Eleven Years.

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Dennis and I just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary!

Milestones make me reflective.  I suppose that’s the point of marking significant milestones in life.  Dennis and I tend to be sentimental and make a point of celebrating the milestones and traditions in our life together.

July 2013 030We have typically taken our anniversary off of work.  We send the kids to school and have a “date day”.  Three years ago we dropped them off early at preschool and went to Disneyland – just for the day!  That was chaotic and super fun.

This year we planned to make our traditional anniversary stop at Café Chloe for breakfast, stroll around Seaport Village and visit our favorite little book store, before heading to Sienna’s school for Family Lunch Day.  It was a Friday night, we could have gotten a babysitter and gone out for a romantic dinner.  Instead, we did what sounded even more fun to us – movie night (“Inside Out”) with the kids!

005Spending the day with my husband of eleven years, I felt deeply grateful and in love.  Our connection is so much stronger today than ever before.  When I struggled with anxiety a couple years ago, Dennis was my strength and constant support. This awakening I’ve gone through has taught me that the relationships and connections in life are the most important things to nurture.

On Sunday I experienced a great example of how different my perspective is now.  I used to love to plan, organize, make lists, and check off tasks.  It all made me feel disciplined and in control. It also sent me within myself and sometimes my planning ended up pitting Dennis and me against one another.

Recently I realized that I’ve thrown some of my good organizational habits out with the proverbial bathwater.  Planning and being organized are not a bad thing, in and of themselves.  It’s only unhealthy when they are means for maintaining a false sense of control over my feelings.

001The weekend of our anniversary, after dropping the kids off at Sunday School, Dennis and I skipped our usual Farmer’s Market routine and headed to Starbucks instead.  With coffees in hand, we sat outside and talked about the week ahead.  I made notes in my phone about meals, grocery lists, and activities.  One list including all the tasks we wanted to get done around the house that afternoon, from picking up clutter and roasting a chicken to washing cars and lighting the pilot light in our furnace. We worked together to plan and organize our shared life.  It was pure joy.

As I’ve told Dennis several times the past year or so, the process and means of connecting with him matter more to me than the end results of our efforts.  This was a major theme in our recent front yard project (see “after” picture above!).  There were a couple of tense moments of disagreement, but overall the project left us feeling very connected and proud of what we can accomplish together.

053It’s funny, eleven years later, I don’t view my life and marriage in the Pollyanna, white picket fence delusion of “happily ever after.”  Instead, the ups and downs have led to a deeper, more real and meaningful relationship than I ever conceived of.  It’s a joy to feel connected to this man who is my husband and best friend.

Whether we’re watching a game together; making dinner (me) and doing the dishes (him); coordinating about the kids schedules; discussing finances; enjoying a date day; or cuddling in the pew at church, sharing life with Dennis makes everything better.

A Tender Moment at Target

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I’d just gotten a coffee at Starbucks within Target as I grabbed a cart to begin my leisurely shopping trip.  As I started to push the cart, I noticed a cute little boy and his mom entering the store.  The little boy was holding a sandwich bag full of coins and he began twirling it around. As I passed them, suddenly there came a crashing sound of the bag hitting the ground and coins scattering everywhere.

863587-Pile-of-american-coins--Stock-Photo“Braden, oh no!” exclaimed his mom.

I turned around to her, “Do you need some help?” I asked as I got down on my knees to start gathering coins.

Another woman who was shopping nearby and one of the male Target employees quickly joined our efforts.  The mom thanked us repeatedly as she encouraged Braden to do his share of picking up.

I glanced at Braden, who looked to be around four years old.  He sat solemnly watching us clean up the money.  His mom told us that this was the money he’d earned so he could buy a Lego set he wanted.  As she thanked us again, I told her, “I have a four year old son too. I can so relate.”

At his mother’s prompting, Braden thanked us after all the coins were safely back in his baggie.

Walking away from this scene, I got choked up with emotion.  What a tender moment to be a part of!  This little guy accidentally dropped all his money and was obviously embarrassed.  Instead of that moment becoming worse as his flustered mom and him had to pick up all those scattered coins, a few strangers jumped in to quickly fix the problem.  I hope that he’ll come away from this knowing that people care and will help each other.

Before heading to the store, I’d been talking with one of the women on my Team at work about loving our children.  We spoke of the tender moments that touch your heart and remind you of what’s really important in life.  Those moments that truly matter.

This moment at Target reminded me that the opportunity for tender moments are all around us, if we’re present and connected to the people and circumstances that are happening in the here and now.

As I took some deep breaths and dried my misty eyes, I said a little prayer of thanksgiving that God put that moment in my life.  I was grateful that he helped me to be present and connected to these strangers so that I could show his love.