Shaken

It isn’t the end of the month, but I felt like writing tonight–an urge I get less often than I’d like these day. My emotions have run high lately, spilling out in conversations with my husband rather than on paper. I mentioned the difficulty of the transition in my last post. I think the word “difficult” has such a range and uncanny ability to mask the severity of most situations. So does depression. No day is the same. Sunday spoke like this:

Shaken. Tumble down stairways.
Dark. Without a window to the outside.
Tears. Collected in jars and glasses set out for those who couldn’t come.
Fear. The deep alone of leaving.
Life. The when and where of what is now.

I’m not there tonight. Although, I generally feel more on the edge of dipping down into those places than usual. An introvert fearing the long stretches of days in the apartment with a nonverbal little boy. It is amazing to me how sometimes the clouds roll in and completely drown the joy of what’s in front of me. How fear and loneliness loom so large I can’t see the promises that I have nothing to fear because I will never be alone.

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June 2019

This has been a difficult month of transitions. The first of the month brought a new apartment, town, job for Aaron, and the beginning of full time stay-at-home motherhood for me. The first two weeks were an attempt to move in and acclimate (especially the baby) to the new routine, and the last two weeks consisted mostly of travel to two out of state weddings.

The combination of moving away from friends and family plus being home essentially 24/7 has left me feeling isolated and desperate for the hope to make it through the next eleven months of our contract here. Perhaps the absence of travel will help in that respect. The weddings were beautiful and not to be missed, but traveling by car and plane for long periods of time with a 9 month old cannot in any universe be classified as a vacation. Ethan was a champ, as always. But I am never not a mom. I gave up the luxury of being able to “check-out” or completely “unplug” when I got pregnant with him. I’m not mad about that; it’s just the reality.

So, my task is to figure out who I am and what I’m supposed to do in the midst of my alien isolation. What do my days look like when I’ve already cooked and cleaned and run all the errands? I don’t know that person. I hope to soon.

May 2019

This post didn’t make it up by the first, but for good reason. I sit here in a new apartment on the other side of Aaron’s finals, graduation, and the first move of our marriage. We are so thankful for the family and friends who helped us with the transition.

It’s funny, even though I graduated last year, this month felt like we were both graduating for real because it would lead also to a major upheaval of life routine and location. We only moved two hours from where we were, but Aaron is now working 8a-5p+ six days a week interning at a church and I am home full time with our little man. During this month, Ethan started crawling and pulling himself up (on everything…your pant legs are not safe). Baby’s new mobility makes managing chores and household responsibilities require more creativity. However, I acknowledge that there are many people who aren’t in our same situation. We discussed early on in our relationship that we wanted to make sacrifices while we could in order to eventually be a debt free, one-income family. And here we are. I’m thankful for good baby naps and leftovers and sitting in the grass under shade trees.

Trust and Other Questions

Today is a day of forlorn feelings,
what-ifs and never-beens.

The breeze blows my sorrow away
and back to me
as I strain around the future bend to see,

Who remains in the distance when the dust settles.
What shape they’ll take in the shadows of sundown.
Where the road leads and calls in siren symphonies.
Why there’s no going back to what might have been.

Eyes down, shoulders back, mind set on lists and tasks–
I do not know where to fit or what to fight for,
And my always-conclusion ends in trust.

It must.

To the one who made the beginning and has foreordained the end.
Here I am, your broken little one.

April 2019

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I am the type of person who strategizes about the future by considering all the hypotheticals. This paired with the fact that I tend toward worst case scenarios is most often a recipe for anxiety and depression. In a discussion with my boss this past month about future plans and worries, she mentioned the verse above with an emphasis on the “whatever is true” phrase based on a sermon she heard years ago. I’ve been chewing on it since then as a good corrective. My hypotheticals are not reality. What Paul is referencing in this verse were the things which the Philippians had “learned and received and heard and seen” (Phil. 8:9) from Paul’s previous preaching of the gospel–i.e. the truth of who Jesus Christ was and who they were as believers united to him.

In the middle of this month, we heard back positively about what our next steps will be after Aaron’s graduation. Yet, for so much of the time leading up to that news I was worrying rather than filling my mind with what the Scriptures say is true about the character of God concerning his steadfast love and faithfulness. Hearing this verse was a gentle rebuke for my destructive thought patterns. Even though now I have more of a picture of where we’ll be after the semester (a small to mid-sized church a few hours from here) and what that will look like (Aaron interning full time and me at home with our little man), I cannot rest my sense of security upon what I think I know or can accomplish during that time. I’m realizing how much of my identity I rest in what I’m able to accomplish over who I am in Christ and what he has accomplished for my sake.

I have great aims to begin packing and create the most seamless environment for our family to transition in from now until June. I anticipate being swiftly humbled during that process. Well, here we go.

March 2019

As I write this, about one month remains in my husband’s last semester of seminary. We wait to hear back from churches with possible intern positions for post-graduation work. I shuffle my anxiety about the future into little piles which move periodically to sit under different labels: home, ministry, work, parenting, family.  The list goes on.

I’m ready for the next move. I’ve been in a holding pattern since I graduated last May, if I’m honest. I used to want to move for moving’s sake. Now, I want to move to plant roots deep. Something that still won’t be happening quite yet, even with our next move. Regardless, Aaron and I spend nights on the couch together when Ethan’s fallen asleep compiling our dreams for what home might look like. I have mental sketches and floor plans filed away. I’m most excited to apply all the hypotheticals to a particular place. I become more and more like my parents every year–in the most positive of ways.

Ethan is about to hit the 6 month marker. I don’t know how, but we managed to get this far on just pumping breast milk. It blows my mind. I know that this isn’t possible for many moms. There have been draw backs for sure, but I’m so happy to see him thriving. He even got two teeth this month! His default is to smile. Aaron and I laugh about how facially expressive he is (like both of us).

I have a tendency to brace myself for the let down when things are going well. I know that God’s goodness and faithfulness is not measured by my level of physical blessing, but that might seem insincere to say because I am experiencing a season of great blessing. My prayer is that no matter what the future brings I will not loose sight of who He is. Psalm 46:1-2 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.”

February 2019

This month has been filled with organization and inspiration.

I have (somewhat) systematically gone through the major spaces in our house and reevaluated needs and clutter. The prospect of a future move, albeit potentially months from now, has pushed me into analytical mode. Do we really need this blanket? How many spatulas is too many spatulas? Why do I have so many mini lotions?! Thankfully I have a husband who is a wonderful balance to this part of my personality. Planning and talking about the hypotheticals with him has been a great balm for my anxiety. We have leads but nothing definite. The great unknown once again looms large in the distance.

In the midst of this, I have found inspiration most specifically in the kitchen. We’ve started getting food from a grocery drop off (a major supermarket drops food past/on its sell by date) on Fridays at a local ministry our friends are a part of. Battered veggies inform my Friday night crock-pot creations or roasting combinations. We research cheese pairings with new unknown wedges that appear on the shelf. I never know what the selection will be that day. I work during the drop off, so Aaron takes Ethan and gets the haul for us. I’ve so enjoyed the creativity of working within the constraints of what is available. Then on Monday morning (my day off) I go to the local co-op and fill in the spaces on our grocery list. We both are hoping that sooner than later we can live in a place where we can start gardening for our vegetable supply. I can’t wait to integrate growing into our school lessons with Ethan and teaching him how to cook.

January 2019

We were married during the first week of January, so time has a funny double reset with every new year now. Life and marriage reflected upon in earnest and in tandem. This year was a simple celebration: a public ice skating outing and lunch on our own while my parents watched the little one. I don’t mind the schedule shuffling and frantically fitting tasks into nap-time, but having a babysitter for 3 hours of leisure (not just so one of us can go to work) was delicious. Just hold his hand and look into his eyes because I can when time stands still next to him.

Aaron took a 2 credit intensive class during the second week of January. It meant a little shuffling of work schedules, but it means one less class is necessary during the spring semester. I tried to establish good habits this month that can carry through the year. This is the first time that I’ve made a significant list of “resolutions” for the new year. So far I’m sticking to it, but the year is still young!

I settle deeper into the routine of nap-time, feeding, playing and pumping. I like the repetition and lack of excitement that comes with this familiarity. Ethan sleeps through the night, but some nights his morning comes earlier than I’d prefer *cough3amcough*. Still, he is good-natured and greets me with a smile from his pack ‘n play each morning. It have been amazing to see the rate of development at this stage. One day he won’t be interested in something, and the next day he’ll be grabbing at it and shoving it in his mouth. Each new development also brings a new point of growth (or realization) for my and Aaron’s individual parenting styles. The learning curve is steep and the dance constant. I pray for elasticity, unity, and grace every step of the way.

Song of Songs

The post below I found unpublished in my drafts, written three days newly-married. That was almost exactly two years ago now. It struck me how so much and so little has changed since then. To you, my love.

***

If I wrote anything, I would write about you–peaceful and serene in our bed. Arms swept up over your head. Your face is relaxed except when a dream moves over your eyes. Brow tightens. You moan softly.

I wonder, About what are you dreaming, my love? Is it a nightmare? Or do you remember how I went to touch you in the early morning light, just woke and glowing with the realization that you are here (my dream a reality)?

I will hold on to the laughter and the tears from these days which have brought us to the other side of union. The soft look in your eyes when you told me you loved me punctuated by a kiss. Your skin, softer than these sheets under my fingertips. “Your love is sweeter than wine.” How the poet knew of things I begin to discover with you. You are my choice drink. I taste of you and buzz. Tonight it will not be only darkness that makes your body indistinguishable from mine.

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