“I Do” Again

There are few things more important in the world than being surrounded by people you love and trust, especially those who return the sentiments. David and Cara have been friends of my husband and I since we were in high school. In fact, it’s quite a hilarious story that Cara actually tried to set me up with David when we were in our early high school years. Why? Because David was a genuine nice guy, and Cara wanted that for me.

What Cara didn’t tell me then, and what I know to be true now, is that she tried to set me up with David because she didn’t believe she deserved that nice guy. She believed he was too good for her, that somehow her past made her inferior to him. But alas, years passed and David made her way into Cara’s heart not long after Jeremy made his way into mine. We lost touch over the years but came back together when Jeremy and I were hired to DJ at David and Cara’s wedding on September 4, 2004. We were there to witness their union. Time would part us again, but not for long.

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Cara and I say that “the baby years” are what brought us together again. We were both younger than many of our friends when we began our families so we understood the time of life each other was in. But some things just didn’t come easy…

Cara watched and supported Jeremy and I as we navigated the choppy waters of living with mental illness. She was the first person to whom I revealed the whole truth of Jeremy’s suicide attempts. She was the person I called when I needed to cry, to be completely honest, and sometimes to just scream. Cara is, without a doubt, the most forgiving and accepting person I have ever met in my life. She was my comfort and steadfast support person always reminding me that Jesus had a plan for good in all the mess we were living.

Cara taught me so much, never realizing most of what she taught me came from how she handled her own life. The truth is Cara was fighting her own battle. Over the years of our friendship, I watched her and David struggle. I watched the reality of a blended family take its toll on their relationship. I watched priorities become confusing. I watched hurts happen and then become reasons for bigger hurts. I watched love fade, arguments turn to battles, and shots fired turn into full-blown war. But there was something else I witnessed.

I watched as two people were realizing that the people who often hurt you the most are the people who love you the most.

There are people in this world who can’t handle seeing others happy when they are unhappy themselves. These traits do not live in David or Cara. No matter what their lives consist of, they can genuinely and completely be happy for others. This is truly a trait to be admired and is certainly what I admire most about our friends. David and Cara could have pushed Jeremy and I aside long ago because our relationships had little in common. But what I love about our friendship is that none of us ever gave up on each other even when the world told us we should. And our kids…our kids adore each other.

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It’s hard to love two people so much and watch them struggle so hard. At one point, I did almost give up. I didn’t know how to help or what my place was. I said things to my friends I had no right to. I was tired of watching the hurt and part of me stopped believing in God’s ability to heal. I had started to take sides, human sides as opposed to where I had always stayed safe and steadfast before…on Jesus’ side.

And then it happened. I watched as David and Cara hit true brokenness. I had never seen either of them so low, and it was because they were finally seeing what life without the other would look like. I’ll never forget having many conversations in the past with Cara telling her the truth of why I knew my relationship with Jeremy was so strong.

I would say, “Picture your life without him. Look into the future and imagine he’s really not there. What does life look like?” It was only when I saw what life would be like without Jeremy that I truly began to appreciate everything about us. I knew the same would be true for them.

But life has a way of not allowing us to imagine situations like this in such detail until we are actually living it. I saw David and Cara truly broken and I learned an important life lesson. Sometimes, it’s actually easier to heal broken than it is to heal bent.

After being broken, David and Cara began to heal…truly heal. Cara tells me now that it took them 11 years to figure out marriage, to truly understand the sacrifice, the give-and-take, and the dedication to never let love fade. I watched them begin to have weekly date nights, something I had never seen, and to rarely allow exceptions to the date night rule. I watched them begin to understand that the marriage has to come before the children, a real and accurate rule of relationships so many young couples struggle with. I watched them begin to attend church together and truly worship Jesus knowing He is the reason that which was broken is now healing. I watched them attend marriage counseling and both be completely honest.

But you know the best part? I watched David become Cara’s best friend instead of me. I watched her run to him and not me. I watched my knowledge of their relationship become less and less. 

As Cara’s support person, I listened and did the best I knew how to try to support her. But now everything is different. Healing is happening and I get to just be the friend. Why am I writing this? For one, David and Cara told me I could. For two, the couple hopes to help other struggling marriages through their trials and triumphs. But for three, I want David and Cara to know how much respect I have for them and how proud I am of them.

So on September 4, 2016, Jeremy and I were there to witness their “I Do” again. David and Cara vowed to recommit themselves first to Jesus, second to their marriage, and third to their children. What an honor and a blessing. I could not be more proud to call them my friends. Congratulations to David and Cara. You two are an inspiration.

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David and Cara would like you to have their email address if you feel inclined to reach out to them. Perhaps you need some hope in your own marriage. Trust me, they are a great resource. Email them at carabcochran@yahoo.com

~ Bailey

http://www.jeremyandbailey.com/

Please like our page on Facebook to follow our journey and share our mission with others. https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/

An angel in human form…

God sent me a sign…and a new friend…today.

So if you know me, you know patience is not one of my virtues. I am not a patient person…period. We’re talking not even a little bit. Understand my point yet? Because I don’t have the patience to keep explaining it if you don’t.

So you can probably imagine how well I’m handling the printer setback we had. “Never Alone” was almost done printing and we were actually going to hold it in our hands…after three years of writing and then waiting for it to actually happen. And then we had another holdup. We just want the book in our hands. We want to be able to get it to as many people as we can. We know there are so many who need to understand they are never alone. But we also are beginning to understand we can help in many ways. The book is not God. Our goal is to help people understand, to support those suffering…the book is not the only way to do that. Yes God is using us to spread His good. And today He sent us another sign.

The day started out very busy. We had every intention of really sleeping in and being lazy this morning; it seemed a good day to just chill out and catch up after a long weekend of tons of faith, fun, and family. But at 8:15, a semi truck rolled up to our house (note that we live 20 feet from our landscaping and greenhouse services business…Natural Escapes in Cozad). He was loaded with 41 trees and it was time to unload. We began and 8:30 and quickly learned these trees were not only huge, they were completely water saturated…which means they were three times as heavy to move as they normally would be. With me operating the Multitrac (our loader) and my husband climbing in and out of the bucket loading and unloading trees, Jeremy and I were finally done at 10:40. I was exhausted…and Jeremy had done all the manual labor. I just drove a loader. So I can’t even imagine how tired he was! After that, I cleaned up the house (dishes, laundry, vacuuming, a bit of back yard spring cleaning) and dealt with an extremely cranky and stubborn 8-year-old who was pretty sure my grounding him for being disrespectful and mouthy was the end of his entire world. So I truly punished myself by punishing him. The weather was dreary, the attitudes were flying…it was not a good day.

So I walked outside ready to just be cranky, and I saw him. An older gentleman sat on our stump next to my minivan in front of our house. He looked around 70 years old and there was no car to be seen. He explained that he was on a mission to find something, but it became more clear he just needed a friend. I sat with him as he told me about his “lady friend” in another state and his beautiful plans to buy every empty building in Cozad and revitalize the town. From time to time in between and during his stories, I watched tears fall from his eyes. He had walked all around town and his water cup was empty. So I asked if he would like some. I went in and filled his cup he had carried with him with ice and fresh water and brought it back out to him. I still had two boys testing me as I chatted with my new friend, and I smiled when this gentleman looked at my oldest and said, “Didn’t you hear your mom? She told you to knock it off.” I love having parenting support. Hudson just looked at me with a “Can he say that to me?” look. Yes, he can, my son. He’s got more life experience than the four of us combined.

Finally, I asked this man where his tears were coming from. He replied, “Well when you talk to somebody real…” Then I couldn’t stop the tears. I understood.

After about an hour of our chatting, he decided he best walk back home, but he was exhausted and beat up, and I knew God brought him to me for a reason. He told me who he was living with and who his children were, a wonderful family here in town and I knew of them well. So I loaded him up in my van and drove him across town to his home. As we turned the corner leaving my home, he revealed something I had seen in his eyes when he first appeared in front of our home.

“I just got out of the mental hospital in Kearney.”

My response was, “My husband has been in there twice. I get it. It’s not easy to live with depression.”

“That’s what I have. Manic depression. I think about suicide every day.”

“I know. I can see it because we live it. But it’s a lot worse when you think you’re alone.”

I told the man about our book and what we lived and we talked about how God had obviously put us in one another’s lives for a reason. Tears continued to flow. I dropped him off where he lives and chatted with his son for a few minutes. What a beautiful family. To you…you know who you are…you are never alone. God is always with you. Support and love. We are always here for you as well because we know what that life is like…we know how hard it can be. But it gets better. We can be here to support you in lots of ways…one of those ways is to just be someone who will listen when you need to talk. The gentleman ended our conversation with, “When that book comes, I want one. And I want you to sign it. And I want your husband to sign it. And I want your kids to sign it.”

You got it, JJ. I didn’t just help you today. You helped me too.

You helped me understand we can help in lots of ways. There are lots of ways to help those suffering understand none of us are ever alone. Sometimes it’s just listening to your heart and allowing God to use you to support those He loves…everyone.

The Benefits of a Bestie (especially one who lives 5 minutes away)

This is me right now…full belly (frozen pizza…well, I did cook it), glass of Sangria on ice (I have a fabulous box of it in my fridge…yes, I said box…”simplicity” should have been my middle name), and most importantly, a heart filled with hope and happiness.

Today was one of those days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very blessed. But my family and I took a huge leap of faith this year. I still know it was the right decision, but I don’t have a full-time job yet after leaving my job as a special educator. I know I’ll find one; God is amazing and I know that He has big plans for us. But the security of that lifestyle was hard to leave. It was a risk, but we knew (and still know) that it was the right decision. I’ll find a job to support my family. But I am REALLY good at not believing in myself.

Today, our boys were doing everything in their power to get on each others’ nerves. So when my mom arrived this morning and noticed that my nerves were on edge, she immediately volunteered (with a bit of coaching from Hudson I would assume) to take them both for a sleepover. Knowing what may happen to her blood pressure if I sent them both, we opted for her taking one and leaving one home. It was the best decision this week; not to mention, it allowed Asher to have a play date with his little friend, Bryna (my best friend’s daughter). It doesn’t matter what is going on, I can call Cara (bestie) and she will let me steal one or more of her children. Her second and our oldest are wonderful friends. And her third and our youngest are wonderful friends as well. It works wonderfully. I’m so blessed. She trusts me completely with the care of her kids; and that is the highest level of respect and honor that anyone can give another person, in my opinion.

So we had Bryna for a play date. Asher and Bryna play so well together, it’s just precious. They played in the sand under our shaded deck. They played in the pond in the back yard. They ran around in the front and rode bikes and scooters. Finally, they got tired and headed in to completely cover my living room with every tiny piece of every game we own while watching “Teen Beach Movie” on Disney. They melt my heart.

But while they were playing, I was preoccupied. I was sad. I was looking for jobs…and I haven’t found one yet.

When I left my job, and still to this day, everyone tells me, “With your qualifications and personality, you’ll get hired immediately!” Will I? Why is it not happening in my time frame? I have to find a job working from home so that I can support my family and pursue our dreams of helping others on a larger scale. I’m qualified. I’m enthusiastic. I’m an extremely dedicated and hard worker. I’m also unemployed. It’s hard to believe in myself right now.

So I was on a pity party. And guess what? Just like every other time I question myself, God reminded me of how I believed in God’s plan for our lives, in myself, and in what our family needs from me so much that I marched into my administrators’ offices at the beginning of the ’13-’14 school year and gave my notice. I could no longer handle what public education has become and I know that I am meant to help remedy the situation on a larger scale. I know God has big plans; it’s just beginning.

But I didn’t know all of this (or didn’t remember it today) until God smacked me up-side the head…again. No, He didn’t hit me with a brick, tree, or His literal hand (though I likely deserved it). He hit me with a visit from my bestie.

Cara runs an in-home daycare, getting away is not easy. So you can imagine my surprise when she walked in my front door at 4:30 in the afternoon and announced, “I have to set this down and then I’m coming to give you a huge hug. We’re celebrating.” I followed her, intrigued. “What are we celebrating?” I inquired. She embraced me in a hug so tight that I almost fell over. “I am just so proud of you!” she said out loud as she squeezed the air out of me. “I just read your post about why you left your job. God has such big plans for you. I am just so proud of you.”

And I lost it…

God sent Cara to me today. She had randomly been called to read my post two ahead of this one. It’s called, “This Is Why…” I had explained to her in the past why I left education, but I’m not as good at explaining myself when I don’t have time to really think about my words. This is why I love writing (see…just fixed that sentence and you didn’t even know it). Not to mention, Cara’s and my conversations (with six kids between the two of us) usually go something like this…

Cara… “Did you read that post about…Bryna! Give that back to him! You say sorry to your brother. Rogan! No! We do not hit!”

Bailey… “Oh you mean the post when you…Asher Lane! Quit kicking Hudson! Hudson, that does not mean you kick back!”

Cara… “Yeah the one where I mentioned…Did you seriously just say that to her?”

Bailey… “I think I know the one you are talking…Are you kidding me, child?!?!”

You laugh because you understand. We both know what we are talking about. We speak the same language. But it doesn’t always work the way it can when you write it. Texting helps! We should start texting when we are sitting next to each other…maybe then we will get a full sentence out.

So today Cara finally, truly understood. We hadn’t even spoken. But I truly believe that God put Cara and I on this earth together to support each other. Today, He called her to help Him reinforce His plan for my life. I cried so hard, hugged her tighter than I ever have, and explained to her how amazing it was that she read that post today and felt compelled to come to me. She explained that it was obviously God at work; she’s a planner, and she so strongly felt the need to come to my side and tell me how proud she is of me that she left a tray full of hash browns on her counter ready to go in the oven for supper. Instead, they came to our house and we celebrated our family’s new life with wine and frozen pizza while our kids belly-laughed and got covered in sand.

Cara has amazing faith and is the best prayer I have ever met. She has a heart of gold, is an unbelievably dedicated wife and mother, and does it all with such poise and positivity that the rest of us just watch in awe. Cara lost her mom when she was a teen; she could be bitter about it. But instead, she uses that pain that she had to fuel her desire to be there for her own kids in every way possible. She’s another rock in my life. I have God. I have Jeremy. I have my kids. I have my mother. But having my bestie is another type of love that I pray everyone has. Thank you, Cara. You are my sister from another mother. I love you.