Friday, January 28, 2011

Remember this



I'm starting to understand why the guys who fought battles back in the day would cry out "Remember the...!" Like, "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Goliad!" Because after war, you want to remember all the people who fought for you and against you.

And now, we have finished the first battle. If you saw the condition of our house, you would agree. It is quite the war-zone. We have so much taekwondo equipment strewn about in there, we could run the school out of our living room.

But it's okay. Because Jack called and told me today that the Small Business Association had approved our loan, and that was the last step we had before closing.

"YAAAAAAY!!!!" I screamed into the phone after he told me. "THANK GOD!"

"I KNOW!" he replied back excitedly.

"No, I mean really. THANK GOD."

"I KNOW!" he responded again, having known what I meant the first time.

So yes, we are thanking God. Like, hardcore. Everything has finally fallen into place for this business purchase, and even though it wasn't without setbacks (OH THE SETBACKS), it is still positively divine how the timing of this worked out (or even that it worked out at all).

We have had so many problems with getting this deal to go through that we were starting to expect that we would have to wait yet another month to close.

(See also: the government ran out of money. Yeah.)

But today, we got the approval. And we will actually finish by the end of the month after all.

We are blessed. We are blessed we are blessed we are blessed. HARDCORE BLESSED, you guys.

And so, Future Jack and Mandy, please remember this moment. Please remember the waiting, and the frustrations, and the sighing, and the "whys" of these last couple of years.

Remember months of late nights filling out paperwork and days of running around town. Remember collapsing into bed every night and naming off all the things that still need to be done until you fell asleep.

Remember the sweet way Jack handled the stress - not taking it out on you, but collapsing into your arms and sheepishly asking "is it over yet?" most every night. Remember the way he apologized for the dishes and laundry he didn't have time to do and made a very tired effort to make you feel special even though he had so many other things on his mind.

Remember laughing over all the little things that kept going wrong because there was really nothing else to do together except either laugh or cry. So you chose laughter.

Remember that feeling of nervousness, dread, and excitement all mixed up together when something fell through or came together during these last months.

Remember that panic you felt as you emptied every savings account you had during a time when you weren't even 100% sure if it would really happen.

Remember the words you reassured each other with so many times: "this is going to happen for us."

And my goodness, for the love of all that is holy, please remember the people who helped you.

The business partner that stepped up and took a risk with you when he didn't have to.

The dad who built beautiful cabinets and shelves and storage racks and counters for the school. Who didn't complain one bit that he had to drive up weekend after weekend and spend his time off working on your stuff.

The other dad who reassured you over and over that when something went wrong, he would be there to support you financially just as soon as you needed it. The one who sent you home with meat for dinner when you were too tired to go to the grocery store or handed you a little extra cash for lunch the next day just because.

And of course, the two moms who cheered you on harder than anybody else in the world.

Remember how flexible your students were to be willing to move twice within two months - and to spend the first month in a teeny, tiny dance studio that was most definitely too small for the 300 students.

And those friends who helped you move that one night (and who will probably show up for you again in March) - the ones who brought tools and trailers and trucks and got down on their hands and knees and pried up the workout floor and took apart the bleachers and loaded up the kick pads and desks and everything else you needed help with? The ones that stayed until nearly midnight making sure you had help with every last thing?



I don't even think I have to tell you to remember that.

That's something you'll never forget.

Not what we thought it would look like


December 20, 2005 - Dear Past Mandy, please, when you are Future Mandy, remember that side-swept bangs don't work for you. At all. I mean, YIKES. Love, Present Mandy.


This photo was taken back when Jack's taekwondo school was being built. It was his boss' third taekwondo school in the area and they opened it for the purpose of selling it to him one day.

December 2005. We had been together about two and a half years at that point, and I was a sophomore at A&M. Jeez. That was a long time ago.

We had it all planned out - Jack would run the school for his bosses for one or maybe two years, and then he would purchase it from them. By the time we were even engaged, he would be a school owner. He would earn his fifth degree as a school owner, and he would win world champion for the first time as a school owner.

I made a scrapbook for the school with all the pictures from the build-out because, as I told Jack, "this school is going to be ours someday, and I want to have it scrapbooked."

You think God ever laughs, like, a "BAAAHAHAHA" laugh? If He does, He was certainly laughing that laugh at our silly little plans for this school. It just didn't happen that way.

Because tonight we walked out of the school we built-out in 2005 for the last time, leaving it very much the way it looked then.



This wouldn't be our first business's building after all.

And yes, Jack did still build this amazing school, and yes, it is definitely still the same business with the same wonderful students. But it's really not what we thought it would look like. It's not "when" we thought it would look like either.

So now, we make plans once again for a building, which is bigger and better than the first. This time I envision my kids taking their first taekwondo classes or maybe even some of their first steps in here. Jack will earn his mastership and come back to be called "Master Hornbuckle" here. Late nights at the school sorting through inventory together. Good months and hard months as small business owners. Learning to live together and work together and love together over and over again.



But, well, that's just my plan. Having seen the way God's plans usually work out for us, though, I'd rather not aim quite so low.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In sickness and in health and in stress and in stupid

My co-workers asked me how the school purchase is going today. We've had some setbacks (actually, it's more like "setback after setback after setback") and are basically just trying to stay above water what with the banks and the lawyers and the contracts and the moving and the lions and the tigers and the bears OH MY! All I remember about trying to explain this to my co-workers was just saying "we're really tired" over and over.

Every day Jack runs around, calling people and moving things and generally performing ulcer-inducing amounts of activities, and then he goes to his regular job and I go to my regular job, and then we come home and we work on contracts or websites or related ulcer-inducing work until about 2 in the morning.

So yeah. We're really tired.

Which makes me think that maybe I have an excuse for being so stupid.

Like, yesterday, when I went out to my car, which was parked outside since our garage is full of freshly-painted wood which will become the cubbies in the new school.

Oh yeah. We painted all weekend.

Anyway. I get out to my car, which, did I mention was outside? And found this:




So obviously, I was going to be late for work. Because my stupid car had to heat up and defrost the window so I could, you know, not die on the way to work.

So there I sat. For five minutes. Then ten minutes. Maggie and I were still shivering and there were only small melted patches at the bottom of my windshield. Maybe I should call in to work and tell them I'm running late because there's ice on my windshield.

And then he appeared. The boy. The boy I like. You know the one. He looked through my window, head cocked to the side and eyebrow up.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I have to wait for my car to heat up and melt the ice on my windshield," I sulked.

Jack furrowed his brow.

"Awwwww," he sighed, and opened up the door to his truck. He rummaged around in his console for a moment, and emerged a moment later with a Starbucks gift card. I watched wide-eyed as he walked in front of my car, placed the magic gift card onto the windsheild, and began scraping.




It was clear within 30 seconds.

WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS TRICK?

I mean, I knew you could scrape ice with, like, an ice scraper. But I live in Texas. So I don't own one of those. So I assumed that I would have to just defrost it.

It appears, there was a more efficient method of removing the ice. You learn something new every day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Technological

I think that sometimes, God puts people in your life specifically to test your patience.

My husband is such a person.

But instead of patience, I usually go with flinging myself over the couch, face in a pillow, and moaning "Ugggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" really dramatically.

That's the same, right?

Just say "right."

Anyway.

My husband. He is good at lots of things. Taekwondo. Picking out really nice clothes. Dishes. Budgeting our money. Smelling amazing. Sales. Getting bottles of water from the garage fridge every night before we go to bed.

He's quite useful, that one.

But technology? Is not his friend. I think it's a generational thing. Sometimes my parents have trouble with technology too. It's hard for old people, I guess. So many buttons and lights. Buzzers and bells. It distracts them with its complexity and darn it if it doesn't make their hips and knees start to act up again.

So anyway, a few months ago, Jack saw a commercial for the Beatles collection on iTunes, and he looked at me excitedly and announced that he was so excited to get be getting an iPhone soon, because then he'll be able to download that collection from iTunes!

I just stared at him blankly.

"You're joking, right?" I responded.

"No!" he said, "I really like the Beatles!"

"No, I mean about iTunes," I replied, still sure that he was messing with me. "You know you can download stuff from iTunes if you don't have an iPhone, right?"

Jack's eyes widened.

"You can!?" he asked, gasping. "But... how would you listen to the songs?"

And then I had a stroke and died.

I finally got him all informed about the magical, magical world of purchasing, downloading, and either burning CDs (WHO KNEW!?) or loading music to a device, and it was then that I realized I would really have to keep an eye on my poor little technology-impaired friend.

"So, this is great! Now I can buy my CDs on iTunes and have them for my iPhone too!" he chattered excitedly.

"Wait. Buy your CDs on iTunes? Like, the CDs you already own?" I asked.

"Yeah!" he replied, still excited about the prospect of owning his music in a digital format.

And then we learned about CD ripping and digitizing. Oy. Have I mentioned that I am A BROADCASTING PROFESSIONAL? My heart. It hurts.

Anyway, we caught the music madness before anything stupid went down, and all was right with the world again, until tonight, when I realized that this taekwondo school purchase is going to make me a VERY, VERY TIRED PERSON.

"How do I change the logo in this Word document?" Jack asked me as he was trying to modify his student contract.

I showed him how to select the logo, then click on the little picture icon in the toolbar, and it would give him a browser window where he could replace the current logo with his own.

"Wait. How does it know what logo I want?" he asked.

"You just select it," I said.

"But, I mean, where do I get the new logo?" he asked.

"I emailed that to you already," I replied.

Jack was quiet for a moment while he stared at the screen.

"But... how do I get it from my email into the Word Document?" he asked.

You guys, he didn't know that he had to download the attachment to his hard drive before he could put it in the Word Document.

I think I have some long nights ahead of me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Praise him

When everyone else praises him for how much money he makes, praise him for his devotion to Jesus, and for how he treats you as a wife.

This is what our friend and pastor Kyle Easley said to me on my wedding day. I was reminded of it the other day when I was reading through my favorite quotes on Facebook.

This weekend Jack attended a national taekwondo tournament in downtown Dallas, and he returned with tales of sitting at the Master's table for the first time and being recognized by high-ranks and instructors in his region. He's being noticed on a wider scale now that he is a Master Nominee, almost-school owner, and world champion, and it's kind of an odd and amusing experience for him.

"People knew my name," he told me, laughing. "That's never really happened before."

I love that he's being recognized for his 25 years of hard work at his craft. I love that he has a reputation in our region for being kind to his students, a fabulous instructor, a fair judge, and an impressive competitor. He deserves every compliment he has been given. He is a really, really good guy.

(Please don't think he's at all arrogant about any of this attention; these are all my words.)

I mean, I know. You guys are vomiting in your office trash cans right now. Because, gross. You get it. I adore him. I'm crazy proud of him. He's fan-freaking-tastic. Move on, already, Mandy. Don't you have a gecko to catch?

But this is one of those moments Kyle was talking about during our wedding ceremony, I think. The moment when everybody notices Jack and praises him for his accomplishments (even if it's not about the money... which... HAHA! MONEY! Yeah, right.). The moment I'm supposed to praise him for how much he loves Jesus (check) and treats me as a wife (check).

But here's the great thing about that attention from everybody else: I believe that, from most people, it's based more on Jack's character than his accomplishments. The kinds of things his students tell me about him usually don't have a lot to do with the kicks or punches he teaches them. They have to do with the amount of respect they have for him. They have to do with the sweet way he focuses on their kids when they talk to him. They have to do with his, patience, humility and respect toward others.

As I am focusing on how he treats me as a wife instead of how much money he makes, they are focusing on how he treats them as students and friends instead of how great at taekwondo he is.

And I don't blame them. With him, it's pretty impossible not to notice what's most important.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In which I accidentally rant but I'm actually not upset at all with my friend Jack

This weekend rocked. I was mocking somebody last week because he didn't want to be away from his wife for a night, while I was super-excited that Jack would be gone all weekend at a tournament so I would have the whole house to myself to do as I please.

Does that make me a bad wife?

Probably. But I'm going to call it "independent."

Also, I made up for the bad wife thing by taking down our Christmas stuff and cleaning the house yesterday. Which, as I was cleaning, made me picture Jack walking back into the house after the tournament, placing his hands on his cheeks, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, and shrieking "YOU DID ALL THIS FOR ME!?" And I would respond "Yes, my love! All for you!" and he would gush over how very, very clean it all was and how this fact has relieved all the stress he has been feeling and that now he will finally be able to relax the rest of the weekend. And, I don't know, maybe he would call a few friends to tell them the tale of coming home to a clean house and update his Facebook status once or twice about it. Nothing big.

But when he got home, I was reminded that he is very much not a girl. Because at first I thought he didn't notice at all since he was so tired, because he didn't say anything about it. Then when I asked him if he noticed anything different, he nonchalantly replied "Oh yeah, I saw you took down the tree."

Oh yeah, I saw you took down the tree? Wait. Let's back up here, dear one. "Taking down the tree" (PLUS ORNAMENTS PLUS ALL THE OTHER CHRISTMAS CRAP WE HAD UP) requires me to climb up into the attic alone, risking my life, thank you very much, and crawling around amongst the insulation and the geckos and the rats AND WHO KNOWS WHAT ELSE OMG, and then carrying the boxes down one-by-one. By myself. And then? Doing the whole thing again in reverse after I've filled the boxes back up.

And then I bathed the dogs, vacuumed, shampooed the carpets, and did the dishes.

So, just a moment of shrieking or gushing would have been nice.

But, on the bright side, at least I'm sure he's straight.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why are we doing this again?

It's late, and Jack's filling out a personal financial statement for something having to do with the school purchase. And then he needs to fill something else out. And work on something else. And then something else.

"I'm so tired!" he says, "and I still need to finish blah blah blah blah and blah blah blah."

Alright, so maybe I'm not the best listener at midnight. Or, okay, ever.

"It's okay," I console Jack. "Pretty soon this will all be over and we won't have any more work."

We both burst into laughter.

"No, actually, it's going to be worse when I own the school," Jack replies. I already know.

"Well, at least we'll be making lots of money," I say.

We burst into laughter again.

"Nope, that won't happen any time soon either," Jack replies. I already know that too.

"So... why are we doing this again?" I ask.

"I have no idea," Jack replied.

Neither do I.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Enough.

I don't generally make New Year's Resolutions. Well, that's not really true. This year, I decided I needed to get a haircut and a new toilet brush. And I made those two things my resolutions. Aim low and you won't disappoint yourself, I say!

Anyway, two of my big 'ol girl crushes (big 'ol crushes, not big 'ol girls, in case you were concerned), Alece Ronzino and Ali Edwards have this great tradition of choosing one word for the year. No resolutions, no big expectations, just a word to focus on through your ups and downs.

Look! A banner!





So you know it's for real now.

The problem with this whole thing is that I knew immediately what my word was supposed to be when I saw Alece's post at the end of the year. And I didn't really like it. It's not a word I expect to "master" this year. Or even in this lifetime.

Enough.

So many times I think about what might be over what is; what I want instead of what I need. But that's not how it's supposed to work.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:7)

My grace is sufficient. It's enough.

What you get out of your job is enough.

The amount of activities you already signed up for is enough.

The 4,148 nice things your husband does for you per day are enough.

The amount in your checking account is enough.

Where you have progressed in your marriage and as a wife is enough.

The number of clothes in your closet is enough.

It's not that God won't also provide some of the things I want; it's that I don't need anything except what I have been given. That's all I need to know this year.

His grace is enough.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 in Review

I have been putting off my 2010 in review post. And now it's 2011 and here I am, writing my first blog post of the new year about the old year. Glad I didn't make "stop procrastinating" my New Year's Resolution.

I'm not going to lie, 2010 was filled with a whole lot of crap, and I was not sorry to see it go. We lost my dog and my grandmother. My car got smashed by a 40-foot pine tree. The nature of my job changed, and to be perfectly honest I don't enjoy it the same way I used to. We are in a time of great risk during the purchase of a business and our leap of faith isn't over as fast as we would like it to be.

2010 has been taxing, to say the least.

But a lot of good things happened in 2010 too. Of the "blessings" variety. Ergo, the following:


January


I started the year off quite nicely with a Caribbean cruise with my buddy Angela and some blog friends who have become some of my closest friends. I left Jack behind, but he kept busy missing me.

February


February was filled with snow days, Valentine's Day, Awana, a taekwondo tournament, and most excitingly, the purchase of my new bike, Lucy.

March


March was my birthday and our anniversary, which we celebrated in style thanks to my romantic and surprising husband. This is also the month that I actually learned how to cook from scratch thanks to The Pioneer Woman (thought it wasn't always pretty!). I made a video about my mom's Multiple Sclerosis. Oh, and I vowed to never emotionally invest in a sporting event again.

April

April was Jack's birthday, and yet another taekwondo tournament, this time in Forney. I bought my first Coach purse during another adventure with Brittany, Jack took care of me when we were sick, and I learned a little something about clipping in and out. I also finished up the Awana year, and decided to be done with that for a while. I'm using my BikeMS picture for this month because I spent the majority of this month preparing for it.

May

I spent the first weekend in May riding BikeMS, and it was so rewarding. After that, I headed to Boston to meet up with my friend Brittany and my brother and sister-in-law, which was a blast (for the most part). We spent the rest of the month just trying to keep up with Jack's wonderful dad as he fixed up our house.

June

This month was all about taekwondo - we headed to Little Rock for the annual world championships, where Jack tested for his sixth degree black belt, won world champion in weapons, and won third in weapons in his new Master's ring. I have never been so proud in my life.

July

In July Jack and I drove to Vail to meet up with my brother and sister-in-law for a vacation. We had a wonderful time with them, and took a portrait of the four of us while we were there for my mom's Christmas gift. About a week after we got back, we had to put my sweet, stupid dog Tia to sleep. And then, the final blow to July was that my Grandma Barbara also passed away at the end of the month. Aside from the Vail trip, July ended up really, really sucking.

August

August started out pretty rough since my grandma had just died, but it did mean that we all got to go and spend some time with my Grandpa Kent up at their ranch. It was beautiful there. Also in August: my Vac then Steam Shark mop came into our lives and I just finally got my hair back to normal after months of my "natural consequence" of the drugstore fiasco last Christmas. But the biggest thing that happened in August is that Jack started the process of purchasing his taekwondo school.

September

September started out with a serious nature attack in East Texas when a tree fell on my car. That meant that a good amount of our September was spent dealing with insurance companies and rental car companies, but we were very fortunate that nobody was hurt. Also in September, I threw a surprise lingerie shower for my lovely friend Angela.

October

About a third of my October was spent in Florida, first with my buddy Ellyn, where I got to know Starbucks and baby poop very well. After that, Jack met me in Orlando, where we spent the rest of the week at his national taekwondo tournament (where he won second in weapons and third in forms in the Master's ring!), Disney World, and Universal Studios. 

November

November was a beautifully low-key month for us. We spent a lot of our time at Starbucks enjoying their Gingerbread Lattes in the red cups. Jack also spent most every Sunday morning making me big, delicious breakfast this month. Thanksgiving day was spent at my parents' house and then we spent the rest of that weekend at Jack's parents' house in East Texas.

December

December was spent knee-deep in business-related paper-work. Jack signed the lease for his new taekwondo school and designed his new school's layout. We visited Jack's family in East Texas the weekend before Christmas, and then we spent Christmas day with both of our parents at our house. We rang in the new year with good friends at a low-key gathering at our house.