Real Men

My Grandmother is the only living Grandparent that I still have.  This past weekend she turned 82-years-old, and let me tell you, my heart rejoices in that.

My husband and I, along with most of our family, traveled to the small town that raised half of my blood-line, to celebrate.  Joppa, Alabama didn’t know what was coming when all those cars flooded the driveway of the old house.

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We had dinner and sat around telling “Mama Rue” stories.  I have never laughed so hard in my life listening to the stories that flooded that living room.  The southern accents permeated the room making the stories twice as funny.  My grandmother was a hoot as a young woman and quite different towards me and my sisters as she was towards her children.  It was as if for those few hours all the sadness or pain that 82 years may have brought, there were moments and moments and more moments that we could all reflect on and rejoice over her.

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She was a farm wife, which is a hard life, but she was good at it.  She will never know anything but farming and cooking, and she’s the happiest about that. Her greatest joy though, well, it was her man. The man that took her on as his bride and cherished her like ivory for over 50 years.

“What was your first date with Papa Doc?” we asked her.

“Well, he came over to me after a church sangin’ and asked if he could carry me home.  I told him ‘well I don’t know Doc’, and he said ‘well you reckon you can tell me who does?’  and I looked at him and laughed and said ‘well, I reckon my Daddy.’  So Doc asked my Daddy if he could carry me home. Doc drove me home from church that night.  That was our first date.  I was 15 and he was 24.”

That age difference would never fly today.

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That man, my grandfather, set the stage. He set the stage for men and their actions.  He was a tough man, he took risks, he made mistakes, and yes, he even could drive my grandmother crazy, but at the end of the day, he was the man.

He wasn’t the man because he was the main provider for the household or controlling of his wife, don’t get any ideas.  He was the man because he KNEW what he had and he fought for it.  Every. single. day. He knew that he had found a wife worth rubies, children that were a part of him, and that his responsibility was not to just provide for them, but to be present for them.  He knew what it meant to cherish his wife. He knew what it meant to teach his children.  The best part of it all? They all cherished him too.

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His sons married and are reflections of their father.  They work hard, they fight for their marriages, and they are present for their family.  They are constant in the good and the bad.  They challenge each other.  The best part of that? Their children have found men just. like. them.

My husband,  5 years ago today, walked 6 miles in the snow to ask me out.  His mama wouldn’t let him drive, so he walked.  He asked my daddy permission to take me to prom, and 5 years later, here we are.  He provides for us, he dreams for us, he never lets a day go by that he doesn’t think about us.

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My brothers-in-law, well, they are representations of real men.  They take care of my sisters.  They love them, they make them laugh, and they are present fathers to their children.  They honor my sisters with the way they live their lives.  My heart swells up with pride when I spend time with them. I can’t even tell that they aren’t blood related to me anymore.  They are men. REAL men. They set a standard of what all men should be.

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I have pondered Valentine’s Day over and over.  My husband and I spent our energy spreading love to others and not a dime on one another.

I realized something this morning.  My husband makes every day Valentine’s Day.  He celebrates me when he goes to work every morning. He celebrates me when he prays with me.  He celebrates me when I am sick and when I am healthy.  He celebrates me with patience for my sassy attitude and laughter to my bad jokes. He celebrates his bride by choosing her every single day.

A real man doesn’t just buy flowers for his wife for cheesy holidays (although it’s a very thoughtful and kind gesture) Real men sacrifice to be what the world tells them is wrong.

Real men are the ones that are still talked about when they are in heaven and their wife is 82.

#Iamlovedchallenge

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

You know what that means for me? Well today, I will go to work ONLY to make deliveries of BEAUTIFUL flower arrangements to all those who ordered from my boss. They are perfect and perfectly named. Flirt, Petite, Lush, .. the list goes on and the flowers are to die for!

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My job, well if you read my last post, is so much fun.  I love that I get to be a part of a company that is always putting together everyone’s dream weddings, events, or florals, but in the Valentine season, my job made me re-evaluate myself a bit.

 How many men and women out there are working today to put a smile on someone else’s face? And not for ONE moment is someone thinking about them in the process.  They are handing you the sweet tea at the drive thru, they are the nurses that are taking care of your sick family, or sitting in the waiting room waiting to hear good news.  They are your friends at church or the man at the bus stop.  It could be the woman in the grocery line with a screaming baby on her hip and toddler begging for bubble gum. These people, every day, deserve to have a little ounce of love extended to them, a moment where they can feel like someone cared about them to step out of their comfort zone JUST to remind them that they are loved.

I started brainstorming with my husband and we came up with an idea to put love into action this year.  We are newly-weds on a TIGHT budget and felt like spending our money on giving suited us more than a candle lit dinner for two at waffle house.

So we got to work and even got a little help from our SWEETEST friend, Brooke. She loved the idea and spent some time with me giving at a few different places.  We went wherever we felt led to go, which at times can feel awkward and uncertain.

We went to Baptist Hospital, drive-thru lines, talked to strangers on elevators and in waiting rooms.  I even went to a family photo shoot.

Honestly, there were moments where we felt uncomfortable, we got nervous before we spoke to complete strangers and offered them candy… I wasn’t thinking about the whole don’t take candy from strangers thing until after! 

BUT, let me tell you, it was the most amazing feeling seeing people that I knew and didn’t know smile and laugh and rejoice over a little box of candy.

Let me challenge you with this, the day before Valentine’s Day, PUT. LOVE. INTO. ACTION. Even if it is just with your words or simply helping someone get chips off of the top shelf at the grocery store. Do something today, not about you, but about someone else.

We are LOVED, because we are known by the One who created us.

Knowing that, share it. When you do, try to capture that moment! Post it on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and hashtag #Iamlovedchallenge

We want to challenge you to put love into action the ENTIRE month of February! It is SO fun and rewarding.

Cody and I really want to see all the true LOVE in the air 🙂

Happy Valentine’s MONTH, from the Bell’s!

Check out the video from our fun adventure! (keep in mind, we are NOT professional videographers 🙂 )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg7KK_Hqbis

Everyone Has to Start Somewhere

Nine months ago I got married.  I really did think that that was the beginning of life for myself.  I know that sounds crazy, but I am a Southern girl through and through, and unless you have lived in the south for 99.6% of your life, you wouldn’t understand.  DSC_3675

Marriage, well, it’s all we think about.  We dream about it, we go to millions of weddings every year, because, in the South, if you aren’t married by 25, all the ladies at church start meddling in your life and sending random young men your number and email address.  Laugh all you want you blessed Northerners, but it’s the truth.  My brother-in-law, who is from Kentucky mind you, marvels at the whole getting married out of high school or college thing, it literally blows him away. He’s adjusting though.  We have taught him and journeyed through it all with him.

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We got back from our honeymoon and my husband started his new job, and I was the wife who had an English Degree and was completely, one-hundred percent unemployed. Which is fun for literally 3 days, but my rate lasted 3 months.

Our cousin Kelsey was getting married and had hired a wedding planner looking for an assistant.  I received an email saying “just email him, I know it’s part time, but it could be something fun to do.  His name is Evan Cooper.”

So I did. 

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I went to Starbucks expecting a 40-year-old man to walk in.  I had no idea who this guy was and I so desperately wanted to seem cool in front of a wedding planner.  Because in the South, every girl dreams of working for a wedding planner.  Much to my surprise, in walks a 23 year old guy who looked like he walked out of a GAP commercial.

“Hi, are you Laura?” He said timidly.

He sat down and we chatted.

I learned that he did decor for the State Capitol Building, The Governor’s Mansion, and literally planned weddings for every person I have known. EVER.

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My little mind was blown. He was 23 and already has a full-fledged business? Very successful, very well known, and completely (inwardly offended) that I didn’t follow him on instagram.  I found out later that that was almost a deal breaker.  He also made sure that I understood his insane love for Diet Coke and that I was never allowed to tell him it was bad for him.

But, within the first 20 min of a meet and greet, he looked at me and said “SO, when can you start?” 

Two weeks later I had a job for a person who was super creative, very sarcastic, obsessed with diet coke and chicken fingers, and NOTHING LIKE ME.

I think the fact that we were the same age intimidated me more than if he had been my Dad’s age.  There was a confidence in him that I had never known before.  He was all over the place and every task he tackled was beautifully done.  The first job he put me to was to make gift baskets.  He basically showed me the stuff and said “Ok, go for it.” I put together the baskets, thinking I had done a good job, and presented them back to him.  He looked at me, with a sassy glare and said “good, you put them together, CONGRATS… now go make them cute.”

YIKES.

I looked at him and said  “Sorry, I really am not good at this kind of stuff.” 1239938_10153195070673032_7492806421829015360_n

Evan laughed and said “Listen Sweet Cheeks, anyone who has ever done anything great has to start somewhere.  Now, go get started.”

Evan ended up fixing everything I touched the first couple of weeks I worked for him.  I learned quickly not to get terribly offended when he did.  Honestly, he still fixes what I do, and now I appreciate it.

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But one thing I have learned and love about my boss is that he really does believe in me. He believes in my husband too.  He loves that we are young and is always wanting to help us pursue our biggest dreams.  He doesn’t let us choose fear, instead he rejoices in all pieces of our lives. On top of all the events, weddings, and floral designs that he takes on, he manages to make time to shower us with endless gifts and kindness.

 One example could be our surprise day trip to six flags, where he included my better half and paid for EVERYTHING. The day was full of so much laughter, a few panic attacks on roller coasters, and IKEA.

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I feel like instead of getting a job with a boss, I landed a job with a brother. He is sassy, sarcastic, we fight often, but we take up for each other.  He encourages me to pursue all that I am good at and lets me know when something is NOT my forte.

But more than anything…

The greatest thing Evan has taught my husband and I in the short time that I have worked for him is this: Everyone has to start somewhere. You must fearlessly be yourselves in all that you pursue. 

Thanks ‘Evan G. Coops’., you’re a dreamer and a do-er, you inspire us all.

http://vimeo.com/108088164

*Be sure to check out this video.  It may or may not have been one the cutest videos I have ever seen, and perfectly portrays Evan’s vibrant personality.*