Confession: Church people freak me out a little bit.

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Photo credit: Lisa Snell Photography.

I use to think church people had their lives together.
So I stayed away from the church.

They few times I accidentally ended up in one I just smiled and kept my eyes from making real contact with anyone. I thought my clothes weren’t right and my kids weren’t lined up perfectly the way they were supposed to be.
I never spoke to anyone because I didn’t want them to find out what a mess my family was or that my marriage was a little out of whack…scratch that, a LOT out of whack.
I thought I needed to tame my hair, hide my tattoos, and buy nice church clothes in order to fit in.
I didn’t want to learn about Jesus because I thought he was for the good people, the ones that dressed right, acted right, lived clean lives, and knew all the verses in the bible. I didn’t want to be rejected by Jesus because I couldn’t get my life together.

Then I met a “church lady” and she was real with me. She sat me down one day and told me what a mess her house was, physically and emotionally. She was real and honest and showed me that you can be broken and Jesus still sees you. I love you for that, Barbara. You saved me.

So I took off my mask.
I realized I wasn’t made to fit in and that’s okay.

I often get asked why I tell my story, good and bad. I get asked if I worry about what people are going to think when they learn about where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
Nope. I sure don’t.
God already knows what I’ve done and what I’ve been through and he loves me anyways. He forgives me and adores me and that’s the beauty about following Jesus.
You can come to him frayed and stained and he opens his arms wide open.

I’ve learned how important it is to not pretend to be something that I’m not.
My kids will never be dressed in church clothes, whatever those are. On that note, I’ll always be the girl in church who makes people wonder what the hell I was thinking when I got dressed that morning.
I’ll always have a tattoo peeking out somewhere.
My house will never be clean, like never ever.
There will always be a wrinkle in my marriage.
I’ll always need forgiveness for something.
I’ll always need to forgive something.

But here’s the beauty of church.
It’s filled with messy church people.
It’s a place for the broken to gather.

If you’re showing up to church feeling like you need to fit in or put on your best face, let that lie go!.
The people on the outside looking in need to know how messy we are.
We need to set an example of brokenness.
We need to show that we are the hurting and Jesus is the healer.
We need to take our masks off for the sake of those who don’t know Jesus but are desperate for what he has to offer.

If you’re on the outside looking in let me tell you about the people inside.

The pastor is a sinner.
The youth leader sometimes wants to throat chop the teenagers.
The Sunday school teachers loves the little kids but doesn’t always like them.
The marriage counselor sometimes wonders why the hell they, themselves, ever got married in the first place.
The lady preaching to the women’s group cusses a little too much and enjoys adult beverages with dinner (sorry, that one’s me.)
Every person in the building has something they need to stop clinging to and hand over to Jesus.

To the people inside the church,
There’s a lady hiding in the back pew. She’s desperate for truth and honesty. Her marriage is a mess and she spanked her kids in the parking lot for not acting like humans. She needs you. She needs you to kneel next to her and say “We’re all jacked up in here. Sorry for pretending like we aren’t. You belong here. Our sweet Jesus loves you just the way you are. Welcome home.”

The Heart Of The Batter.

 

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He takes a deep breath and grips the ball tightly.
His face is serious; his lips are straight.
He repeats the lecture his dad gave him before taking the pitcher’s mound, the stern and demanding words still echoing in his head.
There are many waiting to bump him from the mound and take his place.
He’s stressed.
Scouts line the stands, watching to see if he’s good enough for their future team.
His coach yells from the sideline, and his palms start to sweat. He refuses to meet his coach’s eyes.
Everything he is rides on this moment.
For a split second he remembers when the game used to be fun, before he let the pressure consume him.
If he doesn’t play a perfect game, then he’ll be lost in failure.
If he fails, then all the hard work was for nothing.
He prays for the ball to speed across the plate and land safely in the catcher’s mitt.
He prays for the batter to fail.
What he has at stake overrides anything that’s important to his opponent.
The batter’s failure means his glory, and that’s the way he wants it.
He can’t focus on anything else; he’s zeroed in on the catcher’s fingers, signaling behind the batter.
He winds up, releases the ball, and hears the crack of the bat.
He panics over a line drive or a pop-up fly.
He feels his worth lies solely in whether there’s an out or a base run.
He thinks this very moment defines his entire life.

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He takes a deep breath and taps his shoes with the tip of his bat.
A smile sneaks up the corners of his mouth, out of his control.
He remembers his dad telling him to do his best and enjoy being a player.
He knows not everyone gets to stand where he stands now, and many dream of being where he is today.
He feels blessed.
Scouts line the stands, watching to see if his heart is truly in the game.
His coach yells from the sideline, and he gives him an understanding grin accompanied by a wink.
He’s excited for this moment.
If he fails he’s still thankful to play the game.
All the hard work was worth it just to stand with the bat in his hands.
He prays for the pitcher to throw the perfect ball.
He knows the pitcher has a lot riding on this game, and he wants him to succeed.
Even if one’s success means the other’s failure, he still has the courage to cheer on his opponent.
He’ll do his best, but if the pitcher wins it won’t define him.
The pitcher releases the ball, and immediately his bat connects.
He takes a second to watch the ball sail across the sky, into a perfect arc.
For just a brief moment he soaks it all in: the smell, the sounds, the cheers.
He knows that this moment will pass quickly, and he wants to remember every detail.
He feels a surge of pride for connecting with the perfect pitch, and even though he knows the ball will be caught before it hits the ground, he relishes the moment and looks forward to his next chance at bat.

We have a choice.
We can bring the attitude of the pitcher or the heart of the batter.
We can let the smallest moments steal from the big picture or unfold into amazing beauty.
We can let the moment break us, or we can build upon it.
We can let a split second dictate how we act and feel, or we can simply live in that second and move on.
We can cheer on others while fighting for ourselves.
We can be brave with grace.

No single moment defines us.
No single moment determines our worth.
We have a choice.
We can bring the attitude of the pitcher or the heart of the batter.

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My favorite Cyber Monday deal EVER!

I love a good deal and I love it even more if I can snag it from the comfort of my couch. I’m a lover of online shopping, mostly because no one wants to see me at the store in my pajamas.

My favorite Cyber Monday deal this year is….

MY BOOK!!

You can preorder The Con Man’s Daughter today for only $8.92 and it will auto ship to you in May when it is released.

This is my heart and soul.
This is my how God takes all the broken pieces and makes beautiful stained glass.
This is my redemption song.

Click here to order one or ten 😉

Thank you for all the support and love.

The Con Man’s Daughter.

 

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Your Blended Family Is Going To Fail.

Your Blended Family Is Going To Fail.

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Being a spouse can be difficult.
Being a parent can be hard.
Finding balance in family life and doing your best to get it right is rough and takes mountains of patience.

Even trickier than all of that is trying to pull it off in a blended family.

I tried to look up statistics on blended families and it became overwhelming. What it boils down to is that about 50% of American families are blended, meaning the adults in the family have children from previous relationships.

My family is blended. Well, my family is chopped, minced, and then blended. Even though we don’t use the terms step or half, the reality is that we have step parents, step kids, step siblings, half siblings and we even have my sister who we’re raising as our daughter.

We’re the poster family for blended families.

Being a blended family is tough work. You don’t just have to figure out how to make life inside your home work, you also have to figure out a way to make life between two or more homes work. Navigating co-parenting with another family is not for the faint of heart and is another post all together.

I’d like to say we get it right all the time and that love always trumps the hard times but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say grace is always given when we tread on bumpy terrain but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say that we never doubt the choices we’ve made but sometimes none of our choice make any sense at all and I wonder how the heck we got here in the first place.

Blending families takes more than most of us are equipped with and because of that the failure rate is through the roof.

The brutal reality of it all is that your blended family is going to fail and over and over again you’ll fail at trying to make it work.

You’ll fail at never having feelings of resentment.
You’ll fail at swallowing your pride.
You’ll fail at relinquishing some control and allowing another person discipline your child.
You’ll fail at showing compassion and grace.
You’ll fail at keeping jealousy under wraps.

You’re family will fail at not being territorial inside your own home.
You’re family will fail at making love completely equal between all its members.
You’re family will fail at pretending it’s easy.
You’re family will fail at wanting to make it work.

But through all the rough spots you’ll find immense beauty.

There will be the moments where the light shines through the cracks.
There will be the moments when the broken pieces will come together to make a stained glass window where others will look through and see nothing but beauty. They’ll see all the different colors, shapes and sizes and stare in awe at how it all came together so perfectly.

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There will be the times when you watch your spouse love on and parent your child as their own and it will bring up a love so deep you can’t even imagine how it contains itself inside your heart.

There will be a time when your spouse’s child kisses you and tells you that they love you and you’ll wonder how you ever lived your life without them.

There will be times when your children walk hand in hand with your spouse’s children and you’ll know that you are teaching them to love far beyond any boundaries.

Your blending family is going to fail.
They’re going to fail over and over but they’re also going to prove that love and grace can outshine any darkness.
They’re going to show others how broken things can be mended, maybe not back to the way they were but to a way that lets the light shine through the cracks and heal the hurts.

Number One Rule In Co-Parenting: Get Over Yourself.

 

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To all parents and stepparents who are co-parenting impressionable and innocent children:

If you’re having issues with each other and struggling to make this co-parenting thing healthy, please keep it off social media. It stays here forever and your child will see it one day. If you’re being outright ugly then please understand that you’re not winning the battle, you’re poisoning your child. If you’re being passive aggressive, trying to take digs at the other parent while trying to look like the bigger person, it’s not working. That’s the most transparent way of toxic co-parenting. Your child is the one who will suffer and it keeps the cycle going instead of putting a stop to it. Allowing bitterness to rule your actions towards the other parent is fueling the fire, not helping to put it out.

Your job is to find a way to be kind and loving to the other parent, regardless of the other parent’s behavior. Don’t let someone else’s actions lower you to a level that hurts your child.
Bad mouthing the other parent, rolling your eyes at the mention of their name and trying to one up the other parent are easy ways to push your child in the opposite direction of where you want them to go. Never let your feelings towards the other parent outweigh your love for your child.

Before opening your mouth to speak to the other parent, ask yourself if your words will hurt or help your child in the long run.
Before you post something snarky or repost a passive aggressive article directed toward them, ask yourself if it’s working towards healthy co-parenting that benefits your child. Social media is a dangerous place to try to win your co-parenting battle and can go terribly wrong with just one click.

If you’re the custodial parent, noncustodial parent or stepparent, you are equally responsibly in the co-parenting equation and every single action you take can either hurt your child or give your child the best situation possible. It’s up to you. The child didn’t ask to be in the center of any of it and your responsibility as the adult is to not let it have a negative effect on the child.

Rise above it.
Be nice.
Let it go.
Forgive.
Do what is truly in the best interest of the child and get over yourself.

And please, please keep it off social media!

I’ve never fully understood redemtption until my father took his own life.

 

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If you’ve never seen redemption, this is what it looks like.

I’ve never fully understood redemption until my father took his own life. What I thought he stole from us that day turned out to be a gift.
Because he made the choice to leave us behind on that rainy Monday, this precious little girl now lives in my home.

My husband and I have been given the gift of parenting my teenage sister. We’ve been blessed with loving her through her pain and watching as the corners of her mouth gradually sneak up to her cheeks to form a smile.

Her story was set to be told by a very different narrator.
The road she traveled on was rough terrain.

But redemption came that day.

God’s redeeming my story by allowing me to parent her in the absence of our father.
God’s redeeming her story by allowing her to get a daily glimpse of our father through my eyes.

If you’ve never seen redemption, this is what it looks like.

How a simple drink order completely wrecked my world.

We decided on a breakfast date before our appointment and headed to the best pancake house in our city (shout out to Magnolia pancake Haus!). While we patiently waited for our table, we told each other the most immature jokes we knew and giggled like we were both 16. Toilet humor is our favorite and we each told our best potty jokes. I may or may not have spoken in a British accent half of the time.

Her phone buzzed, letting us know that our table was ready, and we both shot off the waiting bench and almost knocked each other down trying to get to the table the quickest. I won because I outweigh her by a million pounds and she’s easy to push out of my way.

By the time we settled in our seats the conversation had somehow made a dramatic flip and we found ourselves sitting with serious faces. We talked about depression, addiction and how suicide totally sucks for those left behind. We couldn’t decide if we were sad or mad that our dad hadn’t taken us into consideration before taking his own life but we could both agree that it’s wrecked our worlds. Her world was wrecked at the sweet young age of 12, mine at 36.

The waitress approach in the middle of the thick and asked for our drink order.

Black coffee for me.

My sister asked for coffee and a chocolate milk.

That’s when my heart was torn in two, much like her drink order.

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The kid in her craved an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk, the kind we all cherished as kids.  I remember dumping heaping spoon full of Nestles Quick into my milk and stirring as fast I could, trying to get it all down before the remaining undissolved powder settled to the bottom.

My sister is a child. She was born when I was 23 yet my silliness and immaturity brings us to the same age. We overrule the fact that I’m old enough to be her mother and treat each other like sisters. She giggles like a kid, does crafts with her nieces and stays up late at night sharing secrets with my oldest daughter.

My sister is just a little girl. She likes her chocolate milk as cold as ice.

The adult in her likes her coffee hot with a side of cream. She needs the morning boost. It’s sometimes hard for her to face her day and she needs a cup of grace to get her through. She’s not like other kids her age. She’s seen more storms and treaded through taller weeds. She’s delicate when she pours her cream. It’s like sweet therapy.  I like my coffee black. I prefer nothing come between me and the fresh brewed goodness.

My sister is an adult child. She was born when I was 23 yet her boldness and maturity brings us to the same age. We have to sometimes remind ourselves that I’m old enough to be her mother and help her make choices only an adult is capable of. She spends hours in her room alone, painting with methodical strokes. She meets once a day with adults who have faced life in a similar way that she has.

My sister is walking a fine line on a fast track to adulthood. She likes her coffee hot with a swirl of sweetness.

My heart is torn in two for her. I want her to be a child. I want her to have a milk mustache that I have to tell her to wipe off. I want to correct her homework, fold her clothes, cook her dinner and watch her play in the yard. I want her to just be a kid but she can’t, the world has messed that up for her. The world has stolen from her, beat her up and knocked her down. But she’s got a little fight in her. She’s got resistance and spunk. She’s a little bit of a princess and a whole lot of a warrior.

My sister like her chocolate milk cold and her coffee hot and that shatters my heart into a million pieces.

I’ll always fight to keep the little in our kids. We’ve become a society that expects them to grow up so quickly, turning our little girls into teenagers long before their time. Turning our teenagers into adults extremely prematurely. Giving miles where we should only give inches. Letting go when we should covet just a little longer.

There’s no rush.

Let’s let them be kids, play with dolls, have bare faces and natural hair, unadorned with jewels and covered in age appropriate clothes. Let’s let them stay small and allow them the joys of just being a kid.

Let’s pray that their drink order stays an ice-cold chocolate milk for as long as we can.

Let’s keep the little in our kids.

The day I testified against my father in court and how I was taught to stand in the gap.

“Mrs.Curry, isn’t it true that…”

I almost couldn’t believe that I was where I was. Sitting in the witness stand ,while my whole body shook violently, I calmly and honestly answered the question that my very own father presented to me in the middle of his custody hearing for my minor siblings. He represented himself in his custody case. Bad move.

The result of me being on the stand left my father with very little time with my siblings and every second of it supervised. I’m not happy about that but it had to be done. It was my responsiblity to protect them and they needed to be protected from our fathers mental and emotional abuse. It was one of the worst and best things I’ve ever done. After so many years of torture from my father, I was happy to take the chance away from him to do it to my siblings but he was still my dad and watching him struggle broke my heart.

The hardest part was the gap it left for the kids.

Growing up, I had the same gap.

My father was an abuser on many levels. Even though he never laid a hand on us, the mind games were just as painful. Those mind games and his in and out presence in my life left a gap. A gap where a father was supposed to be. A huge gap that presented pain and heartache that I would have otherwise never known.

But my life has been full of strong people and unbelievable blessings. I’ve always had people who have stepped in and stood in the gap.

My mom worked tirelessly to provide financially. She showed up at every school event. She made sure I was always smiling and did her best to keep me on the right track.She made sure I was a responsible person, had a good work ethic and was kind and compassionate.

She stood in the gap.

My brother made sure to do the things a father should have done.. He changed the oil in my truck, rebuilt the engine, changed the brake pads and more. He threw the hammer down on me when I was out of line and reminded me to stand up for myself in all circumstances. He comforted me through my pain on more than one occasion and stood up for me daily. He taught me how to be tough, helpful and funny

He stood in the gap.

I’ve been blessed with people who stand in the gap for me. People who stand in the gap of my father’s absence. People who show up and do whatever it takes to make sure I’m not only okay but that I thrive in life. People who pray for me when I’m too hurt to whisper my own prayers.

Now it’s my turn to stand in the gap where my father should be.

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My husband and I will stand in the gap for my 16-year-old sister and welcome her into our home as one of our own. We’ve made a promise to God that we will do our best to be an example of compassion and grace. We will do our best to provide tough love and discipline. We will insist that she just be kid and only have the responsibilities a child should have and nothing more.

We will have the discipline to stand in the gap.

We will provide dinner every night at 6 and breakfast every morning at 6:30.
We will provide a quiet place to do her homework and a safe place to sleep.
We will provide a guaranteed ride to school and promise to be waiting outside when the last bell rings.
We will provide smiles and hugs on a daily basis and firm words when needed.

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We will have the courage to stand in the gap.

We are family. This is what we are called to do. If only for the blink of an eye, a moment in time, we will be a solid rock for her to lean on.

We will have the strength to stand in the gap.

When she crumbles in sadness over our dad’s suicide, we will pull everything from us to remind her of the love he had for her and the love she has now through our family. When she cries for what has been stolen from her childhood, we will find a way to ease the pain. When she stumbles on the stones thrown in front of her, we will reach out our hands to catch her fall.

We will have the dedication to stand in the gap.

I had brave people in my life that, in all circumstance, stood bravely in the gap for me. Today I pray that we have what they had and can be brave enough to stand in the gap for my little sister.

We will stand in the gap.

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Shattered glass and baby proofing.

Today I’m over at Reveal Ministry talking about baby proofing and shattered glass.

“It could be so many different things that leave us shattered, believing we can never be whole again. Our cracks never look like anyone else’s and we feel alone. There’s a silence in thinking no one could possibly understand the pain you have from your own shattered glass. Their feet aren’t bleeding from walking on the sharp-edged shards.”

Check it out here

 

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This will save your marriage. Best advice ever.

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I rummaged through my mom’s closet full of pictures and scored my parent’s wedding album. It’s a glimps at the past and an explanation as to why I’m a little left of center.

Apparently in 1971 you left out note cards and bridal shower guests wrote their words of wisdom that were sure to guide you to a life long marriage full of bliss. Obviously this was all pre pinterest or she wouldn’t have been caught dead with plain, standard issued note cards. Pinterest brides everywhere are crumbling into a pile of glitter and tears.

The first order of business was to get your day planner filled with important dates and by day planner I mean a piece of construction paper that you’ve patiently drawn super straight lines on with a ruler and a marker.  Tape your homemade, nonpinterest inspired calendar to the wall with tan tape and you’re on the road to calling yourself a legit wedding planner.

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Wedding 7:30 *.  The asterisk is vital here, after all it is the BIG day. 

And what the fudge is yeastmeat on the 1st? Even my mom didn’t know, she was questioning all things yeastmeat.

(Wait, just called my mom. It’s apartment, not yeastmeat. Thank God.)

When planning your wedding a budget is crucial. Obviously there was no room in my parent’s budget for a real calendar, too much money set aside for yeastmeat.

Next step is to sit back and read all of that important marriage advice doled out by the experts themselves…the brides maids.

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“Try to organize the work.

Do the same things each day or each week.

Take the no-iron shirts out of the dryer and immediately hang them up.

Do not lose your identity BUT be a loving couple.”

I think we can all agree on the message here. Get it together Stepford Wife and have that house cleaned before he gets home! Cut some corners with those no-iron shirts and don’t allow any room for spontaneity. Spontaneity will kill the marriage, especially if it gets in the way of your cleaning schedule. Oh ya, and be a loving couple, there’s always that.

I love my grandma but her daily cleaning scheduled gene did not get passed down.

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“Dust under the rug. Dirty dishes in the oven. Dirty laundry in the washing machine. Ironing in the laundry basket.

Just be sure you look your  greatest all the time. “

Jerry had me there for a second. I almost got a phone book and tried to look him up to thank him. Yes, a phone book because that’s where you can find Jerry. I was on my way to hang this one up on my husband’s bathroom mirror and then, WHAT? Did he say to make sure you look your greatest at all times?

Bye Jerry.

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“Run your own life.

Discuss all your little problems before they become large ones.” 

I stopped reading after “run your own life”, agreed with Kasha and moved on to the next card.

Thanks Kasha, you’re my favorite.

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“Pour the greese out of frying pan – before you scramble eggs-“

I have a feeling Jackie speaks from experience here. On top of that it’s pretty solid advice but please don’t send me (or Jackie) hate mail because she didn’t specify not to pour it down the drain and something about compost or saving the planet or whatever. Jackie and I are rebels and we’ll pour our grease out where ever we want, as long as our husbands eggs are perfectly cooked.

For the record, I pour it down the drain. Ya, that’s right, a real rebel.

Jackie’s been married for 43 years so she clearly has some incredible insight and rules at making scrambled eggs.

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“you needs lots of books in your library. And a big pot to put his oatmeal in. “

Are those books on marriage or just random books. Does it even matter?  Can they be murder mysteries or is that bad for your marriage. I need more here, Jenny!!!! Don’t leave me hanging like this!  Are we talking self-help books. For the love of all things matrimonial, we need more information.

What size pot exactly. Jenny, help us! How much oatmeal is my spouse going to consume in one sitting. The stress of book quantity and pot sizes is too much. Is marriage really worth it in the end if you must have that many books and that big of a pot.

Jenny makes me question everything about my marriage.

Jenny’s at home right now with her smart, fat, super happy husband while mine is starving.

Oh Jenny, wise beyond your years.

So there you have it. It’s pretty simple actually. Just clean, look good all the time, cook oatmeal and eggs, run your own life and stock the shelves with books. You’re guaranteed a solid marriage.

These priceless notecards were shoved in the pocket of my parent’s album. Not a single one of them was “laminated” by matte finish mod podge or had a Champaign and cream-colored ribbon twisted around it.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t showcased in a mason jar tied with hemp rope and a rustic iron heart dangling from the rim. They weren’t written with a special glitter pen in a font that was downloaded from a free printable font site.  Not a single woman posted her notecards on instagram. They all just sat down, grab the notecard that was purchased at WINNS and scribbled their best marriage advice with a bic pen.

In a shocking twist, my parent’s marriage didn’t make it. I think it was due to greasy eggs, not enough oatmeal and the dusting getting done on Friday instead of Tuesday like the freaking scheduled said. But my parents were cool. There was a time when the rocked being a team.  Even though my grandma was on to something when she advised not to lose your identity and be a loving couple, my dad couldn’t hack it. So my mom took Kasha’s advice and ran her own dang life. Way back when, my parent’s totally ruled.

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She’s so full of sass and his mullet is one for the books.

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Let’s just all admit that we would kill for those dresses.

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Guess who’s parents LOVE Halloween.

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First of all, my parent’s graduated from high school in 1969 so lets just move on from that. Then there’s my dad randomly hugging a shot gun and my great grandma in the woods, in a dress! Rock it grandma.