Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On Change and Meeting Again

My brother comes back from Africa in 25 days.

It's hard to believe we're at this point. Eight months have passed since he left. Eight months. Already.

The day I anticipated so much back in October is nearly here. And now that it is, I can't help but feel nervous.

A lot of life has been lived by both of us in the last eight months. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt we're both infinitely different people.

I am a mom. I have a daughter. I am responsible for sustaining, supporting and shepherding a life.

He has had experiences I can only imagine. And he's now a man living between worlds and cultures - not quite fully at home in either one.

It's easy to picture a reunion between the two people we once were. Meeting as the people we are now is an adventure into the unknown.

That's what makes me nervous. It is a constant battle to fight off the idealized version of the moment he comes home (home - a funny word to use here, for will he really be home?) simply because that version is based on what I know. It's based on remaining the same.

When I try to picture the moment with who we are now, the image is fuzzy and - in some places - dark.

I'm not one to love venturing into the darkness. But I suppose I've done that countless times in the last eight months: pregnancy, labor and delivery, parenting a newborn. So I'll take this adventure firmly rooted in the knowledge that we are still, at our core, the same as we were.

We are family, bound together through blood and, even more importantly, our common foundation in Christ. And if for no other reasons, the meeting again will be so sweet.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Days of Seeing

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite writers put down some words that I haven't been able to shake.

"Sometimes I write because I have something to say. Other times I write because I want to remember how to see." 
- Emily Freeman, Writing and the Art of Being Together
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When we learned we're expecting, I thought I would be able to fill volumes. Instead I'm finding I have precious little to say in this season of pregnancy. But oh, how much there is to see. 

And the seeing has been surprisingly personal.

It's happened in fits and starts - in stolen moments spent in the fading light of the evening sun, in the bustle of nursery preparations and in the stillness of the night as I lie awake for what feels like the umpteenth hour. 

It's happened on the pages of a journal written for my daughter. 

It's happened in the deepest recesses of my newly forming Mama heart. 

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Five and a half years ago, I stood next to my best friend and promised my heart to him. Every day since has been spent putting flesh and blood to the bones of the words engraved in our wedding bands - sincerely yours. 


In just about 16 weeks, this sweet life we've been living together will change forever. With so much hope and joy, we eagerly await the day we meet our little girl.

But in the meantime, I'm drinking in these moments with my husband.

I'm chasing away thoughts of our to-do list in favor of hours curled up on the den floor watching Sunday football and warding off a cold and rainy afternoon.


I'm savoring every weeknight dinner. Every simple errand. Every routine task. These are the things that beg to be seen for the memories of these ordinary moments are the ones that reinforce why I love life with this man of mine.

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Yes, these are the days of seeing. The breathtakingly beautiful and humbling days of seeing. 



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The One That's So Bittersweet

My brother moves to Africa in two days.

It's taking a while for that to sink in, so I'm going to write it again: my little brother is moving across an ocean on Thursday and he's not coming back for almost a year.

I know people live far apart all the time, but I've never lived more than a two hour drive from my immediate family. Another continent seems like a world away, and I suppose in many ways it is.

Hubby and I spent the weekend at my parents' house to be together as a family of five before he goes. We squeezed in a long standing tradition...



...and something new - a little culture with a trip to hear the local symphony play music from Bond movies.




Of course, there were family pictures, and plenty of lazing around, watching football and generally enjoying each other's company. It was the perfect kind of weekend and the best way to spend time together before we go our separate ways for a while.

This is a day I've known was coming for months, but to put those words - go our separate ways - to paper truly hammers home the present reality.

When we meet again, we will be different people.

I'll be a mother. I need to write that again, too - I will be a woman with a son or a daughter who will shape me in ways I can't possibly anticipate. And my brother will be a man changed by what he will see, by where he will live, by how Jesus will use him to tell His story and bring His light to darkness.

And there is why this is so, so bittersweet.

I can hardly explain the overwhelming joy, peace and contentment that comes with knowing your brother is following Jesus with guts and a great big helping of faith. It's one of the greatest blessings in the world to be so, so proud of the man he's become and to look up to him in so many ways.

But change - no matter how good or how exciting or how desperately wanted - is always a little scary.
So I cling to Jesus and find my safe place in Him. I trust and trust and trust some more in His direction, in His keeping, in His unchanging and never failing faithfulness and goodness to those who love Him.

Over the next two days I'll whisper countless prayers and probably shed a few tears and hold my breath for a minute at the moment I know he's flying out over the Atlantic.

And I will rejoice. I will rejoice for what Jesus has done, is doing and will do in us. And I will wait with great anticipation until I can squeeze my brother's neck again and introduce him to the newest member of our family. He's going to be a fantastic uncle. I can't wait for him to help teach my child all about the confidence we have in Christ.

Love you, little brother - more than I can ever, ever say. See you soon.






Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Coming Soon...

After a few months of radio silence, I'm making a return to this blog for one very good reason: my mother asked me to. 

Well - only sort of. Actually, the reason is a little better than that. The reason has to do with this: 


Yep, we have a new family member arriving in late March 2014! While this news hasn't been a secret for a couple weeks now, we have family and friends spread across the world and the blog seems like a good place to keep everyone up to date. 

Don't worry - I'm not turning this into a pregnancy blog. There will be much more than just the occasional bump updates here over the next weeks and months. But for today, there is one in the form of a little Q&A. 

What's the actual due date? March 29, 2014

So how far along does that make you? A little over 15 weeks, solidly in the second trimester. 

How was the first trimester? Were you sick? After hearing horror stories of friends who couldn't stop throwing up during their first trimester, mine was a breeze. I was never sick and hardly had any nausea. My sense of smell was on overdrive, so food wasn't terribly appetizing for about five weeks. And I can't even begin to describe the exhaustion - I had a pretty firm bedtime of 8:30 for quite a while, and I napped often on weekends to keep me going during the workweek. Now that I'm in the second trimester, I've started having some annoying headaches, but so far, so good! 

Have you heard the heartbeat or seen the baby? Yes!!! We've had a couple ultrasounds already - most recently a week ago when they couldn't find the heartbeat on the doppler. Turns out all was well, the little squish was moving around too much for the doppler to work! I always knew hearing my child's heartbeat would be the sweetest sound in the world, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer, breathtaking joy of it. 

Are you going to find out the gender? Yep. This planner momma would love to have a nursery and a name ready by March 29. 

Do you have a bump yet? A very, very small one. Right now it looks like I ate too much. I'm still wearing my own clothes though they are starting to get uncomfortable. 



 So that's that, folks. We're soon going to be a family of three (four if the pup counts)! We covet your prayers in the coming year as we complete the pregnancy and become parents (yikes!), and we'll do our best to keep you posted. 



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rejoice

Breathe. Inspire. Imagine. Kingdom. They are words I've seen all over the blog world in the last month or two - words people have chosen to focus on, words that will hopefully shape 2013.

I've never been able to come up with just a word for my year - far be it from me to be so succinct - but I did find something of my own to focus on, something to shape my heart and mind this year.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24) 

2013 slipped into being as a season of in between, of waiting. And since I've never been good at the waiting, it would be far too easy to ignore the now, crane my neck and desperately hope for a glimpse of what is to come.

Seeing this verse in the infant days of January was a stark reminder tomorrow is not promised. Now is a gift - one He carefully crafted and saw fit to give. Every moment is sacred and rejoicing in each as it happens is its own kind of worship.

It hasn't always been easy. In fact, for the last couple of weeks it was a little difficult  as I long for spring in the midst of a cold and rainy winter.

But a few days ago, the neighborhood woke under a blanket of white and His splendor was in the sunrise and I saw as plain as day that His mercies are new every morning.



For that one day, seeing the gift came as easily as breathing. This is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad!

So I suppose I do have one word for this year after all. And after thinking on it for eight weeks, it only took writing one post to figure it out.

Rejoice.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear Me...



Dear Eighteen-Year-Old Me,

It feels a little weird to write to you since most of the time I still feel like you instead of the adult I am supposed to be. Truth be told, sometimes I even feel like I'm still her...


And though I'm only eight years older than you, a lot of life has been lived in these eight years - some good, some bad, some hard and some so scary you can barely breathe for all the fear and desperation. But you're getting ready to graduate from high school and you're about to experience it all first-hand so it only seemed fair to tell you a thing or two - you know, a little heads up.



I could tell you about keeping in touch with those three girls you spend all your time with. Or how your mom is going to become your best friend. Or not to be afraid to love the boy you are dating - because when you finally let him in all the way you'll never regret it for a moment.



But there's something that matters even more right now. Remember that prediction you had to write about your future at the end of your senior year? Remember how you really thought you were well on your way to making it come true?


Life looks nothing like that today.

In a few months, you're going to go to a big, prestigious university and you're going to realize just how ordinary you are. You are going to feel small while you watch people around you do great, life-changing, world-impacting things. That's going to continue right into your post-college, young-adult, newly-married life. And there will be a couple years where you'll wonder if God forgot about you, if He was too busy writing everyone else's plans for a future and a hope to bother with yours.

But here's the thing: you know that great big fear you have - the one of losing your dad? You're going to have to face it in the next eight years. Twice. And you're going to wonder whether God's going to save him, but you'll learn that Jesus is enough for you even if He doesn't.


So remember that in those years of wondering and wandering about your purpose. Remember Jesus is enough even without any promises or guarantees. Carry that with you until the day you realize you've been created for God's glory. Because that, my seemingly purposeless self, is what He planned for you.

And big or small, whatever you're doing should bring Him honor, which means you should do it with all your heart. It seems crazy to tell an over-acheiving, rule-following good girl to do things with all her heart, but here's the deal: you can only truly do things with all your heart when your heart is hidden in the One who made it. So abide in Him. Every moment. Always.

Only then - when your soul has found deep and lasting satisfaction in Him alone - will you see that ordinary doesn't mean unimportant and the simple life you lead really does matter. 

Just one more thing: get over yourself a little sooner, would ya? When you move to a big, new city with your Hubby, you're going to spend a full year and a half feeling so lonely you'll wonder if you are invisible. And you'll spend so much time wondering if anyone will ever notice you that you'll almost miss the equally lonely people around you.

At some point, it's going to hit you - you are the one who could do something about their loneliness. And making people feel like they belong is going to breathe new life into you. 

If you remember nothing else I tell you remember this - when things are falling apart in your head, when it feels like your world is unraveling (because that will happen a lotknow that Jesus is before all things and in Him all things hold together. And let His peace rule in your heart. Life's just better that way.

With so much love and joy,

Twenty-Six-Year-Old You


Today I'm joining Emily and the Chatting at the Sky community in the adventure of letter-writing to our teenage selves in celebration of the release of Emily's new book, Graceful. Read more or join us, here

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Yard Chronicles: Part Two

To pick up where I left off in our yard chronicles, we had the landscaping plan in hand and we were ready to get to work. And let me tell you, work we did.

My parents graciously came down to visit for a few days, and I am so glad they did. Their advice and their help on the yard were priceless.

Step one in a landscaping project? Clear out the old stuff, of course. Everything but the mature trees and the grass was ripped out. Bushes, holly trees, endless amounts liriope. It all had. to. go.

And while it was repetitive and monotonous and exhausting work, pulling everything out was the easy part.


It's amazing how different the house looked when we were done. 


With the beds cleared, the backbreaking work really started. Step two of the project had multiple parts - trenching and laying underground drainage pipes to carry rainwater away from the house; widening and tilling the beds; clearing out giant roots.


This part? It was slow going, which was discouraging. But thanks to a good friend, Hubby still had some help after my parents left and the three of us took Labor Day literally.


Slowly and steadily, progress was made and before we knew it, the roots were gone and the piping was finally laid.


Next comes the fun part: the new plants!