I haven’t written in awhile. It’s ok. Here is what I think about that: it was winter and winter some more. Which leaves me feeling lackluster in the inspiration department. But if step back and think about life since I last wrote in February, much life has been weaved between these weeks of indoor play dates and sweeping the floor, doing the dishes and taking the dog out in the cold.
Maybe some of the best life comes in the just living and mulling things over. I can’t always articulate in the moment what I am experiencing but time seems to help with that and although I have always felt at home in Ann Arbor, this place has only been our home for 11 months. That said, these are some of the important things from the past two months.
Some of our very best friends adopted a son. I am going to share their story soon as I spent some time writing about it the week baby J arrived. It has been a profound time for them but also for Ryan & I as their friends.
I spoke at our church on brokenness and it surprised me how affected I was by it and how many conversations began with others in our community as a result.
We decided to look at houses to buy, then to rent which is a whole post on its own. The summary is that life in Ann Arbor is expensive and we had to choose what was most important to us. Nearness to downtown, fenced in yard, access to public transportation, space. In that order.
I cannot wait to get back out there for morning walks to get coffee & to try out the new parks with Hannah. Speaking of Hannah, within the past few weeks she has become a full fledged two year old in my mind. Although her birthday is still a few weeks away, our girl has arrived.
I have spent much time deepening friendships particularly in the past few months and trying to sort out how I spend my time. I think that might be a continual tug I feel in my life now that we live further away from some of the dearest people in my life. I am coming to terms with what that means and how it plays out but you better believe that the weekend Katie came and we drove around drinking diet cokes like we used to was very good for my soul.
I started working one day a week, something I have been thinking about since the day I took my maternity leave. I wasn’t sure what, where or when and then it just happened. Isn’t it funny in life how these things happen?
This is where I am left with my reflections on continuing to write myself:
I want to add to the beauty, to not just create noise and to make sure the things I share have value.
That being said; maybe sometimes the value is found not in saying something profound but in connecting with others in our experiences and lives. So write on I will.Read More
Something that I have been thinking a ton about without knowing how to articulate it well is, “connection.” More specifically, the connections between people and what they mean in our lives.
We are overjoyed to be in a job we love, helping lead some amazing leaders in our new church. In fact, there are so many people interested in small groups that we are starting a young professionals group next week and 80, yes 80, people signed up in addition to the almost 250 people that are already in small groups. Bless God. This is craziness. How evident it is that we crave a connection in our physical, daily lives. In a world that tweets faster than we think (unfortunately), and logs on by the minute to check who is where and doing what, we all want to truly be known.
At this point in our transition, I feel blessed that we have a tight group of 3 or 4 couples that we spent a ton of time with this summer who know us. We have laughed, cried, sat on porches, prayed and shared stories. A rare gift. I also feel that there are many people who don’t know us very well yet. Which is normal, but I sometimes forget who I have shared our stories with. Did I tell them that Hannah is allergic to peanuts and that yes, I worked in finance and we used to want to be really rich? Have I shared that I love diet coke and going to see movies to eat popcorn and candy for dinner? Do they know the concert I would die to go to or the date of my birthday?
Some of my favorite people are on the other side of the state, the other side of the country and in different time zones. Between college, my working life, and my life as a new mom, I feel part of several communities and feel so lucky to say that. Lucky and torn, because I think we have to move forward while carrying those relationships along. It’s hard.
All of that said, we need relationship and connection to survive. Real, tangible, hold my hand and let’s go get a cup of tea connections. So as much it seems easier to spend our time on what we know, we have to continue to reach forward and reach out.
I continue to find that it is worth it. Worth it to take that first brave step and shake another hand to meet someone new. To show up with donuts and coffee and create community. Because you never know when or for how long God is bringing someone into your life. It may be for you, it may be for them, or if you are lucky, it will be for both of you.
Over the next month I will be traveling to a reunion with my college girlfriends and celebrating the joy of children for new friends and best friends. I’m so happy to be doing both and trying to just take it as it comes, remembering that being known takes time. What are you doing today to find connection in your life?
I hear two voices in my head as I go throughout my days. One is my own, saying be in this moment, listen intently to the conversation you are having, document the images in your mind. Be Present.
The other, also my own, is running through a to-do list, thinking I should get out my camera and take pictures of every little moment, check my texts or do something productive.
Maybe you have this too and if you do, I’m guessing you experience a similar tension. Please tell me I am not the only one with voices in my head!
I would rather live in the moment because if I don’t, I’m just moving throughout days by checking things off the list versus enjoying the time and places that are in front of me. I’m practicing self-control in this and challenging my norm this week, trying to let the first voice win out more often.
For example: this morning on a walk I was thinking about the day and I consciously decided to redirect my thoughts to the way the sunshine was coming through the trees and the quiet that exists before the day begins. It was refreshing and everything I was thinking about could wait anyways.
I don’t mean to sound all zen but I really believe rest is crucial to our well being in life and I’m not always good at it. How about you? Where do you find rest in the pull of life to be in constant motion?
Listening to the breeze and feeling the sunshine, for the moment.
In honor of Ryan’s departure for Turkey tonight, I am eating a lunch that reflects many we had during our time in Israel exactly two years ago.
Two years ago today, I was probably looking at this:
The only difference today is that my pita bread is from Meijer and not a fresh bakery. And I am eating it at my dining room table rather than while hiking. Either way, I am one part sad and two parts happy that Ryan gets to leave on a plane tonight to fly around the globe to another world. The sad is only because I think life is better when we are together but for the most part I am thrilled that he gets this opportunity, especially with our dear friend Brad.
Those two will likely look like this for much of the next two weeks:
You can follow his journey here. I printed that itinerary out and hung it in a place I walk past multiple times a day. I’m really thankful that we got the chance we did to travel together two years ago because it is giving me perspective into what his next two weeks might be like.
Life is funny isn’t it. It takes twists and turns, weaving itself in different ways than you might expect. Two years ago we were here:
Last year we were here:
And now Ryan will be here:
Makes me wonder where we will be next May. One of the most important things to me is that we don’t have any regrets in life. It was a hard decision for Ryan to go on this trip, at this time but I’m choosing to look at the next two weeks as an opportunity for both of us. On my end that means enjoying time with Katie & Hannah, road tripping to spend time with my very dear friend Emily & lots of time to think about our summer as a family. For Ryan, that means pitas and hikes, history and walking the text. Sounds good on both ends.Read More
Here I sit, with the world’s largest scone and my apple juice, just like I used to order in the early days of coffee shops when I worked in Holland &
lived at frequented JP’s. I’m in Grand Rapids though and not working outside of my four walls but somehow coming to coffee shops alone always makes me feel like myself.
My mind is running like a freight train this morning. Thoughts of today and taking my dear friend Katie to her unexpected surgery on a broken bone in her wrist. Kind of nervous and realizing that my mom emotions are on high for this one. I also met my dear friend Allison’s second baby boy on Friday and I am again convinced that new life is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
Preparing my mind and my heart for another big May. This is a mainstay, something that keeps pumping through my head when I come to this point every year. In 2010 we spent much of May in Israel, which if you are new around here, you can read my series of reflections on the old blog. In 2011 our May is a bit obvious. We had a baby.
Now comes 2012, a month that I knew would be full of transition due to the fact that we are moving to Ann Arbor for Ryan’s internship the first of June, something that I still haven’t written much about. Here is the short story: we thought we might go to San Francisco for the summer all fall. A few weeks before Christmas we met a pastor from Grace Ann Arbor, at an event in Detroit, go figure. The weekend before Christmas we stayed at a Red Roof Inn and spent some major time exploring the city. Two weekends later, Ryan & I went back without Hannah to do more of the same. Conversations happened, it felt a little bit like dating. Are we interested? Are they interested? Both parties wanted to move forward and in a very short and condensed version, we are headed to the other side of the state for the summer.
All of that said, we like to take advantage of opportunities over here and I am in the midst of a decision about May that is causing me to give myself a whole lot of “be brave” talks like the one I gave Hannah a few months ago. Ryan has the opportunity to travel to Turkey, something we have always wanted for him. It is almost fully covered by a scholarship and it is with our friend Brad, who we had the joy of traveling to Israel with. Bottom line, Brad is an awesome teacher and friend and there is no one else I would rather have Ryan go with.
But in the other corner are my wife emotions and family emotions. How will I do this whole parent thing by myself for 12 days? How can we make Hannah’s first birthday the dream celebration I hope it to be with Ryan gone on her birthday?
At the end of the day, Ryan has all of these emotions as well but I am realizing that 1) it is ok to have mixed emotions and make decisions that seem hard 2) we can still celebrate our hearts out all month, making our girl’s birthday month a proclamation of God’s goodness in our lives. It might just mean parties on different dates and creating plans that are different than I thought. It will be ok. In fact, I am choosing to believe it will be good.
I will end with this quote from a book I am devouring right now. I got it Saturday and I am almost done with it, convinced that the words are giving me perspective in this time.
Introducing Bloom by Kelle Hampton:
(visit her blog here)
I’m underlining like crazy, finding solace in some of her words and this is one section that is sticking with me right now.
“I wouldn’t say my glass is always half full. There are days when it’s cracked and leacking, days when it’s chipped and even shattered. But then I get the Krazy Glue out and fix it, and suddenly it’s half full again. Even though it it’s patched up in places, I’ve made it my own with the beveled edges and beautiful etchings that perspective brings.”
With that, happy Monday and cheers to a glass half full.Read More