Premarital Counseling

My last post promised more details about the premarital counseling sessions that my husband and I were required to attend. Premarital counseling helps couples to prepare for marriage, to ensure a healthy relationship, and to identify relationship strengths and weaknesses  – all of these things may help conquer future problems during a marriage (Mayo Clinic, 2011).  I knew that many couples do attend therapy prior to marriage, but honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from our first session.  My husband and I are both quite open with our communication with one another, but neither of us knew how to feel about including a third party in the mix.

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Our therapist was great – he is employed by our church and provides counseling to members at a highly discounted rate.  Dr. L was extremely personable and thankfully engaged in humor to make each of the interactions a bit less awkward.  We covered many topics including communication, love, family, boundaries, budgets, and *gulp* SEX.

After a bit of research, I found that Dr. L utilized a solution-focused type framework in our counseling.  This type of counseling helps couples discuss and come to a general consensus about what the future of their marriage looks like, and develop strategies that will aid in establishing their vision (Murray & Murray, 2004).  Although some of the tools covered in this research weren’t used, Dr. L included other exercises like an in-session questionnaire concerning relationship strengths and weaknesses, a survey about family life and relationships taken separately, and a take-home assignment of creating a family budget.  All of these exercises were surprisingly helpful. R and I thought we knew everything about each other – turns out there was more to discover!

What did we discover?

Our families are very different!  We were definitely aware of this, but we weren’t fully aware of how this may present obstacles in the expectations within our marriage.

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Our personalities don’t have as many similarities as I thought.  I’m extreme in my people pleasing quest while he has established better boundaries than I have.

When it comes to decision-making, I’m a talker while he is a thinker.  We learned that just because I talk about things, it doesn’t mean I make snap-decisions.  Although he doesn’t talk about things, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care or doesn’t want the same things.

We learned the value of a purity vow prior to marriage.  We both agreed that it made our bond stronger.  Sex is very important part of marriage – God created it!  I’ve learned to become more comfortable in talking about sex in our relationship, but honestly the conversation we had to have about this in counseling was AWKWARD!!!!!!!!  Nothing could have prepared me for that!

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Lastly, but most importantly, R and I learned about trusting in God for everything within our marriage.  We have incorporated praying together in our relationship, which has been a truly joyful experience.  We hope to continue to work on sharing devotional time together.

We are currently enjoying the beginning of our journey, and we look forward to conquering obstacles together by placing God first.

Audrey

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Getting Married

Tis the season for weddings, including my own!

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Getting married is a HUGE deal.  Not just the event, but the commitment itself.  I’m all like, “if you go before I do I’m gonna tell the gravedigger that he better dig two”.  But seriously.

My husband is truly the man I prayed for as a little girl.  I told God, specifically, that I wanted a boy with blue eyes and dark hair who was fun and loved animals, especially cats, as much as I do.  He possesses all these qualities.

Of course, there are added bonuses:

  • Devout UK fan
  • Thoughtful
  • Kind
  • Caring
  • Generous
  • Considerate
  • Hilarious

He is also an unbelievable protector, who makes me feel safe no matter the situation.

*end gratuitous gushing*

The whole point of this post is to inform those reading this that it was hard work to get married!  The planning was a bit stressful, but I’m talking about the time we took to get to know each other better in the months proceeding our marriage.

The first thing we did was attend a message series at our church called The Vow.  This incredibly intimate sequence of both practical and biblical truth was extremely eye-opening.  Even if you are not getting married, these messages are still relevant to every individual.  Definitely a must watch!

The next step we took was marriage counseling.  Although somewhat voluntary, it was a requirement set forth by our church.  A six-session sit-down with a stranger probing into our love and sex lives may not sound appealing; however, it strangely became a bonding process for my husband and me.  I will share more about this in my next post.

For now, I leave you the song played in our recessional.  Sorry Blake Shelton – Dave Barnes did it best!

 

It’s been a long time…

It has been a long time since I’ve posted anything.  I’ve been living the high life in the nerd kingdom and honestly it is often hard to muster the strength to even look at a computer screen after hours of straining the nog to come up with thoughtful ideas that may require citation one of these days.  I don’t want to make any sort of promises; however, I plan to blog more regularly this summer.  This statement will require further review once the fall semester begins…can you believe I am halfway through a master’s program?

wait-what-dogSome of you who may be familiar with the person I was prior to Jesus’ intervention would find my newly nerd ways to be quite surprising.  I know that I continually surprise myself, which is hopefully a good thing.

I enjoy what I do, as hard as it may be sometimes.  I am guilty of not giving enough credit to my undergraduate professors.  It’s hard work to research, study, write, and teach all at the same time.  It often feels like being on a medieval rack…or maybe just one of those super complex yoga poses, which would inevitably result in a hard face plant.

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Although I am nervous about the upcoming fall semester, I will try my best to enjoy my summer.  See yuns at the lake.

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The Finish Line

I haven’t posted in a while…I’ve been in a bit of a rut.

For the past 3 months, I have been training for my first half-marathon.  My workouts consisted of 4 running days and 2 cross-training days.  My running days varied between 3 and 5 miles, with a weekly long run thrown in the mix at a max of 12 miles.  All of my runs were consistent running with an average pace of 9-11:30 minute mile depending upon whether I was tempo, easy, etc.  My cross training regimen consisted of strength training, cardio/strength circuits and Krav Maga.

During this increasingly strenuous training schedule, I became more aware that my body was not adapting well to long runs.  I began to feel sick to my stomach on any run greater than 6 miles; I could not eat for up to 2 hours post-run.  My legs were tired, my toes ached and belly churned.  I became increasingly negative about the big race.

Then, I ran a “tune-up” 10 mile race to prepare for my half.  It went well!  I paced around 10:20 per mile, which was 25 seconds faster than my goal.  I was feeling better about the big race, but I still carried around a lot of anxiety.

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A week after the 10 miler, I went for a long run.  I planned on an easy run, and going about 13 miles.  At mile 5, I noticed some discomfort in my left knee.  By mile 7, I was unable to run without a consistent achy pain.  I stopped.

The RICE method filled the following week.  I took a break from running, and focused on cross training.  By the following Thursday, I tried again.  I could pace for about 2 miles, but after that, pain.  I gave it another week.

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It was the Thursday before the race.  I taped and braced, but I was unable to run for more than 30 seconds on the indoor track without pain.  I broke down in tears at the gym.  I had to accept what felt like defeat.  I had worked so hard.  I had put every ounce of myself into a finish line that I would not cross.

March 30th came, and went.  I see the posts and pics of Run the Bluegrass finishers and I am consumed by mixed feelings.  I am so proud of all the runners!  I just wish I could have raced with them.

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Today, I am still unable to run without pain, but I’m confident that I will bounce back.  I hope to finish at the Autism Speaks 5K on the 20th.  Prayers are greatly appreciated.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

Psalm 34:18-20

The Miles Ahead

It is acceptable to say that I am a confident person.  I have been called strong-willed by multiple people, and to me, that is a HUGE compliment.  It is atypical to become a strong-willed person overnight.  Almost always, a strong-willed person has had to overcome a myriad of obstacles that served to mold them into a down and dirty, teeth-clenching, goal-setting maniac.

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If everything in life was in our favor what a world this would be!  We would never have bad mornings that created a spiraling and terrible rest of the day.  My hair would always look as though I cared enough to fix it.  Results from a new fitness regimen would be instantaneous; there would be no weight gain or debilitating muscle soreness and fatigue.  There have been days that I have been so sore that it was excruciating to walk – these were the moments I began to wonder if I was determined or just plain crazy.

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I have struggled many times during my journey to re-awaken my inner athlete.  When I began “running” in May of 2012, I couldn’t run more than a couple of minutes at a time.  Thank goodness for Couch to 5K on my iPhone (I highly recommend this for the beginner – I promise it works!).  I have to admit that I was extremely jelly of the random “runner” on my neighborhood path.  There she was, bounding along with her perfect ponytail and strong stride, leaving me in the proverbial dust.

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There were days that I prayed for the strength to walk out my front door.

I kept at it.  I told myself that any time I spent on the pavement was beneficial.  I started to appreciate simpler things like sunny days and the smell of laundry as I passed houses in my neighborhood.  As I connected with the outside world, being perfect didn’t seem that important.  I ran my first 5K in July of 2012, and had a blast!

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Running can provide life with a lot of perspective.  Joel Osteen, a popular televangelist, has an excellent way of relating running to life.  He says that while running you must focus on here and now.  The past is obviously behind you, and if you look back too often you risk stumbling and scraping your knees.  If you focus too far into the future, or upon how many miles you have left to go, it’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed and tempted to give up.

So as I look forward to my longest race ever tomorrow, I must remind myself that I am prepared for here and now.

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And hey, when you are running your first race of a particular distance, you’ve automatically achieved a PR.

Here’s to that finish line,

Audrey

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Pomp & Circumstance

So I know that this is a bit late, but it was a crazy holiday!  Some of you may not know, but I applied to be the student speaker at Eastern Kentucky University’s Fall 2012 Commencement.  I was one of three finalists, but inevitably was not chosen as the speaker.  Although I believe the speaker chosen did an excellent job, I do wish that I would have been able to tell my story to an audience of my peers.  So in that spirit, I wish to share my speech with you.  I must say that this is an abridged version – the full biography would fill much more than four minutes!

So here goes…

In the spring of 2002, I went to a professor to ask for help. I was studying as hard as I knew how, but I was still coming up short on my grade in the class. I told him that I wanted to do well, and I asked him what I could do differently in order to do better. He asked me if I partied a lot, or if I was homesick. That, to him and his perspective of me, was the only thing that made sense as to why I was failing his exams. He told me that some people just didn’t have the capability of excelling as a Pre-Veterinary Major, and perhaps I should consider other paths.

I was utterly devastated; being a veterinarian was the only thing that I had ever wanted to do. I spent my childhood taking in stray dogs and helping cats give birth to their kittens. I knew so much about animals, and truly loved them with all my heart. I asked myself the same question almost every day after that – what is it that I’m supposed to do?

As the years past, I slowly lost myself day by day. I changed my major many times, lost interest, and eventually quit school all together. I found myself on a path that I had never envisioned. I was working in a restaurant as a server, barely making ends meet and drinking almost every single day. Alcohol had taken over every aspect of my life. I planned everything around drinking, and before I knew it, I had hit rock bottom.

I want to thank my family – my mom, dad and sister for being the ones to stick with me, and hold my hand through the darkest days of my life. I feel confident to say I wouldn’t be alive today, standing here in front of you, if it weren’t for them and the grace of my Lord and Savior.

I found my salvation on a hilltop graveyard in the heart of Appalachia. I cried to my grandmother, and promised her that one day she would look down upon me and be proud.

From this promise came great struggles. I found a job in sales, and eventually worked my way into a company that gave me the benefit of paying for my college education. I came to Eastern Kentucky University in the spring of 2011, with the hope of finally becoming a college graduate.

Last spring, I was given an unusual assignment of writing my own obituary.  I honestly thought forecasting my life, and death, was a morbid and challenging task; yet, when I sat down to write, the words came so naturally. As I read and re-read the words on my computer screen I couldn’t believe it.  All the trials and tribulations of my past led to me to this very moment. The moment when I realized I could still be who I wanted to be as a child. I could still be a doctor, and help both animals and people.

Although my future seems so clear, some of you may still be overcoming obstacles, and as I stand here I must tell you that they will always be there. I stand up here as a girl who let someone else tell her that her future wasn’t possible, and it took me 10 years to get back on track.  Don’t ever stop seeking who you are; don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t smart enough or strong enough.

Today we will walk from this stage proud college graduates, but I ask that you don’t stop there.  We must serve as advocates to those uncertain in their paths. Through our successes, we show others how hard work and knowledge paves the way to greater things.  Together, we serve as exemplars of higher education.  Together, we are the future.

Thank you.

I hoped that these words would inspire an audience, but I am confident that actions speak louder than words.  I walked that stage on December 15, 2012 with tears in my eyes and a smile.  To God be the glory.

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The funny thing about doors…

The funny thing about doors is they both open and shut.

Over the past few years I’ve had some pretty amazing doors open, and by choosing to pass through these doors I have begun to discover who I am. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’m growing both older and wiser, or the fact that I have a pretty stellar support system waiting on me when I get home each night.

I thought that I would list the events in my life over the past 4 years that I never thought would happen, so here goes:

  • I finally, and I mean finally, found a nice guy
  • I bought a home
  • I QUIT SMOKING!!
  • I went back to school
  • I’ve been on the EKU President’s List 3 times
  • I became a vegan
  • I registered as a Democrat (sorry, Mom)
  • I ran a mile
  • I ran a 5K
  • I like tofu, brussel sprouts and sushi sans fish (fish are friends, not food)
  • I stopped laying in the tanning bed (I’ve developed an awesome runner’s tan)
  • I applied to the University of Kentucky Graduate School
  • I’m set to graduate in DECEMBER!

How crazy is this list? For the first time in my life I feel like I stand for something. Today, I start this blog with the hope of sharing: my hopes, dreams, struggles, failures, thoughts, recipes, pictures & anything else that is part of my life. I hope you enjoy the blogs that follow this flagship; I hope that my opinions and perceptions of this world entertain you, and give you a glimpse into my journey as a human being.

Ahimsa,

Audrey