The beans were finally spilled. Both Steve and I could heave a sigh of relief! We didn’t have to keep things a secret any longer.
I finally felt like I could move forward to some degree in our relationship.
Valentine’s Day was approaching, so I figured I should get Steve some sort of card. I needed a card that communicated how important he was to me, without totally spilling my guts to him.
As you know, he had already told me that he loved me, and you guessed it, I still hadn’t told him.
There were times when Steve would tell me that he loved me, and I almost threw it out there that I loved him too.
One time I even started the sentence, “Steve I… (Oh my gosh, am I really going to say this?) I…l—ic oa yoo.”
“Ha ha, what did you say?” he prodded.
“Did you just say you licorice me?” he chuckled.
“No, of course I didn’t.”
It was as if the words I love you would bubble up like a pot ready to boil over, and then suddenly the words wouldn’t come. The heat was turned down and I had nothing to say.
He didn’t pressure me about the fact that I didn’t actually say it, but rather continued to tell me that he loved me and was patient. He knew I would tell him when I was ready.
One thing I’ve learned from my mom through the years is the art of showing people how much you care about them and how to make people feel special.
For Valentine’s Day I thought I’d get crafty and leave Steve a display of my “care” for him.
I had been working on a surprise during some of my free time at school. I used the die cut machine to cut out hearts and letters that read “Happy Valentine’s Day” so I could hang it on the mirror in his bathroom. I figured I wasn’t telling him “I love you” just yet, but he needed to know I thought he was wonderful. I also put a hand written note “Happy Valentine’s Day! I Licorice you,” on a heart. I knew he’d get my point.
While he was sleeping, I snuck over to his house and taped up my beautiful masterpiece so my message could be read as he looked in the mirror. I was so excited, but nervous. I thought for sure that every pull and tear of the scotch tape was going to wake him up for sure. Things always seem louder when you’re trying to be sneaky about it.
I pulled it off. Operation Valentine was complete. He was sound asleep and I managed to escape without being noticed.
Steve had made dinner plans for the two of us so we could enjoy some quality time together. I loved our quality time. We would laugh and joke about everything and have in-depth conversations as well.
Gosh, he was so good at making me feel special. Through no prompting of my own, he signed us up to do “Couples Yoga.” A special Valentine’s Day yoga session, doing poses with my sweetheart.
Us two meatheads were going to give this yoga thing a go.
These poses were hilarious. As a meathead, you always try to muscle your way through things and if something is hard, you grin and bear it.
Not only did we have to figure out how to maintaing stability in these poses individually, but we also had to work together as one cohesive unit. If either of us tried to do something on our own, our whole pose would be thrown off and we’d fall over.
Although it may seem like a silly exercise, trying something adventurous together that day was good because it challenged our communication. We came up with a game plan and then gave it a shot.
Often times in relationships we assume that what we are thinking is obvious. Maybe you are in a current situation of frustration simply because there was a lack of communication.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
One challenge for you today is to reflect on the communication in your relationships. Are you holding a grudge or letting a miscommunication negatively impact your relationships?If so, clarify your feelings with that person. Try to explain your thought or idea using different language and if you feel as though you have been misunderstood, clarify what you meant. Sometimes using an analogy helps to refine what you were trying to say.
I also want to challenge you to go the extra mile to show the people you care about that you love them. Whether it is a love text, a phone call, or voluntarily doing an activity that they love, you can always brighten someone’s day by showing love.
One thing about Steve that I had mentioned before was that he couldn’t keep a secret. In fact, he had told me that he had bought a diamond for my ring already. He had actually told me that during the summer months, and it was now February.
I tried my best to not have a reaction when he told me that. Part of me was excited, as most women would be, because all the wondering of whom was I going to marry could potentially be answered. I still wasn’t sure if I wanted it to be answered forever, right now.
There was just a slight problem.
My parents still didn’t know about JT.
Steve knew that they absolutely had to know about JT before marriage was even an option. Secondly, Steve would have to ask my dad for permission to marry me.
There we were, two mountains staring us in the face. Steve had attempted to tell my dad once before about JT by taking him to a Twins game. Steve didn’t just take my dad to the game, but he had to have the best seats at Target Field, in the Champions Club.
That attempt failed. The two of them ended up talking about me competing in figure competitions. Something my dad wasn’t too fond of.
The next strategy was to tell my parents separately. My mom was in town and she spent the night at my house because my dad was in the hospital.
My dad has had several trips to the hospital for several different reasons. One time my parents even celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in the hospital after my dad was in a terrible burn accident on the farm.
My mom had gone to church with Mel, Steve and I that day and we went out for lunch after. The plan was to go visit my dad in the hospital after lunch. Both my sister and I knew today would be the day that Steve would finally be able to share the secret we’d been keeping for so long.
There we were sitting at the table having a casual conversation while I was secretly dying inside wondering how in the world are we going to transition from this lighthearted conversation to this bomb of new information.
So it began…
“Jody I have to tell you something…
I have a son.”
“Okay…” she paused, thinking that okay, this child is probably 7 or 8.
“How old is he?” she inquired.
“Seven months old.”
There were several questions that followed. Where does he live, how often do you see him, what is the situation with the mother?
“So basically, you’re a grandma!” he said lightheartedly.
My mom let out a gasp of excitement and she got teary-eyed and I did too. Seeing anyone cry always makes me cry and the fact that part of the weight of keeping this secret was finally somewhat off my shoulders, was a relief.
“You have to tell dad today,” she insisted.
“I don’t want to keep this secret from him and he needs to know. Who knows that you have a son?”
“Mel and Scruff know. I had to tell someone and it was really hard keeping this secret from you guys for so long,” I confessed.
The plan was to go visit my dad in the hospital. Yes, Steve would be telling my dad this news while he was lying in a hospital bed. Steve had asked that he could tell my dad in private.
We arrived and greeted my dad and then us girls left and went to the cafeteria while Steve was alone with my dad. My dad sensed something was up.
“Brian, it’s not what you think it is,” Steve informed. My dad thought he was going to ask for permission to marry me.
“I have a son…”
It was silent for a brief moment, then my dad followed up with similar questions as my mom.
“How old is he?”
They both began to cry.
Steve cried because he felt as though he had let my dad down, yet he cried tears of relief and joy—Relief, because he no longer had to hide the secret of his precious son or his love for him and joy because he was such a proud dad. All things were out in the open and he could finally breathe.
“Steve, it’s okay. We’re going to get through this,” my dad assured.
My dad could sense that Steve felt bad because he had longed for the acceptance of my dad, and he knew without it, there’s no way he’d be able to marry me. This news of course caught my dad off-guard. Sure he felt some disappointment, but he responded with love. Complete love.
After sitting in the cafeteria for almost an hour, I finally got a text giving us the go-ahead to return to my dad’s room.
My heart was racing with anxious anticipation of my dad’s response to this news.
I turned the corner and saw my dad sitting in his hospital bed. He turned and looked at me and our eyes met.
One look was all it took as tears streamed down my face. I was sorry for keeping this from him. I too felt that I had let him down, although it was not my news to tell.
“Come here kiddo,” he invited.
“He hugged me and said, “You know I love you right?”
“Yeah…” I sniffled.
“It’s going to be okay.”
I exhaled with relief. My dad reassured me too. I knew it could be okay, but to hear those words cross his lips made me truly believe it. I longed to know that my father would accept Steve, JT and my decision to be with him.
In life we all long for approval. Some times it’s the approval of people whose opinions don’t even matter, because the only opinion that truly matters is Jesus.’
I longed for the approval of both of my parents in this situation, but mainly my father’s.
Both of my parents responded with love. They filled both Steve and I with love, encouragement and gave us peace. By keeping my secret and allowing it to weigh down my heart, I was carrying a burden I didn’t have to. My father already accepted me.
You see, that’s exactly what your Heavenly Father wants you to know. HE WILL ALWAYS LOVE AND ACCEPT YOU. THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN SEPARATE YOU FROM HIS LOVE.
His Word says:
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 New International Version (NIV)
This means there is nothing you have done yesterday that can change the depth of God’s love for you. There is nothing you could do today that can change the depth of God’s love for you, AND there is nothing you could do tomorrow that can change the depth of God’s love you.
He loves you fully and completely. He doesn’t hold anything back because He wants you to know that his love is endless, infinite and constant.
Will you lay that heavy burden you are carrying at His feet?
There’s a reason why you don’t feel strong enough to carry it on your own, and that’s because you weren’t designed to carry it.
My challenge for you today is to sift through the garbage of the mind that Satan, the enemy, is trying to get you to buy in to.
Steven Furtick explained it well in his book “Crash the Chatterbox.”
Listen to TRUTH. Stand confident in Christ’s love for you, for in His name, YOU ARE LOVED AND ACCEPTED NOW AND FOREVER.
This stretch of not seeing JT was painful. Anngie wasn’t cooperating in any way. Steve would reach out to her through text, phone calls and e-mail to try to get some sort of contact with is son and she responded with, “this is my work e-mail address and you are not to contact me during work hours.”
She played games. As most parents know, there’s an unwritten rule about what time is appropriate to communicate between parents about their children. It is ALWAYS appropriate to communicate with each other about your children.
Anngie was difficult. All Steve wanted was to be with his son. Her behavior in her mind was the correct response, but what she was doing was hurtful.
No matter what she’d attempt to do, JT always knew who his daddy was. Nothing Anngie would ever do could ever take that away.
Months went by, and then we finally got to see JT.
He was finally old enough where Steve could pick him up from daycare two days a week and we could be with him for two hours before we had to bring him to his mom’s house.
I loved being with Steve and JT. It was incredible how much they were alike. They smiled the same squinty-eyed smile and had the same joyful demeanor. They even looked alike. JT had the same type of hair when he was about the same age as his dad.
It absolutely melted me to watch them interact with each other. To see those two play together and to hear JT giggle with pure joy and love because of his dad was priceless.
I was so thankful when Steve could get time with JT. He didn’t want to be that mystery father who was rarely around or who only showed up on birthdays and holidays. He desired to be there for JT all the time and for as much time as Anngie would allow.
Thankfully the court system was now regulating his parenting time so Steve was guaranteed time with JT and Anngie couldn’t do anything about it.
I prayed that God would turn this whole situation into a peaceful one, in which both sides of the equation could communicate and operate respectfully and selflessly with the best interest of JT in mind.
I know Steve was ready to have peace in his life and he was tired of wrestling with all of this, but there would still be challenges ahead.
You see, life is all about perspective. We cannot worry about people or situations we cannot control. When we’re faced with an uphill battle that is less than desirable we have to surrender it all to Jesus. Satan would love for us to wallow in self-pity and anger. He sucks the life right out of us if we don’t guard our hearts.
Praise Jesus that He already knows what’s going to happen! Even if we’re in a difficult season, we can’t stay in the valley forever. We must trust that His ways are higher than ours and we have to trust in His plan for our lives. Do I like that Anngie is being difficult, NOPE! But I refuse to allow her behavior to ruin my joy.
I’ve learned to lay my cares at Jesus’ feet. I refuse to carry around a burden too heavy for my human heart to bear. 1 Peter 5:7 tell us to “Cast all our cares on him because he cares for you.” God knows Anngie’s heart and I know He has everything in this situation figured out. I’ll continue to lift her up in prayer over this whole situation hoping that some day we can take some healthy steps forward.