31 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 16

Today's dare was to pray for our spouse, in three specific areas we wish God to work in their life and in our marriage.

I believe in the power of prayer, and I pray for Michael daily anyways, so this wasn't hard to accomplish.  The three things I chose to pray about were:
1. That Michael's heart is opened to the love and truth of Jesus Christ and that he would come to know Him the same way that I do.
2. That we could have a spiritual marriage, one that allows God to be the center of it.
3. That Michael could open up about his deeper feelings easier to me.

30 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 15

Todays dare is to choose a way to show honor and respect to my spouse that is above normal routine.

I will come back to this dare when Michael is home. I plan on spending a few hours pampering him.

The Love Dare Day 14

Today's dare was to purposefully neglect an activity I would normally do so I can spend quality time with my spouse.  I chose to ignore everything else on the computer while I was on skype with my husband.  It was nice to not be distracted while I was talking to him, well at least no more distracted then having 4 kids vying for my attention too.

28 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 13

Today was to make rules of engagement for fighting.

My personal rules are:

To use a soft tone, and keep my voice calm.
To not interrupt and really try and listen to the other side
To keep the fight on subject and to not bring other issues, past or present into the current issue.

I think these rules will help a lot.

The Love Dare Day 12

Today was to give in to an area where my spouse and I had a disagreement.

I chose to give in on an area of our vacation during block leave.  I don't want to travel as much, but I know it means a lot to Michael since he's been gone for the past year I'm willing to give in now. I enjoy making my husband happy.

27 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 11

Today was about cherishing our spouse.  We were supposed to do something that shows them how cherished they are.  I cherish my husband, and the only thing I could do today was listen to him when he talks.  It's something I do anyways, but I tried to make an extra effort to let Michael know how much I love him and desire to hear what he has to talk about.

25 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 10

Today's chapter talked about 3 kinds of love, friendship, sexual and unconditional.  It's about making the choice to be in love, even if your spouse doesn't show you the same love back.  It's the kind of love God shows us.  I feel that I'm already there, with Michael, and he with me.  We've both seen the worst of each other and we've worked through it.  Our dare today was to do something for our spouse to show our unconditional love.  The suggestions the chapter gave I do anyways, so I went ahead and used cleaning up as one.  I also maintain our house while my husband is gone, and taking care of our bills.  I raise and teach our children, and part of that is out of love for our entire family.  I wake up every morning with a desire to serve my family in the best ways I know how, and make it the best it can be.  I chose to be with my husband, and love him on a daily basis.  Of course Michael makes it pretty easy the majority of the time, but even when I'm upset at him I still love him.

24 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 9

Todays dare was to think of ways to greet your spouse to reflect your love for them.  I normally try and greet Michael with a smile and happiness (which is easy because I'm genuinely happy to hear from him) so this dare is a pretty easy one, and one I do normally anyways.

I will continue to show my happiness at seeing and hearing from my husband, so that he can be welcomed home with love. :)

23 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 8

Today I was supposed to burn my list of bad qualities.  I didn't burn it but I did tear it into small pieces and threw it away. The questions ask if it was hard to get rid of that list, and my answer is no, it was not.  I know Michaels flaws and I love him in spite of them.

It also asks how we can celebrate positive experiences in our spouses life, and how we can encourage them in future successes.  I try and motivate Michael and I help him where I can.  I try and let him know often how proud of him I am, and how I have faith in him.

22 March 2011

I've known

I can tell you the exact moment I decided I was going to marry Michael Strickland.  It was January 10, 1999.  I can even remember what was going through my head at the time.  I was looking at him, and I just thought, how wonderful the man in front of me was.  We'd already had a rough time, and it got even worse after, but I knew in that moment that I was in love with him for the rest of my life and nothing was going to change it.

When we hit our worst patch, when I felt like nothing we did would ever make us work I did try and move on.  I tried to love someone else but I was never able to give him my full heart.  I loved him, but not completely, because no matter what Michael was still there, enforcing his ownership over at least a tiny bit of my heart.  Michael, no matter what's going on between us, no matter how destructive we had been to each other was always my best friend.  He could be mad at me, and if I needed a friend he was there, he would listen to me rant and rave and cry and scream and talk for hours, or he'd hold me while I cried in his arms, even if it was all about him.  He didn't seem to judge me, he didn't insult me, or leave me on my own, he was there through my huge emotional messes, some of my own making, some just circumstantial and some he'd create for us too.

There are many things I'm not proud of in our relationship, some of the selfishness I showed, but he doesn't hold it against me.  He loves me anyways. There have been times I've doubted it, and I've thought he moved on even when I didn't seem to be able to.  I know I blamed him in those moments, cursed him because he seemed capable of forgetting what we had meant to each other when I was unable, but I know now that he couldn't either.

I trust in his love for me, in our family.  I am thankful that we could find our way through the storm that was our teenage years, and I'm most thankful that even though Michael has completely seen me at my worst and most horrible that he still loves me and wants to be with me.  I am thankful that he decided to pledge his life to me above anyone else.

I'm glad I chose him too.

The Love Dare Day 7

Today's dare was to make a list of our spouse's good and bad attributes, then to pick something from the first list and thank our spouse for having that characteristic.

The questions ask:

Which list was easier to make? The first list, the good attributes was easier to make for me.  I can think of many good things about Michael.
What did this reveal about your thoughts? I think this shows that I realize that Michael has some flaws, he is on whole a good and wonderful person.
What attribute did you thank your spouse for having? I was able to do this when we skyped earlier, and I thanked him for being caring, both as a husband and a father.

21 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 6

Todays dare is talking about the stresses that can cause irritability and how to release ourselves from the things that can make us irritable so that we can respond with love to tough situations rather than reacting in a negative manner.

Some of the questions ask "When have you recently overreacted?" and "What was your real motivation behind it?" and "Where do you need to add margin to your life?"

Honestly, I don't know how to answer the first two questions.  The last time Michael and I had a fight it was about how to spend our time when he gets home.  Because of my back I have a hard time on long trips, and I'd rather not take long trips, but Michael wants to drive long distances, and I'm also concerned about accommodations and the money issues that come along with that. My motivation behind it is comfort mostly.  I have considered Michael's views on the matter, and I wish I could be comfortable doing what Michael wants, but I'm not entirely.  We'll obviously talk about it more once Michael gets home, and more than likely I will give into what Michael wants because I like making him happy.

Where I could add margin in my life, that's a tough one.  I could honestly use help with housework, as being fully responsible for all the housework (with minimal help from the children) and being fully responsible for their schooling leaves me little time for myself, and so either I, or the housework end up lacking.  This is something that stresses me greatly.

20 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 5

Today's dare is about being rude.  The chapter talks about being considerate to your spouse.  The dare asks us to ask our spouse 3 things that we do that irritate them and to not attack or justify any of the behaviors.

I asked Tara's opinion since I cannot ask Michael and because he tends not to tell me anyways, so the three I've decided are:

  • Nagging, about anything
  • Being bossy, usually about money, and generally just getting on to him about how much money he spends
  • Constantly worrying and not having faith that things will work out, and just being negative in general

It then asks how we plan to improve on these.  My goal, to fix the above is to try and be more patient, to trust in my husband more, and to start going over the budget weekly to allow Michael to see just where all our money is going.

19 March 2011

The Love Dare Day 4

Today's dare is to contact our significant other during the day just to ask how they are doing and if there is anything we can do for them.

Again, with Michael still deployed I can't really do this as my husband is not available. So I sent another email to ask him how he is doing and asking if there's anything I can get for him before he gets home.  I don't think he'll end up checking his email before he comes home but we'll see.

I do things like this usually throughout the day when he's home, usually through text, and I like to think it helps him realize that I think about him through the day and lets him know how much I want to help his day be great.

18 March 2011

I'm getting anxious

Michael, I think from his lack of communication, has moved into the reception tents again.  Homecoming is coming up, slowly and quickly all at one time.  I'm always so anxious during this time.  I'm not scared, I know some wives start feeling scared, how they'll deal, wondering if the reintegration will be awkward and I never have those fears.  I get him back and we're just Michael and Crystal, the same people we've always been.  We have no troubles getting back into the groove of things, and I think that has to do a lot with Michael's personality.    I'm looking forward to it though, I've missed having my husband, of having a father for my children.  I don't make a good father, figure.

Our anniversary is also in 12 days.  That's exciting to me too.  Another year of marital bliss.  So far, knock on wood, we haven't had any hard years.  Now, granted, that probably has to do with the fact that he's spent a little over 3 of those 6 years away from me, but I'm happy about it either way.  I think that the separations though help us appreciate each other more.  When you're not with your spouse you tend to consciously concentrate on the positive rather than the negative.

I'll be leaving Florida in 5 days, and when I get home I'm going to concentrate on school with James and Jade and trying to get our house somewhat decent for Michael coming home.  I haven't been able to do much lately because of Willow dropping down from 2 to 1 naps but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Yay I'm getting so excited!

The Love Dare Day 3

Today's dare is about selfishness and we're supposed to buy our spouse something and give it to them.  Again, a hard thing to do, as Michael will be home soon I can't mail him anything.  I have however been keeping the sears gift cards available for him.  I've planned to take him to sears when he gets home, hand him over the money and  tell him to buy some tools or whatever he wants for himself.  It will have to wait until he's home, but I think he'll appreciate the gesture of being allowed to indulge himself.

17 March 2011


I know that deployments can be make or break but I think with Michael and I there was never really any other choice but to make.  Michael and I discussed our views of marriage long before we got married, say when I was 16, so um, 6 years before we got married.  Neither of us believe in divorce unless cheating or abuse is involved. I stand by this even today as we are coming up on our 6 year wedding anniversary.  

Deployments are hard, I don't think it's any surprise to anyone that I say that Michael and I, in the beginning of our relationship had a hard time finding a way to communicate effectively with each other.  It was one of the biggest problems in our relationship (there were others, but I really think this was one of the biggest).  It was a little easier once we got married, but when he deployed, our way of communicating changed drastically.  We talk things out more, we have to.  We bond over talking more, and I, since before Michael joined the army tried very hard to change the way I handle mis-communications and arguments.  I was used to yelling when in a disagreement but it doesn't work well with Michael, so I've trained myself to keep my voice low and calm and I've succeeded.  I still have work to do when it comes to negativity, but I'm proud at what I've accomplished.  I also try VERY hard not to bring up past arguments either, which is a VAST improvement from when we were teens.

I think our deployments actually helped our marriage become stronger, and while it's really hard, being without my husband I am glad we  were able to find some good with such a bad situation.

The Love Dare Day 2.

Day 2.

Today we were supposed to keep being positive, and then also to do something kind for our spouse.  I haven't talked to Michael today, but I did send him an email expressing how appreciative I am of him, as a husband and a father.  I try and tell him often this anyways, and he may not check his email again until he comes home, but it always makes me feel good when I let him know how grateful I am to have him in my life, because I really do feel blessed that he chose to be with me.

The Love Dare Day 1.

I've been wanting to do this for awhile now.  I've been asking Michael to do it with me, but he's not interested, so I've been putting it off.

My friend Tara however started it yesterday, and we're going to do it together.  My hope is that when I've done this for Michael, that he may feel like it might be worth it to do it with me the next time I want to strengthen our marriage.

I'm going to post my journal posts in here, given that I have the 'book' on my Nook, and not in paper.

Day 1.

Day 1 discusses patience, and asks us to try to not say anything negative to our spouses.  This was fairly easy for me since Michael is deployed and I only talked to him once.  I've tried to keep my thoughts positive throughout the day anyways, and again, given that he'll be home soon, there's not much negativity going on in my mind right now. :)

I'm going to attempt to keep this attitude up though because I know that I do tend to have a pessimistic attitude at times, and generally Michael ends up taking the brunt of my bad moods.

11 March 2011

Joining the Army

I'd known for awhile that Michael wanted to join the military.  He had wanted to join the marines, but because he has nystagmus, a birth defect that makes the signals in his eyes freak out, his eyes shake, and it can be weird if you're not used to it.  Usually people with nystagmus are blind, or have other brain defects, but other than some slight depth perception problems Michael has no other problems.  The army however has a waiver, and it's the only branch that does for nystagmus.  We went and talked to the recruiter, at the beginning of 2005, and we at first got all the paperwork together for the marines, and then switched over to army.  I insisted that Michael and I be married before he joined, if he was going to leave us, his family, behind.  Michael had no problems with that of course.

Things went quickly, at least for me, after he started really getting in the process in July.  He went to MEPS for his original medical and paperwork things, and then in August we found out his ship out date.  He'd be leaving for BCT on September 15, 2005.  It was pretty hard on me.  I was due December 1, with our daughter Jade.  Michael was set to graduate from BCT on November 23, 2005.  I went into labor with Jade on November 19, 2005, and Michael, since he was in the last week of BCT was able to come down for 2 days to meet his new daughter.  I was very grateful that he was able to do that.  Michael went straight to AIT at Fort Gordon.  He came home for exodus, and then back to Ft Gordon to finish out AIT.  He never "officially" graduated from AIT though as he left for Korea 2 days before his graduation occurred.  The kids and I did not accompany Michael to Korea, so after being gone for 5 months for BCT and AIT Michael again left, for a year, to another country.

My introduction to the army lifestyle was not ideal.  I wish I would have had some time with Michael before they kept us separated, but now, as we've been in for 5 1/2 years I think it was best.  I was thrown in, and had to either sink or swim.  I'm grateful to the army, and all the opportunities it provided for Michael.  He's great at his job, and for the most part loves it.  It challenges him, gives him the variety he needs, and it's a steady paycheck and decent healthcare for us.

At this point we're set for Michael to stay in for life, he loves serving our country and I'm 100% behind his decision.  It's a hard life, and as we're ending his 2nd deployment, 3rd separation in 5 years, I can say I'm tired of being both parents, I say kudos to single parents because this is way too hard, but I wouldn't change our life for anything.  I like knowing my husband is enjoying his job, and I'm able to stay home with the kids, which is important to us.  So I know at every reenlistment time, Michael will be signing that dotted line.

09 March 2011

You're still the one

(When I first saw you, I saw love. 
And the first time you touched me, I felt love. 
And after all this time, you're still the one I love.) 

Looks like we made it 
Look how far we've come my baby 
We mighta took the long way 
We knew we'd get there someday 

They said, "I bet they'll never make it" 
But just look at us holding on 
We're still together still going strong 

(You're still the one) 
You're still the one I run to 
The one that I belong to 
You're the one I want for life 
(You're still the one) 
You're still the one that I love 
The only one I dream of 
You're still the one I kiss good night 

Ain't nothin' better 
We beat the odds together 
I'm glad we didn't listen 
Look at what we would be missin' 


I'm so glad we made it 
Look how far we've come my baby 

I think this song signifies Michael and my relationship quite a bit.  We had some problems, and people assumed we'd never last, never stay together, but I've always had faith.  Love isn't always everything, but it IS the reason we work so hard to make our relationship work.

08 March 2011

Speaking of Marriage

I think this is about the best idea I've heard of in a long time. (click above link)

My marriage is a religious thing to me, a contract between Michael, me and God.  We went before God and our family and vowed ourselves to each other and only each other.  The government should not be involved in the religious institution of marriage.

I've thought for a long time that if two people want to combine their assets, they should be allowed, no matter what the sexes, or relationships between said people.  The government should not be allowed to tell us who we can add to our insurance (as long as we're paying for it), our wills our deeds etc.  I think that as an adult we should be able to make our own decisions, good or bad, and be responsible for the benefits or mistakes that may follow.

I can only hope that this becomes a national thing.

The Wedding.

This was taken on March 30, 2005.  Michael and I had just gotten married, out in Orlando in Michael's grandfather's backyard.  This was completely unplanned, and I was still in a little bit of shock really that Michael even agreed to what originally was a joke.

We had agreed in January that we wanted to get married, that it was pretty much inevitable at this point.  We were getting along great, we had a great family and we already acted like we were married.  We knew we wanted more children too, so we decided to get married in June, and we'd start trying for more kids a little bit before that.  Turns out we got pregnant in February, as soon as my mini pill prescription ran out.  Like right away.  It was not planned that way, I had actually been hoping to get pregnant in May or June really.  We thought it would take a couple of months to get pregnant, but I think God had other plans for our family.  So we found out we were expecting Jade at the end of March, a few days before this.  I was planning on going back on medicaid just for my pregnancy because my OB didn't take my insurance, and he was too expensive to pay out of pocket.  he only took medicaid for established patients, and I was on it with James.  We had actually just gotten James off of medicaid and put him on Michael's insurance.  Michael had a day off, so we decided to get our marriage licence then head over and get me on medicaid afterwards. While we were there we were talking to the clerk, telling her how Michael was joining the army soon, how I insisted we'd be married first, and how we had just found out we were expecting baby #2 and that we were kind of in shock since our baby was only 7 months.  The clerk informed us that the judge had no appt.'s at the moment and since I was pregnant we could get pregnant immediately.  I jokingly turned to Michael and said "Hey, wonder if your grandfather is busy, he could marry us right now".  I was joking, seriously, I never wanted to just jump up and get married, I wanted the wedding.  However, Michael got his phone out, and called up his grandfather as I was explaining to the confused clerk that his grandfather was a Bishop.  Apparently Bishop Dormen was not busy and was willing to marry us, so Michael informed me that we would be getting married that day.  Michael, I've been told wanted to get us married right away before I could change my mind.  Which is funny, because I went along with it while he was willing because I figured he would eventually change HIS mind on getting married.

Michael called his parents, who immediately took off work and met us out in Orlando at his grandfather's house.  We discussed how marriage is an important commitment, not to be taken lightly, and were we sure we wanted to marry each other and then we went outdoors to do the very simple ceremony.  I wish my parents could have been there, but there was just no way to make it happen.  I did have my inlaws there though, Bill, Teresa, and my sil Jamie, plus our son James.  I didn't have any doubts as I said my vows to Michael.  I've wanted to be his wife for as long as I can remember.

We still planned our wedding on June 19, 2005, so I could have the wedding I wanted, in my church.  We had Pastor Dave and Bishop Dormen do the ceremony and we invited family and friends to join us.  Most people weren't even aware that we were already married, but that's okay. It was beautiful, at least the pictures seem like it, honestly I don't remember a whole lot of it past how handsome Michael was and how hung over.

I was so proud of Michael too, because the previous day Michael graduated from high school.  Given all the problems Michael has had, this was a huge accomplishment and I'm still proud that even though so many things were against him, with his disabilities, he continued to strive to be the best he can be. My husband is amazing.

I know that I will love this man forever, and already I'm sure we've outlasted some of the bets that were placed on how long we'll stay together and I know we'll outlast them all.  Michael and I are committed to each other and our relationship.  We'll be married for 6 years this year, and we've been together for 13 1/2 years.  We've past through the worst of it I think, and I know we've only got good times ahead.  I know that it won't all be peaches and roses, but I do know that I've got my best friend on my side, and I can make it through anything as long as I have him and his support!

03 March 2011


When I found out I was pregnant with James I was a little scared of what Michael's reaction was. I hadn't seen him in a couple of weeks, and had to track him down to find him.  He was in one of his avoidance moods again. I told him that I thought I was in the back of his car.  I was really scared to look at him, see what his reaction was, when I showed him the pregnancy tests.  I was afraid he would blame me, or something.  It was definitely both our faults.  We both knew the risk.  I would be lying if I said I had not wanted to get pregnant with Michael's baby, but we weren't married, the circumstances weren't what I wanted. I was happy though, to be carrying a part of Michael inside my womb.

So when I finally looked up at Michael after telling and showing him the tests I was amazed.  The look of joy and excitement on Michael was just, it took my breath away.  He came over that night, held me all night, and I went to the Dr the next morning to get it confirmed.  Of course, being about 6/7 weeks I got a positive immediately at the Dr.'s.  I cried there, complete and total meltdown.

I wasn't sad, I was incredibly happy.  I went back home, and I told Michael he didn't have to do anything for me, that I wasn't asking for money, or support or anything, that I didn't want to hold him down, like he wanted.

Michael instead asked me to marry him, to which I turned down.  I would not get married just because we were pregnant, and told him instead, if he wanted to, we could try "dating" again.  He agreed to that, and that was the last time we were separated.

Michael is the most amazing father.  He loves his children and enjoys them.  He was a great help not only throughout my pregnancy but during the delivery and while James was little.  I always knew he'd be a great father.

When James was 5 months old Michael told me he wanted to get married, for no other reason than that he wanted to be with me.  I agreed to it that time.  I wanted to know that he wanted me, and not just marrying me out of a sense of responsibility.  While our relationship may never have been conventional I know that it's real, and Michael really brings out the best in me.  I can't imagine my life without him.

Michael has been in my life for 13 years now, and it's hard sometimes to remember a time that I didn't have him.