Keeping At It

Friday, May 22, 2020

May 18, 2019

In the last year or so I've come across several different challenges to give advice to your younger self. The question has been posed in reference to looking at where you are now and speaking wise words to the self who fretted over your future or who frittered your time away. The motive is learning from the years behind you to use today to get yourself to a tomorrow without regret. On one occasion, I came across this idea in the form of a FB post where a young woman I know coming up on her 25th birthday and sought wisdom for people who had recently neared the end of that decade of their life.

These questions give me pause and opportunity to examine what has been my 20s. Hard to believe it, but I will be 30 in the fall. It's an odd realization in that mostly I still feel 19. I think that's the age I'll always be on the inside. Grown and yet on the cusp of what's next. Responsible to make decisions that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Also hard to believe in that the last 10 years have been so full and so much has happened that it seems like it surely should have taken MORE than 10 years to hold it all.

When I'm faced with these questions, as I most recently was yesterday, I realize that by the grace of God my answer looks the same as it does when I face a new calendar year or the beginning of another personal trip around the sun. 

I mentioned yesterday that my word for 2020 is KEEP. That word came to me as I ended 2019 seven months into a new thing with only a few months to go before taking on another huge, life changing thing. Namely, a husband and a son respectively. 2019 was a year of receiving. And I knew that 2020 was going to be all kinds of different with changes happening on every front. I can't be alone in realizing that that could potentially be a recipe for A LOT of overwhelm. And so as I prepared for the year ahead, I asked God to keep me and I resolved to be kept even as I sought to diligently go about keeping of my own. 

It was important to me to carefully and purposefully keep up my relationships that began long before I even knew Jordan's name. It was important to me to see to it that I keep learning and growing in being Jordan's wife. It was important to me to keep house and to dedicate myself to it's total well being. It was important to me to keep up my personal walk with the Lord in all its disciplines. It was important to me to keep the parts of me that don't change like reading and writing and making walks a priority. It was important to me to keep learning and growing as a faithful mother to the child I hadn't held in my arms yet. 

While change was on the horizon and my hands had been filled with new thing, nothing had really changed. I was still me. I was still believer, woman, daughter, sister, friend. Now wife and mother were added to the list. The faithfulness that the 9 years before had worked out in me would still be called for and would be called upon as I moved into 2020. 

And so...that is my advice. To them and to myself and to anyone who asks. 

When I look ahead, I look ahead with hope and gratefulness. My hope remains in God. I am grateful to Him for what He has taught me and where He has brought me over the course of the last 10 years. When I look back, I see a decade that I wouldn't change. Those days have added up to a life I am so eager to continue. Even when it was hard. Even when I didn't think I had it in me to keep at it, I did. And I am. And I recognize that God and His grace is what I have to credit for that. 

And so, as this decade gives way to the next and as this year picks up where the last one left off, I want to be about the work of keeping at it. 

Through His Son. By His grace. For His glory. 

One day, one year, one decade at a time. 

And I believe that when I look back, I'll be able to say once again...It  all added up to a life I am quite pleased with. A life whose habits and goals I am eager and grateful to keep. Not by my might, but by His power. 

On the Telephone

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Feb (6 or 10)  2020, My Mom's first morning staying with us! <3 br="">

We're not sitting down to coffee these days. We're texting and zooming and talking on the telephone. Recently, my sister and I had one of those plop down on the bed or pull up a bar stool at the kitchen counter chats. We rambled this way and that until she had to go to bed. If it wasn't for her...I'm not sure I'd still be blogging even though I want to and I'm glad I did put so much effort into it for so long. She brought it up, like she does every so often. And so here I am. There's a draft hanging out that would be pretty fitting...but I'm not in the mood to clean up an old piece of decent writing. Here's a coffee chat style post befitting the days we're living.

If I laced up my shoes and popped my son into the stroller and called you on the's how it'd go.

I'd tell you about what God has been teaching me because that's always a good place to start and a catalyst to solid conversation. These days it looks like lessons on speaking up with clarity which seems to be the number one lesson I've been learning over the course of the last year and a half or so. It's huge. Especially when you're navigating those early days of marriage and trying your best to stay as close as you reasonably can with the rest of your family. It also looks like lessons in patience which has been the theme for the last year. First I had to be patient with my increasingly pregnant self and for the last 15 weeks, I've had to be increasingly patient with the little boy who made me a Mom.  He's been in the middle of another developmental leap (the book Wonder Weeks has been SO helpful as I navigate his fussy periods) which has everything out of whack and has started doing this ear splitting squeak that is nothing like the cries and squeals and coos that have come before this. And it looks like lessons on discernment which has come up again and again and again - in my study of James, in podcasts, and in a free book I forgot I had downloaded.

I'd tell you about our one year anniversary that just happened on Monday. It's been an amazing year. We've moved 2 times. We traveled for 5 weeks. We've been through the process of job interviews, me leaving my job at the library, losing a job, interviewing all over again, preparing for another job that will take us to anther town, navigating pregnancy and the birth of our son, starting a rhythm of family devotions, learning to live together, parenting classes, birth classes, establishing ourselves as a family in our church, and that's really only the beginning. On Monday, Jordan had a day of surprises for me. It looked like omlettes with homefries, cribbage, a few rounds of racing videogames, a leisurely walk, a made to order steak dinner along with steak fries and asparagus that he shopped for and made eaten under the heater on the patio, and the best cheesecake ever made by my sister. My Mom kept Elias during the dinner portion of the day and it was a fabulous way to end such a monumental day. I didn't think I'd see a first anniversary let alone with a child of my own in hand. And while he hoped and prayed for a wife, his prayers of gratefulness show me that he didn't exactly expect it all either. Here we are. Thanking God for His gifts and seeking grace to steward each other and our son well.

I'd tell you about my word for the year, which is KEEP , by the way. And about how I've enjoyed tracking it all in the captions on the pictures I post on FB and IG, which is as close to blogging as I get. I love taking time during nursing sessions to get SOME words out. Along with all that's new, there's a lot that is familiar. Things like birthdays and holidays and my personal walk with God and the relationships with family and friends I've had long before I even knew Jordan's name. Most recently, was Mother's Day and my sister's 22nd birthday. Both of which were very very special to me.

I'd tell you about why that is...After a mix up with our cars in which Jordan accidentally drove my car and BOTH the carseats to work, my sister graciously brought over the cake pans and cooling racks and a few ingredients I was planning to use to make her cake at their house. And then proceeded to stay and visit until after 11pm that night while I baked and frosted her cake....and then she and my brother came by and picked up the cake so that I didn't have to worry about it toppling over in the car when I drove over there by myself the next day. That evening, we feasted on chicken nuggets, smashed potatoes, and Jay juice. Then she opened her presents (with everything going on...mine is yet to arrive :/) and eventually we moved onto a seriously yummy cake. This year was a chocolate cake with Costco's white chocolate mousse filling, a butter cream frosting, and a chocolate drizzle. One of my favorites to date! It got late and Jordan agreed to stay the night. And so her birthday lingered on till the next morning when we made chocolate chip pancakes and bacon to round out the celebration.

Mother's Day was more of the same...We first watched the church service before heading to the kitchen to cook up chili cheeseburgers, onion rings, and a broccoli salad. I'd made sweet tea and my oldest youngest brother made the buns from scratch. And it was so wonderful to be together in our old familiar places and our new ones as I kept having to sit down to feed the baby. I received so many gifts - which was such a surprise! The first of which was my son sleeping 7 hours straight for the first time ever. There were 2 handdrawn pictures for his room drawn and framed by my sister, a first year frame from my brother, a bookmark and print of my son's foot tag-teamed by all, and a round up of gifts from It's A Southern Thing from my Mom (Mamma Says Game, A Reckon Ball, and a towel that has things she most definitely said to me printed on it). After pictures under the blossoming apple tree (to commemorate the closest thing to engagement pictures my Mom took of us last year), 5pm came all to soon and we had to head out before the dessert of strawberry shortcakes we had planned.

I'd also have to tell you about the reminders God has given me of how much I depend on His grace to be who I am. It shows up in His Word often and yet...real life provides practical reminders as well. I don't have to, but I'll give you a snapshot into the one that fittingly came on Mother's Day. Everything was lovely and beautiful and special and going so well. Out of nowhere, it all came to a halt with me losing my cool. We were getting food on the table and sitting down to eat. My son had reached the end of his happy to be held by someone else spell. He was getting tired and hungry and everything happened all at once. I sat down to feed him knowing the plate of food in front of me was going to have to wait and that the sunny spot I had chosen was likely going to be too much for him under the nursing cover. He starts wailing, my Mom offers helpful pointers, and I cannot get him to calm down or start eating for the life of me. Lies start flying through my mind rehearsing my frustration and knowing that I've done the wrong thing by choosing the seat that I did and my inability to handle things. I fly up out of my seat trying to get my chair scooted out enough while holding my son and said who knows what as I sought a quiet place to try to distract him from his distress long enough to get him to start eating. Needless to say I had to calm down. I had to confess my very uncalled for behavior and words - all in the middle of the most beautiful celebration of my shared motherhood with my Mom who has always been so faithful in mothering me even now as I seek to mother my own child. That outburst is a black spot in a way and yet...It is a stark reminder of my great need for God's strength and wisdom and peace.

I can be tempted to think I've got it all together and my life's work has been to prove that I do. In reality...I've got a heart full of sin and a mind swimming with lies. By God's grace, my heart has been changed and those lies give way to His truth. Day by day. Moment by moment. Now, I have a tiny little boy to nudge me toward God and to my standing before Him and to the grace He supplies. And that, is a win. Especially when that grace and that nudge come by way of confessing sin, seeking forgiveness, and pressing on in faith with His truth on my lips and in my mind.

Before we hang up, I'd ask you how things are with you. I'd sit and listen and carefully craft my version of your words back to you to make sure I understood what you said. I'd gather prayer points. And I'd try my best to offer encouragement if I could find words that seemed fitting. And I'd do my best to bring it back around to what seemed most pressing on your heart when things inevitably rabbit trailed away.

So...How are things with you?