Grateful & Graceful

stephanie steve-47

Close up of my wedding bouquet because who doesn’t need an orange dahlia in the middle of February?

A couple of days ago, I came home in a really great mood. I had been driving home thinking about my finances (not usually something that leads to warm fuzzies, I know) and I started ticking off everything on my financial to-do list that week. Pay my car insurance, got that covered. Get my taxes done, found a new place that’s half the price as my normal big name tax place, got that covered. Get an oil change, got that covered. And finally get new tires, with tax money with some left to stash away, got that covered. When I realized how excited I got thinking about the things I won’t have to put on my credit card I jokingly told Steve how I was “such an old lady” because I was excited! But in reality it speaks volumes to how far we’ve come as a couple and how far I’ve come as an individual.

A year ago, we were staring down the barrel of a wedding, coming at us at full speed. We had final payments to be made and commitments to drink ware and  final touches. Our savings accounts were dwindling. Steve had just started his current position. I had just started a new position. Things were so uncertain.

Rewind 2 years ago and we were newly engaged. Steve was at his old place making barely enough for us to get by, I was in a different role and a different place financially as well. We had just moved in together, so we were still learning to cope with our new set of bills. To say we were scared and overwhelmed is probably an understatement.

It’s really amazing to retrace our steps and see where we once were and how we got where we are today, missteps, mistakes and detours included. The fact that I can account for all the important things I must do as an adult in the same month that all cost a pretty penny without an ounce of stress… I honestly thought I was years away from this. And you know what? It’s not always this carefree. Though we have some breathing room because of our own efforts and our insistence on paying for the wedding as we were planning it, there are still days where we have to check our bank accounts to see who can cover the pizza we want. And those nights are OK, too. We are still so so blessed to be able to have the good weeks and to have a roof over our heads, food in our fridge and each other to warm the other’s feet, under the blanket while we binge watch Stranger Things for the third time. We are grateful… beyond grateful.

Where the grace part comes in. I’ve recently started my MPA as a “passion project/experiment”. I’m not sure where it will lead but God put it in my path in so many ways that I felt like not pursuing it was a display of blatant disrespect for His plan. So I bit. I’m taking 2 courses this semester and both of them have hundreds of pages of reading per week. I think I kept up with it for the first 2 weeks and did absolutely nothing else but work and read. I took it really hard at first because I like to feel like I’m giving my all and this made me feel like I couldn’t do what I had promised myself and God but, there are only 24 hours in a day and I work for 9 of those…. So let’s be real here, if I can’t do it, I can’t do it. Through this process I have had to remind myself several times (in a day sometimes) that I am only human. I already have my BS so, this is not my end all, be all. But again, this is not easy to always keep in perspective. It’s a work in progress… I’M a work in progress.

Additionally Steve and I have decided to pursue some goals together in 2018. We have decided to zero in on our unhealthy eating habits and focus on portions, nutrition and being more active. We have the same goal weight, which is infuriating for my husband to want to weigh the same as me (you ladies get it). We are both tracking our meals, being active when we can and I’m using my Fitbit religiously to track my activity. We are empowering one another in our choices and supporting each other by cooking healthier foods and not encouraging poor eating habits. And we’ve both seen results! It’s really cool to have a partner, 100% in your husband. You should see us at meal times!

Steve: “Hey, what do you have dinner logged at?”

Me: “Well for 2 cups it’s 220 calories but a serving size is 1 cup”

Steve: “And did you get 20 calories for a cup of broccoli?”

Repeat 3x daily. It’s both silly and empowering. It’s weird when you have the same goals that it gives you something to talk about! But here, too there is grace. We celebrated my baby sister’s birthday last weekend and you bet your sweet bottom we both had cake and ice cream! I’m trying to achieve goals, not punishing myself for my sins! We eat what we want and we prioritize health over a lot of other things, now that we’re married we want to be around to annoy each other for a very long time!

I decided to write these things down today for a couple of reasons. The first, being that it is so easy to write when things are bad. It’s so easy to use this as a sounding board to vent about everything making you unhappy and if that’s what you’ve got, go for it, sister! But remember that life isn’t all bad. And it’s important to take a moment and look at your challenges, achievements and failures and just be happy about them, all of them. They got you where you are today and they made you who you are. I also find it important to document things in your life. I have a “good things journal” on my coffee table that I occasionally write things in. Admittedly it’s not used as often as I want it to be (not for lack of good things but because I’m absentminded) but I want my kids to have a written record someday of their mother and who she was before them, with them and after them. They will always wonder about their parents’ lives before they were around and it’s so important to me to share things in my life with them as it’s relevant. It is with a heart full of grace for my shortcomings and of gratitude for where I am and the blessings God has given me that I wrap this up.