A Lesson In Marriage ~ 4 Years

Four years ago on this day I married my husband.  We never really had one of those easy relationships.  We had our struggles from the get go.  We were two very different people trying to merge our lives together.  

To give you a little background, we met in college on our first day.  There was an initial attraction, but no interest in actually being in a relationship....especially on his end :)  We spent the next two years becoming friends, going back and forth with how we felt about each other...which all led to quite a bit of heartache.  Our relationship was pretty out of order.  In October of 2005, Lauren told me he had fallen in love with me.  Up until this point, we had only been friends...never in a relationship.  I of course felt the same way and it was hard to believe at first that this was really how he felt.

We started dating soon after and were pretty serious (obviously, since he told me he loved me!) from the beginning.  Although it was all fun and exciting, I still had really strong reservations.  I had a lot of deep trust issues with Lauren...some valid, and some due to my own insecurities.  Despite that, we were in love.  A real, deep, passionate, carefree kind of love.  We went on this way for about a year before things got difficult.  

We would fight often, but never seemed to want to end the relationship.  We took a couple of breaks, but we always came back to each other.  This developed some really unhealthy communication and behavior patterns on both of our parts.  I became very manipulative and angry and he became very passive and apathetic.  This is a horrible combination by the way :)

That didn't stop us from still feeling like we were the person that God had intended us to be with.  We still loved each other deeply and didn't have desires for anyone else...but it just felt difficult.  Almost at times, like we could never catch a break.  This carried on into our marriage for the first several years especially.  We had some really dark days and felt isolated at times.  We escalated our arguments to a point that I never thought I would see in my marriage.  Where was that blissful honeymoon phase?  It seemed to have passed us by.  We had started a company, which caused even more stress and disconnect between us.  The first few years of a new business are just plain hard...add that on top of a new struggling marriage and it is just a disaster.  We became very distant, lacked intimacy, and were really just focused on ourselves.  On top of this, my husband came down with a health issue that rocked our world as well.  He had little energy and was at times not himself.  

It was during this time that we began to reach out to our friends and family.  Our community group at church became like family to us and they walked through this season with us.  Without Christ and forgiveness, there would be no Collins family anymore.  I am amazed at the faithfulness that has been shown to us through Jesus and those who truly love us.

I am sharing all this, not to depress you, but to share that marriage struggles are real.  Marriage can be really really hard.  Had Lauren or I chosen to leave this marriage, and I can promise you we both wanted to...we would have missed out on so much that God has in store for our lives.  I'm here to share that even when things get hard, it doesn't mean it's a lost cause.  Through these last four years, I have been able to see some really clear issues with myself and how I treat my spouse, and Lauren has done the same.  I have realized 4 things about myself that contributed to a really bad marriage initially.

1.  I can be very self absorbed.  I didn't put Lauren first.
2.  I often have high and unrealistic expectations of my spouse.
3.  We fundamentally communicate completely differently.
4.  I desire to be in control.  This can often be exhibited in disrespect for my husband.

Once I started to see these issues, I began to see a pattern over the last several years.  Through much discussion, study, grace, and forgiveness, I can honestly say that we are experiencing healing and restoration in our marriage.  It is not overnight, but it is a gradual process that has been happening for us.  I love my husband deeply.  I would do anything for him.  I think I just lost sight of this too easily.  At our church, they promote the phrase "draw a circle around yourself" a lot.  It was annoying to me at first, but it's really so important.  

Today, I am so very thankful for 4 years with Lauren.  In our wedding we wrote our own vows, and I wanted to reflect on those promises I made.


The moment I met you, I knew there was something special about you.  You were so mysterious, cute, and hard to read.  But I soon learned how wonderful your heart is.  You truly are the most amazing man, and I am so lucky to have you.  I know that it's not always going to be easy, and I'm not always going to be lovable.  I know we are both going to make mistakes, but I will choose to love you every day.  I will choose to put you first and receive everything that you are.  I want you to know that this marriage is unconditional to me.  I want to grow old with you.  I want to have children with you.  I want to serve the Lord with you.  So, today, I am promising you everything I have.  For rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, on the really good days, and on the really bad days, I will stand by your side wherever that may be...and I will love you and support you for the rest of my life.

I love you always and forever,


House Files

One of my favorite things to do is browse through Zillow and Redfin and look at homes.  I love to see what's on the market...but really, I love to see how others style their homes.  In the past I have shared this adorable little cottage.  So, today I'm bringing you a few pictures of a house that I found recently.  They did a really good job of maximizing space in their kitchen. We have a small home, so I always love to see how other's make it work.

I love that little area in the kitchen - so functional and cute!  The guest room is also so bright and cheerful.  Hope ya'll have a wonderful Tuesday!  I'll be at the bakery today getting some orders out!

If you have a chance, please visit our Martha Stewart American Made Nomination page!  We are in the running to be a finalist, and I would love it if you would share the news!  The more shares, the more likely we are to be a finalist!


Fall Scarf Preview

I love a good scarf.  I love wearing them, knitting them, and styling them.  Today I'm bringing a few of my favorite picks that are out right now.  I am especially loving the black and white striped scarf...would be perfect for October!  Scroll through to see some of my favorites!

P.S.  Who's going to be watching The Bachelorette finale tonight?!?  I know I will!  


Pioneer Woman Iced Coffee

A few weeks ago, our company participated in Taste of Dallas.  We had a booth inside and out and were schlepping warm Cinn-A-Rolls for $1 all weekend.  It was super hot, but we had a fun time with our friends who helped us work the crowd.  I've never heard so many phrases about a Cinn-A-Roll.  They definitely stopped people in their tracks, and supplied a good amount of laughs all weekend.  Here are just a few of my favorites our friends came up with...

..."It will change your life!"
..."What is your heart telling you?"
..."4 Quarters...You can't get anything for 4 quarters anymore..."

And my personal favorite...

..."RoRo says YOLO!"

I'm sharing this story because at the event, McDonald's was handing out free coupons for a small iced coffee.  I am new to the iced coffee bandwagon and decided to use my coupon to give it a try.  To say my life was changed would be a bit dramatic...but also true :)  I had about 3 coupons and used them all within a few days.  Then I kept finding myself crawling back for more.

So, I had pinned The Pioneer Woman's recipe for iced coffee a while back and finally got the guts to make a batch last night.  I halved this recipe and it filled a pitcher about halfway.  I think it should last  about 1-2 weeks if I have a cup a day...but who's counting...

I followed her instructions and let the coffee steep in a large bowl overnight.  Instead of using cheesecloth to strain the coffee (I started out using a coffee filter, and it was taking forever), I used our French Press to filter it.  It was much faster and easier to use this method.  So, if you have a French Press lying around, I recommend using that.

 I filled the glass with Sonic ice, poured coffee to fill about 3/4 of it....then added a few Tbs. of low fat Half and Half.  I added a little Splenda as well.   The Pioneer Woman has lots of great suggestions on how to flavor it, but I wanted to keep mine around 80 calories if possible.  

It's amazing, and I love that it's made for the week!  Are any of you on the iced coffee kick?

Stay cool today friends, It's going to be a hot one!


Weekend + Wishlist

Happy Friday!  So glad it is finally the weekend.  It feels like we have been going non-stop for the last few weeks.  Today, I was able to stay home, and have a relaxing day.  Did some much needed organizing of our kitchen desk, and was able to eliminate the massive piles of mail and junk that had taken over.  I painted my nails a really pretty nude shade, did the dishes, and a little pre-Fall decorating...I know, I'm crazy, but I just set out one little thing, so that's ok, right?

This is my Fall subway art, that I bring out every year.  I will restrain myself from doing anything else until at least the end of August.

I also had some time to catch up on my favorite blogs, and look at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale items and make a little wish list!  Here are some of my favorite choices - the first isn't actually on sale, but I would love a pair of these earrings to wear this Fall and Winter!

I also really love this handbag in the Cognac color!  It's in the junior's section and the price is amazing!

We have been hitting the gym more lately, so these workout capris would be great not only for the gym, but also running errands as well!

There are so many great items on sale, you should definitely check it out!  

I've added a few other items from other stores to my wish list this week...some for now, some for fall!

Hope ya'll have a wonderful weekend - we will be taking it easy, cooking, and just relaxing this weekend.  Can't wait!


Fall Preview & Simple Roast Chicken Recipe

We had the most amazing weekend with beautiful weather!  It was in the high 60's and low 70's on Friday and felt amazing.  We had some rain earlier in the week, which brought in a cold front with it. For July in Texas, it was a pleasant surprise and sweet Fall preview! That called for some hammock time with Lauren and Tucker outside :)

We got a new coffee table recently, and it is round.  I love that its really rustic and the round shape makes it interesting and something different for this area.  I am definitely getting the Fall itch...usually happens every July...so coffee and candles are my perfect morning routine.  I bought about 5 cinnamon roll (fitting huh?!) candles a few months ago at Kroger on sale for .15 cents each.  I've been holding out to light them, and love the way they make our house smell pumpkins and cinnamon.

This weekend, I was grocery shopping and bought a whole chicken.  It is amazing how much more cost effective it is to just roast your own chicken.  For only $6, you can make a pretty delicious dinner that is really quick and easy.  I followed Ina Garten's recipe, found here.  I think the key is basting the raw chicken in melted butter, and I also sprinkled truffle salt all over it, which was pretty amazing.

I served it with rice, broccoli and RoRo's Dinn-A-Rolls.  It was amazing and a great comfort meal on a Sunday night before a busy week.

Hope ya'll had a great weekend!  I'll be trying to blog more especially now that my favorite season is approaching!