This is my belated birthday to me post. It's already nearly 7 months late. We shall see how many more days pass before I hit the "publish" button. But, I digress...
Roughly 6 months ago I began the last year of my 20's. That I was standing on such a steep precipice never dawned on me until I heard friends discussing the anxiety they experienced upon turning 29 and how much scarier 29 seemed than 30. Because we all know you're officially old when you hit 30, right? So 29 is your last chance to be young while at every moment feeling 30 breathing down your neck. Or something like that.
At any rate, it got me thinking about some dramatic changes that have taken place in my life over the past year. And really, it's been the past 19 months, but the ripple effect of these changes has been dramatic. These changes have also been intensely personal, so please read this post as an accounting of my own life and not a blueprint to be handed to others concerning their lives.
About 19 months ago I was very pregnant with Shields Lee and began to face the reality of once again laboring and delivering a baby. About this time, I began to think about labor and delivery a little differently than I had with Levi, and I could not get away from some questions.
What if I stopped viewing labor as a horror to be avoided and started viewing it as a rite of passage? What if labor could be the means to not just a beautiful baby, but a beautifully stronger me?
Ok, for those of you squirming at where this might be going, let me say this is not a birth story post. I will skip that part and just tell you Shields Lee was born, and I didn't have any pain medicine. And it was awesome. I spent the next five weeks in a stupor, partially because I had a newborn, and partially because I had brought that newborn into the world without any medicine to control the pain.
And then we packed up our lives and moved to PA. As I began to figure out what life looked like with two children while living in someone else's space, I realized I also had some baby weight that I wanted to lose. I wanted to lose it safely and healthfully, but also efficiently.
Also, I had looming in the not-too-distant future the prospect of donning a strapless gown and walking down the aisle as my sister's matron-of-honor. With these ideas in mind, I asked myself, "What if I could look good at Katherine's wedding? Not good for someone who has a baby, but just good, period?"
So I started counting calories and exercising regularly. I got a double stroller and walked as much as I could (which made me terribly miss my St. Louis urban neighborhood where I could walk and bike to so many great places). After I had gotten into the walking-with-stroller routine, I had the chance one day to go on a walk all by myself. After weeks of pushing 50 pounds in the stroller, it felt a little boring to walk with no resistance. So, I started jogging. And kept jogging. And somewhere in the jog I thought, "Why am I doing this? I am not a runner?! Running is HARD!" But then I remembered that I had a baby without medicine, so certainly I could jog another mile. And I did.
From then on, the past year has turned into one of asking myself to do difficult things. Not to do them perfectly, but to try them. Now I am far less inclined to say that I can't do something. I can do more than I think, and I am capable of more than I previously realized.
Earlier this month, I ran my first ever 5k.When I finished, I got a medal - not because I won something, but because I finished. You know what? I am proud of that medal and what it represents for this heretofore reluctant runner.
This photo is really blurry, but you get the point. Me - covered in foam and mud - wearing my medal. Proudly.
And now that I am less than six months away from 30, I am filled with more questions. What if my 30's could be even more exciting than my 20's? What if I conquer more fears in the next decade than I did in the last? What if this is just the beginning?
I don't know the answers to those questions, but I am excited for what I discover.
Three years ago this week, my precious husband graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary. Words fail to express how proud I am for how hard he worked on his Master of Divinity and what his graduation meant to me.
His graduation marked the end of a really special time in our lives, and it ushered in the hardest times of our married life. Words fail to express the discouragement we felt at two years of fruitless job searching. My Lindon is awesome and tremendously gifted in ministry, but despite his diligence and qualifications, no church would hire him. We knew in our heads that God cared about our family, but in our hearts we sometimes felt abandoned.
One year ago this weekend Lindon received a phone call from a friend who offered Lindon a job. There were some major drawbacks to the job - like 3 months of traveling 4 days a week and a pretty long commute once the traveling was over - but the job seemed like something Lindon could do well and enjoy doing. Turns out, Lindon does enjoy it and is good at it. In fact, after 7 months he got promoted.
Is this the job I envisioned Lindon having? No way.
Is this what I had hoped for my family? Not a bit.
But the fact that my life looks dramatically different than how I had hoped it would look does not change the fact that I am thankful for THIS life - for Lindon enjoying his job and for what his future holds. I am thankful for feeling settled and moving forward instead of feeling stuck in a holding pattern waiting to hear back from another church.
And I am thankful that the anniversary of Lindon graduating came and went without us pausing to mourn another year of discouragement and desolation. God did not answer our prayers how I had hoped, but He has still shown me and my family great kindness.
To those who walked with us in our discouragement and to those who God used to provide a way out, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
At his graduation Lindon and his classmates processed to the same song as my wedding processional, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." The middle verses of that song get at some of what I am feeling now, grateful that God has been our merciful Defender and Sustainer, even when life has felt trying.
Praise to the Lord,
Who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings,
Yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
How all your longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord,
Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness
And mercy here daily attend thee.
What the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Shields' hair is always a little crazy. It always has been, but as he gets older, his hair is getting wilder. A few weeks ago, Lindon decided desperate times called for desperate measures, so he lopped off Shield Lee's bangs and gave our little son a killer mullet. It was awful, so much so that I failed to photograph the ordeal. Shortly thereafter we trimmed the back, so the mullet was gone...for now. But it seems like we are constantly battling to hold off the looming mullet.
Still, his hair is beautiful. And even when it looks ridiculous, it hardly detracts from his sparkly eyes and brilliant smile.
When you're Levi, life is always an adventure, and often an
emergency. His make-believe world revolves around working with Bob
the Builder or running to fight the most recent fire. Usually the fires are in important places, like his boot or the train table, so he really has to hurry.
he deigns to join us in the real world, he likes to read and be my
helper. Sometimes he actually helps, too, like when he cleans the
bathtub toys with a cleaning wipe or offers to carry my purse to the car. And then sometimes he just likes to act like he's helping by
speaking authoritatively or wagging his finger at me.
For all his helpfulness and bravery, though, Levi is still three, and he is still not quite sure what to do with Shields Lee. Sometimes he can
really get Shields laughing and enjoys having someone who is amused by
his antics. And then there are the times he takes the parenting into his
own hands, usually with bad consequences for poor little Shields. While
Levi has really internalized the list of things Shields ought not be
doing, he fails to remember to let me be the parent.
it comes to talking, Levi is in favor of it. All the time. Seems like the only thing that stops his running commentary
on life is asking a question. The way he processes life can be hilarious
and touching, as illustrated by the following stories:
- Nash's hunting side has come out in full force since we've been in
our new house. As far as I know, he's caught four field mice in our
yard. There might have been more, but it's hard to tell because, well,
he doesn't leave much evidence. Levi had the bad luck
of witnessing two of these catches, and the experiences traumatized him
a bit. In fact, last week I explained to him that hawks (like the ones
that were circling our yard), see mice and swoop down to eat them.
Levi's response: "That's what dogs do."
afternoon Levi said he was really tired and wanted to go to bed. We let him read in bed for a bit by himself before coming to tuck him in. Upon entering his room, we saw Levi sitting on his bed looking at a
book...with a pencil in his hand. We deduced that Lindon had
absentmindedly placed the pencil on Levi's dressed when he got Levi
dressed that morning, and Levi just happened to notice it when he
grabbed a book. Levi felt badly for doodling in his storybook,
so we just told him he shouldn't play with pencils.
"Yes," said Levi somberly. "And Dad, you shouldn't leave your pencil in my room."
Sometimes mischievous, often encouraging, and usually sweet and refreshing - like a popsicle - that's my Levi. And when he has put out all the fires and fixed all the broken cars he can find, he still has time to snuggle and read a book.