Four Things I've Learned: Spring & Summer 2019


Why, hello there, friends! It’s been a bit. Thank you to those of you who have reached out and asked if I’m still alive. I am, but it’s been a very full past few months. I had a sudden influx of editing work, and I had to set down a few things in order to keep up.

I have, however, been keeping notes about what I’ve been learning along the way. Here are my top four from the past two seasons:

1. God is both totally trustworthy and totally uninterested in my ideal timeline.

If there’s a defining theme of this spring and summer, it’s that God is shaking things up in my family’s life. I wrote about the beginning of that process here, but I really thought we’d know at least a little more by now.

Instead, we’re now facing more uncertainty than we were a few months ago.

But here’s what’s super cool: God is taking SUCH good care of us.

We still don’t have the big answers we’re looking for. However, he has asked us to take some other steps of faith, and he has come through in ways that exceeded our expectations. Though our circumstances, I can hear him saying, “It’s not yet time for those answers, but look how perfectly and abundantly I’m caring for you. The waiting is uncomfortable, but you have nothing to fear.”

At church last Sunday, the pastor mentioned that sometimes we don’t get the things we’re praying for because God knows our hearts can’t handle them. I wonder if that’s at least part of what’s going on here. Perhaps this waiting is God graciously implanting in our minds and hearts the fact that he alone is our hope. Even when circumstances are uncertain, less than ideal, or just plain hard, he is our anchor, firm and secure.

2. We remember the stories we repeat. What are my stories emphasizing?

One of God’s unexpected gifts this summer was a camping trip in the Rockies with some of our extended family. We weren’t originally planning to go (see the aforementioned uncertainty), but he made it clear this trip should still be a priority and then provided for it in every way.

After an overnight stop in Oklahoma, where we got to spend some short-but-sweet time with one of my sisters and her husband, we spent two relaxing nights camping with my parents in northern New Mexico. Then we made our way to Colorado to camp with Jonathan’s parents, his sister, and her family.

However, the trip was not without hiccups. Our first full day in Colorado was dominated by the frustrating realization that our chosen campground had little concern for either safety or customer service. As aggravating as this was, we made some adjustments and still had a great time.

But when people asked about our trip afterward, guess which story I most frequently repeated? Yep, instead of starting with our quick, magical stop at Capulin in New Mexico or the delight of watching my boys shadow their (very patient) older cousins or any number of other wonderful, pine-scented, bright-blue-backdropped things, I began with a mini-rant about the campground.

After at least the fourth time of overhearing me do this, my husband kindly challenged me to remember that the more I repeat a story, the more firmly it is etched in my memory. Was the day of deep disappointment really what I wanted to be my key memory from this vacation?

Although part of me wanted to argue that dramatic stories are simply more interesting, I knew he was right. I’d rather emphasize the memories I loved.

Of course, this also has implications for everyday life. What stories am I telling others—or perhaps even more so, myself—about my circumstances, my family, my identity? Am I using my words to highlight the good or amplify the bad? I don’t mean we can’t ever broach hard or negative topics, but I think it’s worthwhile to ask myself where my mind is dwelling as I share my life’s stories.

Speaking of stories, this summer I also learned . . .

3. Sometimes the abridged version is totally worth it.

(Oh the irony, coming from my long-winded mouth.)

I started reading Les Misérables a few years ago on my Kindle. Somehow, the progress indicator was turned off. After I already felt like I’d been reading forever, I finally figured out how to turn it back on . . . and discovered I was only halfway through.

Although I fully intended to finish the book (someday), I needed a break.

Years passed. Then a friend mentioned receiving a beautiful abridged version of the novel for Christmas. I usually want the whole story, but with (insincere) apologies to Hugo’s assorted essays and lengthy asides, I thought an abridged edition of Les Misérables sounded like a great idea.

This tiny tome joined me on vacation, and I enjoyed it thoroughly without an ounce of guilt. Though I decided the abridging editor shouldn’t have cut out ALL the chapters describing the Battle of Waterloo. Wonders never cease.

4. Finally, I love having a two-year-old.

I realize this isn’t everyone’s experience when their kid is two. For us, two wasn’t a big deal—though I thought it was with my oldest son, Jackson—but three was TOUGH. In some ways, I feel like I didn’t enjoy Jackson’s toddler sweetness as much as I could have because I was expecting the “terrible twos.” This time around, I’ve been relishing the joy of a little guy who’s verbal enough to be hilarious and hasn’t quite discovered the threenager level of defiance.

I also love the way the differences in my boys’ personalities that are even more apparent now that Caleb is a little older. Jackson’s analytical mind has always amazed us. Caleb impresses us with his easy-going but highly empathetic nature. And although I spend plenty of my day refereeing between them, they often strike a great balance of both loving to play together and enjoying time apart.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, though many days leave me exhausted and wondering if I’m doing this all wrong, there’s also a ton to enjoy about the phases both of my kids are in.

I suppose it goes back to that question: what stories am I repeating?

P.S. In the time it took me to finish this post, we’ve had at least one answer become, well, halfway clear. We’re still waiting on the other half. It may mean that I still won’t be blogging as often as I’d like for the next few months, but I’m hoping to share highlights of our newest adventure on Instagram. You can also subscribe to receive updates in your inbox. Sorry to be vague right now. More details to come!