My love is turning 28 in a couple of days.....I know what some of you are thinking. "They're just babies!" or "my word...28 already." For me this is a big deal...it reminds me that I chose to love Zachary Allen 10 years ago almost exactly. I first started feeling *attracted* a little before his 18th birthday....in fact I'm the one that put together a birthday party for him complete with all his high school friends and taco salad. January turned into February and we had our annual Valentine's Day party at Applebees. I will never forget walking into the room in a little vintage number I had bought and my friend (Zac) winked at me from across the room. I still recall feeling a little confused but crazily excited...to think that he might actually be interested in me.
A month later it was confirmed that the attraction was definitely there - we were both so confused because he was about to graduate high school and leave our little missionary world to go to Colorado with a soccer scholarship...there would be a ton of *fish in the sea.* He told me he wouldn't rush into things and that we would just think about everything for awhile - one week later he told me that I was who he wanted....three weeks later by a campfire he told me he loved me and with that said...I stamped him in my heart and knew that he would be mine for life. I mean really...how can you say you love someone and not stand by it? :)
We spent a year long distance with me finishing up high school and him treating me as specially as someone can from thousands of miles away. I got e mails everyday, packages in the mail....long distance phone calls and even roses on Valentine's Day. When other people told me that we were too young or that i was too immature to have a REAL boyfriend, I knew it wasn't true and so did zac. It's funny to me now how *adults* will tell teens that they don't know what love is or can't understand it. What is love anyways? It's a choice and a commitment - somehow zac and I both knew this even when I was only 16 years old. I remember purchasing a necklace that said "I love Zac" on it and I was questioned almost immediately about it's significance and told that I couldn't wear it because I didn't understand the meaning of love. Well, with a little bit of stubbornness, I put it away in my jewelry box and left it there until they day I became engaged 3 years later. :)
I moved to Tennessee to go to college, Zac was still playing soccer in Colorado - we were on two years now of long distance. I quit school after two semesters...it was no secret that I was very unhappy. I had never been so confused and alone in all of my life - all of my life long friends were gone, I was in a strange country in a strange school...I just felt strange. I was insecure and as a result struggled with an eating disorder. There were some nights on campus I would just walk around the school in the pitch black...once I remember walking in the rain for over a hour just feeling so alone and lost. It was a hard year for me. Meanwhile, in Colorado Zac tore his ACL and as a result lost his soccer scholarship. Big Blow to him. Needless to say, we were both struggeling.
It was made clear to us that I wasn't allowed to move to the west, so as a result....the summer of 2003 he purchased a tiny little Ford truck...I wish I had a picture of it...it was a yellow rusty heap of metal (Zac loved it....I was scared when I saw it the first time.) and he drove that thing all the way to me...across the country with a hurt leg and no money. He left his beautiful Colorado...his brothers and his college buddies - all for me.
When he pulled up to the drive way I immediately felt like I was home. There were a lot of things missing in my life... he was the biggest one. Within a week Zac had a job at a local paper factory - definitely not his dream but it paid the bills and had health insurance. He proved even then that he is a hard worker and would be a good provider for our future family.
Meanwhile, I was working phones at Sears Monitoring Service...dispatching police every night on faulty alarms and waking up managers at their homes all over the United States and Puerto Rico. Ahhhh.....the good ol' days - or not. :) Zac and I went on a trip together to Kansas City, MO to attend one of his friend's weddings...on the way there we stopped at the Arch in St. Louis where Zac proposed to me. Bliss....and the *I LOVE Zac* necklace went back on needless to say.
We both kept working when we got back to Tennessee but Zac had to work especially hard. For 4 months of our engaged lives we were stressed to the max with life, with each other...with having no friends...what felt like no support - and no money. My roommate at the time decided not to pay any of their bills so my fiance covered all the costs. That's right...paid his bills and the other half of my roommates just to make sure that things would be okay for me. Meanwhile we were planning our wedding...I had a wonderful group of women at my parent's supporting church that basically did ALL of the work but it too was a hard time for me.
We finally were married and I can't describe the feelings of relief that flowed through my body as we walked out of that church. I finally belonged to the person I had loved for 3 years - I felt very safe and a little scared. I really thought that all of my problems were just going to go away now...everything in the past would just dissappear - of course the good stuff could stay. :)
Our first year of marriage was hard - I'm not going to lie. I was working on a lot of things internally that I wasn't even aware of.....was on a birth control pill that I didn't realize was really screwing with my emotions. I honestly don't remember very many things about our first year except being miserable. I'm not trying to be negative here...I'm just sharing the truth with you...I'm telling you our story not for pity or any reason except that it's part of the BIGGER picture. Even though the first year wasn't pleasant....it was still ours.
I came off of the pill on our 1 year anniversary and 2 weeks later I remember Zac looking at me and saying "wow, you're acting like you use to in high school....all happy and stuff." i was shocked and thought about the difference for a moment....the pill! A week later I was pregnant.
Brady was the best thing that could have ever happened to us. The focus went from "me" to "this baby." That's the blessing of children...you learn so much about yourself and you have to BE better if you want better for them. You can't be selfish when you are a parent and that change starts even in pregnancy. At this same time, Zac got out of that darn paper factory and was hired by the Dalton Fire department! Yah for a meaningful job - he has been perfect for this profession. During this time we also bought our first home as a *fixer upper.* Things were looking up.
Time passed and to make this long story even longer....I found an incredible church. I say "I" because it was me that joined a young mother's Bible study and my life began to change. For the first time I was honest with women that I didn't know...and I was part of a group that didn't know me or my family or the mission my parents are part of. They just knew me and they like me. Areas in my life that I was struggling with I was able to bring into the light and I got help with those things...this time in my life...Brady's first year...was life changing - heart changing.
Along came Trinity, our little rosebud. Her first summer was the happiest year of my life. it was a time spent with my two babies in the sunshine, loving life and really just diving into a world of creativity and embracing my feminity. It may sound strange but I challenged myself to wear skirts everyday for about 2 months...to wear make up and just look like a woman. I started baking bread and really loving the world of herbs and natural remedies. Basically...I was learning who Alyssa really was and Zac was encouraging me and loving me the whole way through. I got pregnant with our third baby the week before Trin's first birthday...nursing was PERFECT birth control. :)
Along came Tristan and all of his cuddly cuteness. This time was special for me and it was also a challenging time for us as a family. It began to be clear to us that Brayden was very different and has some very special needs. We are still working and praying and searching in this area, but it really came to a "head' around the time Tristan was born. I think God gave me tristan on purpose during this tim just so I would have a small bundle to love and hold when my heart was sad. Tristan is STILL a huge source of joy for zac and i...he makes us laugh every day.
Almost a year later I became pregnant and lost baby January. That time, many of you know, was very difficult for us as it is for anyone that loses a life. In the midst of feeling so close to eachother we also had a moment where things became very distant between us. I think just the grieving period mixed in with trying to sell our house....along with Brady's issues was just very overwhelming - and has been.
I am pregnant again with our little Finn (it's a never ending state i seem to find myself in....obviously from my fear of the pill) and we are more in love than ever. We have dealt with the distance...had a couple of very long, very hard talks. This pregnancy has been very uncomfortable for me but I have felt more love from my husband than ever before.
This last year, 2010, I read the book Love and Respect and it changed the way that I see Zac. I was already learning to communicate better...to not put my expectations on him....to (gulp)obey him even...but I can say that this book really opened up my eyes to what respect actually is and why it is so important in men/women relationships. Well, to be honest it wasn't the book that spoke to me so much as it was the seminar I got to watch (available on DVD.) The speaker(Dr. Emerson Eggerichs) is just so dynamic and real - very humorous.
As a result of my attitude towards Zac changing...his attitude towards me has changed. He has always been very kind and very loving....but now he is even more so. He takes care of me...he does things for me that some other women might not would like because it takes away from their "power" (not really....but I think that's how it would be viewed by Feminists) but he makes me feel girly. He makes my bath for me most evenings, tells me to go calm down when I'm getting worked up.....reminds me to rest.....opens my car door for me...calls me from work and checks on me during the day....he just treats me like a girl and I've never been so attracted in all of my life. It's nice when you're caring for others all day long, to have someone that comes home and takes care of you.
I've loved zac for 10 years now...and if you made it through this rather long post...I think you see why. He is committed to me 100% through thick and thin...even before we were married and he was *tied down.* He has provided for me...once again BEFORE marriage....not just financially but emotionally. Zac helped me with that eating disorder...he helped me with the insecurity and has always told me that I am perfect. He has given me three beautiful children and another one is on the way...he has let me find me...he has let me stay home in all of my *Alyssa Glory* and he encourages me to be the homemaker I've always dreamt of being. He has high expectations of me and nudges me gently to fulfill those things - I like this. I like accountability and I'm glad that our relationship has blossomed to a place where he feels like he can be my leader.
I'm so thankful for my husband....so very happy that God gave me him - so very thrilled that my best friend fulfills me and that he is a real MAN. Sometimes I fool myself in thinking that he has grown into a man since we've been married - but that's simply not true. He was one at 18 when he knew the meaning of love. the other day we were talking that if we both make it to 80 years old we could actually celebrate our 60 year wedding anniversary since we got married so young - this makes me smile.
Happy Birthday baby.