you it’s getting up early, or reading a new book. Maybe it’s trying a little harder this school year or actually cleaning the kitchen completely. Maybe it’s finishing the laundry. It doesn’t really matter what your goal is, everyone needs a little motivation. 

My absolute favorite pieces I’ve found that are plastered to my mirror right now are: 

“Don’t be so focused on your circumstances that you can’t see Jesus.” 

Wow. How absolutely powerful, really. It doesn’t matter how I got to where I am, all that matters is that I work towards my goal in the right way and keep my eyes on the Cross. 

“You have been assigned this mountain to show others that it can be moved.” 

You never know who’s watching. Maybe if you study for that test, a classmate will, too. Maybe if you finish that book, someone will value your opinion when you recommend it. Maybe, if you slay yourself in the gym, someone passing by will be inspired to start their own journey. 

Move your mountains, doll face. 

Xoxo, 

Em. 

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. 

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.