This is the eve of my husband's 40th birthday. Tomorrow will mark the start of a new decade of his life; one that will be unlike any of those that have come before. At the start of his 30's, he wasn't married, didn't own a house, drove a jeep (and didn't own a hard top), and for sure didn't have any kids. Now as he begins this next decade, we just celebrated our five year wedding anniversary, he drives a paid off truck, we own our second home, and we have two handsome (albeit sometimes quite cantankerous) little boys.
This season of our life has thrown more change at us than I think we could have fathomed, and honestly, so much of the changes have been brought on by us. I was talking to a friend not long ago, and she pointed out that sometimes a dramatic life change is the catalyst for a wave of change that you didn't realize was completely necessary until you were right there smack dab in the middle of it. As most of you likely know, we lost my step-dad late in the fall last year. We were all very close and the season of grief has not truly subsided. In the spring of this year, Sam and I made the decision to leave our very comfortable jobs that made us very happy to head to a brand new district full of opportunity. (Sometimes God says CHANGE, and you just put one foot in front of the other not really sure what you are doing!! But gosh, doesn't it always work out just right in the end. But, alas, I am human and struggling with the fear of the unknown.)
Also in the spring, we found out that my dad has Multiple Myeloma cancer. (The dreaded C-Word.) It was a series of ups and downs as we all rode the roller coaster of tests and procedures to figure out the what's of his disease. While the doctors are very hopeful to have caught it early, this is a blood plasma cancer that is in the same family as Leukemia and Lymphoma and will require chemo amongst other protocols. All of this in the midst of a major home renovation on a piece of uninhabitable property that they purchased before discovering his prognosis.
The changes and the hits just kept a rolling, or so it seemed from our vantage point. This summer we had to buy me a new car (a minivan... laugh all you want, I have remote start and remote control doors - I'm basically a rapper, except well, I don't have butterfly doors. Maybe they should call these spaceship doors... would be a quality marketing campaign... I have digressed.) We had to replace the tires on the truck. Sam has had to get on a secondary blood pressure medication. The dog is now on thyroid medication. We left our church and have been seeking to find another (which I think we have, hooray). Oh, and the youngest broke his arm. WHEW.
And yet, somehow despite all that chaos and change and life stuff, I think in a lot of ways this has been one of the fullest and best summers that we have ever had. We have played in the pool more than we ever have before. We have gotten more done, been more productive, I've taken summer classes, Sam and I got to take a mini-trip, we've had dates, and play dates, and the boys have been so much fun! Because at the end of all that FIERCE life change, we are still BLESSED beyond recognition.
If you're still with me, bless your heart, because I am just now getting to my point ... All of that was to say, I have a spouse that has weathered this storm with me. I have a husband who I have fallen in love with so many many many times, and no matter what the season, or the storm, he is there my partner to the end. In no particular order, here are 40 times that I have fallen in love with Sam Riley:
- This is so very personal, but after reading a post from a friend who bravely shared her experience online. It was something that has been on my mind. Before we got married, Sam and I found out that we were pregnant. We hadn't been together nearly long enough, and it was definitely a lot to take in. I wasn't very far along when I miscarried. It was such a devastation, and Sam cried and cried. I loved him for it then, but I love him even more for it now. Many men would have expressed relief, but he wasn't relieved at all. He never even to this day has expressed that emotion about it. The timing would have been awful, and ultimately, God does know best, but it is one of the first of many, many times I have fallen in love with Sam Riley.
- I fell in love with Sam on a level that I cannot communicate the day that Moose was born. The way he was there for me and for our first born son was just incredible. The moment he got to hold that baby was the definition of pure joy.
- I fell in love with Sam the day I watched him speak at his mother's funeral. I cannot even process how he stood up and did it with such poise and grace, but he did. He remembered her in all the ways that people loved her. It was so powerful to see the way he loved her and always will.
- On that same train, watching him speak at Alan's funeral. I think in some ways it was harder for him than speaking at his mom's because there was the chance to say something "wrong." I was so grateful that he stood up, and I know Alan would have been pleased with what he had to say. It seems that love doesn't always show up in the easy moments or the silly ones, but these are some of the times that I have fallen in love the deepest with my husband.
- I have fallen in love with Sam by watching him fight for what's right for students. Countless times I have seen him intercede on a students behalf. Watching him do this when it many times has nothing to do with him is just another reason I love him.
- Not terribly long after his mother passed, Sam took me to downtown Fort Worth. He walked me around and took me to his mom's old office. He sat me down outside the county tax office on a bench, and he proceeded to tell me that this was the place that he and his mom would sit and visit. He told me that he hoped one day I would have a place like that with our kids, and then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
- So far my list has been full of the deep and the meaningful, and while Sam and I are that many times, I think we have just as many if not goofier, silly times. I remember a night that I fell in love with Sam more... the night he burned his lip on the fondue fork. (The one the waiter tells you under no circumstances to eat from because it gets very very hot.) He makes me laugh, and it is one of the many reasons I continually fall in love with him.
- The drive to Gulf Shores was not our brightest idea... we broke it up into two chunks. However, the drive home from Gulf Shores is one of those funny reasons that I just fall in love with him all over again. We had a plan to get up at like 4 am, I think? And we both looked at each other at like 2am and were like, aw heck let's just go.
- Sam had 6 inches of skin removed from his neck when they removed his melanoma, and the very next day he was out on the field trying to coach his kids. Ridiculous? Yes, but one of the reasons that I love the man he is.
- I cannot even explain how badly we needed a getaway after the end of this school year. I found the cheapest flight Southwest had and booked it! It turned out to be to New Orleans. It is definitely one of my top 3 trips we have ever taken, and I loved experiencing every bit of it with Sam. Traveling together is always such a good way to fall deeper in love with one another.
- Okay, okay, this one might be a little taboo, but this is hands down one of the greatest reasons to fall in love with a man. (Okay, that might be a tad overzealous on the sales pitch.) Sam taught me his beer bottle trick. This is a man that before me was a social creature, and before we had kids he loved to be out at places and people's houses. But if you have ever been around social drinkers, chances are you've heard that old, "oh your hand is empty, you need a drink!" Often followed up with, "no you can't just have a water!" Many times it is accomplied by polite and supposed-to-be-funny insults. I hated the constant pressure I felt to drink, and I asked Sam fairly early on in our relationship, "how do you deal with it?" He explained to me that he would drink one maybe two beers and that was all. He would routinely go to the bathroom and the bar to get someone a drink or whatever, but instead of buying a beer for himself, he would just fill his beer bottle with water. No one pressures a man with a full beer bottle. I mean sure we are older and wiser and will just straight up say, "nope, I'm not drinking." But back then, this was a moment of pure genius. :)
- One year for Christmas, Sam went and picked out all this bedding because he knew I really wanted a nice bedroom set. He did it all as a surprise, and I was so happy, except I really didn't like what he had picked out. I cried and cried. And he laughed at me. He wasn't mad in the slightest. He sent me to the store with my mom the day after Christmas to exchange it all and make me happy.
- Oh goodness me. Want to know how someone really feels about you? Be there when they are coming out from under anethesia. It's a trip. My darling.... well he talks about my butt, lol. He's such a disaster, but it is completely endearing!
- My husband was my prom date three years running (until of course I got crazy sick this last year, and we had to miss out). But just the fact that this grown man would take his wife to prom for prom duty... be still my heart!
- I had a terrible idea when Bo was just a baby-baby for all of us to go see the Dodgers play in the Astrodome, but the grace with which we left and laughed about it (even though it turned out to be an EPIC DISASTER) is another reason that I love this man.
- My husband is an incredible teacher. I could leave it right there and that is enough for me to fall in love with him every school year, but I love him most and fall in love, even more, when he dresses up like a wild man. Watching him put on a bow tie and suspenders or a Bret Michaels wig/bandana combo is one of those ways that you know "you got a good one."
- Initially, I was going to be a teacher, and then, I wasn't going to be a teacher. I had a less than pleasant time student teaching, and in hindsight, it was my fault. I just didn't know what I was doing or why I was there. It felt empty, but it was Sam who convinced me to go back to the drawing board and take one more look at it. Turns out he was right - I think I have turned out to be a pretty decent teacher.
- I love surprises, and since kids have arrived those are harder to come by. But I remember one of the best surprises that Sam gave to me. He went to our new house before we moved in and painted Moose's nursery. It was such a sweet move! It was definitely another moment I fell so in love with Sam.
- Before we knew if Moose was a boy or a girl, I asked Sam to help me with my blog post. He was a such a goof! He put on a tutu and tiara for my "is it a girl?" post. A man willing to let down the "macho" side of himself... another time I fell for my hubs.
- I mean how could I not have fallen more in love with my husband on our honeymoon? It was like this perfect little bubble of a week in our lives. We were so carefree. I look back and love it even more in retrospect.
- The actual wedding, too. I mean the moment when he met my eyes as I walked down the aisle, when he tried to kiss me before it was time, when he almost patted my butt in front of a room full of people... All such total Sam Riley moves. I think that day transformed my love into this whole other thing. I mean that is the point of marriage, but that bond, it's so cool!
- Not so well known fact: I was actually terrified to tell Sam I was pregnant with Bo. We had a 9-month-old. Things were just really getting back to the norm, and we were starting to figure it all out. I waited for a whole day to tell him (which is crazy long for us). And then, I recorded him... I don't know why I did it, but I did. He had no idea I was serious about it. It took like a full two minutes for him to realize. "us? us? us?" He just kept asking, but overall, he was so happy. Another moment and reason to love him.
- He actually wears the crazy pajama pants my mom gets him at Christmas. That totally gets him points in my book!
- Okay, so let's be clear... HE SAID I LOVE YOU FIRST, but I might have fallen for him before I ever even realized it. Our first date was him inviting me over to have dinner that he was going to cook for me. I was still in college and had homework. He said to bring it over. I was totally unsure. My mom said if he lets you do your homework you know he's a good guy, and if not just, leave. (I'm pretty sure that just all around good advice for life.) Low and behold... He not only helped with my homework, cooked me dinner, but also he sat down on the couch and READ A BOOK! What is this sweet literate man? Yep, he reads - that is a time that I fell very and hopelessly in love with Sam. It's the first time I ever did. I just didn't know it.
- Selling our first our house was a huge deal. It wasn't ideal timing. It wasn't necessary. We weren't going to buy bigger and better, but I felt a huge calling from God to sell. It took a little bit of time, but when Sam trusted me in what I said I was feeling, I fell in love with him yet again.
- Sam's testimony is so incredibly powerful. You want to hear a story about God doing things in a way that speaks to a man? Ask him to share his with you. Watching him tell the story to people he didn't even know and surrender his heart and life to God during his baptism... POWERFUL. And I, of course, helplessly fell more and more in love with him.
- That time that he helped Santa find a tiger last minute.... So Santa was all set, until Christmas Eve this one year. Moose decides last minute Santa is bringing him a tiger. Yes, a tiger. So Sam helped Santa on Christmas Eve find a tiger (turned out to be a giant tiger, too).
- Sam has married several couples now, but the first one that I was able to hear him do was our friends Ian and Alyssa. I heard him rehearse and man was it awesome, but hearing him say it there... incredible. He has this cool history story about a guy who is coming to fight a battle say "burn the boats" (like either we win or we die.) But he makes it about marriage. He says in marriage we burn the boats; there is no exit. I love the commitment that he has made to our marriage and seriousness with which he treats other people's marriages.
- Watching Sam be a man of God makes me fall in love with him over and over. I loved watching him lead our Life Group, and even though, we are taking some time off from that level of connection, I still love watching him be that kind of man.
- I fall in love with him just about every time he humors my whims which let's be real is pretty often. Once he stopped at the Art Car Museum on one of my whims. Turned out to be pretty cool, also weird, but mostly cool. I think this is why he humors me because a lot of my hair brained ideas turn out that way: Cool and kind of weird, lol.
- Remember how I said our drive to Gulf Shores was not the most intelligent decision we could have made on our vacation last year.... Well, Bo wouldn't sleep in a hotel; he screamed and screamed. Sam drove allllllll around Vicksburg to keep Bo from screaming. I don't think he got any sleep that night, and once again, I loved him more for it.
- I wanted flamingos for my classroom. I was desperate for flamingos in my classroom. And this man took an entire day shuttling me anywhere I wanted to find those flamingos. Good man.
- Several of the times I have listed falling in love with Sam have been about his profession. I think that is because so much of his identity and the man that he is are entwined with being a teacher. He has this ridiculous mullet wig, and I can't help but admit when he wears that gross mess on the first day of school every year, I fall even more in love with him.
- His man crush on the rock. I'll just leave it at that.
- I love that Sam is willing to go places with me (even when he isn't sure if it will be his kind of thing....) One year for our anniversary, we went to Shakespeare in the Park and saw Romeo and Juliet. The moment during intermission when he looked at me and said, "I get it!" Priceless. Seriously, so much love.
- If you had told 16-year-old me that I would marry a man that had never read Harry Potter, I am pretty sure I would have called you a blasphemer. Just kidding, but for real. Sam read Harry Potter and liked it. That earned him points and helped me to fall so much more in love with him!
- I fall in love with Sam when I see the kind of incredible dad he is. Like when we had to take Bo in to get his cast on his arm. Sam is the dad that rocks the Captain America cape to make his kid happy. He gets kicked in the face routinely and plays with Paw Patrol more often than any man really should have to.
- Sam picked out my latest car (yep the minivan) when he could have gotten himself a new truck. He is selfless, and that moment made me fall in love all over again with him.
- The ways he loves us. Sam is human. You might think I am trying to romanticize all his faults in this post - I'm not. He gets mad. He says dumb things. But at the end of the day no matter what has happened or how hard and rocky the road gets, he loves us. He fights for us. He takes care of us. Each and every time I see him act with compassion towards my family, my friends, our kids, and me, I swoon. I am lucky to continually fall in love with my very best friend.
- And finally, last but certainly not least, we made it FACEBOOK official. It was a big deal. And I do mean a huge deal. It was scary to put ourselves out there at the time (of course, I look back and laugh), but he did it and was willing to do it. It was the moment I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I love you, Sam Riley.